Differential geometry is the application of differential calculus in the setting of smooth manifolds (curves, surfaces and higher dimensional examples). Modern differential geometry focuses "geometric structures" on such manifolds, such as bundles and connections; for questions not concerning such ...

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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 ...
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What's the largest possible volume of a taco, and how do I make one that big?

Let $f$ be a continuous, even, positive function over some interval $I=[-a,a]$ such that the total arc length of $f$ over $I$ is at least $2$, $f(0)=0$, and $f$ is increasing on $(0,a)$. View the ...
51
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4answers
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Why is a circle in a plane surrounded by 6 other circles

When you draw a circle in a plane you can perfectly surround it with 6 other circles of the same radius. This works for any radius. What's the significance of 6? Why not some other number? I'm ...
47
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8answers
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Teaching myself differential topology and differential geometry

I have a hazy notion of some stuff in differential geometry and a better, but still not quite rigorous understanding of basics of differential topology. I have decided to fix this lacuna once for ...
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5answers
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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 ...
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What is the solution to Nash's problem presented in “A Beautiful Mind”?

I was watching the said movie the other night, and I started thinking about the equation posed by Nash in the movie. More specifically, the one he said would take some students a lifetime to solve ...
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How to identify surfaces of revolution

Given a surface $f(x,y,z)=0$, how would you determine whether or not it's a surface of revolution, and find the axis of rotation? The special case where $f$ is a polynomial is also of interest. A ...
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Why is the Möbius strip not orientable?

I am trying to understand the notion of an orientable manifold. Let M be a smooth n-manifold. We say that M is orientable if and only if there exists an atlas $A = \{(U_{\alpha}, \phi_{\alpha})\}$ ...
32
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445 views

What shape does a piece of paper make when it is pushed from the edges?

When I push a piece of (A4) paper oriented landscape to me from the shorter edges, it makes a pretty shape, resembling a bell-curve. I seem to remember these sort of situations being a motivation for ...
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A proof of the Isoperimetric Inequality - how does it work?

Here is a nice proof of the isoperimetric inequality (equality part ommited): Isoperimetric Inequality If $\gamma$ is any simple closed piecewise $C^1$ curve of length $l$, with it's interior having ...
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Is there any easy way to understand the definition of Gaussian Curvature?

I am new to differential geometry and I am trying to understand Gaussian curvature. The definitions found at Wikipedia and Wolfram sites are too mathematical. Is there any intuitive way to understand ...
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Is $T^1 S^5$ abstractly diffeomorphic to $S^4\times S^5$?

One can ask When is $T^1 S^n$, the unit tangent bundle of $S^n$, abstractly diffeomorphic to $S^{n-1}\times S^n$? For even $n$, the answer is never. This is because $T^1 S^{2n}$ has torsion in ...
28
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A really complicated calculus book

I've been studying math as a hobby, just for fun for years, and I had my goal to understand nearly every good undergraduate textbook and I think, I finally reached it. So now I need an another goal. ...
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3answers
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Ambiguous Curve: can you follow the bicycle?

Let $\alpha:[0,1]\to \mathbb R^2$ be a smooth closed curve parameterized by the arc length. We will think of $\alpha$ like a back track of the wheel of a bicycle. If we suppose that the distance ...
27
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2answers
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Which manifolds are parallelizable?

Recall that a manifold $M$ of dimension $n$ is parallelizable if there are $n$ vector fields that form a basis of the tangent space $T_x M$ at every point $x \in M$. This is equivalent to the tangent ...
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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 ...
23
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3answers
936 views

Roadmap to study Atiyah-Singer index theorem

I am a physics undergrad and want to pursue a PhD in Math (geometry or topology). I study it almost completely by myself, as the program in my country offers very less flexibility to take non ...
23
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1answer
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Is there an easy way to show which spheres can be Lie groups?

I heard that using some relatively basic differential geometry, you can show that the only spheres which are Lie groups are $S^0$, $S^1$, and $S^3$. My friend who told me this thought that it ...
23
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682 views

Is every Compact $n$-Manifold a Compactification of $\mathbb{R}^n$?

I read the result that every compact $n$-manifold is a compactification of $\mathbb{R}^n$. Now, for surfaces, this seems clear: we take an n-gon, whose interior (i.e., everything in the n-gon except ...
22
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0answers
602 views

Computing the Chern-Simons invariant of SO(3)

I am an undergraduate learning about gauge theory and I have been tasked with working through the two examples given on pages 65 and 66 of "Characteristic forms and geometric invariants" by Chern and ...
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10answers
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“Immediate” Applications of Differential Geometry

My professor asked us to find and make a list of things/facts from real life which have a differential geometry interpretation or justification. One example is this older question of mine. Another ...
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287 views

How can I lift a path to $\mathrm{Spin}(n)$?

Suppose I am given an explicit differentiable path $\gamma\colon[a,b]\to SO(n)$, with $\gamma(a)=\gamma(b)=I$. Then $\gamma$ either does or does not lift to a closed loop in $\mathrm{Spin}(n)$. How ...
21
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Natural and coordinate free definition for the Riemannian volume form?

In linear algebra and differential geometry, there are various structures which we calculate with in a basis or local coordinates, but which we would like to have a meaning which is basis independent ...
21
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1answer
290 views

Why is the Laplacian important in Riemannian geometry?

As I've learned more Riemannian geometry, many of my teachers have said that studying the Laplacian (and its eigenvalues) is very important. But I must admit, I've never fully understood why. ...
21
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354 views

How much of an $n$-dimensional manifold can we embed into $\mathbb{R}^n$?

I observed some naive examples. Spheres, for example, when we cut out one point, can be embedded into $\mathbb{R}^n$. And if we cut out a measure zero set of a projective space, it can be embedded ...
21
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463 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 ...
20
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382 views

Why do odd dimensions and even dimensions behave differently?

It is well known that odd and even dimensions work differently. Waves propagation in odd dimensions is unlike propagation in even dimensions. A parity operator is a rotation in even dimensions, ...
20
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3answers
417 views

What's the connection between derivatives and boundaries?

The (second) fundamental theorem of calculus says that $$\int_a^b f'(x) dx = f(b) - f(a)$$ which can also be stated, if one knows enough about what's coming next, as: The integral of the ...
20
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231 views

Is an isometric embedding of a disk determined by the boundary?

Suppose we cut a disk out of a flat piece of paper and then manipulate it in three dimensions (folding, bending, etc.) Can we determine where the paper is from the position of the boundary circle? ...
20
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2answers
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Geometric intuition behind the Lie bracket of vector fields

I understand the definition of the Lie bracket and I know how to compute it in local coordinates. But is there a way to "guess" what is the Lie bracket of two vector fields ? What is the geometric ...
19
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1answer
435 views

Measure theoretic definition of curl

Is there a good measure theoretic definition of curl? To give an idea of the sort of equation that I'm looking for, here's now I define grad and div. For the gradient, say we are given a Fréchet ...
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Differential forms on fuzzy manifolds

This post will take a bit to set up properly, but it is an easy read (and most likely easy to answer); in any event, please bear with me. Question In the usual setting of open subsets of ...
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When is the sheaf corresponding to a vector bundle on a smooth manifold coherent?

In algebraic and analytic geometry, vector bundles are usually interpreted as locally free sheaves of modules (over the structure sheaves). They are in particular examples of quasi-coherent sheaves. ...
17
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Introductory texts on manifolds

I was studying some hyperbolic geometry previously and realised that I needed to understand things in a more general setting in terms of a "manifold" which I don't yet know of. I was wondering if ...
17
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2answers
699 views

Relationship between the zeros of a vector field and the fixed points of its flow

I'm having a little trouble here and would appreciate some hints. Let $M$ be a compact manifold without boundary and let $X$ be a smooth vector field on $M$ with only isolated zeros. Let $\theta_t$ ...
17
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1answer
121 views

Reconstructing a manifold from critical points

I am teaching theoretical calculus this semester, and on the last discussion section we were discussing critical points of functions. I explained the idea of Morse theory, and a student of mine asked ...
17
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1answer
419 views

Yarn-like functions

When wrapping yarn around a ball you cannot make sharp turns or the yarn will fall off. If we think of the yarn as a curve on the surface of the sphere, we would say it must have curvature less than ...
16
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2answers
270 views

Is this surface diffeomorphic to a 2-sphere?

Let $f:\mathbb{R}^3\to \mathbb{R}$ be defined by $f(x,y,z)=x^4+y^6+z^8$. Let $M=f^{−1}(1)$. Is $M$ is diffeomorphic to a sphere $S^2$? I tried to solve this problem, but I realized that I ...
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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 ...
15
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1answer
500 views

Group cohomology versus deRham cohomology with twisted coefficients

Let $G$ be a simple simply-connected Lie group, let $M$ be a 3-manifold and $P \to M$ a principal $G$-bundle. Let $A$ be a flat connection in this bundle, and let $\text{Ad} P$ be the associated ...
15
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2answers
517 views

Why study “curves” instead of 1-manifolds?

In most undergraduate differential geometry courses -- I am thinking of do Carmo's "Differential Geometry of Curves and Surfaces" -- the topic of study is curves and surfaces in $\mathbb{R}^3$. ...
15
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1answer
269 views

Geometric interpretation of the map $SO(4) \to SO(3)$

Let me first explain the background of my question. As is well known, the group $SO(n+1)$ acts transitively on the sphere $S^n$, and the stabilizer is the group $SO(n)$, so that we get a fibration ...
15
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1answer
625 views

Stochastic interpretation of Einstein Equations

Einsteins theory of gravitation, general relativity, is a purely geometric theory. In a recent question I wanted to know what the relation of Brownian Motion to the Helmholtz equation is and got a ...
15
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1answer
364 views

When does gradient flow not converge?

I've been thinking about gradient flows in the context of Morse theory, where we take a differentiable-enough function $f$ on some space (for now let's say a compact Riemannian manifold $M$) and use ...
14
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1answer
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Does a Fourier transformation on a (pseudo-)Riemannian manifold make sense?

the Fourier transformation of a scalar function with respect to one variable might be defined as $\mathcal{F}\left[w\right](\omega )\equiv ...
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How to show in a clean way that $z^4 + (x^2 + y^2 - 1)(2x^2 + 3y^2-1) = 0$ is a torus?

How to show in a clean way that the zero-locus of $$z^4 + (x^2 + y^2 - 1)(2x^2 + 3y^2-1) = 0$$ is a torus?
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The space of Riemannian metrics on a given manifold.

For a finite-dimensional smooth (Hausdorff, second-countable) manifold $M$, consider the set $$\mathcal{Met}(M) = \{ g : g \text{ is a Riemannian metric on }M \}.$$ I'd like to know about the typical ...
14
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1answer
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Coordinate-free techniques in Lagrangian mechanics

Consider the following Lagrangian (Exercise 3.6B from Abraham and Marsden's Foundations of Mechanics): $$ L(\upsilon)=\frac12g(\upsilon,\upsilon)+V(\tau_Q\upsilon)+g(\upsilon,Y(\tau_Q\upsilon)) $$ ...
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An example of a triple $(E,\pi,M)$ which is not a vector bundle

What is an example of a pair of finite dimensional $C^{\infty}$ manifolds $E$ and $M$, and a smooth function $\pi:E\rightarrow M$ such that $\pi^{-1}(p)$ has a vector space structure for each $p\in M\ ...
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3answers
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How to prove a manifold is simply connected?… using geometry

I was Looking at another questions title, and given the tag of DG, I thought it would read a little more like this one. Or at least that answers to this question would be answers to that question. ...