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

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71
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 ...
62
votes
6answers
5k 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 ...
34
votes
3answers
508 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
490 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 ...
18
votes
4answers
4k 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
2answers
601 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 ...
16
votes
3answers
969 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 ...
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
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 ...
14
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^{*}: ...
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
4answers
616 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 ...
13
votes
1answer
709 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
2answers
430 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} ...
12
votes
1answer
218 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
3answers
758 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 ...
11
votes
1answer
521 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
612 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, ...
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
287 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
5answers
313 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 ...
10
votes
1answer
419 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
307 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
1answer
735 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
475 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
336 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 ...
9
votes
1answer
388 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 ...
8
votes
3answers
184 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
994 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
540 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
1answer
243 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
574 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
431 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
2answers
934 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 ...
8
votes
1answer
205 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
114 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
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 $\omega$, ...
8
votes
2answers
482 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
263 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
126 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
98 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 $\Phi^{p+1}$ ...
8
votes
0answers
160 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 ...
7
votes
3answers
202 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
188 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 ...
7
votes
2answers
1k views

Cartan's magic formula

A possible proof of Cartan's magic formula $$L_X = i_X \circ d+d \circ i_X$$ is to follow the steps: Show that two derivations on $\Omega^{\bullet}(M)$ commuting with $d$ are equal iff they agree on ...
7
votes
2answers
334 views

Deriving BAC-CAB from differential forms

I've recently begun reading up on differential forms in a physics context, and my resources said that one can often derive vector identities from differential forms. For instance, $\nabla \cdot ...
7
votes
1answer
566 views

how to understand the tensor product canonical line bundle $\otimes$ dual bundle

Suppose we have a Riemann surface $M$ together with a holomorphic vector bundle $E \to M$ of rank n. let $K$ denote the canonical line bundle and let $E^*$ denote the dual bundle I am trying to ...
7
votes
5answers
214 views

Solving $P(x,y)dx + Q(x,y)dy =0$: interpretation in terms of forms

I asked a similar question here which I will formulate more sharply: When we write a differential equation as $P(x,y)dx + Q(x,y)dy = 0$, what is the interpretation in terms of differential forms? ...
7
votes
3answers
406 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
2answers
236 views

Dimension of de Rham Cohomology groups?

Is there a simple way to prove that the de Rham cohomology groups of a compact manifold $M$ have finite dimension as $\mathbb{R}$-vector spaces?