For questions about differential forms which commonly arise in differential geometry, and sometimes in multivariable calculus.

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72
votes
2answers
3k views

Direct proof that the wedge product preserves integral cohomology classes?

Let $H^k(M,\mathbb R)$ be the De Rham cohomology of a manifold $M$. There is a canonical map $H^k(M;\mathbb Z) \to H^k(M;\mathbb R)$ from the integral cohomology to the cohomology with coefficients ...
67
votes
6answers
6k 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 ...
36
votes
3answers
620 views

Is Stokes' Theorem natural in the sense of category theory?

Stokes' Theorem asserts that for a compactly-supported differential form $\omega$ of degree $n-1$ on a smooth oriented $n$-dimensional manifold $M$ we have the marvellous equation $$\int_M d\omega = ...
21
votes
1answer
496 views

functoriality of derivations

I seem to have problems understanding algebraically why given a map of manifolds $f: M \to N$ we get a bundle map $TM \to f^*TN$. Now, fiberwise it's all good. But I do not understand how to define ...
19
votes
4answers
5k views

What is a covector and what is it used for?

From what I understand, a covector is an object that takes a vector and returns a number. So given a vector $v \in V$ and a covector $\phi \in V^*$, you can act on $v$ with $\phi$ to get a real number ...
17
votes
1answer
2k views

How to calculate the pullback of a $k$-form explicitly

I'm having trouble doing actual computations of the pullback of a $k$-form. I know that a given differentiable map $\alpha: \mathbb{R}^{m} \rightarrow \mathbb{R}^{n}$ induces a map $\alpha^{*}: ...
17
votes
3answers
1k views

Geometric understanding of differential forms.

I would like to understand differential forms more intuitively. I have yet to find a book which explains how the use of the exterior product in differential forms ties into the geometrical ...
17
votes
2answers
717 views

Symmetric and wedge product in algebra and differential geometry

I have been struggling with this issue for a while (and asked a similar question here), but still not found a satisfying answer. The question boils down to: which is the correct identity? $dx \, dy ...
15
votes
2answers
1k views

Intuition behind $dx \wedge dy=-dy \wedge dx$

I was re-reading this old book of mine; and I noticed that in defining the rules of differential forms, it "makes sense" that we have the rule $dx \wedge dx=0$ because if $dx$ is infinitesimal, then ...
15
votes
2answers
2k views

Geometric interpretation of connection forms, torsion forms, curvature forms, etc

I have just begun learning about the connection 1-forms, torsion 2-forms, and curvature 2-forms in the context of Riemannian manifolds. However, I am finding it hard to relate these notions to any ...
14
votes
4answers
706 views

Where can I learn about complex differential forms?

So I'm a 3rd year grad student in number theory/modular forms/algebraic geometry, and I've worked with differential forms from an algebraic point of view without ever knowing what they really are. I'd ...
14
votes
1answer
1k views

Geometric Explanation of Tamagawa Numbers

Sometimes in order to understand a concept thoroughly we need to have a algebraic view ( in terms of equations ) and corresponding geometric view. My interest always lies with understanding the ...
13
votes
2answers
498 views

The algebraic de Rham complex

Let $A$ be a commutative $R$-algebra (or more generally a morphism of ringed spaces). Then there is an "algebraic de Rham complex" of $R$-linear maps $A=\Omega^0_{A/R} \xrightarrow{d^0} \Omega^1_{A/R} ...
13
votes
1answer
762 views

What do $dz$ and $|dz|$ mean?

I'm having a hard time understanding complex differentials. I know that when I have a field $\mathbb K$ and a $\mathbb K-$vector space $\mathbb K^n,$ then we define $dx_i\in \mathrm{Lin}(\mathbb ...
12
votes
3answers
906 views

What is the motivation for differential forms?

I am that point in my mathematical career where I am learning differential forms. I am reading from M.Spivak's Calculus on Manifolds. So far I have gone over the tensor and wedge products and their ...
12
votes
1answer
448 views

Visualizing Exterior Derivative

How do you visualize the exterior derivative of differential forms? I imagine differential forms to be some sort of (oriented) line segments, areas, volumes etc. That is if I imagine a two-form, I ...
12
votes
1answer
223 views

Proof of holomorphic Lefschetz fixed point formula using currents in Griffiths and Harris

I am trying to understand the proof of the Holomorphic Lefschetz fixed point formula on page 426 in Griffiths and Harris. However, I find their use of currents extremely confusing. They seem to go ...
11
votes
5answers
343 views

Is line element mathematically rigorous?

I know differentials (in a way of standard analysis) are not very rigorous in mathematics, there are a lot of amazing answers here on the topic. But what about line element? $$ds^2 = dx^2 + dy^2 ...
11
votes
1answer
528 views

Coordinate free proof that curvature is the “square” of the connection

Here's the setup. Consider a vector bundle $E$ over a manifold $M$ and let $\Omega^*(M, E)$ denote the space of $E$-valued differential forms (i.e. the space of sections of the vector bundle ...
11
votes
2answers
666 views

Is there a Stokes theorem for covariant derivatives?

A $V$-valued differential form on $M$ is a smooth map $\omega : TM \to V$ such that $\omega$ restricted to any tangent space $T_p M$ is an element of the $V$-valued exterior algebra $\Lambda^n (T_p M, ...
11
votes
0answers
131 views

Characterization of the exterior derivative $d$

In the paper Natural Operations on Differential Forms, the author R. Palais shows that the exterior derivative $d$ is characterized as the unique "natural" linear map from $\Phi^p$ to $\Phi^{p+1}$ ...
10
votes
2answers
1k views

Apparent counter example to Stoke's theorem?

I think I found an apparent contradiction to Stoke's theorem with this 2-differential form $M= \overline{B^{2}}- \{ 0 \}$, $\partial M = S^1$, $$\omega = \frac{x~dy-y~dx}{x^2+y^2}$$ defined in ...
10
votes
2answers
302 views

checking if a 2-form is exact

Consider the 2-form $$\sigma=\frac{x_1 dx_2 \wedge dx_3 + x_2dx_3\wedge dx_1+ x_3 dx_1 \wedge dx_2}{(x_1^2+x_2^2+x_3^2)^{3/2}}.$$ I need to show if it is exact or not. Suppose it is exact, then there ...
10
votes
1answer
446 views

Writing Integrals using Differential Forms

Consider some smooth curve $C \subset \mathbb{R^n}$ and $\gamma:[a,b] \subset\mathbb{R}\rightarrow C$ a parametrisation of $C$ and a continuous vector field $K:\mathbb{R^n} \rightarrow \mathbb{R^n}$. ...
10
votes
2answers
356 views

Integral of wedge product of two one forms on a Riemann surface

I'm having trouble verifying an elementary assertion made in this answer on MathOverflow. It seems more like a math.stackexchange question, so I'm asking it here. Anyway, the assertion is as follows ...
10
votes
3answers
1k views

Inducing orientations on boundary manifolds

Given a $k$-manifold $M$, such that $\partial M$ is a $(k-1)$-manifold, there is a standard way in which $\partial M$ inherits the orientation of $M$. So if $M$ is oriented by the form field $\omega$, ...
10
votes
1answer
795 views

Hodge Star Operator

I'm trying to understand the Hodge star operation, but have come across an impasse almost immediately. I have the definition $$(\star \omega)_{a_1\dots a_{n-p}}=\frac{1}{p!}\epsilon_{a_1\dots ...
10
votes
0answers
535 views

Proof of residue theorem (residue formula) for differential forms on curves over an arbitrary closed field.

I have been reading the book Algebraic Geometric Codes: Basic Notions by Tsfasman, Vladut and Nogin. They give a residue formula like this: Let $\mathbb{k}$ be an algebraically closed field and $X$ ...
9
votes
1answer
90 views

What makes differential forms special

There are two natural structures defined on differential manifolds, namely tangent bundle and its dual cotangent bundle. An element of tangent bundle $TM$ at a base point $p\in M$ can be described by ...
9
votes
2answers
1k views

Are Clifford algebras and differential forms equivalent frameworks for differential geometry?

I recently discovered Clifford's geometric algebra and its application to differential geometry. Some claim that this conceptual framework subsumes and generalizes the more traditional approach based ...
9
votes
1answer
399 views

Homework: closed 1-forms on $S^2$ are exact.

From the 2008 UCLA Geometry-Topology qualifying exam: let $\theta$ be a $1$-form on $S^2$ with $d \theta = 0$. Construct a function $f$ on $S^2$ with $d f = \theta$. I'm not very confident in my ...
8
votes
3answers
187 views

Interesting question in differential geometry

Let $ \alpha $ be a closed $ 3 $-form on $ \mathbb{R}^{4} \setminus \{ 0 \} $. Let $ i: S^{3} \hookrightarrow \mathbb{R}^{4} $ be the canonical embedding of $ S^{3} $, and suppose that $ \Omega := ...
8
votes
3answers
1k views

Interior product of differential forms

The interior product of a 2-form $\beta$ and vector field $X$ is defined by $(i_x\beta)(Y)=\beta(X,Y)$ where $Y$ is a vector field. This is the definition of a 2-form (and it's similar for a ...
8
votes
1answer
565 views

Information captured by differential forms

My advanced calculus class is currently doing differential forms and I have a hard time really understanding what they are all about. I can read the proofs of the theorems given in Rudin's PMA chapter ...
8
votes
2answers
38 views

$\text{Alt}\,(\phi_1 \otimes \phi_2 \otimes \phi_3)$

How do I write out $\text{Alt}(\phi_1 \otimes \phi_2 \otimes \phi_3)$ for $\phi_1, \phi_2, \phi_3 \in V^*$?
8
votes
1answer
260 views

When can a functional be written as the integral of a 1-form?

Let a real, smooth manifold $M$ be given. Let $\Gamma$ denote the set of all path segments on $M$, namely the set of all paths of the form $\gamma:[a,b]\to M$. Let $Q:\Gamma\to\mathbb R$ be a ...
8
votes
1answer
697 views

Closed not exact form on $\mathbb{R}^n\setminus\{0\}$

I'd like to construct a closed but not exact $n-1$-form $\omega$ on $\mathbb{R}^n\setminus\{0\}$ in analogy to the winding form: $$\frac{x~dy-y~dx}{x^2+y^2}$$ I think something like ...
8
votes
1answer
546 views

Why are de Rham cohomology and Cech cohomology of the constant sheaf the same

I am comfortable with de Rham cohomology, sheaves, sheaf cohomology and Cech cohomology. I am looking to prove the following theorem: If $M$ is a smooth manifold of dimension $m$, then we have ...
8
votes
1answer
240 views

Is $ds$ a differential form?

I am somewhat confused as to whether $ds$ (line element) is actually a differential form... we have (in $\mathbb{R}^2$): $$ds^2 = dx^2 + dy^2$$ Differential 1-forms are supposed to be linear ...
8
votes
1answer
219 views

How to prove $(0,1)$ form is not $\overline\partial$-exact

On a complex manifold, if we are dealing with the $d$ operator, there's a pretty easy way of showing some form is not $d$-exact, simply by integrating in a closed loop. If you can find a loop that is ...
8
votes
1answer
123 views

Explain densities to me please!

When it comes to integration on manifolds, I speak two languages. The first is of course the language of differential forms, which is something I am relatively well acquinted with. The second ...
8
votes
1answer
622 views

Differential Forms in Spivak vs Rudin

Can anyone give me the gist of the difference of the treatment of Stokes' Theorem in Spivak versus baby Rudin (chapter 4 in spivak, chapter 10 in rudin)? I need to do some problems from Rudin but ...
8
votes
2answers
493 views

Examples of Computations in Algebraic Topology

I have started reading "Differential Forms in Algebraic Topology" by Bott, Tu, recently. While I'm quite happy with the exposition of the theorems and explanation of theoretical results, I'm missing ...
8
votes
1answer
285 views

Maurer-Cartan 1-form

Can anyone help me with the following? Let $\rho$ be the right-invariant Maurer-Cartan 1-form $$\rho = dg\ g^{-1}$$ I want to show that the MC equation $$d\rho - \rho \wedge\rho = 0$$ holds. So ...
8
votes
2answers
142 views

What is the relation between dx in elementary calculus and dx in differential geometry?

I've recently started studying differential geometry and was really hoping that in doing so I'd finally have an answer to something that's been bugging me since I first learnt calculus - what is ...
8
votes
0answers
164 views

algebraic $1$-forms vs analytic $1$-forms

First let's fix some definitions: Definitions: Complex manifold (of dimension n): Is a locally ringed space $(X,\mathscr F)$, where there is an open cover $\bigcup_{i\in I} U_i=X$ such that ...
8
votes
0answers
115 views

Dimension of diffeomorphism groups preserving some $2$-tensor.

For a finite-dimensional smooth manifold $M$, let $\mathrm{Diff}(M)$ be its diffeomorphism group. Suppose we are given a $2$-tensor $\mathcal{K}$ on $M$, and let $$\mathrm{Diff}_{~\mathcal{K}}(M) = ...
7
votes
3answers
515 views

Why are differential forms more important than symmetric tensors?

In differential geometry, differential forms are totally anti-symmetric tensors and play an important role. I am led to wonder why do we not study totally symmetric tensors as much as forms. What ...
7
votes
3answers
235 views

What is the intuition behind the definition of the differential of a function?

What is the intuition behind the definition of a differential of a function in differential geometry? i.e. $$df(p)(v_{p}) =v_{p} (f)(p) $$ where $v_{p} \in T_{p} M$ is a vector in the tangent space to ...
7
votes
2answers
193 views

Interpretation of $p$-forms

Let $M$ be a smooth manifold, let $C^{\infty}(M)$ be set of all smooth functions from $M$ to $\mathbb R$ and let $Vec(M)$ denote the set of all vector fields on $M$. A $1$-form on $M$ is a ...