38
votes
5answers
1k views

Understanding the Laplace operator conceptually

The Laplace operator: those of you who now understand it, how would you explain what it "does" conceptually? How do you wish you had been taught it? Any good essays (combining both history and ...
4
votes
1answer
142 views

Is there a field of 'real analytic geometry'?

I am wondering whether there is a field of 'real analytic geometry', and if not, why not? There are branches of geometry corresponding to increasingly large sets of functions: polynomial (algebraic ...
10
votes
2answers
221 views

Are closed geodesics the prime numbers of Riemannian manifolds?

I wonder to what extent one can support the analogy that primitive closed geodesics are the prime numbers of Riemannian manifolds? ("Primitive": traced once, as opposed to $m$-fold for $m \ge 2$.) In ...
4
votes
1answer
123 views

covariant derivative vs. exterior derivative

I have the following question. Let $M$ be a Riemannian manifold with metric $g$ and $\nabla$ the Levi-Civita connection. Let furthermore $\alpha \in \Omega^{k}(M)$ be a $k$-form such that $\nabla ...
48
votes
5answers
4k views

Exterior Derivative vs. Covariant Derivative vs. Lie Derivative

In differential geometry, there are several notions of differentiation, namely: Exterior Derivative, $d$ Covariant Derivative/Connection, $\nabla$ Lie Derivative, $\mathcal{L}$. I have listed them ...
25
votes
3answers
2k views

Why are smooth manifolds defined to be paracompact?

The way I understand things, roughly speaking, the importance of smooth manifolds is that they form the category of topological spaces on which we can do calculus. The definition of smooth manifolds ...
2
votes
1answer
128 views

Bounding projective spaces

For which $n$ does there exist a (topological, smooth, PL, complex) manifold $M^n$ such that $\partial M = \mathbb{R}\mathbb{P}^m$. Obvously, $m = n -1 $ (at least an in the real case). There are a ...