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 ...
57
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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 ...
56
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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 ...
54
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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 ...
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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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Understanding the Laplace operator conceptually

The Laplace operator: those of you who now understand it, how would you explain what it "does" conceptually? How do you wish you had been taught it? Any good essays (combining both history and ...
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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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475 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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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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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 ...
31
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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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10answers
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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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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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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 ...
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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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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 ...
25
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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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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 ...
25
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2answers
749 views

Why do differential forms have a much richer structure than vector fields?

I apologize in advance because this question might be a bit philosophical, but I do think it is probably a genuine question with non-vacuous content. We know as a fact that differential forms have a ...
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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 ...
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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 ...
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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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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 ...
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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. ...
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What did Gauss think about infinity?

I have someone who is begging for a conversation with me about infinity. He thinks that Cantor got it wrong, and suggested to me that Gauss did not really believe in infinity, and would not have ...
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456 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, ...
21
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457 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 ...
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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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1answer
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How to find eigenvalues and eigenvectors of this matrix

Can you help to find eigenvalues and eigenvectors of the following matrix? Here is the matrix: $$C = \small \begin{pmatrix} -\sin(\theta_{2} - \theta_{M}) & \sin(\theta_{1} - \theta_{M}) & 0 ...
21
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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 ...
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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 ...
21
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1answer
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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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249 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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1answer
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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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2answers
462 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 ...
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2answers
401 views

Convex surface on which any two points $a,b$ can be joined by a curve of length $(\pi/2-\epsilon)|a-b|$

I am trying to solve an exercise on page 13 of the book Metric structures on Riemannian and non-Riemannian spaces by Gromov. Construct a closed, convex surface $X$ in $\mathbb R^3$ such that any ...
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809 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 $\theta_t$ ...
18
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2answers
551 views

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 ...
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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 ...
17
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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 ...
16
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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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concrete examples of tangent bundles of smooth manifolds for standard spaces

I'm having trouble visualizing what the topology/atlas of a tangent bundle $TM$ looks like, for a smooth manifold $M$. I know that $$\dim(TM)=2\dim(M).$$ Do the tangent bundles of the following ...
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is there any good resource for video lectures of differential geometry?

I am wondering if there is some online resource for video lectures on the topic of differential geometry. Thanks a lot
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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 ...
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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 ...
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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 ...
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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 $\mathbb{R}^3$. ...