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

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6
votes
5answers
6k views

How to calculate gradient of $x^TAx$

I am watching the following video lecture: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=G_p4QJrjdOw In there, he talks about calculating gradient of $ x^{T}Ax $ and he does that using the concept of exterior ...
11
votes
5answers
473 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 +dz^...
26
votes
4answers
8k 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 ...
6
votes
1answer
488 views

Integral Definition of Exterior Derivative?

Is there a rigorous integral definition of the exterior derivative analogous to the way the gradient, divergence & curl in vector analysis can be defined in integral form? Furthermore can it be ...
12
votes
3answers
2k 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 $\omega$, ...
19
votes
3answers
2k 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 ...
9
votes
1answer
647 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 ...
4
votes
1answer
1k views

Problem book on differential forms wanted

I want to get used to differential forms. Thus I would like to solve a bunch of problems, especially on integration of differential forms. So I need a collection of problems with answers/solutions, ...
3
votes
2answers
114 views

Does there exist a $1$-form $\alpha$ with $d\alpha = \omega$?

Let $\omega := dx \wedge dy$ denote the standard area form on $\mathbb{R}^2$. As the question title suggests, does there exist a $1$-form $\alpha$ with $d\alpha = \omega$?
7
votes
2answers
398 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 (\...
2
votes
1answer
187 views

Computing $n$-th external power of standard simplectic form

I need some help: Define a 2-form on $R^n$ by $\omega=dx_1\wedge dx_2+dx_3\wedge dx_4+...+dx_{2n-1}\wedge dx_{2n}$. How to compute $\omega^n:=\omega\wedge\omega\wedge\ldots\wedge\omega$?
0
votes
1answer
76 views

Deriving generators for $H^1(T)$: what are $dx$ and $dy$?

By trial and error I found that $dx,dy$ are generators of $H^1_{dR}$ of $T=S^1\times S^1$. Verifying that they generate the first cohomology group is not difficult. My problem is: I found them by ...
86
votes
7answers
9k 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 ...
18
votes
3answers
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 ...
20
votes
2answers
1k 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 ...
30
votes
1answer
4k 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^{*}: \Omega^...
8
votes
1answer
776 views

Reference for Lie-algebra valued differential forms

I am learning about vector-valued differential forms, including forms taking values in a Lie algebra. On Wikipedia there is some explanation about these Lie algebra-valued forms, including the ...
6
votes
2answers
702 views

Why is arc length not a differential form?

I read that the arc length is not a differential form. But I don't understand why it isn't. I understand that differential forms are integrands and arc length is an expression which is integrable. ...
6
votes
1answer
502 views

Lie derivative along time-dependent vector fields

In "Lectures on Symplectic Geometry" by A. C. da Silva (http://www.math.ist.utl.pt/~acannas/Books/lsg.pdf) the author gives the following definition: $$ \mathcal{L}_{v_t} := \frac{\mathrm d }{\mathrm ...
7
votes
3answers
1k views

Differential Forms and Vector Fields correspondence

Barrett O'Neill's Differential Geometry book says that Classical vector analysis avoids the use of differential forms on $\mathbb{R}^3$ by converting 1-forms and 2-forms into vector fields via the ...
4
votes
1answer
63 views

Is there a nowhere $1$-form $\alpha$ on $M$ with $\alpha(X) = 0$ for any vector field $X$ which is a section of $\xi$?

Let $M$ be a closed $3$-manifold, and let $\xi$ be a $2$-dimensional subbundle of $TM$. Is there a nowhere zero $1$-form $\alpha$ on $M$ with $\alpha(X) = 0$ for any vector field $X$ which is a ...
4
votes
3answers
1k views

When does a null integral implies that a form is exact?

It is trivial to prove that the integration of a $(n-1)$ exact form on the boundary of a $n$-manifold is 0. What about the contraposative ? If the integration of a $(n-1)$-form on the boundary of a $n$...
4
votes
1answer
153 views

What does a standalone $dx$ mean?

Some literature uses $dx$, in the context of differential equations, in a confusing way without defining what it really stands for: $Mdx + Ndy = 0$ Does it mean one of the following or something ...
5
votes
2answers
186 views

Independence of $H(f)=\int_M \alpha \wedge f^* \beta$ on choice of $d\alpha=f^*\beta$?

I came across the following UCLA qual question while studying for my upcoming qual: Let $f: M^{4n-1} \to N^{2n}$ be a smooth map between closed connected oriented manifolds of the indicated ...
5
votes
2answers
268 views

Inverse Functions and $u$-Substitution

Back in my undergrad days I wrote a false proof of the following. Problem. Prove that $\displaystyle\int_0^{2\pi}\frac{dx}{1+e^{\sin{x}}}=\pi$ Proof. Integrating by parts gives $$ \int_0^{2\pi}\frac{...
4
votes
2answers
178 views

Why do all solutions to this equation have the same form?

In this paper on page 45, the authors state that Let's assume we know that $$ w \times dw = d\varphi + \sum_{j=1}^3\alpha_jdx_j, \tag{1}$$ where $\varphi \in H^1(\mathbb{R}^3, \mathbb{R})$, $\...
3
votes
2answers
59 views

Sum of square of function

If $f'(x) = g(x)$ and $g'(x) = - f(x)$ for all real $x$ and $f(5) =2 =f'(5)$ then we have to find $f^2$$(10) + g^2(10)$ I tried but got stuck
2
votes
2answers
145 views

Understanding the definition of a pullback of a differential $k$-form and applying it in $1-d$

I am having trouble understanding the definition of a pullback of a differential k-form in a basic course in differentiable geometry. This is the definition I am given. I believe it is easier to ...
1
vote
0answers
64 views

Poincaré Lemma problems and computing contractions in an economical way

Let $x=(A,B,C,D)$ be coordinates on $\mathbb{R}^4$. $\displaystyle \beta = \frac{(AdB-BdA)\wedge(dC \wedge dD)+(dA \wedge dB)\wedge(CdD-DdC)}{(A^2+B^2+C^2+D^2)^2}$ I would like to compute $\alpha=\...
4
votes
1answer
776 views

Pullback distributes over wedge product

I'm looking to prove that the pullback of a smooth function distributes over wedge product, i.e. $$\varphi^*(\omega \wedge \eta) = \varphi^* \omega \wedge \varphi^* \eta. $$ Here the question is ...
2
votes
1answer
172 views

Manifold is not orientable

Let $M$ be a manifold of dimension $n$ such that there exist two charts $(U_a,\phi_a)$ and $(U_b,\phi_b)$ such that $U_a,U_b$ are connected and $U_a\cap U_b\ne\emptyset$. Moreover the transition ...
2
votes
1answer
80 views

Compute $\int_cd\omega$ and $\int_{\partial c}\omega$

Question: Let $c:I^2\rightarrow\mathbb{R}^3$ be the singular $2$-cube given by $$c(s,t)=\left(\frac{1}{2}s^2,st,\frac{1}{2}t^2\right)$$Let $x=(x,y,z)$ denote the cartesian coordinates on $\mathbb{R}^3$...
76
votes
3answers
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 ...
20
votes
2answers
659 views

Why do we care about differential forms? (Confused over construction)

So it's said that differential forms provide a coordinate free approach to multivariable calculus. Well, in short I just don't get this, despite reading from many sources. I shall explain how it all ...
10
votes
1answer
539 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 $K:\mathbb{R^n} \rightarrow \mathbb{R^n}$. ...
9
votes
1answer
1k views

What's the geometrical intuition behind differential forms?

This question can look like a duplicate of this one, but it's kind of different. I'm trying to relate some geometrical meanings I've seem in some books to the definition of differential forms in $\...
9
votes
1answer
1k 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 $$\omega=\frac{\...
14
votes
2answers
2k 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 ...
13
votes
3answers
1k 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 ...
7
votes
3answers
312 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 ...
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 ...
7
votes
3answers
716 views

$\Omega=x\;dy \wedge dz+y\;dz\wedge dx+z\;dx \wedge dy$ is never zero when restricted to $\mathbb{S^2}$

We define a 2-form $\Omega$ on $\mathbb{R^3}$ by $\Omega=x\;dy \wedge dz+y\;dz\wedge dx+z\;dx \wedge dy$. How can I show that $\Omega|_\mathbb{S^2}$ is nowhere zero? Before proving that how can I ...
3
votes
1answer
993 views

Integration of a differential form along a curve

Given the differential form $\alpha = x dy - \frac{1}{2}(s^2+y^2) dt$, I'd like to evaluate $\int_\gamma \alpha$ where $\gamma(s)=(\cos s,\sin s, s)$ and $0\leq s\leq \frac{\pi}{4}$. When attempting ...
7
votes
0answers
178 views

show that $\omega$ is exact if and only if the integral of $\omega$ over every p-cycle is 0

Let $M$ be an oriented smooth manifold and $\omega$ a closed $p$-form on $M$. Show that $\omega$ is exact if and only if the integral of $\omega$ over every $p$-cycle is $0$. In particular, how to ...
3
votes
1answer
117 views

Why generalize vector calculus with $k$-forms instead of $k$-vectors?

The motivation usually given to differential forms is that they generalize vector calculus nicely. That's true, but there are also $k$-vectors, i.e., objects from $\Lambda^k(V)$ instead of $\Lambda^k(...
12
votes
2answers
374 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 ...
11
votes
1answer
671 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
1answer
301 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
338 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 ...
7
votes
2answers
205 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 $C^{\infty}(...