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I am an undergraduate learning about gauge theory and I have been tasked with working through the two examples given on pages 65 and 66 of "Characteristic forms and geometric invariants" by Chern and Simon. I will recount the examples and my progress at a solution. For ease here is the relevant text:

Example 1. Let $M = \mathbb{R}P^3 = SO(3)$ together with the standard metric of constant curvature 1. Let $E_1, E_2, E_3$ be an orthonormal basis of left invariant fields on $M$, oriented positively. Then it is easily seen that $\nabla_{E_1}E_2 = E_3, \nabla_{E_1}E_3 = - E_2, \text{ and } \nabla_{E_2}E_3 = E_1$. Let $\chi : M \rightarrow F(M)$ be the cross-section determined by this frame. $$\Phi(SO(3)) = \frac{1}{2}.$$

Example 2. Again let $M = SO(3)$, but this time with left invariant metric $g_{\lambda}$, with respect to which $\lambda E_1, E_2, E_3$ is an orthonormal frame. Direct calculation shows $$\Phi(SO(3),g_{\lambda}) = \frac{2\lambda^2 - 1}{2\lambda^4}.$$

For each of these examples I am expected to calculate
$$\Phi(M) = \int_{\chi(M)} \frac{1}{2} TP_1(\theta)$$ which lies in $\mathbb{R}/\mathbb{Z}$. Previously in the paper they give an explicit formulation of $TP_1(\theta)$ in terms of the "component" forms of the connection $\theta$ and its curvature $\Omega$, $$TP_1(\theta) = \frac{1}{4\pi^2}\left( \theta_{12}\wedge\theta_{13}\wedge\theta_{23} + \theta_{12}\wedge\Omega_{12} + \theta_{13}\wedge\Omega_{13} + \theta_{23}\wedge\Omega_{23}\right).$$

I have verified this formula for myself given the information in the paper. Using the structural equation $\Omega = d\theta + \theta\wedge\theta$ I am able to reduce the expression for $TP_1(\theta)$ to $$TP_1(\theta) = \frac{-1}{2\pi^2}\left( \theta_{12}\wedge\theta_{13}\wedge\theta_{23} \right).$$

I don't believe I have assumed anything about the structure of $M$ during that reduction so I believe it should hold for both examples. I continue by claiming that since $E_1, E_2, E_3 \in so(3)$, the Lie algebra of $SO(3)$ I should be able to compute $\theta$ by considering $$\nabla_{E_i}E_j := (\nabla E_j)(E_i) = \sum_k E_k \otimes \theta^{k}{}_{ij}(E_i)$$ and comparing it with the given derivatives.

For example one this yielded for me $\theta_{12} = E^3, \theta_{13} = -E^2, \theta_{23} = E^1$ where $E^i$ are the 1-forms dual to the basis $E_i$. Then I think that $\chi^*$ should act trivially on $TP_1(\theta)$ as it is a horizontal form in $\Lambda^*(T^*F(M))$. Therefore I find that $\chi^*(TP_1(\theta)) = \frac{1}{2\pi^2}\omega$, where $\omega$ is the volume form of $M$, and when integrated this yields the correct answer of $\frac{1}{2}$ for the first example.

However, my approach fails completely for the second example. I assume that the set $\lambda E_1, E_2, E_3$ obeys the same derivate relationships as given in the first example, but this does not seem to give me enough factors of $\lambda$. I suspect that I am not handling the computation of the $\theta_{ij}$ forms or the application of $\chi^*$ correctly, however I am uncertain what my exact issue is. Is there a fundamental flaw in my understanding? I am hoping someone with more experience can point me in the right direction.

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In simplifying the expression for $T_1(\theta)$ using the structure equation, what happens to the terms that are like $\theta_{12} \wedge d\theta_{12}$? –  Eric O. Korman Dec 10 '10 at 18:49
This has also been asked on MO where it has received a partial answer. –  Michael Albanese Jan 4 at 21:20

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