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

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4
votes
5answers
3k 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 ...
21
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 ...
8
votes
1answer
575 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 ...
6
votes
1answer
372 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 ...
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, ...
4
votes
3answers
845 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 ...
11
votes
5answers
352 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 ...
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 ...
68
votes
6answers
7k 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 ...
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 ...
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^{*}: ...
7
votes
1answer
577 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 ...
7
votes
2answers
358 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 ...
5
votes
2answers
469 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. ...
11
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 $\omega$, ...
4
votes
2answers
174 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 $\varphi \in H^1(\mathbb{R}^3, \mathbb{R})$, ...
2
votes
3answers
75 views

Generators of $H^1(T)$

Let $T$ denote the torus. I am working towards an understanding of de Rham cohomology. I previously worked on finding generators for $H^1(\mathbb R^2 - \{(0,0)\})$ but then realised that for better ...
2
votes
1answer
105 views

Proving $[L_X,i_Y]=[i_X,L_Y]=i_{[X,Y]}$

Let $X,Y$ be vector fields. $L_X$ is the Lie derivative and $i_X$ is the contraction of a $k$-form. I am really stuck on how you could prove the identity $[L_X,i_Y]=[i_X,L_Y]=i_{[X,Y]}$. Update: I ...
1
vote
1answer
83 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
60 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 ...
2
votes
1answer
90 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 ...
2
votes
1answer
59 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 ...
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 ...
18
votes
2answers
747 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 ...
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 ...
10
votes
1answer
450 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 $K:\mathbb{R^n} \rightarrow \mathbb{R^n}$. ...
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 ...
12
votes
3answers
998 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 ...
8
votes
1answer
725 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 ...
7
votes
3answers
240 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 ...
6
votes
3answers
525 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 ...
8
votes
1answer
265 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
252 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
1answer
621 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 ...
6
votes
0answers
101 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
3answers
442 views

Exterior derivative of a complicated differential form

Let $\omega$ be a $2$-form on $\mathbb{R}^3\setminus\{0\}$ defined by $$ \omega = \frac{x\,dy\wedge dz+y\,dz\wedge dx +z\,dx\wedge dy}{(x^2+y^2+z^2)^{\frac{3}{2}}} $$ Show that $\omega$ is closed but ...
11
votes
2answers
683 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, ...
7
votes
2answers
194 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 ...
6
votes
3answers
991 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 ...
5
votes
2answers
925 views

Relationship Between Differential Forms and Vector Fields

I am trying reach an understanding of precisely how the space of differential forms is related to the space of vector fields. These are the definitions that I understand and am using for these ...
4
votes
2answers
241 views

Orientations on Manifold

This is a very basic definition of orientable and very basic example 20.5 however ı could not understand definition in an good way so ı want you to explain my green writing please :) and my example ...
2
votes
1answer
91 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 ...
10
votes
2answers
306 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 ...
9
votes
1answer
407 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 ...
6
votes
1answer
215 views

Poincare dual of unit circle

I'm trying to self-study Differential Forms in Algebraic Topology by Bott and Tu. I've come across this exercise: Show that the closed Poincare dual of the unit circle in $ R^2-\{0 \} $ is zero, ...
4
votes
1answer
88 views

Is there an intuitve motivation for the wedge product in differential geometry?

I've recently started studying differential forms and have been looking at differential forms. I'm struggling to understand the motivation for introducing the notion of the wedge product. Does it ...
3
votes
1answer
118 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 ...
2
votes
1answer
97 views

How can I prove $dz=dx+idy$?

Let's see $\Bbb C$ as an $\Bbb R$-vector space. Hence it is isomorphic to $\Bbb R^2$ and it has dimension $2$. If $v_1,v_2$ is a basis for $\Bbb R^2$, every its element can be written as $xv_1+yv_2$; ...
0
votes
2answers
90 views

Relationship between divergence operators defined with respect to two different volume forms.

Let us assume that you have a volume form $\mu$ defined on a manifold $\mathcal{M}$. Then you can define the divergence operator with respect to this metric, such that the following relationship holds ...
7
votes
2answers
2k 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 ...