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Semi-Riemann Geometry and General Relativity

Shlomo SternbergSeptember 24, 2003

2

0.1 Introduction

This book represents course notes for a one semester course at the undergraduatelevel giving an introduction to Riemannian geometry and its principal physicalapplication, Einstein’s theory of general relativity. The background assumed isa good grounding in linear algebra and in advanced calculus, preferably in thelanguage of diﬀerential forms.Chapter I introduces the various curvatures associated to a hypersurfaceembedded in Euclidean space, motivated by the formula for the volume forthe region obtained by thickening the hypersurface on one side. If we thickenthe hypersurface by an amount

h

in the normal direction, this formula is apolynomial in

h

whose coeﬃcients are integrals over the hypersurface of localexpressions. These local expressions are elementary symmetric polynomials inwhat are known as the principal curvatures. The precise deﬁnitions are given inthe text.The chapter culminates with Gauss’

Theorema egregium

which assertsthat if we thicken a two dimensional surface evenly on

both

sides, then the theseintegrands depend only on the intrinsic geometry of the surface, and not on howthe surface is embedded. We give two proofs of this important theorem. (Wegive several more later in the book.) The ﬁrst proof makes use of “normal coor-dinates” which become so important in Riemannian geometry and, as “inertialframes,” in general relativity. It was this theorem of Gauss, and particularlythe very notion of “intrinsic geometry”, which inspired Riemann to develop hisgeometry.Chapter II is a rapid review of the diﬀerential and integral calculus on man-ifolds, including diﬀerential forms,the

d

operator, and Stokes’ theorem. Alsovector ﬁelds and Lie derivatives. At the end of the chapter are a series of sec-tions in exercise form which lead to the notion of parallel transport of a vectoralong a curve on a embedded surface as being associated with the “rolling of the surface on a plane along the curve”.Chapter III discusses the fundamental notions of linear connections and theircurvatures, and also Cartan’s method of calculating curvature using frame ﬁeldsand diﬀerential forms. We show that the geodesics on a Lie group equipped witha bi-invariant metric are the translates of the one parameter subgroups. A shortexercise set at the end of the chapter uses the Cartan calculus to compute thecurvature of the Schwartzschild metric. A second exercise set computes somegeodesics in the Schwartzschild metric leading to two of the famous predictionsof general relativity: the advance of the perihelion of Mercury and the bendingof light by matter. Of course the theoretical basis of these computations, i.e.the theory of general relativity, will come later, in Chapter VII.Chapter IV begins by discussing the bundle of frames which is the modernsetting for Cartan’s calculus of “moving frames” and also the jumping oﬀ pointfor the general theory of connections on principal bundles which lie at the baseof such modern physical theories as Yang-Mills ﬁelds. This chapter seems topresent the most diﬃculty conceptually for the student.Chapter V discusses the general theory of connections on ﬁber bundles andthen specialize to principal and associated bundles.

0.1. INTRODUCTION

3Chapter VI returns to Riemannian geometry and discusses Gauss’s lemmawhich asserts that the radial geodesics emanating from a point are orthogo-nal (in the Riemann metric) to the images under the exponential map of thespheres in the tangent space centered at the origin. From this one concludesthat geodesics (deﬁned as self parallel curves) locally minimize arc length in aRiemann manifold.Chapter VII is a rapid review of special relativity. It is assumed that thestudents will have seen much of this material in a physics course.Chapter VIII is the high point of the course from the theoretical point of view. We discuss Einstein’s general theory of relativity from the point of view of the Einstein-Hilbert functional. In fact we borrow the title of Hilbert’s paper forthe Chapter heading. We also introduce the principle of general covariance, ﬁrstintroduce by Einstein, Infeld, and Hoﬀmann to derive the “geodesic principle”and give a whole series of other applications of this principle.Chapter IX discusses computational methods deriving from the notion of a Riemannian submersion, introduced and developed by Robert Hermann andperfected by Barrett O’Neill. It is the natural setting for the generalized Gauss-Codazzi type equations. Although technically somewhat demanding at the be-ginning, the range of applications justiﬁes the eﬀort in setting up the theory.Applications range from curvature computations for homogeneous spaces to cos-mogeny and eschatology in Friedman type models.Chapter X discusses the Petrov classiﬁcation, using complex geometry, of thevarious types of solutions to the Einstein equations in four dimensions. Thisclassiﬁcation led Kerr to his discovery of the rotating black hole solution whichis a topic for a course in its own. The exposition in this chapter follows jointwork with Kostant.Chapter XI is in the form of a enlarged exercise set on the star operator. Itis essentially independent of the entire course, but I thought it useful to include,as it would be of interest in any more advanced treatment of topics in the course.

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