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The Lie Derivative

Notes for GR-I and GR-II - CCD

The Lie Bracket

Suppose that we have two vector elds, U and V , dened as directional derivatives along two dierent families of curves dened on a dierentiable manifold, parameterized by and respectively, so that we can write (see earlier notes for details): U= d d and V = d d (1)

If the coordinate system in some region where the two families of curves intersect is chosen to be xi , then we can write U and V as: U = ui and V = v i i i x x (2)

where ui and v i are the components of U and V respectively in the natural basis { x i }. Since we are considering the vectors as operators, it is useful to consider the commutator of the vectors U and V , also called the Lie bracket:

d d d d d d d d = us s v c c v s s uc c x x x x 2 2 = us v c|s c + us v c s c v s uc|s c v s uc s c x x x x x x If we swap the summation indices c and s in the last term, and use the fact that the partial derivatives commute, the second partial derivative terms cancel, leaving: [U, V ] = (3) xc Thus the commutator of two vector elds is itself a vector eld, with the components in this coordinate system being those above. There must be some parameter for which we have: d d d , = (4) d d d [U, V ] = v c|s us uc|s v s

c Charles C. Dyer

It is thus clear that the Lie bracket is a derivative, called the Lie derivative, which we will usually write as: U V = [U, V ] (5) and take to indicate the Lie derivative of V along the trajectory of U .

Lie Dragging

Our primary use of coordinate transformations is to assign new, arbitrary coordinates at each point P in a manifold. It is also useful to consider making an innitesimal coordinate transformation in the manifold, thought of as a slight dragging of the coordinate system, sometimes called a motion. This provides a mapping of the manifold onto itself, justifying the terms dragging and motion. Consider an innitesimal motion that results from dragging along the trajectories of a vector eld U . Each trajectory of the vector eld U is a continuous curve whose tangent vector at each point is the value of the vector eld U at that point. We will write the transformation as: x a = x a + ua (6) where is a small parameter describing the amount of dragging. Under this motion, suppose that the point P is mapped to the point Q.

Q Q ua P v P ( )

ua P

Trajectories of V P ( + d )

Trajectories of U Figure 1: Let W be some tensor eld dened on the manifold. Once one performs the innitesimal motion from P to Q, there are two tensor elds that we can consider at Q. The rst is the original W , but evaluated at Q rather than at P , using the Taylor expansion for W , which we will denote by WQ . The second is the object WP Q that results from dragging the value of the eld at P to the point Q through the coordinate system. Since there is an implicit coordinate transformation happening, we need to subtract out this eect to get the intrinsic change in W as it is moved along the path. These two dierent elds existing at Q allow us to form the Lie dierence at Q, as it results from Lie dragging. 2


Lie Dragging of a Scalar Field

It is straightforward to dene the eld at Q based on its value at P using the Taylor expansion: Q = P + |c uc + (7) The dragged value of at Q is just the value of at P , since the coordinate transformation does not alter the value of a scalar. Thus we can dene the Lie derivative of the scalar as: U = lim



Clearly this reduces to: U = |c uc (9) so that the Lie derivative of a scalar along a direction is just the familiar directional derivative.


Lie Dragging of a Vector Field

Suppose that V is a vector eld with components v a in our coordinate system. Consider the result of dragging the components of the vector eld v a from the point P to Q the a small amount ua P . We can obtain the components v at Q by using the Taylor expansion about the point P , yielding: c c (10) vQ = vP + v c|b ub + In dragging the components of v a from P to Q, two eects played a role in the changes in these components. The rst is some intrinsic change in the vector eld, and the second arises from an implicit change in the coordinates in moving between P and Q. The latter arises because the dragging from P to Q is an active transformation, sometimes called a motion. To remove this coordinate transformation eect, we must consider the eective coordinate transformation: x a = x a + ua (11) for which the transformation matrix will be: x a a = b + ua|b xb Then the purely coordinate transformation eect would result in the vector
a b a b a a a vP Q = b + u |b vP = vP + u |b v



Dening the Lie derivative as the limit: U V = lim

0 c c vP vQ Q


we nally have the Lie derivative: U V = v c|b ub uc|b v b 3 (15)

We frequently write this in the form: u v c = v c|b ub uc|b v b (16)

To compute the Lie derivative of a covariant vector eld, wc , we can proceed by using the results for the Lie derivative of a scalar eld and for the Lie derivative of a contravariant eld. Starting with u (wc v c ) = wc u v c + v c u wc (17) and noting that u (wc v c ) = (wc v c )|b ub = wc|b v c + wc v c|b ub since (wc v c ) is a scalar, we can write v c u wc + wc u v c wc|b v c + wc v c|b ub = 0 Substituting the result for u v c , we have: v c u wc wc uc|b v b wc|b ub v c = 0 and exchanging b and c in the second term, we can write: v c u wc wb ub|c wc|b ub = 0 Since v c is an arbitrary vector, we then have: u wc = wc|b ub + wb ub|c for the Lie derivative of a covariant vector eld. (22) (21) (20) (19) (18)


Lie Dragging of a Tensor Field

To consider tensors of higher rank, say kab , we need only consider the Lie derivative of the scalar v a wb kab , and use the previous results. Since v a and wb are arbitrary vectors, we can then obtain n (23) u kab = kab|n un + knb un |a + kan u |b A similar calculation for the scalar va wb k ab yields
n nb a an b u k ab = k ab |n u k u |n k u |n


It is then easy to extend the results to compute the Lie derivative of a general tensor, of any rank.


Lie Derivative of the Metric Tensor

The Lie derivative of the metric tensor is of particular interest. The vanishing of that derivative under a particular motion, say along the trajectories of the vector eld, a , implies that there is an isometry along these trajectories. Using the earlier results for the Lie derivative, we can write
n gab = gab|n n + gnb n |a + gan |b


Using the expression for the derivative of gab

i gab|c = gib i ac + gai bc

(26) (27)

we can write this as gab = gib i||a + gai i||b Since gab||c = 0, we can lower the index on to obtain gab = a||b + b||a (28)

The vanishing of the Lie derivative of the metric tensor when it is dragged along a particular path implies that the metric geometry remains unchanged along that path. If is a vector eld along whose trajectories gab = 0, then the vector eld is called a Killing vector eld. The set of equations gab = a||b + b||a = 0 (29)

is called the Killing equations. Each independent solution for will be related to some continuous symmetry of the space-time. In most cases these equations are not easily solved, and symmetries are often imposed by careful design of the metric in a given environment. Since the Killing equations are not hyperbolic partial dierential equations, their imposition usually leads to acausal properties for the space-time. An example might be the spherical symmetry imposed in the Schwarzschild vacuum solution, or the maximally symmetric spatial sections of the Robertson-Walker metric, as a result of the imposition of the Cosmological Principle. In both examples, it is clear that the imposed symmetries over-ride causal physical processes.


Lie Derivative and Covariant Derivatives

We have developed the Lie derivative using only partial derivatives, and without the covariant derivative being used. Where we do have a metric tensor, and Christoel sysmbols, we can re-write the expressions for Lie derivatives in terms of the covariant derivative, which will sometimes be useful. The following results can be derived directly by inverting the denition of the covariant derivative to yield the partial derivative in terms of the covariant derivative and Christoel symbols. u v c = v c||b ub uc||b v b
n nb a an b u k ab = k ab ||n u k u ||n k u ||n

u wc = wc||b ub + wb ub||c
n u kab = kab||n un + knb un ||a + kan u ||b

(30) (31)