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You are on page 1of 74

An Introduction to Curvature

Donna Dietz

Howard Iseri

Department of Mathematics and Computer Information Science,

Mansfield University, Mansfield, PA 16933

E-mail address: hiseri@mnsfld.edu

Contents

1. Rotation 1

2. Angles 3

3. Rotation 4

4. Definition of Curvature 6

5. Impulse Curvature 8

1. Total curvature for cone points 11

2. Total curvature for smooth surfaces 13

3. Gauss curvature and impulse curvature 14

4. Gauss-Bonnet Theorem (Exact exerpt from Creative Visualization

handout. 15

5. Defining Gauss curvature 16

6. Intrinsic aspects of the Gauss curvature 19

1. Parallel vectors 21

Chapter 4. Functions 25

1. Introduction 25

2. Piecewise-Linear Approximations for Functions of One Variable 25

3. Uniform Continuity 27

4. Differentiation in One Variable 29

5. Derivatives and PL Approximations 33

6. Parametrizations of Curves 35

7. Functions of Two Variables 37

8. Differentiability for Functions of Two Variables 37

1. Parametrizations 48

1. The Riemannian Metric for a Plane 53

2. The Riemannian Metric for Curved Surfaces 56

3. Curvature 60

4. The Inverse of the Metric 62

1. Intrinsic Interpretations 63

3

4 CONTENTS

1. What we know 69

2. What is the geometry like around a vertex of a cubed 3-manifold? 69

3. A positive curvature example 69

CHAPTER 1

0.1. Overview. As you walk around a closed path (along a simple closed

curve on the floor), the direction you are facing will make a net rotation of 2π

radians or 360◦.

1. Rotation

Imagine a circle drawn on the floor (the radius might be ten feet). You are

to walk around the circle once in a counter-clockwise direction. If you are initially

facing north, you will soon be facing north-west and then west. We can naturally

say that the direction in which you are facing has changed by 90◦ or π2 radians.

After that, you will face south, then east, and finally north again. The direction

in which you are facing has experienced a rotation of 360◦. We will want to think

of this rotation as describing how the direction you are facing has changed as

opposed to your change in location as you make an orbit around the circle.

For a curve in the plane, we can talk about the rotation of a tangent vector in

the same way that we have talked about the rotation of our body as we walk along

a curve drawn on the floor. Intuitively at least, we would like to identify these two

concepts. That is, what we discover about one should apply equally to the other.

Throughout this book, we will use the convention that counter-clockwise rota-

tions are positive. For example, if you were to turn 45◦ to the left and then 90◦ to

the right, the net rotation would be −45◦ .

1

2 1. ANGLES AND CURVATURE

1.1. Exercises.

1. Suppose you are walking around the curve shown in Figure 1 in a counter-

clockwise direction. Assume that the curve is smooth (the direction varies smoothly)

and that the direction you are facing is the same as that of a tangent vector. How

does the direction you face change as you move from the starting point A to the

point B? From B to C? From A to C? What is your total (net) rotation for the

entire circuit?

2. What would your total rotation be as you walked in the direction indicated

around the path shown in Figure 2?

3. What would your total rotation be as you walked in the direction indicated

around the path shown in Figure 3?

4. Make a conjecture about the net rotation of a tangent vector moving around

a simple closed curve in the plane in a counter-clockwise direction.

5. Make a conjecture about the net rotation of a normal vector moving around

a simple closed curve in the plane in a counter-clockwise direction. Does it make

a difference whether the normal vector is pointing outward or inwards? Are there

other directions that a normal vector can point?

1.2. Overview. Angles are abrupt changes in direction. Total curvature is

the net change in direction over some section of a curve or polygonal path.

2. ANGLES 3

2. Angles

One of the most important theorems in Euclidean geometry states that the

sum of the angles of a triangle is 180◦. Virtually all of the theorems that involve

angle measure or parallelism can be proved with this fact. Among these would be

that the angle sum of a quadrilateral is 360◦ , the angle sum of a pentagon is 540◦,

the angle sum of a hexagon is 720◦ , and in general,

Theorem 1. The angle sum of a (convex) n-gon is (n − 2) · 180◦

95◦

95◦

100◦

70◦

This is all very nice, but the sequence of theorems just mentioned can be

restated more simply and intuitively in terms of the turning angle or angle

defect. The reason for using the term turning angle should become clear, and

angle defect refers to the idea that the turning angle measures how far the angle is

from being a straight angle. In Figure 4, a quadrilateral is shown with the turning

angles marked. You should imagine yourself walking around the quadrilateral in

a counter-clockwise direction. The turning angles then measure the amount you

must turn to your left as you start the next edge. In this case, the sum of the

turning angles is 360◦ . If you imagine yourself walking around any closed path,

taking left turns, and coming back to your original position, you must have rotated

a full 360◦ . This should agree completely with your answers to the exercises in the

previous section. It seems reasonable, therefore, that the sum of the turning angles

is 360◦ for any polygon. This is in fact true, and Theorem 1 can be restated as

Theorem 2. The turning angle sum of a (convex) n-gon is 360◦.

It is not necessarily true that Theorem 2 is a better theorem than Theorem 1,

but it is certainly simpler and more intuitive. The angle sum theorem is probably

more convenient for analyzing geometric figures, but we are wanting to understand

curvature, and the turning angle sum theorem sets us off in the right direction.

2.1. Exercises.

6. Theorem 1 states that the angle sum of an n-gon is (n − 2)180◦ or n − 2

times the angle sum of a triangle. Draw a figure illustrating that a convex pentagon

has the angle sum of three triangles. Do the same for a hexagon.

4 1. ANGLES AND CURVATURE

picture corresponding to north, and you are to walk around it in the counter-

clockwise direction. Draw a picture of the face of a compass, and for one of the

sides, draw the position of the needle corresponding to the direction you are facing

as you walk along it. On the same picture, draw the needle positions corresponding

to the other three sides. At each vertex, you would need to pivot as you finish

walking along one side of the quadrilateral and start on the next. In your picure,

for each vertex, indicate which directions you sweep through as you turn to the left.

3. Rotation

Our goal is to formulate definitions in differential geometry. Before we do that

for curves in the plane, let us summarize what we have so far.

Given an object moving in a counter-clockwise direction around a simple closed

curve, a vector tangent to the curve and associated with the object must make a

“full” rotation of 2π radians or 360◦ . In other words, if we were to think of this

tangent vector (of if you wish, a copy of it) as having its tail fixed at the origin,

then as the object moves around the curve, the tangent vector will sweep through

all possible directions. This rotation of the tangent vector will be predominantly

in the counter-clockwise direction, but it may, for example, sweep clockwise for a

bit, come back counter-clockwise an equal amount, and then continue on. These

clockwise rotations are always countered by an extra counter-clockwise rotation,

and the total net result is always 360◦ of counter-clockwise rotation.

If the curve is smooth (whatever that means), we can easily describe a tangent

vector in terms of a derivative. There are some difficulties at non-smooth parts of

a curve. At the corners of a quadrilateral, for example, a derivative will not specify

a unique tangent direction. In this case at least, we will be able to find a tangent

direction entering the vertex and one leaving. We can and will account for the

directions swept through as we pivot from one direction to the other, and we will

avoid curves that are “less smooth” than this.

In order to motivate the definitions describing rotations in terms of derivatives,

we will consider the following. Looking at the unit tangent vector as we move

around a vertex of a polygonal path, we see that the direction of the tangent vector

stays the same, pivots through some angle θ at the vertex, and then again remains

the same until another vertex is encountered. An example of this is illustrated in

Figure 5, and in this picture the angle θ will be positive. Later, we will be interested

in understanding curvature in higher dimensions, and it will be more convenient

to speak in terms of a unit normal vector rather than a unit tangent. For a curve

in the plane (we will assume that polygonal paths are curves) a unit normal to a

curve will experience the same changes in direction that a unit tangent will. The

unit normal to the same curve shown in Figure 5 will also sweep through the same

angle θ, as shown in Figure 6. As described earlier, the rotation is a measure of

how the direction of the unit tangent or unit normal vectors changes. If we take

the unit normal at each point of the curve, and put its tail at the origin, the head

of the vector will stay on the unit circle and serve as a “direction-o-meter,” as

shown in Figure 7. As we move along the curve, the will stay fixed until we reach

the vertex, and then it will swing over to the left as we pass through the vertex.

Formally, it is common to associate each point on the curve with a point on the

unit circle determined by the unit normal in this way. It is called the Gauss map,

3. ROTATION 5

turning angle θ.

turning angle θ.

and this will be something that we will be able to differentiate in a meaningful way.

In order to perform this differentiation, we need to consider a situation where the

direction of the normal vector changes over some interval, and not all at once. If

we take the polygonal curve we have been using and “smooth” it out, the change

in direction is spread out over the curve, as shown in Figure 8. In particular, note

that the total change in direction is the same, the positive angle θ, it is only that

the direction-o-meter swings to the left more gradually.

The total rotation, which we will call the total curvature, is a quantitity that

applies to both polygonal curves and smooth ones. With the smooth curves, how-

ever, we can also talk about the rate of rotation (it does makes some sense to say

that the rate of rotation at the vertex of the polygonal curve is infinite). There are

two quantities that are natural candidates to which we will compare the rotation,

6 1. ANGLES AND CURVATURE

turning angle θ.

time and distance. It makes sense to say that if a given amount of rotation takes

place over a very short distance, then the curve must be very sharply curved, and

conversely, the curve is not so sharply curved, if the the rotation takes place over a

longer distance. Therefore, if we simply divide,

total rotation

(1) average rate of rotation =

distance

we get a reasonable measure of how much a curve curves. We will call this average

rate of rotation, average curvature. The next logical step is to take a limit as the

distance approaches zero, and this suggests a definition for curvature. If ρ is a

quantity measuring rotation, and s is an arclength parameter, then the curvature

κ should be defined

dρ

(2) κ=

ds

In the next section, we will express this definition more formally as a formula.

In particular, we need to find a function corresponding to ρ. This formula will

correspond exactly to the one given in calculus classes. Before we do that, however,

we can check a simple case.

The circumference of a circle of radius r is 2πr. The total rotation is 2π radians.

Radians are more natural in this context than are degrees, but degrees would work

OK. If we assume that the curvature of a circle is constant, then the curvature

should be same as the average curvature. The curvature must be, therefore,

2π 1

(3) κ= = ,

2πr r

and this agrees with the calculus definition of curvature. The point of this book is

to show that the definitions for the curvature of surfaces and of three-dimensional

spaces can be motivated in an analogous way.

4. Definition of Curvature

We are in search of a function that measures the angle of rotation for the unit

normal vector, or equivalently, the unit tangent vector. In terms of the Gauss

map, the head of the unit normal vector always lies on the unit circle. Therefore,

the derivative of the unit normal vector must always be tangent to the unit circle.

This is a manifestation of the fact that the derivative of a vector function that has

constant magnitude is always perpendicular to the original vector function. Two

notions point the way. First, over small distances, the arc of a circle near a point

4. DEFINITION OF CURVATURE 7

on the circle and the tangent line through that point are very similar. Second, the

length of an arc of the unit circle is equal to the corresponding angle measured in

radians. Therefore, a derivative of the unit normal vector measures change along

a tangent to the unit circle (as in the Gauss map), this change is essentially the

same as the change along the unit circle, which is equal to a change in the direction

of the normal vector measured in radians. In other words, the conclusions of the

last section suggest that the curvature can be defined as the derivative of the unit

normal vector with respect to arclength. It can also be defined as the derivative of

the unit tangent vector with respect to arclength. That is,

dn
dT

(4)

κ(s) =
=
.

ds ds

4.1. Exercises.

8. Show that the derivative of the unit normal vector is perpendicular to unit

normal vector. Use the fact that the unit normal vector has constant magnitude,

i.e., knk = 1, and that the D “dot Eproduct rule” looks like the product rule from

d dy

dx

calculus, i.e., ds h x, y i = x, ds + ds , y .

9. The derivitive of the unit normal vector expresses a rate of change along

a tangent to the Gauss map circle. I claimed that this rate of change could be

interpreted as a rate of change of direction in terms of an angle measured in radians.

Show that this interpretation is a reasonable one by showing that for the quantities

dρ

shown in Figure 9 dτ dτ

dθ (0) = dρ (0) = dθ (0) = 1. Hint: Don’t work too hard. Just

use trigonometry to express each as a function of one of the others.

τ

ρ

line, along the unit circle, and the angle at the center of the circle.

10. Suppose an object is moving along a curve, and at a point P on the curve,

the derivative of the unit normal vector with respect to time is dndt = [ 3, 2 ] (this

is a velocity for the head of the vector n in terms of the Gauss map in feet per

second perhaps). We could say that the unit normal vector is rotating at a certain

rate measured in radians per second. What is this rate? Suppose that the velocity

of the object as it passes through P is v = [ 6, 4 ]. What is its speed (a.k.a. dsdt )?

What is the curvature of the curve at the point P ? Hint: You can use the chain

rule, if you want.

11. The vector function x(t) = t, t2 is a parametrization of a parabola. Find

the curvature of the curve at the points corresponding to t = 0 and t = 2.

8 1. ANGLES AND CURVATURE

5. Impulse Curvature

We can define curvature for smooth curves, but this definition will not work for

curves with sharp corners in them. The notion of total curvature applies to both

cases, however. We can develop a notion of curvature that works for corners that we

will call impulse curvature. Let us look closely first at a total curvature function, and

how total curvature and (instantaneous) curvature are related through derivatives

and integrals. Consider the smooth curve of Figure 8. As we move along the curve

from right to left, the unit normal vector makes an angle with the “positive x-axis”

of π6 radians (in this particular example). In Figure 10, the initial point of the graph

corresponds to this value of ρ. The curve in Figure 8 is straight initially, so the

direction of the unit normal is constant, and this manifests itself in the horizontal

section of the graph in Figure 10. As we move into the curved section of the curve,

the unit normal vector begins to rotate counter-clockwise, so the angle ρ increases,

and this is reflected in the graph. The angle reaches a maximum as we move into

the final straight portion of the curve, and ρ is again constant, now at a value of

about 5π 6 radians. We can think of ρ(s) as being a total curvature function, and

difference between the starting and finishing values, θ = 5π π 4π

6 − 6 = 6 represents

the total curvature of this section of the curve.

s

Figure 10. Graph of the direction of the unit normal vector for

the smooth curve of Figure 8 with respect to arclength.

If we graph the total curvature function ρ for the polygonal curve of Figure 8,

the initial and final values for ρ are the same, but the increase in the value of ρ

occurs at a single point on the curve. The graph for ρ is a step function in this case,

but the total curvature is still the difference between the initial and final values of

ρ. This total curvature function ρ keeps track of the direction of the unit normal

vector, and total curvature is the net change in this function. As concluded before,

curvature is the derivative of this function, dρ

ds . Therefore, we can see curvature in

the graphs of Figures 10 and 11 as slopes. The slopes are zero on either end of

the graph of Figure 10, so the curvature of the corresponding parts of the smooth

curve of Figure 8 must also be zero. This agrees with the fact that the ends of

this curve are straight. The slopes are positive in the middle of the graph, and this

corresponds with the fact that the middle section of the smooth curve has positive

curvature (positive, since the unit normal vector is rotating counter-clockwise). On

the other hand, the polygonal curve of Figure 8 is straight everywhere except at the

vertex. Therefore, the slopes in the graph of Figure 11 are zero everywhere except

5. IMPULSE CURVATURE 9

s

Figure 11. Graph of the direction of the unit normal vector for

the polygonal curve of Figure 8 with respect to arclength.

at the point in the middle. Here the slope and the curvature at the vertex are both

infinite. The curvature graphs are shown in Figures 12 and 13.

dρ

ds =κ

s

Figure 12. Graph of the derivative of ρ with respect to s for the

smooth curve of Figure 8.

dρ

ds =κ

s

Figure 13. Graph of the derivative of ρ with respect to s for the

polygonal curve of Figure 8.

Of particular interest is the fact that it is possible to assign a finite value to the

infinite curvature at the vertex of the polygonal curve. More specifically, we will

think of the curvature at this point as being infinite, but if we were to integrate

across this infinite function value, we would obtain a definite finite value, namely

the total curvature. The total curvature at the vertex of the polygonal curve of

Figure 8 is 4π 4π

6 radians, so we will say that the curvature at this point is ∞ ∗ 6 . We

will call this impulse curvature, and the notation will simply remind us that when

we integrate across such a value, the result will be 4π 6 . For example, for any interval

[a, b] containing the undefined point for the function in Figure 13, we would have

Z b

dρ 4π

(5) ds = .

a ds 6

10 1. ANGLES AND CURVATURE

5.1. Exercises.

12. Consider a square with sides of length 1. Choose the midpoint of one of

the sides as a starting point and consider on object moving around the square in

a counter-clockwise direction. Let κ(s) be the curvature function with respect to

arclength from this starting point. Compute each of the following. κ(0). κ 12 .

R1 R4

0 κ(s) ds. 0 κ(s) ds.

13. Consider the graph y = | sin(x)|. What is the curvature at the point (0, 0)?

CHAPTER 2

The goal here is to generalize our notions of curvature to surfaces. This can

be done in a number of ways, but our intention will be to eventually end up with

an intuitive understanding of the Gauss curvature. In the previous chapter, the

curvature of a curve was obtained by extending the notion of the turning angle

for the vertex of a polygonal curve. This suggests, perhaps, that we first consider

the vertex of a polyhedral surface. If we imagine the vertex of a pyramid, the

3-dimensional region interior to that vertex can be compared to the 2-dimensional

region inside an angle. This solid angle parallels the notion of a (plane) angle in a

number of ways.

It was the turning angle, however, that became the total curvature. One way

of measuring this was to consider the length of the arc on the unit circle that all

of the possible unit normal vectors swept out at the vertex in terms of the Gauss

map. These normals were perpendicular to the tangent lines through the vertex

that were outside of the angle. For the vertex of the pyramid, we could consider

all tangent planes through the vertex outside of the pyramid and the unit vectors

normal to these planes. Under the Gauss map (now to the unit sphere instead of

the unit circle), the heads of these normals would sweep out a region on the unit

sphere. The area of this region would be a natural candidate for the total curvature

(and also the impulse curvature) at this vertex. This works amazingly well, but it

is a bit simpler to look at a cone.

We can make a cone out of a piece of paper by removing a wedge and taping the

edges together. Let us suppose that we remove a wedge with angle θ as in Figure

1. A circle of radius R is shown in Figure 1, and θ radians have been removed from

the circle as well (an arc of length Rθ). After joining the edges, we get something

like the cone in Figure 2. The circle, as a circle on the cone, still has radius R, and

the radius is measured to the vertex of the cone. As a curve in space, it also has a

smaller radius r. The angle between the radius of length r and the surface of the

cone is marked φ, and the angle between the central axis and the normals to the

surface of the cone is also φ. The angle between the central axis and the surface of

the cone is marked ψ.

We are interested in computing the area of the region on the unit sphere cor-

responding to the normal vectors at the vertex. The normal vectors to the surface

of the cone determine a circle on the unit sphere under the Gauss map as shown in

Figure 2. This circle separates the sphere into two pieces, and we are interested in

the area of the upper one.

To find φ, consider the circle of radius R (shown in Figure 1). After removing

the wedge and joining the edges, this circle becomes a circle on the cone. It has

11

12 2. SOLID ANGLES AND GAUSS CURVATURE

R

θ

ψ

R

φ

r

radius R along the surface, and it has radius r in R3 . We can, therefore, compute its

circumference two ways. We have C = 2πr, as a circle in space, and C = (2π − θ)R,

as a circle on the cone having been formed by removing a θ radian wedge. The

right triangle shown in Figure 2 with hypotenuse R and base r has an angle φ, so

r 2π − θ

(6) cos φ = = .

R 2π

Equation (6) determines φ in terms of the angle θ. We can determine the area swept

out by the normals at the vertex under the Gauss map in terms of φ easily using

φ̄, θ̄, and ρ̄ as spherical coordinates for the sphere. Here, 0 ≤ φ̄ ≤ φ, 0 ≤ θ̄ ≤ 2π,

2. TOTAL CURVATURE FOR SMOOTH SURFACES 13

Z 2π Z φ Z 2π Z φ

2

ρ̄ sin φ̄ dφ̄dθ̄ = sin φ̄ dφ̄dθ̄

0 0 0 0

Z 2π

(7)

= 1 − cos φ dθ̄

0

= 2π(1 − cos φ).

The total curvature at the vertex is therefore 2π(1 − cos φ). Quite remarkable is

the fact that this total curvature is precisely θ, the measure of the wedge removed

to form the cone. This can be seen by solving equation (6) for θ.

Definition 1. The impulse curvature, or total curvature, at the vertex of a

cone is the area swept out by the unit normal vectors at the vertex under the Gauss

map.

Theorem 3. The total curvature at the vertex of a cone is equal to the angle

of the wedge removed to construct it.

1.1. Exercises.

14. Show that the results are the same if we used a pyramid instead of a

cone. Note that there are only four different unit normals obtained from the lateral

surfaces of the pyramid. The rest of the boundary of the region on the unit sphere

come from those tangent planes that contain an edge leading into the vertex. The

normals would be those unit vectors perpendicular to the edge between the normals

for the faces. The normal vectors at the vertex are normal to planes through the

vertex that lie outside of the pyramid.

15. What is the total curvature of any region of the cone not containing the

vertex? (Note: a curve on the surface of the unit sphere has no area.)

If v is the vertex of a cone, then all of the area on the unit sphere under the

Gauss map comes from unit normal vectors at the vertex. If we were to smooth the

vertex, as in Figure 3, then these unit normals will be spread out over the smooth

surface, and there will only be one unit normal at each point of the surface, but

the area under the Gauss map would be the same, since we have precisely the same

collection of unit normals. Therefore, smoothing the vertex should not change the

total curvature, and the geometry of the surface near the circle shown is exactly the

same as the geometry on the cone. With this notion of total curvature for surfaces

described intuitively, we can define an instantaneous curvature for smooth surfaces,

generally known as the Gauss curvature, as we did with smooth curves.

2.1. Exercises.

16. What is total curvature of a sphere? A cube? A tetrahedron?

17. It is possible to find a triangle on the unit sphere that has one vertex at the

north pole, two vertices on the equator, and three right angles. What is the area

of this triangle? What is the total curvature of the region inside of this triangle?

Find a triangle with two right angles and one angle measuring π4 radians. What

is the total curvature of the region inside of it? Do you see a relationship between

the total curvature within and the angle sums of these two triangles?

14 2. SOLID ANGLES AND GAUSS CURVATURE

2, θ, if we smooth the vertex of the cone.

The total curvature of a curve was defined as the length of an arc of the unit

circle under the Gauss map. This was an extension of the idea of a turning angle

to curves. The measure of the turning angle, as interpreted through the Gauss

map, can be applied to the vertex of a cone by considering the area a region of the

unit sphere under the (spherical) Gauss map. This idea extends to smooth surfaces

in the same way as the turning angle extends to smooth curves. We obtained an

instantaneous curvature for curves by taking a limit comparing the length along

the unit circle with the corresponding length along the curve. We can do the same

thing here by comparing the area on the unit sphere with the corresponding area

on the surface. This is the notion of curvature of surfaces used by Gauss, and it is

called the Gauss curvature.

Definition 2. At a point p on a surface S, the Gauss curvature at p is the

limit

∆Θ

(8) K = lim ,

∆A→0 ∆A

where ∆A is the area of some region on the surface containing p and ∆Θ is the

total curvature of that region.

If we think of the measure of an angle in terms the possible directions of the

unit normal vector at a vertex (the turning angle), and then extend this into the

curvature of the curve, then this is the most natural notion of curvature for surfaces,

since it is a direct translation of the relevant notions in terms of curves to surfaces.

For computational purposes, this is not the most convenient formula, but this

is probably one of the more intuitive ways to think about what Gauss curvature is.

3.1. Exercises.

4. GAUSS-BONNET THEOREM (EXACT EXERPT FROM CREATIVE VISUALIZATION HANDOUT.

15

18. Find the total curvature of a sphere with radius r. What is the Gauss

curvature?

handout.

I do not address the Gauss-Bonnet theorem in any of the labs, but after the

students have completed the last lab, I would look at the cone point version of the

Gauss-Bonnet theorem. From here, the definition for Gauss curvature on a smooth

surface should make sense intuitively.

r θ

The basic idea can be seen using circles and spheres. Consider a circle of radius

r centered at the cone point of a cone with angle defect θ, as in Figure 4. In the

plane, this circle will have curvature κ = 1r . Since the local geometry on the cone

is Euclidean away from the cone point, the geodesic curvature for this circle as a

curve on the cone must be the same. That is, κg = 1r . What is different about this

circle and a circle in the plane with the same radius, is that the circle on the cone

has a smaller circumference. In fact, the difference must be θr.

We can now compute the total geodesic curvature.

Z Z

1 1

(9) κg ds = ds = (2πr − θr) = 2π − θ.

C r C r

Since curvature measures the rate of rotation of the tangent vector, it should make

sense to students that the total rotation for a simple closed curve in the plane must

always be 2π. Since any small deformation of the circle essentially takes place in

the plane, it should also make sense that the total rotation for a simple closed curve

around the cone point will always be 2π minus the angle defect. In any case, the

formulation of the Gauss-Bonnet theorem should seem natural.

Comparing Equation (9) to the Gauss-Bonnet theorem,

Z Z

(10) κg ds = 2π − K dA,

C R

R

it’s obvious that the angle defect corresponds with the total curvature K dA. In

fact, I think it makes perfect sense to motivate the definition of the Gauss curvature

K in terms of this formula. I might start out by doing the following.

Consider a sphere tangent to a cone, as shown in Figure 5. The geodesic

curvature for the circle of tangency will be the same on both surfaces. Therefore,

the total curvature for the regions contained by the circle on both surfaces should

be the same. We can then require that the Gauss curvature be an infinitesimal

16 2. SOLID ANGLES AND GAUSS CURVATURE

C

φ R

Figure 5. The circle of tangency will have the same geodesic cur-

vature on both surfaces.

version of the total curvature and that it be constant on the sphere. That is,

Z Z

(11) θ= K dA = K dA = KR2 θ,

D D

and

1

(12) K= .

R2

I think the actual computation is a bit tricky, but there may be a simpler way. In

any case, the area integral is

Z Z 2π Z φ

(13) dA = R2 sin p dpdt = R2 (1 − cos φ)2π,

D 0 0

where the parameters p and t are the phi and theta from spherical coordinates. To

express this expression in terms of θ, note that the circumference of the circle C is

2πr−θr on the cone. If the radius of this circle in space is ρ, then this circumference

is also 2πρ. Since R sin φ = ρ, we have that

(14) 2πr − θr = 2πR sin φ,

and

R

(15) θ = 2π(1 − sin φ).

r

r

Now, tan φ = R, so

cos φ

(16) θ = 2π(1 − sin φ) = 2π(1 − cos φ).

sin φ

Equations (13) and (16) establish equation (11).

The Gauss curvature at a point on a surface is generally defined to be the

product of the two principle curvatures. Very roughly, this can be described as

follows. At a point on a surface in space, we can choose one of two possible unit

vectors normal to the surface (one normal is as good as the other). For every plane

that contains the point and the normal vector, the intersection of the plane and

the surface is a curve that has a curvature within that plane. If the curve bends

towards the normal vector, we will associate a positive sign with this curvature,

and if the curve bends away from the normal vector, we will associate a negative

sign. In other words, if the normal vector chosen points upwards and the curve

is concave up, then the curvature will be positive. These signed curvatures are

5. DEFINING GAUSS CURVATURE 17

called normal curvatures. The maximum normal curvature (most positive) and

the minimum normal curvature (most negative) are the principle curvature. The

choice of normal vector and the which curvatures are positive is quite arbitrary,

but of significance is that the Gauss curvature of a bowl-shaped surface will always

be positive, and the Gauss curvature of a saddle-shaped surface will always be

negative, regardless of how the choices were made.

That this is as simple a definition for the curvature of a surface as could be

expected is one thing, and that it works incredibly well is made very clear in any

book on the subject. What is not so clear is why anyone would consider the

definition in the first place and what it really represents. What we will do here is

to show that this definition is a rigorous implementation of the definition we have

already described and how the previous definition leads to this one.

A lot of insight into what Gauss curvature is can be obtained by examining

the connection between the intuitive definition given earlier and the one involving

the principle curvatures. We will start with the intuitive definition of the Gauss

curvature at a point. This was expressed in Equation (8). The biggest problem

with this formula is that it does not say how ∆A goes to zero. Different values for

K can be obtained, if there are no restrictions. We will want to choose the most

boring limit possible. Sufficient for our purposes, we can take a small sphere in

space centered at the point P . Each point on the surface contained in the sphere

(this region has area ∆A) has a normal vector, and thus an image under the Gauss

map. These Gauss map images will determine a region on the unit sphere having a

well-defined area (if the surface is sufficiently smooth, which we will always assume

is the case), and this area is ∆Θ. We can then take the limit as the radius of

the sphere about P goes to zero. If the surface is sufficiently smooth, this limit

should exist, and we will assume that all surfaces under consideration are sufficiently

smooth, unless otherwise noted.

As it stands, this definition is non-trivial to apply directly, so we will formulate

an alternative in terms of derivatives. For one of the small regions on the surface

about P contained in the small sphere, the region should be roughly disk shaped,

and we can imagine it as consisting of a bouquet of radial arcs. The normal vector

at P will determine one point on the unit sphere under the Gauss map. The normal

vectors from the points on the radial arcs will determine arcs on the unit sphere

also under the Gauss map. Of relevance is the fact that the length of the arc on

the unit sphere under the Gauss map divided by the length of the radial arc on the

surface will limit on the curvature of the radial arc at P . Also of relevance is the

observation that the area ∆Θ is determined by the extent of these arcs. It would

seem reasonable to assume, therefore, that the limit of Equation (8) will depend

only on the curvatures of arcs through P . The one important assumption that we

will make in the formulation of the alternative definition of the Gauss curvature is

that it depends only on information provided by first and second derivatives.

Suppose we have a point P on a surface in space, and we will define the Gauss

curvature of the surface at P . The curvature is independent of the surface’s position

and orientation in space, so we will assume that the point P is at the origin and the

surface is tangent to the xy-plane. In a region about P , we will assume that the

surface can be described as the graph of a function f (x, y), and since the curvature

depends only on first and second derivatives, we will only consider surfaces that

ensure that f has continuous first and second derivatives (i.e., f is C 2 ). Since we

18 2. SOLID ANGLES AND GAUSS CURVATURE

will only use information from the first and second derivatives at P , we can also

assume that f is quadratic, f (0, 0) = 0, fx (0, 0) = 0, and fy (0, 0) = 0. Therefore,

f must take the form

(17) f (x, y) = ax2 + bxy + cy 2 .

It will be convenient to use vector notation and terminology, so we will work with

the parametrization

(18) x(x, y) = x, y, ax2 + bxy + cy 2 .

dx = [ 1, 0, 2ax + by ] and dy = [ 0, 1, bx + 2cy ], are

vectors tangent to the surface, and at each point, these two vectors span a plane

tangent to the surface at that point. All vectors tangent to the surface at this point

will lie in this plane. That dx dx

dx (0, 0) = [ 1, 0, 0 ] and dy (0, 0) = [ 0, 1, 0 ] reiterate the

fact that the surface is tangent to the xy-plane.

The unit normal vector at each point of the surface must, essentially by def-

inition, be perpendicular to the tangent plane. It must be perpendicular to both

tangent vectors, and so can be obtained from the cross product.

[ −2ax − by, −bx − 2cy, 1 ]

(19) n= p

b x + 4bcxy + 4c2 y 2 + 4a2 x2 + 4abxy + b2 y 2 + 1

2 2

We are interested in how much the unit normal vector varies over a small piece of

the surface about the origin, and then how it shrinks to zero. The unit vector n

ranges over a region on the unit sphere, and what we want is essentially a derivative

of n over two dimensions. The appropriate object is a linear function associated

with a tangent plane. In particular the plane determined by the partial derivatives

of n. These partial derivatives are a bit messy, but we only need to know them at

(0, 0). The partial with respect to x is

p

dn b2 x2 + 4bcxy + 4c2 y 2 + 4a2 x2 + 4abxy + b2 y 2 + 1 [ −2a, −b, 0 ]

(20) = p 2

dx b2 x2 + 4bcxy + 4c2 y 2 + 4a2 x2 + 4abxy + b2 y 2 + 1

[ −2ax − by, −bx − 2cy, 1 ] ( 12 )(2b2 x + 4bcy + 8a2 x + 4aby)

− p 3 ,

b2 x2 + 4bcxy + 4c2 y 2 + 4a2 x2 + 4abxy + b2 y 2 + 1

which at (0, 0) is

dn

(21) (0, 0) = [ −2a, −b, 0 ] .

dx

Similarly,

dn

(22) (0, 0) = [ −b, −2c, 0 ] .

dy

The partial derivatives dn dn

dx and dy describe the linear approximation to how the unit

vector n varies near the origin. For a short distance in the x-direction, therefore,

the unit normal vector moves approximately a distance [ −2a, −b, 0 ], and for

the same distance in the y-direction, it moves approximately [ −b, −2c, 0 ]. This

completely determines the linear approximation, so an -square on the xy-plane

corresponds to a “parallelogram” on the unit sphere under the Gauss map spanned

6. INTRINSIC ASPECTS OF THE GAUSS CURVATURE 19

by these vectors. The area of this parallelogram is given by the cross product

i j k

−2a −b

(23)

−2a −b 0 = −b −2c

−b −2c 0

This determinant describes how areas under the Gauss map compare to areas in

the domain near (0, 0), and so this should define the Gauss curvature.

Note that the matrix

−2a −b

(24)

−b −2c

completely describes the linear approximation to the normal vector at (0, 0). As a

point passes through the origin, this matrix describes how the corresponding normal

vector is changing at the origin. For example, if we move in the direction of [ 1, 0 ]

from the origin, then the direction of the unit normal to the surface is changing at

the following (vector) rate.

−2a −b 1 −2a

(25) =

−b −2c 0 −b

This is almost, but not quite, a curvature. Specifically, if we considered the curve

on the surface above the x-axis, we would have a parabola, z = −2ax, and this

curve corresponds to the direction determined by the vector [ 1, 0 ]. The curvature

for this curve is 2a at the origin, but this comes from the rotation of the normal to

the curve in the xz-plane. The normal to the surface may rotate in the y-direction

as well, as indicated by the component −b.

5.1. Exercises.

19. Determine the magnitude of the tangent vector dx dx (x, 0), and then differ-

entiate with respect to x to verify the claim made above.

20. Verify the claims above that the curvature at the origin of the curve above

or below the x-axis has curvature 2a at the origin by computing dT ds where T =

dx

dx (x,0)

.

k dx

dx (x,0)k

In the discussion leading to the definition of the Gauss curvature, we stumbled

across a surprising relationship. If we remove a θ-wedge to form a cone, then the

total curvature of the vertex of that cone is also θ. Imagine that you are a 2-

dimensional person living on the surface of the cone, who is completely unaware of

a third dimension. Without a concept of a third dimension, the sharpness of the

vertex would be completely outside of your experiences, just as concepts requiring a

fourth dimension lie outside of our 3-dimensional minds. You would perhaps notice

that circles around the vertex have smaller circumferences than circles that did not

contain the vertex. From this you might be able to see that the vertex of the cone

only had radian measure 2π − θ around it, while there are 2π radians around every

other point. We will say that the sharpness of the cone is extrinsic (seen from the

outside), and the fact that a θ-wedge is missing is intrinsic (seen from the inside).

This illustrates an interesting difference between curves and surfaces. The total

curvature of a curve is purely extrinsic, since a 1-dimensional person living in a curve

20 2. SOLID ANGLES AND GAUSS CURVATURE

would be totally unaware of it. The total curvature of a surface is both extrinsic

and intrinsic. It is equally measurable from outside the surface and from within it.

This idea, which originates with Descartes and Gauss, is expoited by Riemann and

others, in particular Einstein, to show that while curvature is basically an extrinsic

concept, it is possible to talk about the curvature of our space without there being

more dimensions.

We can illustrate some aspects of this by looking at the geometry of geodesics

on a cone.

CHAPTER 3

Intrinsic Curvature

1. Parallel vectors

Understanding what it means for two vectors in the plane to be parallel is

hardly an issue. It is even difficult to explain the concept, since the concept of

parallel vectors seems so obvious. Imagine taking a vector in the plane based at the

origin. If you were to move it to some other point without altering its direction,

then few would argue with the claim that the result is a vector parallel to the

original. At issue, however, is what it means for the direction to remain the same

and how you would know. For vectors tangent to a sphere, on the other hand,

it is impossible in most cases to move the vector in a way that keeps the vector

tangent to the sphere and not change its direction. Here the concept of direction is

taken from the direction of a vector in Euclidean 3-space, which most of us would

think is intuitively clear. If we were to restrict our attention to the surface of the

sphere, and make no reference to an ambient space the issue is much less clear. If

we were two-dimensional creatures living on the sphere with no awareness of an

ambient space, we probably would have some notion of moving an object without

rotating it. This must also not be consistent with the notion of direction in 3-space

mentioned above. One possible basis for such a notion is the concept of parallel

transport.

Consider the three vectors shown in Figure 1. The angle between each vector

and the straight line is the same angle θ. This is consistent with our intuitive

notion that all three vectors are parallel. We can phrase this as a trivial axiom: If

we move a vector along a straight line and keep the angle between the vector and

line constant, then the resulting vector is parallel to the original.

21

22 3. INTRINSIC CURVATURE

If you were a 2-dimensional creature on the sphere, then a great circle would

be the object for you corresponding to a straight line. This would be a curve that

turns neither to the right nor left. In other words, it does not change direction

(as far as you are concerned). If you were to move a vector along a great circle

at a constant angle, then you must conclude that the vector did not rotate, and

the resultant vector is therefore parallel to the original. If this sphere sat in a

3-dimensional Euclidean space (and there is no real reason to assume that it did),

then a 3-dimensional Euclidean creature would see this differently. One of the

fundamental notions of the study of manifolds is that the 3-dimensional Euclidean

view is not necessarily the correct one. It is simply one of many.

One very important aspect of this notion of parallel vectors on the sphere is

that it is dependent on path. We can see this in the following example. Figure

2 shows parts of four great circles. One is the equator, two meet the equator at

right angles, and a fourth intersects one of the vertical great circles at a right angle.

This forms a quadrilateral with three right angles. We know that the angle sum

of this quadrilateral must be greater than 2π, so the fourth angle must be larger

than a right angle. In fact, if this sphere has radius 1, then the difference between

this angle and a right angle must be equal to the area of the quadrilateral. The

quadrilateral is shown in a flattened version to give a different view in Figure 3.

We will perform a parallel transport from vertex A to vertex C two ways. First

from A to B to C, and then from A to D to C. Suppose the vector under question

is tangent to side AD at A and points towards D. It is perpendicular to side AB,

so as we parallel transport it to B, it maintain this right angle. This results in a

vector tangent to BC at B. Parallel transport along BC entails maintaining a zero

angle, and so the resultant vector at vertex C will still be tangent to BC. On the

other hand, if we parallel transport to vertex D first, we get a vector tangent to AD

at vertex D. This is perpendicular to side DC, so this right angle is maintained as

we slide it upwards to vertex C. The result is a vector at C that is perpendicular

to DC. We have, therefore, two vectors at C that have equal claim to being

parallel to the original vector at A. With a Euclidean bias, we might conclude that

this contradiction proves that parallel transport is a flawed concept. From a more

enlightened manifold view, however, we would just say that parallel transport is

independent of path in Euclidean spaces.

1. PARALLEL VECTORS 23

B

θ

C

A D

transport has some value. A few simple calculations show that the angle marked θ

in Figure 3 is equal to the difference between the angle sum of the quadrilateral and

2π. This is equal to the total curvature contained within the quadrilateral. This

provides a way of computing total curvature, and is basically equivalent to using

the angle sum, the turning angles, or the total rotation of a tangent vector.

We are headed towards a way of computing (actually defining) curvature us-

ing derivatives both extrinsically and intrisically. We will be imposing coordinate

systems on surfaces, which very roughly, means imposing a grid system (ala graph

paper) on the surface. In other words, we will be breaking the surface into tiny

quadrilaterals, and the two parallel transported vectors just mentioned will have

natural intepretations corresponding to second and third derivatives.

CHAPTER 4

Functions

1. Introduction

The point of this book is to gain some understanding of the geometry of space,

in particular, a space that we could live in. With that in mind, we will want

to assume that the functions we use to describe these spaces are basically well-

behaved. This chapter will explain what we mean by that. In order to gain an

understanding of the curvature of three-dimensional space, we will first explore the

curvature of lower-dimensional spaces. This approach should seem reasonable in

that the lower-dimensional spaces are simpler, but that they also require concepts

that generalize to the three-dimensional case. A less obvious class of relevant spaces

will also provide us with significant insight into the geometry of all the spaces just

mentioned. These are spaces with isolated singularities. These singularities will

include sharp corners in graphs and cone points on surfaces. The functions we

consider, therefore, will have these kinds of characteristics.

One basic principle that we will try to exploit is that linear functions are

easier to understand than functions in general, and that straight lines are easier to

understand than general curves. Furthermore, finite and discrete objects are easier

to understand than are infinite and continuous ones. The general aim of this book

is to use what we know about the easier to understand objects to gain some insight

in the harder to understand ones. This chapter takes this approach to the study of

functions.

The graph of a function of two variables is shown in Figure 1. This graph was

produced by a software package called Maple, and we can simplistically describe the

process that Maple used as follows. A 25 × 25 grid is imposed on the [ −0.1, 0.1 ] ×

[ −0.1, 0.1 ] portion of the domain, and function values are computed at each of

the lattice points. This provides Maple with the coordinates for 676 points on the

surface (A 25 × 25 array of squares makes a 26 × 26 array of lattice points). For

each line segment in the grid, Maple draws a line segment between the appropriate

points on the surface, essentially projecting the grid lines onto the surface.

Looking at the surface in Figure 1, it appears that the Maple graph is a good

representation of the surface. The fact that we are looking at a set of straight line

segments is not overly obtrusive, and it is easy to accept that this is a representation

of a nicely curving surface. It is not inconceivable, therefore, that the line segments

themselves contain useful information about the underlying surface.

We are not interested in studying functions in general, but how we can use

functions to describe and understand geometry. We will take a very contrained

view of piecewise-linear approximations, therefore. While we will use functions

25

26 4. FUNCTIONS

that are defined on the entire real line, at any one time, we will generally only be

interested in that function over some closed interval. If we were going to graph a

function, for example, we would typically only graph part of it. So we will define a

piecewise-linear approximation for real-valued functions over closed intervals.

[ a, b ] into n equal subintervals, [ x1 , x2 ] , [ x2 , x3 ] , . . . , [ xn , xn+1 ]. This collection

of subintervals will be called a partition, the interval [ xi , xi+1 ] will be called the i-

th subinterval, and the common length of the subintervals ∆x = xi+1 − xi = b−a n

will be called the mesh. For each subinterval, the line segment from (xi , f (xi ))

to (xi+1 , f (xi+1 )) will be called the i-th segment. The piecewise-linear (PL)

approximation of f is the function f : [ a, b ] → R whose graph coincides with

the collection of all n segments.

Example 1. Consider the function f (x) = x2 . The PL approximation of f

with n = 4 has lattice { −2, −1, 0, 1, 2 } and mesh ∆x = 1. The four segments and

the graph of f are shown in Figure 2. We generally will not make specific use of a

formula for f , but it is possible to come up with one. In this case, for example, we

have

−3x − 2 for x ∈ [ −2, −1 ] ,

−x for x ∈ [ −1, 0 ] ,

(26) f (x) =

x for x ∈ [ 0, 1 ] ,

3x − 2 for x ∈ [ 1, 2 ] .

3. UNIFORM CONTINUITY 27

as shown in Figure 3.

makes f more closely resemble f . We will want to make the assumption that

the difference between the two functions can be made arbitrarily small. This is not

necessarily the case, as can be seen in the next example, but we will be able to make

assuptions of this type by restricting our attention to sufficiently nice functions as

will be explored throughout this chapter.

Example 2. As can be seen in Figure 4, the PL approximation

experiences

some difficulty in following the graph of f (x) = x sin x1 near x = 0, even with

n = 100. There are an infinite number of oscillations in the graph in any interval

about x = 0, so there is no way that a finite number of segments can portray this

to any great degree of satisfaction. As mentioned, we will seek to avoid functions

with characteristics such as these.

3. Uniform Continuity

As we go through this chapter, we will be laying out the conditions we expect

our functions to satisfy. Our underlying goal is to build an understanding of smooth

geometry, so at the very least, we might expect our functions to be continuous.

That we will be making use of PL approximations also speaks to the need for the

28 4. FUNCTIONS

1

Figure 4. The graph of x sin x .

but the discontinuities will be isolated and simple in nature.

We will be making occasional reference to the definition of continuity, so let us

state it here.

Definition 4. For a function f : [ a, b ] → Rn and an x ∈ [ a, b ], f is con-

tinuous at x if for every > 0, there is a δ > 0 such that whenever |∆x| < δ (and

x + ∆x ∈ [ a, b ]),

(27) | f (x + ∆x) − f (x) | < .

For n > 1, we will take | f (x + dx) − f (x) | to mean the magnitude of this difference

as vectors. If this definition is satisfied at each x ∈ [ a, b ], we will say that f is

continuous on [ a, b ].

Note that if f is continuous on an interval, this definition allows a different δ

for each x. This will be more than a little inconvenient for us, so we would like a

slightly stronger notion of continuity. This will be the following.

Definition 5. For a function f : [ a, b ] → Rn , f is said to be uniformly

continuous on [ a, b ] if for every > 0, there is a δ > 0 such that whenever

|∆x| < δ (and x + ∆x ∈ [ a, b ]),

(28) | f (x + ∆x) − f (x) | < .

The main point of this definition is that the same δ works for any x. From our

experience in calculus, we are familiar with a wide range of continuous functions

and a few non-continuous ones. We may not, however, be as comfortable with

determining which functions are uniformly continuous. It turns out that this will

4. DIFFERENTIATION IN ONE VARIABLE 29

some closed interval. This is a result of the following theorem about which more

details can be found in a book on topology or real analysis.

Theorem 4. Let f : A ⊂ Rm → Rn be a continuous function. If A is closed

and bounded, then f is uniformly continuous.

Uniform continuity is actually less than we desire. The function of Example 2

is continuous everywhere, and therefore by Theorem 4, is uniformly continuous over

any closed interval about x = 0. So while no graph can capture the oscillations

present near x = 0, since the magnitudes of the oscillations become very small,

the graph can stay close to the sampling points. Requiring uniform continuity,

therefore, will not exclude all of the functions we would want to exclude. It should

be emphasized that we want uniform continuity for use in proofs, not necessarily

to exclude bad functions.

All of our work with differentiation we extend the basic notion of the derivative

studied in calculus. We will begin with the definition.

Definition 6. For the function f : [ a, b ] → R, and for any x ∈ ( a, b ), let

f 0 (x) be defined by

f (x + ∆x) − f (x)

(29) f 0 (x) = lim ,

∆x→0 ∆x

if the limit exists. For the endpoints a and b, the derivative is defined by

f (a + ∆x) − f (a)

(30) f 0 (a) = lim ,

∆x→0 + ∆x

f (b + ∆x) − f (b)

(31) and f 0 (b) = lim ,

∆x→0− ∆x

where the first involves a limit from the right and the second a limit from the

left. These will sometimes be specifically referred to as right- and left-sided

derivatives. At each x for which the derivative exists (including a and b), we will

say that f is differentiable at x. If f is differentiable at every point of [ a, b ], we

will say that f is differentiable on [ a, b ].

At a particular value of x, the number f 0 (x) is typically associated with the

slope of a tangent line. Let us look a bit at what that means. If the limit in (29)

exists, then for any > 0, there is a δ > 0 such that as long as | ∆x | < δ,

0

(32) f (x) − f (x + ∆x) − f (x) < .

∆x

In other words, for any epsilon, there is an interval (−δ, δ) such that

(33) | f 0 (x)dx + f (x) − f (x + ∆x) | < ∆x.

for any ∆x in this interval. This tells us that the linear function t(∆x) = f 0 (x)∆x+

f (x) is a reasonable approximation to the function F (∆x) = f (x + ∆x) for a fixed

value of x. Since is arbitrary, no other linear function will fit as well. If f

is differentiable at x, therefore, then there is a unique tangent line that fits the

curve better than any other line. Increasing or decreasing the slope, as in Figure

5 results in a line that does not fit as well, so intuitively, we see a certain amount

30 4. FUNCTIONS

of symmetry. If the limit in the derivative definition does not exist, then a line

fit as well.

cannot be singled out as fitting better than the rest. In Figure 6, we see a point of

non-differentiability where a single line cannot fit the curve as we are accustomed

to seeing in a tangent line on both sides of the point, and the most “symmetric” line

does not fit the curve very well at all. We do see lines that look tangent on one side

of the non-differentiable point or the other, so the function may be differentiable

from the right or left at this point.

linear approximation, and no single line fits very well.

The tangent line, if it exists, is closely associated with a linear function. Since

it is the slope of this function that is most important to us, we will often talk about

this linear function in terms of a coordinate system whose origin is at the point

(x, f (x)).

Definition 7. If f is differentiable at the point x, then the differential of f

at x is the linear function

(34) df (dx) = f 0 (x)dx.

4. DIFFERENTIATION IN ONE VARIABLE 31

Note that the variable names in this coordinate system are dx and dy and that the

expression f 0 (x) is a constant.

Note that for the differential, the origin for the dxdy-coordinate need not be

thought of as being at the point (x, f (x)) as shown in Figure 7. Compare this

with the notion of putting the base of a tangent vector at a relevant point on the

graph. In fact, the differential (as well as the tangent line) can be identified with

the collection of all possible tangent vectors. As a result, where a vector has both

a direction and a magnitude, the differential has only direction. We will use the

differential, therefore, as a way of generalizing slope to higher dimensions.

dy df

dx

tem as being based at the relevant point on the curve, but we don’t

have to.

and f 0 (0) = 0. The slope of the tangent line at the point (0, 1) is therefore 0, and

the equation of the tangent line is t(x) = 0x + 1 (Note that the differential at this

point is df = 0dx). For = .1 in (33), the graph of f must lie between the lines

y = ±.1x + 1 over some interval about x = 0. This is shown in Figure 8. No matter

how small we make , there will be some inteval about x = 0 in which the parabola

lies between the lines y = x + 1. This is a geometric description of our concept of

a tangent line.

to the curve at x = 0. Here the graph of f lies between the lines

y = ±.1x + 1 over some interval close to x = 0.

32 4. FUNCTIONS

Example 4. Differentiable functions allow graph behavior that lie beyond what

we would like to consider. For example, note that the function g(x) = −x2 + 1 has

the same tangent line at x = 0 as the function f just mentioned. It follows that any

function that lies between f and g must also have the same tangent line. Consider

the following function h defined below and graphed in Figure 9 with f , g, and t.

(

x2 sin x12 , x 6= 0,

(35) h(x) =

0, x = 0.

Clearly h lies between any pair of lines y = x + 1 over some interval, since both

it has the same tangent at x = 0.

f and g do. It appears in the graph depicted in Figure 9, however, that the slopes

of tangents to h near x = 0 can have high-magnitude slopes. This is confirmed by

a computation of the derivative. The derivative of h away from zero can be found

using the basic techniques of calculus, so the derivative of h must be

(

0 2x sin x12 − x2 cos x12 , x 6= 0,

(36) h (x) =

0, x = 0,

and it is clear that h0 (x) takes large values arbitraily close to x = 0. The slopes of

the tangent lines to h vary so wildly that h0 is not even continuous at x = 0. The

point of this book is to study the relationship between curvature and the geometry

of curves and surfaces and to understand what it might mean for the universe in

which we live to have curvature. As a result, we are most interested in objects that

curve very gently. As this last example illustrates, differentiability alone does not

guarantee the gentle curving we desire. The oscillations that are seen in the graph

of Figure 9 are not really the problem. The problem is that the oscillations become

more wild as we approach x = 0, and this is sufficient to make the derivative of f 0

not continuous. This particular example can be eliminated, of course, if we only

considered functions with continuous derivatives.

As we have just seen in Example 4, a function can be differentiable with a

non-continuous derivative. We do not want to consider functions that are this wild,

so we will require that our functions have continuous derivatives unless specifically

noted otherwise. Such functions are called continuously differentiable or C 1 .

5. DERIVATIVES AND PL APPROXIMATIONS 33

and f 0 is continuous on [ a, b ], then f is said to be continuously differentiable on

[ a, b ]. We will also use the notation C 1 for continuously differentiable functions.

If the second derivative is also continuous (more specifically, if f 0 is continuously

differentiable), then f is C 2 . Similarly, we may speak of functions that are C n for

any positive integer n, or even C ∞ (f and all of its derivatives are continuously

differentiable). The notation C 0 is sometimes used to describe continuous functions.

It is dangerous to place too much weight on what a differentiable or a contin-

uously differentiable function might look like, but in general, we can think of a C 1

function as looking smoother than a function that was differentiable, but not C 1 .

A C 2 function would look smoother still, but the differences become much more

subtle as we consider higher levels of continuous differentiability.

For a function f to be differentiable at x, we consider the slopes of secant lines.

We can imagine ourselves at the point (x, f (x)) seeing an object approaching us

along the graph. The expression

f (x + dx) − f (x)

(37)

dx

describes the observed direction we look in to see the object. For f to be differen-

tiable, we would expect this direction to have a limit, and this limit would agree

with the direction for an object approaching from the opposite direction. The limit

would correspond to the directions determined by the tangent to the curve. If the

object were a car with its headlights on, the direction the headlights pointed in

would correspond to the tangent line at the point of the graph occupied by the car.

These directions correspond to the values f 0 (x + dx). For the function h described

above, the direction of the headlights would swing wildly back and forth between

directions perpendicular to the tangent. If f is continuously differentiable, then

these values must limit on f 0 (x). In other words, the direction the headlights point

must approach the direction of the tangent line, and they would always be pointing

in your general direction.

Given a PL approximation of a function f , the segments are each a portion

of a secant line. At each individual lattice point, the slope of the secants through

(xi , f (xi )) and (xi + ∆x, f (xi + ∆x)) limits on the derivative as ∆x → 0. We would

expect, therefore, that for very small values of the mesh, the slopes of the segments

will very closely approximate the derivatives at the lattice points. We can establish

this easily with reference to the Mean Value Theorem, which we state here.

Mean Value Theorem. If f is continuous on [ a, b ] and differentiable on

( a, b ), then there is a point c ∈ ( a, b ) such that

f (b) − f (a)

(38) f 0 (c) = .

b−a

Let f be a continuously differentiable function on [ a, b ], and let f be the

PL-approximation of f with mesh ∆x and lattice points { x1 , x2 , . . . , xn+1 }. On

any particular segment, the Mean Value Theorem states that there must be a

ci ∈ ( xi , xi+1 ) such that

f (xi+1 ) − f (xi )

(39) f 0 (ci ) = .

∆x

34 4. FUNCTIONS

there is a δ > 0 such that if ∆x < δ, then | f 0 (ci ) − f 0 (xi ) | < for all i. It follows

that, for all i,

0 f (xi+1 ) − f (xi )

(40)

f (xi ) − ∆x < .

We can conclude, therefore, that the slopes of the segments of f are good approxi-

mations of the derivatives of f at the lattice points, and that the error can be made

arbitrarily small by reducing the mesh.

Definition 9. We will define the PL differential of f at xi (and, if it is

convenient to have done so, at any point in [ xi , xi+1 )) to be

(41) Df (xi ) = f (xi+1 ) − f (xi ).

Df (xi )

∆x

Note that

Df (xi )

(42) lim = f 0 (xi ),

∆x→0 ∆x

where ∆x = b−a n for positive integers n, and n → ∞. If the function f were

constant, its graph would be a horizontal straight line, and the PL differential

would be 0. As shown in Figure 10, the PL differential measures the increase in f

(or the decrease) as we move from one lattice point to the next.

We can talk about the function f 00 in a similar way. If f is C 2 , then for each

i, there is a c0i ∈ ( xi , xi+1 ) such that

f 0 (xi+1 ) − f 0 (xi )

(43) f 00 (c0i ) = .

∆x

Since f 00 is continuous, there is a δ 0 > 0 smaller than the δ mentioned above such

that if ∆x < δ 0 ,

(44) | f 00 (c0i ) − f 00 (xi ) | < .

Since

0

(45) f (xi ) − f (xi+1 ) − f (xi ) < ,

∆x

and

0

(46) f (xi+1 ) − f (xi+2 ) − f (xi+1 ) < ,

∆x

6. PARAMETRIZATIONS OF CURVES 35

f (xi+1 )−f (xi )

− f (xi+2 )−f (xi+1 )

00 ∆x ∆x

(47) f (xi ) −

∆x

Df (xi+1 ) − Df (xi )

= f 00 (xi ) − < 3.

∆x2

With this in mind, we will make the following definition.

Definition 10. The second PL differential of f is defined as

(48) D2 f (xi ) = Df (xi+1 ) − Df (xi ).

Note that

D2 f (xi )

(49) lim = f 00 (xi )

∆x→0 ∆x2

It should be noted that D2 f (xi ) is probably a better approximation of f 00 (xi+1 )

than it is of f 00 (xi ), but this formulation will be more convenient for us. In Figure

B

Df (xi )

Df (xi+1 )

−Df (xi )

A

Figure 11. The distance D2 f (xi ) is equal to the sum of the dis-

tances Df (xi+1 ) and −Df (xi ).

13, if the graph of f were a straight line, then we would expect Df to be constant,

and Df (xi ) and Df (xi+1 ) would be the same. In this case, the graph of f would

continue to the point marked A. Instead, the graph of f proceeds to the point

marked B. The difference between A and B is the quantity D2 f (xi ). Therefore,

D2 f and f 00 measure how much the graph is not a straight line, and so they are

measures of curvature in some way. They measure the deviation from straightness

in the vertical direction, however. These values will change if the graph is rotated,

for example, so they are not convenient quantities to use to describe a curve’s shape.

They are easy to compute, and they contain the information necessary to describe

a curve’s curvature, and they will be of use to us.

6. Parametrizations of Curves

(xi+1 , f (xi+1 ))

Df (xi )

(xi , f (xi ))

36 4. FUNCTIONS

Df (xi ) Df (xi+1 )

Df (xi ) D2 f (x1 )

8. DIFFERENTIABILITY FOR FUNCTIONS OF TWO VARIABLES 37

Earlier in the chapter, we discussed briefly the graph of a function of two

variables (see Figure 1). The computer representation of the graph consists of

a collection of line segments. These segments will play a role in our study of

functions of two variables as the segments of a PL approximation did with functions

of one variable. The segments form a grid on the surface breaking the surface

into quadrilaterals that we will call grid parallelograms. In general, these grid

parallograms are not true parallograms, which, among other things, always lie in a

plane. In fact, while it would seem natural to use the segments directly to define a

PL approximation to a surface, the four vertices of a grid parallelogram generally

will not lie in a plane. Since any set of three points is always coplanar, we can, in

some sense, fold each grid parallelogram along a diagonal to fit the segments. We

can, therefore, approximate the graph of a function of two variables with a collection

of flat triangular disks. From this we can naturally find a piecewise linear function.

Definition 11. For the function f : [ a, b ] × [ c, d ] → R, we can define the

piecewise-linear (PL) approximation as follows. Given positive integers m and

n, we can break [ a, b ] into m equal subintervals with lattice points { x1 , x2 , . . . , xm+1 },

and we can break [ c, d ] into n equal subintervals with lattice points { y1 , y2 , . . . , yn+1 }.

From these, we can divide the rectangle [ a, b ] × [ c, d ] into mn equal rectangles

[ xi , xi+1 ] × [ yj , yj+1 ] with width ∆x and height ∆y. We will say that the mesh is

∆x × ∆y. The set of rectangles is called the partition, and the points (xi , yj )

are the lattice points. The (i, j)-th rectangle has vertices (xi , yj ), (xi+1 , yj ),

(xi+1 , yj+1 ), and (xi , yj+1 ). There is a flat (planar) triangular disk with vertices

(xi , yj , f (xi , yj )), (xi+1 , yj , f (xi+1 , yj )), and (xi , yj+1 ), f (xi , yj+1 ), and there is an-

other flat triangular disk with vertices (xi+1 , yj , f (xi+1 , yj )), (xi+1 , yj+1 , f (xi+1 , yj+1 )),

and (xi , yj+1 ), f (xi , yj+1 ). Together these form the (i, j)-th grid parallelogram.

The PL approximation of f is the function f : [ a, b ] × [ c, d ] → R whose graph

consists of all of the grid parallelograms.

In practice, we will use only the grid segments from the PL approximation,

and the pair of triangular disks that make up each grid parallelogram along with

the diagonal between them will be of only secondary importance. Using the no-

tation | (x1 , y1 ) − (x2 , y2 ) | for the distance between the two points, we can define

continuity for a function of two variables as follows.

Definition 12. For f : [ a, b ] × [ c, d ] → R, f is continuous at (x, y) if for

every > 0, there is a δ > 0 such that whenever | (x, y) − (x + ∆x, y + ∆y) | < δ,

we have

(50) | f (x + ∆x, y + ∆y) − f (x, y) | < .

If the existence of δ is independent of the point (x, y), then f is said to be uniformly

continuous. By Theorem 4 we see that f is uniformly continuous if it is continuous

on [ a, b ] × [ c, d ].

Our notion of differentiability for functions of more than one variable will be

based on the concept of a partial derivative. Given a function f in several variables,

f : R3 → R for example, we can take the derivative of f with respect to one of the

variables by holding the others constant.

38 4. FUNCTIONS

differentiate with respect to x to obtain the expression 3y + 2x. We will use the

notations

df

(51) = fx = fx (x, y) = 3y + 4x3

dx

for the partial derivative with respect to x. It is common to use curly ∂’s in the

notation for partial derivatives, but since we will be using partial derivatives almost

exclusively, there is no significant advantage to making a distinction between partial

derivatives and regular ones. Of course the partial respect to y would be written as

df

(52) = fy = fy (x, y) = 3x.

dy

A small portion of the graph of this function is shown in Figure 14. As we have

discussed, this depiction of the graph imposes gridlines on the surface. What we

see are a collection of straight line segments each an edge shared by two grid par-

allelograms. Half of the gridlines correspond to fixed values of y and the other half

to fixed values of x. For example, if we were to fix y to a value of zero, this would

single out those points lying on a curve corresponding to the function values f (x, 0).

The points (x, 0, f (x, 0)) all lie in the xz-plane, and if y = 0 is one of the lattice

coordinates, the corresponding segments would form a PL approximation of f (x, 0).

The partial derivatives fx (x, 0) can be interpreted as slopes in the xz-plane, and

these would be approximated by the slopes of the segments. Fixing y = 1 singles

out the gridline on the closest face of the cube in Figure 14. The values of fx (x, 1)

can be interpreted as slopes in this plane.

For a function f of one variable, being differentiable implies the continuity of

f . This does not apply to the partial derivatives of a function of more than one

8. DIFFERENTIABILITY FOR FUNCTIONS OF TWO VARIABLES 39

(

xy

2 2, (x, y) 6= (0, 0),

(53) f (x, y) = x +y

0, (x, y) = (0, 0).

The partial derivatives of this function are

( 3 2

y −x y

(x2 +y 2 )2 , (x, y) 6= (0, 0),

(54) fx (x, y) =

0, (x, y) = (0, 0),

(

x3 −xy 2

(55) fy (x, y) = (x2 +y 2 )2 , (x, y) 6= (0, 0),

0, (x, y) = (0, 0).

The partial derivatives exist at all points, and in particular at (0, 0). The function

f is not continuous at (0, 0), however, since f (t, t) = 12 for all t 6= 0, there are

function values equal to 12 arbitrarily close to (0, 0). A portion of the surface is

shown in Figure 15. The graph is not accurate around the discontinuity, but some

sense of the surface can be obtained from the picture. In fact, discontinuities can

often be seen in a graph such as this with badly distorted grid parallelograms

near the discontinuity. Note that the x- and y-axes lie on the surface and that

the horizontal lines with points (t, t, 12 ) and with points (t, −t, − 12 ) also lie on the

surface everywhere except for when t = 0. In particular, for any δ > 0, there is a

point (x, y) within δ of (0, 0) such that f (x, y) takes any particular value between

− 21 and 12 . If we look at a few of the gridlines, we see that these are nicely smooth

xy

Figure 15. Graph of f (x, y) = x2 +y 2 .

fixed values of y = 1, .5, .1, .02 are shown. Each is the graph of a differentiable

function. In fact, they are continuously differentiable as functions of one variable.

For y = 0, f (x, 0) = 0, so this gridline is also nicely smooth. It is the transition

40 4. FUNCTIONS

x is held constant shows a similar situation. What we see, therefore, is that the

partial derivatives only address the differentiability of the individual gridlines, so

the continuity of the function of two variables is not necessarily guaranteed.

Our interests lie in the geometry of nice surfaces, and we would like to avoid

discontinuities such as the one exhibited by this last example. It turns out that

if the partial derivatives are continuous (as functions of two variables), then the

original function is also continuous. With this in mind, we make the following

definition.

Definition 13. If the partial derivatives of a function f are continuous, we will

call f continuously differentiable or C 1 . If all of the second partial derivatives

are also continuous, f is C 2 . As before, we can also speak of C n functions in

general and C ∞ functions.

We can roughly say that if n > m, then C n functions are more smooth than

m

C functions. For the most part, we will assume that whenever we speak of the

derivative of a function, that derivative will be continuous. We will purposely

encounter instances of non-differentiability and non-continuity, and these will be

very important and very specific. Otherwise, if we speak of a third partial derivative

of a function f , for example, we will implicitly assume that f is at least C 3 .

For the non-continuous function f in the example above, it is difficult to imagine

a plane tangent to the surface at (0, 0) (except, perhaps, for a vertical one). This

function was not C 1 , however, and one important consequence of a function of two

variables being C 1 is that it is always possible to determine a tangent plane in a

8. DIFFERENTIABILITY FOR FUNCTIONS OF TWO VARIABLES 41

reasonable way. Let us examine this in some detail, since this will be central to

much of what we study.

Consider a function f : R2 → R. If the first partial derivatives exist, then at

a point (a, b), fx (a, b) and fy (a, b) can be interpreted as being the slopes of lines

tangent to the gridlines at (a, b, f (a, b)). It should seem reasonable that if a plane

were to be tangent to the surface at this point, then the two tangent lines would

lie on this tangent plane. In the example above, this would mean that the xy-plane

would be the only possible candidate for a tangent plane at the origin, and we would

not want to consider this to be the case. No reasonable tangent plane exists in this

situation. Again, however, the function in the example was not C 1 . In any case,

we can assume that the plane determined by the two partial derivatives should be

the only possible candidate for a tangent plane. We wish to show that if f is C 1 ,

then we can reasonably call this plane a tangent plane.

Let us now suppose that f is indeed C 1 (as always, we assume that f is dif-

ferentiable in some region around the point under consideration). For convenience,

suppose that fx (a, b) = m and fy (a, b) = n. We can reasonably call these the x- and

y-slopes at (a, b). The plane determined by these two slopes is the graph of a linear

function t(x, y) = mx + ny + c where c is the constant that makes t(a, b) = f (a, b).

Consider a nearby point (a + dx, b + dy), and we will attempt to estimate the dif-

ference between t(a + dx, b + dy) and f (a + dx, b + dy). Our strategy will be to

consider f (a + dx, b) first and then f (a + dx, b + dy) (we could just as easily start

with f (a, b+dy)). We can use the partial derivative fx (a, b) to estimate f (a+dx, b).

The fact that fy is continuous allows us to estimate fy (a + dx, b), and this in turn

can be used to estimate f (a + dx, b + dy).

Let > 0. There is a δ1 > 0 such that if |dx| < δ1 , then

(56)

| f (a, b) + fx (a, b)dx − f (a + dx, b) | = | t(a, b) + mdx − f (a + dx, b) | < dx.

We can make a similar approximation using fy (a+dx, b), but this would necessarily

depend on dx complicating matters significantly. We can however consider f (a +

dx, b + dy) − f (a + dx, b). Since f is differentiable with respect to y, the Mean Value

Theorem tells us that there is a ν between b and b + dy (dy could be negative) such

that

within δ2 of (a, b), then

There is a δ > 0, therefore, such that whenever (a + dx, b + dy) is within δ of (a, b),

|dx| < δ1 and (a + dx, η) will be within δ2 of (a, b). For a point (a + dx, b + dy)

42 4. FUNCTIONS

(59)

| f (a + dx, b + dy) − t(a + dx, b + dy) |

(60)

= | f (a + dx, b + dy) − f (a + dx, b) + f (a + dx, b) − t(a + dx, b + dy) |

(61)

= | f (a + dx, b + dy) − f (a + dx, b) + f (a + dx, b) − f (a, b) − mdx − ndy |

(62)

≤ | f (a + dx, b + dy) − f (a + dx, b) − ndy | + | f (a + dx, b) − f (a, b) − mdx |

(63)

p

≤ |dy| + |dx| = (|dy| + |dx|) < 2 |dx|2 + |dy|2 .

This can be interpreted as showing that the directional derivative in the direction

of the vector [ dx, dy ] exists. In other words, if we were to consider the curve on the

surface containing the points (a + tdx, b + tdy, f (a + tdx, b + tdy)), then the tangent

line to this curve would lie on the plane determined by the two partial derivatives.

A third way of saying this is that if f is continuously differentiable, then the set of

tangent lines to the surface at (a, b) will form a plane, and this plane is the same

as the one determined by fx (a, b) and fy (a, b).

We now can state that for a function of two variables defined in some region

about (a, b) and continuously differentiable in that region, it is perfectly reasonable

to speak of a tangent plane to the graph of the function. Continuous differentiability

is not a necessary condition in this regard (see a book in real analysis), but since we

will never consider a non-continuous derivative outside of several important special

cases, it is reasonable to proceed in this way.

Continuously differentiable functions have one other important property that

we will exploit heavily. This is in regards to the second partial derivatives. The

partial derivative of fx with respect to y will be denoted by fxy . It is important

to note that in fxy we differentiated with respect to x first and then y. This same

function is denoted

d2 f

(64) fxy = .

dydx

d

With the dx notation, we indicate differentiation by placing symbols in front of

the function name, so the latest derivative should be furthest left. Even though

it is fundamentally important that C 2 functions are such that fxy = fyx , as we

will now investigate, the order of the differentiation is critical to understanding the

relationship between geometry and differentiation.

Suppose we have a C 2 function f in two variables. At a point (a, b), fx (a, b)

is the slope of the tangent line to the gridline with y = b, and fy (a, b) is the slope

of the tangent to the gridline with x = a. The second partial derivative fxy (a, b)

describes the rate of rotation of the tangent in the x-direction as we move it in the

y-direction. Similarly, fyx (a, b) describes the rate of rotation of the tangent in the

y-direction as we move it in the x-direction. Expressed this way, there appears to

be no reason to expect that fxy (a, b) = fyx (a, b). Let us try to understand why this

might be the case.

8. DIFFERENTIABILITY FOR FUNCTIONS OF TWO VARIABLES 43

(

xy(x2 −y 2 )

(65) f (x, y) = x2 +y 2 , (x, y) 6= (0, 0),

(0, 0), (x, y) = (0, 0).

The graph of this function looks unremarkable (see Figure 17), but anomolies of

the second derivative will not be obvious in graphs such as this. The first partial

derivatives for this function are

Figure 17. For this function fxy (0, 0) 6= fyx (0, 0).

(

x4 y−y 5 +4x2 y 3

(x2 +y 2 )2 , (x, y) 6= (0, 0),

(66) fx (x, y) =

(0, 0), (x, y) = (0, 0).

( 5 4 3 2

x −xy −4x y

(x2 +y 2 )2 , (x, y) 6= (0, 0),

(67) fy (x, y) =

(0, 0), (x, y) = (0, 0).

Away from (0, 0), the functions fxy and fyx are equal.

x6 + 9x4 y 2 − 9x2 y 4 − y 6

(68) fxy (x, y) = fyx (x, y) = , for(x, y) 6= (0, 0).

(x2 + y 2 )3

This should not be surprising, since all of the second partial derivatives are contin-

uous away from (0, 0). The common graph for the cross-partials is shown in Figure

18, and it is apparent that neither function can be continuous at (0, 0). Both func-

tions have values at (0, 0), however. Since fx (0, y) = −y, the partial derivative of

this function at (0, 0) must be fxy (0, 0) = −1. Similarly, since fy (x, 0) = x, we have

that fyx (0, 0) = 1.

The nature of this example indicates that for nice functions, the cross-partials

should be expected to be equal. Let us look at why we might believe this to be

44 4. FUNCTIONS

Figure 18. This is the graph of fxy or fyx . They agree everywhere

except at (0, 0).

the case. The grid lines on the graph break the surface into grid parallelograms

corresponding to a PL approximation of f . In general, these are not actual par-

allelograms, since the four corners are assumed to lie on a curved surface, and

so pairs of opposite sides cannot be expected to be parallel or the same length.

For a grid with mesh ∆x × ∆y, we can consider the grid parallelogram at a point

(a, b). In particular, the four corners are (a, b, f (a, b)), (a + ∆x, b, f (a + ∆x, b)),

(a + ∆x, b + ∆y, f (a + ∆x, b + ∆y)), and (a, b + ∆y, f (a, b + ∆y)). The grid par-

allelogram is depicted in Figure 19 along with the true parallelogram determined

by the grid segments adjacent to (a, b, f (a, b)). Let Dx f(a, b) be the vector from

(a, b, f (a, b)) to (a + ∆x, b, f (a + ∆x, b)), as shown in Figure 19. The coordinates

of Dx f (a, b) are

(69) Dx f = [ ∆x, 0, f (a + ∆x, b) − f (a, b) ] .

Compare this vector to the slope of this side of the grid parallelogram

f (a + ∆x, b) − f (a, b)

(70) m= .

∆x

We are looking at the slope of a secant line whose limit is fx (a, b), and the vector

Dx f(a, b) gives us information that is equivalent to this slope. The change in the

values of f , the third coordinate in Dx f , will be called the PL partial differential

of f with respect to x, and will be denoted Dx f. The vector Dy f(a, b) similarly

contains information about a secant line whose slope approximates fy (a, b), and we

define Dy f in the obvious way.

Figure 20 shows Df (a, b) and Df (a + ∆x, b). These reflect a change in fy

as it moves in the x-direction. In other words, the difference between these two

8. DIFFERENTIABILITY FOR FUNCTIONS OF TWO VARIABLES 45

f (a + ∆x, b + ∆y)

f (a, b + ∆y)

Dy f (a, b)

Dx f (a, b)

f (a, b) f (a + ∆x, b)

the surface and the actual parallelogram determined by Dx f and

Dy f.

vectors is an approximation of fyx (a, b), and as long as the limits are sufficiently

well-behaved,

Dy f (a + ∆x, b) − Dy f(a, b)

(71) lim lim = [ 0, 0, fyx(a, b) ] .

∆y→0 ∆x→0 ∆x∆y

If there were no difference between Dy f(a, b) and Dy f(a + ∆x, b), then Dy f(a +

∆x, b) would occupy the opposite side of the true parallelogram shown in Figure

20. The difference between the two vectors must be a vector from the corners of the

true parallelogram and the grid parallelogram corresponding to (a + ∆x, b + ∆y),

as shown in Figure 21.

Dy f (a + ∆x, b)

Dy f (a, b) Dy f (a, b)

The vector Dxy f (a, b) must have precisely the same geometric interpretation,

so as long as the limits are well-behaved, it should be that fxy (a, b) = fyx (a, b).

46 4. FUNCTIONS

Dyx f (a, b)

CHAPTER 5

Dimensions

For a surface parametrized by x(u1 , u2 ) = x1 (u1 , u2 ), x2 (u1 , u2 ), x3 (u1 , u2 ) ,

the Riemannian curvature tensor is defined to be

dΓlik dΓlij

(72) l

Rijk = − + Γpik Γlpj − Γpij Γlpk ,

duj duk

where i, j, k, l, p ∈ { 1, 2 }, and the Einstien summation convention is used (i.e.,

since p occurs as both an upper and lower index, it is summed over). Using the

dx d2 x k

notation xi = du i and xij = duj dui , we define the Christoffel symbols Γij along

(73) xij = Lij n + Γkij xk ,

again using the Einstein summation convention. Note that the Γkij describe the

tangential change in the tangent vectors xi in terms of the xi , and they can be

obtained by making measurements along the surface (i.e., they are intrinsic). The

Lij are extrinsic, and the principal curvatures, κ1 and κ2 , can be obtained from

them, and so the Gauss curvature, K = κ1 κ2 , also depends on the Lij . The Gauss

l

curvature can also be obtained from Rijk , in particular

l

R121 gl2

(74) K= ,

g

where gij = h xi , xj i and g = | gij |. There are several other choices for the

indices that will result in ±K. All quantities used here are intrinsic, so a proof of

the relationships stated here also proves Gauss’ Theorema Egregium, that Gauss

curvature is intrinsic.

l

The Rijk contain more curvature information than K, and the Riemannian

curvature tensor generalizes to higher dimensions, where the Gauss curvature does

not. Motivation for the Riemannian curvature tensor comes from the following

observations. What I describe is partly nonsense, but it lays out the basic idea.

Suppose a simple closed

R curve C on the surface bounds a region S. The total

curvature of S is θ = S K dA. If we were to parallel transport a vector around

C, then the resultant vector would differ from the original by an angle θ. If we

had points A and B on the curve, then there are two ways that we could parallel

transport a vector along C from A to B. The angle between the two resultant

vectors would also be θ.

The Riemannian curvature tensor captures this idea using differentials and

derivatives. For example, if we were to follow the tangent vector x1 as it moved

a small distance du1 in the u1 -direction, and then a small distance du2 in the u2 -

direction, we would get some vector x1 (12). We could go the other way, that is,

47

48 5. THE RIEMANNIAN CURVATURE TENSOR IN TWO DIMENSIONS

we could move first in the u2 -direction, and then the u1 -direction. We’ll call this

x1 (21). These two vectors will be the same, but if we were to keep track of the

rotation of the vectors relative to the surface, we would get a discrepancy of θ,

where θ is the total curvature inside the little parallelogram with sides du1 and

du2 . The average curvature would be

θ

(75) K≈ .

kdu1 × du2 k

Note also that

kx1 (12) − x1 (21)k

(76) θ≈ .

kx1 k

Very roughly then, the Riemannian curvature tensor describes the following. Ig-

noring the normal component of the change in xi , move it in the uj -direction, and

then in the uk -direction to obtain xi (jk). Obtain xi (kj) similarly and subtract.

Expressed in terms of the tangent vectors x1 and x2 , we have

1 2

(77) xi (jk) − xi (kj) = Rijk x1 + Rijk x2 .

1. Parametrizations

Let x(u , u ) = x (u , u2 ), x2 (u1 , u2 ), x3 (u1 , u2 ) be a vector function x :

1 2 1 1

At a lattice point (u1 , u2 ) = (a, b), define the partial PL-differential with respect

to ui to be

(78) x1 = D1 x(a, b) = x(a + ∆u1 , b) − x(a, b),

(79) and x2 = D2 x(a, b) = x(a, b + ∆u2 ) − x(a, b),

and the second partial PL-differentials with respect to ui and uj to be

(80) x11 = D11 x(a, b) = D1 x(a + ∆u1 , b) − D1 x(a, b),

(81) x12 = D12 x(a, b) = D1 x(a, b + ∆u2 ) − D1 x(a, b),

(82) x21 = D21 x(a, b) = D2 x(a + ∆u1 , b) − D2 x(a, b),

(83) and x22 = D22 x(a, b) = D2 x(a, b + ∆u2 ) − D2 x(a, b).

Also at each lattice point, we can define the unit PL-normal vector at (a, b) to be

x 1 × x2

(84) n(a, b) = .

kx1 × x2 k

Note that n is normal to the plane determined by x1 and x2 .

One important goal is to understand the curvature of space, so it is important

to understand curvature intrinsically. It is possible to decompose the xij into

tangential and normal components.

(85) xij = Lij n + Γkij xk .

The Lij are the coefficients of the PL-second form (??). The Γkij are the PL-

Christoffel symbols, and they describe the tangential (or geodesic) change in the

tangent vectors xi . From an intrinsic point of view, we can define quantities that

correspond roughly to the PL-Christoffel symbols. We will do this by working from

the fact that any two adjoining grid parallelograms can be laid flat (i.e., can be

embedded in a plane).

1. PARAMETRIZATIONS 49

point (a, b), we are looking at

(86) x11 = x1 (a + ∆u1 , b) − x1 (a, b),

so we are interested in the grid parallelograms corresponding to (a, b) and (a +

∆u1 , b). Both grid parallelograms can be embedded in the vector space spanned by

x1 (a, b) and x2 (a, b), and in particular, x1 (a + ∆u1 , b) lies in this plane. With the

following subtraction taking place in this vector space, we can therefore define the

k

intrinsic PL-differential, δ1 x1 , and the intrinsic PL-Christoffel symbols, γ11 , by

(87) x1 (a + ∆u1 , b) − x1 (a, b) = δ1 x1 (a, b) = γ11

1 2

x1 (a, b) + γ11 x2 (a, b).

k

In general, we define δi xj and γij the same way.

x1 (21)

x1 (2)

θ

1

(a + ∆u , b + ∆u ) 2 x1 (12)

x2

x1 x1 (1)

(a, b)

If we consider the grid parallelograms at (a, b), (a + ∆u1 , b), (a, b + ∆u2 ), and

(a+∆u1 , b+∆u2 ), it will not be possible to lay these flat if there is non-zero impulse

curvature at (a + ∆u1 , b + ∆u2 ). If we cut along the vector x1 (a + ∆u1 , b + ∆u2 ),

however, we can pull all four grid parallelograms into the plane spanned by the

vectors x1 (a, b) and x2 (a, b), as shown in Figure 1. The angle θ between the two

copies of x1 (a+∆u1 , b+∆u2 ) is precisely the impulse curvature at (a+∆u1 , b+∆u2 ).

The Riemannian curvature tensor exploits this observation, and we will start to

l

build up to Rijk here.

The intrinsic PL-differential δ1 x1 (a, b) measures the difference between the vec-

tors marked x1 and x1 (1) in Figure 1. Similarly, δ2 x1 (a + ∆u1 , b) is the difference

between the vectors marked x1 (1) and x1 (12). Both of these differences are com-

puted in the plane spanned by x1 (a, b) and x2 (a, b). Also in this plane, the difference

between x1 and x1 (21) is measured by δ2 x1 (a, b) and δ1 x1 (a, b + ∆u2 ). Finding the

angle between the vectors x1 (12) and x1 (21) is a bit awkward, but we can get a

good approximation for small θ’s with

kx1 (12) − x1 (21)k

(88) θ≈ ,

kx1 (12)k

since the vectors x1 (21) and x1 (12) are the same length, and so the difference

between the vectors is essentially an arc of a circle with radius kx1 (12)k (or equiv-

alently, kx1 (21)k). With this in mind, we define the PL-Riemannian curvature

50 5. THE RIEMANNIAN CURVATURE TENSOR IN TWO DIMENSIONS

tensor by

(89) xi (jk) − xi (kj) = R1ijk x1 + R2ijk x2 .

In words, we take the vector xi and move it first in the xj -direction, and then the

xk -direction. From this we subtract the result of moving this vector first in the

xk -direction, and then the xj -direction. This description makes it apparent that

we have the following relationships.

(90) Rlijk = −Rlikj ,

(91) and Rlijj = 0.

There are eight pairs of numbers R1ijk and R2ijk , and each of the four pairs for which

j 6= k, along with x1 and x2 , give us approximations of the impulse curvature at

(a + ∆u1 , b + ∆u2 ).

We can express the quantities in (89) in terms of differentials at (a, b). Specif-

ically, we need the following

k k

(92) δ1 γij (a, b) = γij (a + ∆u1 , b) − γij

k

(a, b),

k k

(93) and δ2 γij (a, b) = γij (a, b + ∆u2 ) − γij

k

(a, b).

For example, we have that

k

(94) γij (a + ∆u1 , b) = γij

k k

(a, b) + δ1 γij (a, b).

We can find x1 (12) as follows, using numbers in parentheses to designate the lattice

point. Since

1 2

(95) x1 (1) = x1 + γ11 x1 + γ11 x2 ,

1 2

(96) x2 (1) = x2 + γ21 x1 + γ21 x2 ,

i i i

(97) and γ12 (1) = γ12 + δ1 γ12 ,

we have that

1 2

(98) x1 (12) = x1 (1) + γ12 (1)x1 (1) + γ12 (1)x2 (1)

1 2

(99) = x1 + γ11 x1 + γ11 x2

1 1 1 2

(100) + (γ12 + δ1 γ12 )(x1 + γ11 x1 + γ11 x2 )

2 1 1 2

(101) + (γ12 + δ1 γ12 )(x2 + γ21 x1 + γ21 x2 ).

Similarly,

1 2

(102) x1 (21) = x1 (2) + γ11 (2)x1 (2) + γ11 (2)x2 (2)

1 2

(103) = x1 + γ12 x1 + γ12 x2

1 1 1 2

(104) + (γ11 + δ2 γ11 )(x1 + γ12 x1 + γ12 x2 )

2 1 1 2

(105) + (γ11 + δ2 γ11 )(x2 + γ22 x1 + γ22 x2 ).

It follows that

1 1 1 1 1 2 1 2 1

(106) x1 (12) − x1 (21) = (γ12 γ11 + δ1 γ12 + δ1 γ12 γ11 + γ12 γ21 + δ1 γ12 γ21 )x1

1 2 1 2 2 2 2 2 2

(107) + (γ12 γ11 + δ1 γ12 γ11 + γ12 γ21 + δ1 γ12 + δ1 γ12 γ21 )x2 .

1 1 1 1 1 2 1 2 1

(108) − (γ11 γ12 + δ2 γ11 + δ2 γ11 γ12 + γ11 γ22 + δ2 γ11 γ22 ))x1

1 2 1 2 2 2 2 2 2

(109) − (γ11 γ12 + δ2 γ11 γ12 + γ11 γ22 + δ2 γ11 + δ2 γ11 γ22 )x2

1. PARAMETRIZATIONS 51

1 1 p 1 p 1 p 1 p 1

(110) δ1 γ12 − δ2 γ11 + γ12 γp1 − γ11 γp2 + δ1 γ12 γp1 − δ2 γ11 γp2 ,

and the x2 -component can be written as

2 2 p 2 p 2 p 2 p 2

(111) δ1 γ12 − δ2 γ11 + γ12 γp1 − γ11 γp2 + δ1 γ12 γp1 − δ2 γ11 γp2 .

In general, the xi -component would be

i i p i p i p i p i

(112) δ1 γ12 − δ2 γ11 + γ12 γp1 − γ11 γp2 + δ1 γ12 γp1 − δ2 γ11 γp2 .

All cases are covered by

p l p l p l p l

(113) Rlijk = δj γik

l l

− δk γij + γik γpj − γij γpk + δj γik γpj − δk γij γpk .

Compare this to the definition of the (non-PL) Riemannian curvature tensor.

CHAPTER 6

One thing that should always be kept in mind is that the derivative can always

be interpreted as being a linear approximation. In other words, it is often helpful

to understand a situation concerning a differentiable object by studying the corre-

sponding linear algebra situation. We will be exploring something that differential

geometers call a metric or a Riemannian metric. This is not to be confused with

the metric a topologist would impose on a metric space, although a metric-space

metric can always be constructed from a Riemannian metric.

Differential geometers study objects that don’t have natural (or at least not

convenient) coordinate systems. We can impose coordinate systems on these spaces

by identifying a piece of the space with a piece of a Euclidean space. Right now, we

will associate a piece of a surface with a piece of the Eucidean plane, R2 . We can

talk about points of the surface using a coordinate system for R2 . The geometry,

however, for the two spaces will be different, and we will impose a funny geometry

on R2 and pretend that R2 actually is the surface. We will start to describe how

this is done in the case when the surface is another plane, and at the same time,

develop some of the notation and terminology that is used in differential geometry.

We will think of the derivatives at a point of a surface as being generalizations

of the notion of a linear transformation, so let’s look at a linear transformation. Due

to the repetitive nature of linear algebra and differential geometry, it is convenient

to talk about things such as the u1 u2 -plane rather than the uv-plane. For the most

part, superscripts are used in the same way that subscripts are. This interferes with

the use of exponents, but the handyness of the notation more than makes up for

this. Suppose we have a linear transformation A from the u1 u2 -plane to the x1 x2 -

plane. Linear transformations can be defined in terms of matrix multiplication, so

we have

a11 a12 1

(114) A(u1 , u2 ) = u2 .

u

a21 a22

Note that aij is the entry in the i-th row and j-th column. Part of the reason for

using superscripts in this way will be apparent in a minute. More will made clear

53

54 6. RIEMANNIAN CURVATURE TENSOR

1 1

1 a1 u + a12 u2

x

= A(u1 , u2 ) =

x2

a21 u1 + a22 u2

(115) P2 1 j

j=1 aj u

= .

P2 2 j

j=1 aj u

The use of the summation notation indicates some of the repetitiveness. More

can be seen in the fact that both entries look the same. Another common way of

expressing this relationship is

2

X

x1 = a1j uj

j=1

(116) 2

X

x2 = a2j uj

j=1

Both equations look the same, except for the superscripts, which are both 1 in the

first equation, and both 2 in the second. Note also that the summation index j in

both summations appear as both a subscript and a superscript. Albert Einstein is

often credited with noticing that there is a nice scheme for deciding which indices

should be subscripts and which should be superscripts, and if this is followed,

summations will always range over one subscript and one superscript. The terms

covariant and contravariant tensors are used in this scheme, and we will discuss

this later. The important thing here is that we will always sum over an index that

appears both as a superscript and a subscript. This makes the summation sign

redundant (the context will make it clear what the range of the index is supposed

to be), and so using the Einstein summation convention, we can write the equations

in (116) as one equation and without the summation sign,

(117) xi = aij uj .

This may look odd at first, but it turns out to be a powerful use of notation that

takes care of itself.

Let’s look

at an example. Consider the linear transformation defined by the

1 3

matrix A = . The vectors (the points) [ 1, 0 ] and [ 0, 1 ] in the u1 u2 -plane

2 2

map to the following vectors in the x1 x2 -plane. We will use A for the name of the

function, as well.

1 3 1 1

A(1, 0) = =

2 2 0 2

(118)

1 3 0 3

A(0, 1) = =

2 2 1 2

Remember that we are building up intuition and notation for more complicated

situations. What we want to do here is to talk about points on the x1 x2 -plane

using coordinates from the u1 u2 -plane. The game is that we will use the label

[ 1, 0 ] to talk about the vector [ 1, 2 ] in the x1 x2 -plane. We can compute the

1. THE RIEMANNIAN METRIC FOR A PLANE 55

1

(119) 1 2 = 1 + 4 = 5,

2

√

so the magnitude of the vector must be 5. Under the new rules√for the game and

the new geometry for the u1 u2 -plane, the magnitude of [ 1, 0 ] is 5. Similarly, the

magnitude √ of the vector

√ [ 0, 1 ] is the same as the magnitude of the vector [ 3, 2 ],

which is 9 + 4 = 13. Under this new geometry, as √ we move from the point (0, 0)

to the point (1, 0), we have traveled a distance √ of 5 units, and as we move from

(0, 0) to (0, 1), we have moved a distance of 13. Our notion of distance has changed

dramatically, and the way we measure angles can be different, as well. In the old

geometry of the u1 u2 -plane, the two vectors [ 1, 0 ] and [ 0, 1 ] are perpendicular,

but in the new geometry, the angle is the same as the angle between [ 1, 2 ] and

[ 3, 2 ] in the x1 x2 -plane. We can compute this angle using the dot product, as we

did before. That is,

3

(120) 1 2 = 3 + 4 = 8,

2

and so the angle between them θ must satisfy

√ √

(121) 8 = 5 13 cos θ.

In other words,

8

(122) θ = cos−1 √ √ .

5 13

In the new geometry for the u1 u2 -plane, therefore, this must be the angle between

[ 1, 0 ] and [ 0, 1 ]. All that we have done here depends on taking dot products in

the x1 x2 -plane. The rules of the game, therefore, can be condensed into a funny

dot product on the u1 u2 -plane. These generalizations of the dot product are called

inner products, and inner products can always be expressed in terms of a matrix

product as follows. Given an inner product,

there

is a matrix [ gij ] such that the

inner product of vectors a1 , a2 and b1 , b2 is

1 2 1 2 1 g11 g12 b1

a ,a , b ,b = a a2

g21 g22 b2

(123)

= a1 b1 g11 + a2 b1 g21 + a1 b2 g12 + a2 b2 g22

= ai bj gij (in Einstein notation)

Assuming the existence of such a matrix, it is easy to find the matrix [ gij ] for this

example.

5 8

(124) [ gij ] =

8 13

This inner product, and equivalently the matrix gij , determines the new geometry

completely. Letting e1 = [ 1, 0 ] and e2 = [ 0, 1 ], the gij are determined by what

the inner products between these vectors should be. That is,

(125) gij = h ei , ej i

56 6. RIEMANNIAN CURVATURE TENSOR

We will define magnitudes and angles in the new geometry using the inner product

in place of the dot product.

p

(126) kxk = h x, x i

(127) h x, y i = kxk kyk cos θ

1.1. Exercises.

from the u1 u2 -plane to the x1 x2 -plane

2 −3

determined by the matrix . Find the inner product matrix [ gij ] for the

1 4

new geometry. Under the new geometry, determine the distance traveled along the

path from (0, 0) to (1, 0). Along the path from (0, 0) to (1, 1) to (0, 3). Find the

angle between the vectors [ 2, 3 ] and [ −3, 1 ].

h i

22. Write the product of the square matrices aij and bjk in Einstein no-

tation (use cik for the product).

For a function of one variable, the first derivative can be interpreted as describ-

ing an approximating tangent line, and the second derivative an approximating

parabola. We can make similar comparisons with surfaces.

Suppose we have a surface parametrized by the following vector function.

(128) x(u1 , u2 ) = x1 (u1 , u2 ), x2 (u1 , u2 ), x3 (u1 , u2 )

Suppose also that we are interested in investigating the curvature of the surface

at any particular point on the surface. We will interpret the derivatives of x as

describing linear approximations to the surface. In other words, the first partial

derivatives define a tangent plane, and they also determine a linear transformation

from the u1 u2 -plane to that tangent plane. Let us take a look at these first partials

and discuss their meaning.

1

dx dx dx2 dx3

(129) = , ,

du1 du1 du1 du1

1

dx dx dx2 dx3

(130) = , ,

du2 du2 du2 du2

These two vectors are tangent to the surface at their respective points. They

can be used directly to describe a plane tangent to the surface, and the chain

rule provides justification for doing 1 this. Suppose we have a line in the u1 u2 -

2 1

plane parametrized by γ(t) = a t, a t (in other words, u = a t and v =

2

a

t). The corresponding curve on the surface can be parametrized by x(γ(t)) =

x1 (a1 t, a2 t), x2 (a1 t, a2 t), x3 (a1 t, a2 t) . We can differentiate x with respect to the

2. THE RIEMANNIAN METRIC FOR CURVED SURFACES 57

new parameter t, and the chain rule illustrates the linear character of the derivative.

1 1

dx dx du dx du2 dx2 du1 dx2 du2 dx3 du1 dx3 du2

(131) = + 2 , + 2 , + 1

dt du1 dt du dt du1 dt du dt du1 dt du dt

1 1 2 2 3 3

dx 1 dx 2 dx 1 dx 2 dx 1 dx 2

(132) = a + 2a , 1a + 2a , 1a + 2a

du1 du du du du du

1 2 3

1 2 3

dx dx dx dx dx dx

(133) = a1 1

, 1 , 1 + a2 , ,

du du du du2 du2 du2

dx dx

(134) = a1 1 + a2 2

du du

This could be interpreted as follows. If a point is moving along a line according

to

1the 2parametrization

γ, it would pass through any particular point with velocity

dx 2 dx

a , a . The image of this point on the surface will have velocity a1 du 1 + a du2 .

and velocity vectors at the corresponding image point on the surface are related

by a linear transformation. This function is known as the differential and can be

defined by

dx dx

(135) dx = 1 du1 + 2 du2 ,

du du

where a velocity vector du1 , du2 at a point in the u1 u2 -plane corresponds to a

velocity vector dx at the corresponding image point on the surface. This function

is also described by a matrix called the Jacobian,

1 1

dx dx

1 du2

du

dx2 dx2 .

(136) J(x) = du

1 du2

dx3 dx3

du1 du2

The differential then becomes

1 2 du1

(137) dx(du , du ) = J(x)

du2

1 1

dx dx

1 du2

du

dx2 dx2 du1

(138) = du

1 du2 du2

dx3 dx3

du1 du2

Once we have this linear function, it is easy to compare areas in the u1 u2 -plane with

areas on the tangent plane. The unit square determined by the vectors (1, 0) and

dx dx

(0, 1) gets mapped to a parallelogram determined by the vectors du 1 and du2 . The

area of this parallelogram, if you remember from calculus, is equal to the magnitude

of the cross product of these two vectors. We’ll come back to this later.

We have already talked a bit about a point in the u1 u2 -plane and the cor-

responding point on the surface. The parametrization ties points together, and

we can identify the pairs of points and speak of them almost as if they were one.

Expressed another way, we are again playing the game of using labels from the

u1 u2 -plane to describe points on the surface. This is an important concept when

58 6. RIEMANNIAN CURVATURE TENSOR

dealing with manifolds, since there may be no way, or at least no convenient way,

of describing individual points on a manifold. What we will do is to talk about

points in the u1 u2 -plane and endow them with properties from the manifold, or in

this case, the surface. For example, let us say that we move along the segment from

(0, 0) to (1, 0) in the u1 u2 -plane. We have traveled a distance of 1. The image of

this segment on the surface might be a curve with length 5. If we change the way

that we measure distances in the u1 u2 -plane, as we did in the case when the surface

was simply another plane, then in some new geometry,the length of the segment

just mentioned would be 5, and then doing geometry in the u1 u2 -plane becomes

more like doing geometry on the surface. The goal here is to come up with a funny

way of measuring things like distances and angles so that doing geometry with these

new measurement schemes is equivalent to doing geometry on the surface. This is

a rough description of what differential geometry is about.

The differential tells us how velocity vectors in the u1 u2 -plane correspond to

velocity vectors on the surface via a linear transformation that changes from point

to point. These contain the necessary information to find a relationship between

distances and angles. Note that both of these quantities for vectors are obtainable

from the dot product, so if we know how the dot products compare, then we should

be able to get what we need for distances and angles. Suppose the Jacobian at

(0, 0) is

c11 c12

(139)

J(x)(0, 0) = c21 c22

c31 c32

Consider two velocity vectors in the u1 u2 -plane, a1 , a2 and b1 , b2 . Their

images are

1 1

c11 c12 1 c1 a + c12 a2

c21 a

(140) c22 2 = c21 a1 + c22 a2 ,

a

c31 c32 c31 a1 + c32 a2

and similarly

1 1

c11 c12 1 c1 b + c12 b2

c21 b

(141) c22 2 = c21 b1 + c22 b2 .

b

c31 c23

c31 b1 + c32 b2

1 1

1 1 c1 b + c12 b2

(142) c1 a + c12 a2 c21 a1 + c22 a2 c31 a1 + c32 a2 c21 b1 + c22 b2

c31 b1 + c32 b2

= (c11 a1 + c12 a2 )(c11 b1 + c12 b2 ) + (c21 a1 + c22 a2 )(c21 b1 + c22 b2 )

+ (c31 a1 + c32 a2 )(c31 b1 + c32 b2 )

called bilinearity for the dot product. Note how the ai factor out, and then the bi .

2. THE RIEMANNIAN METRIC FOR CURVED SURFACES 59

+ a2 [c12 (c11 b1 + c12 b2 ) + c22 (c21 b1 + c22 b2 ) + c32 (c31 b1 + c32 b2 )]

(143) = a1 b1 (c11 c11 + c21 c21 + c31 c31 ) + a1 b2 (c11 c12 + c21 c22 + c31 c32 )

+ a2 b1 (c12 c11 + c22 c21 + c32 c31 ) + a2 b2 (c12 c12 + c22 c22 + c32 c32 )

= a1 b1 g11 + a1 b2 g12 + a2 b1 g21 + a2 b2 g22 .

that

the dot product

follows a distributive law, which it does. The vectors a1 , a2 and b1 , b2 map

dx 2 dx 1 dx 2 dx

to the vectors on the surface a1 du 1 + a du2 and b du1 + b du2 . Therefore,

1 dx 2 dx 1 dx 2 dx

(144) a +a · b +b

du1 du2 du1 du2

dx dx dx dx dx dx dx dx

= a1 b1 1 · 1 + a1 b2 1 · 2 + a2 b1 2 · 1 + a2 b2 2 · 2

du du du du du du du du

= a1 b1 g11 + a1 b2 g12 + a2 b1 g21 + a2 b2 g22 .

Note that the gij represent the same quantities in both derivations. The dot product

is a special case of a vector space product called an inner product, which share the

basic property of bilinearity. Bilinearity is described as

(145) h ax + by, z i = a h x, z i + b h y, z i

and

(146) h x, by + cz i = b h x, y i + c h x, z i .

This new inner product on the vectors a1 , a2 and b1 , b2 is defined by

1 2 1 2 1 2

g11 g12 b1

(147) a ,a , b ,b = a a

g21 g22 b2

The matrix [ gij ], or the bilinear function (i.e., the inner product) defined by it, is

called the first fundamental form. The entries of the matrix, the gij , generally vary

from point to point, and we usually want to consider surfaces and parametrizations

where these vary smoothly.

If we were to consider a vector at a certain point, say [ 1, 0 ], we can compute

its inner product with itself using the first fundamental form.

g11 g12 1

(148) h [ 1, 0 ] , [ 1, 0 ] i = 1 0 = [ g11 ]

g21 g22 0

The quantity g11 came from the inner product of the vector on the surface corre-

sponding to [ 1, 0 ], so this should not be surprising. Perhaps more importantly,

note that once we have the matrix [ gij ], we can work exclusively with vectors in

the u1 u2 -plane, and while this vector is a unit vector under

p the dot product, with

√

respect to this new inner product, it has magnitude h [ 1, 0 ] , [ 1, 0 ] i = g11 .

The matrix [ gij ] is also called the the Riemannian metric or simply the metric.

60 6. RIEMANNIAN CURVATURE TENSOR

3. Curvature

The curvature of the surface at a point depends on how the unit normal vector

is rotating as it moves past the point. This depends, of course, on how the normal

is moving past the point, but this relationship is based on the derivative, and so,

it is linear. We need, therefore, to find the derivative of the unit normal in two

directions, and this is most convenient in the directions corresponding to u1 and

dn

u2 . In other words, the curvature of the surface is completely described by du 1 and

dn

du2 . In practice, these can be complicated derivatives to compute. For that reason,

and also to understand them better, we will look at their relationship with other

derivatives.

The first derivatives of x determine n, so the second derivatives of x should

also determine the derivatives of n. These relationships are linear, so all should

be expressible in terms of matrix multiplications. Note that the product rule and

chain rule generalize inner products and cross products in a natural way, and we

will use these as we need them.

dx

The unit normal vector can be written in terms of the first derivatives, du 1 and

dx

du 2 as follows, since the cross product is perpendicular to the two factors.

dx dx

1 × du2

(149) n =
du

dx1 × dx

du du2

Differentiating this expression directly is not immediately illuminating, so we will

2

x

approach this from another direction. Each of the second partial derivatives dudj du i

dx

measures the change in the first derivative du i at each point of the surface. Some of

this change occurs in the form of a change in magnitude, and some of this change is

a result of the vector rotating. Furthermore, some change occurs along the tangent

plane, and the rest in the direction of the normal vector. In any case, the two

tangent vectors and the unit normal at each point form a basis for R3 , so each

second derivative can be expressed as a linear combination of these three vectors.

d2 x dx dx

j i

= Lij n + Γ1ij 1 + Γ2ij 2

(150) du du du du

k dx

= Lij n + Γij k (in Einstein notation)

du

The four numbers Lij measure how quickly the first derivatives turn away from

the surface. These together, therefore, can conceivably contain all of the surface’s

curvature information. We are assuming that this curvature information comes from

the linear approximation of the rotation of the unit normal vector at each point.

We should look for the relationship between the Lij and the derivatives of the unit

normal vector. Now, the unit normal has constant magnitude, so its derivatives

are perpendicular to n. In other words, the derivatives of n must be parallel to

the tangent plane. They can be expressed, therefore, as a linear combination of the

first derivatives.

dn dx dx

i

= −L1i 1 − L2i 2

(151) du du du

dx

= −Lji j

du

The four numbers −Lji are different from the Lij , and in general, the position of the

indices should be understood to indicate distinct variable names. The two L’s are

3. CURVATURE 61

closely related, and differences in index placement will usually imply a particular

relationship. Furthermore, the negative signs on the −Lji are customary and are

j

used to simplify the relationship betweenh the

i L’s. We have actually seen the Li

before. The determinant of the matrix Lji is the Gauss curvature.

To establish

dx a formula tying the L’s together, we will differentiate the inner

product du i,n , which is zero, since the two vectors are perpendicular.

dx

d du i,n dx dn d2 x

0= = , + , n

duk dui duk duk dui

dx j dx

= ,L + Lik

(152) dui k duj

dx dx

= −Ljk , + Lik

dui duj

= −Ljk gij + Lik

We have, therefore, that

(153) Lik = Ljk gij (in Einstein notation).

This is a typical arrangement. We may speak of lowering an index, which means

multiplying by the matrix associated with the metric. Note that the ordering of the

indices is not critical, since the matrices we will be dealing with are for the most

part symmetric. The matrix [ gij ] has a matrix inverse, which we will denote by

−1

(154) [ gij ] = g jk .

Again, the g with two superscripts is distinct from the g with two subscripts. By

definition, one is the metric, the other is the metric’s inverse. In particular, let

(

1 if i = j,

(155) δji =

0 if i 6= j.

i

Essentially, δj is the identity matrix. We can express the fact that [ gij ] and

jk

g are inverse matrices in Einstein notation by

(156) gij g jk = δik .

Equation (153) can be reversed using Einstein notation as

(157) Lik = Ljk gij

(158) Lik g il = Ljk gij g il

(159) Lik g il = Ljk δjl = Llk .

The matrix Lij defines a linear transformation relating the rate at which the unit

normal vector rotates with a corresponding velocity vector on the surface at a

particular point on the surface. This linear transformation is called the Weingarten

map. At each point of the surface the Weingarten map is a linear approximation

to the Gauss map. It is, therefore, a derivative of the Gauss map, at least in some

sense. The ratio of areas under the Gauss map with areas on the surface is the

Gauss curvature, so the Weingarten map is intimately related to the curvature of

the surface. Since the relationship is linear, the particular region we choose to use

to compute the two areas is not important. The easiest correspond to the square

62 6. RIEMANNIAN CURVATURE TENSOR

this square under dx is the parallelogram determined by the two tangent vectors

dx dx

du1 and du2 . The area of this parallelogram can be found using the cross product

dx dx

(160) Area on surface = × 2.

du1 du

dn 1 dx 2 dx

The corresponding vectors under the Weingarten map are du 1 = −L1 du1 − L1 du2

dn 1 dx 2 dx

and du2 = −L2 du1 − L2 du2 . The area of the paralellogram determined by these

two vectors can also be found using the cross product. Using the fact that the cross

product is bilinear and anti-symmetric, we see that

(161)

dn dn

× 2

du1 du

dx dx dx dx

= (−L11 1 − L21 2 ) × (−L12 1 − L22 2 )

du du du du

dx dx dx dx dx dx dx dx

= L11 L12 1 × 1 + L11 L22 1 × 2 + L21 L12 2 × 1 + L21 L22 2 × 2

du du du du du du du du

dx dx dx dx

= 0 + L11 L22 1 × 2 − L21 L12 1 × 2 + 0

du du du du

dx dx

= (L11 L22 − L21 L12 ) 1 × 2

du du

The ratio of the areas under the Gauss map and areas on the surface, therefore, is

given by the determinant of the matrix Lij .

It is more difficult to compute distances along a surface, since the metric

changes from point to point. At a particular point, however, the vector [ 1, 0 ]

√

say, has an interpretation as a velocity vector with magnitude,

or speed, g11 . A

1

small movement in this direction from this point, say ∆u , 0 , corresponds to a

√

distance g11 ∆u1 . This would be a good approximation for a distance along the

surface in this direction for small values of ∆u1 . From this point, it should be

conceivable that we could compute distances using integration, but that is not the

concern here. We will consider differentiation first.

Remember that we obtained the metric from p the first partial derivatives of

the parametrization, and for unit vectors u, h u, u i is the magnitude of the

corresponding tangent vector on the surface. It is, in some sense, a directional

derivative.

CHAPTER 7

1. Intrinsic Interpretations

We have discussed the second derivatives of the vector function x in terms of

the following.

d2 x dx

(162) = Lij n + Γkij k

duj dui du

These are called Gauss’ formulas. The Lij are called the coefficients of the second

fundamental form, and the Γkij are called the Christoffel symbols (of the second

kind). We have talked about the Lij a bit, and right now, we will focus on the Γkij .

We saw earlier that if we followed a tangent vector around a closed path in a

plane, then the net rotation of the tangent vector would be 2π (radians). Any devia-

tion from 2π gives us direct information about total curvature contained within the

closed curve. Let us try to follow a tangent vector around the path corresponding

to the unit square in the u1 u2 -plane ([1, 0] × [1, 0]) using information only available

at the point (via derivatives). That is, we will use the Γkij and perhaps derivatives

of these at the point. Imposing the normal looking graph paper of the u1 u2 -plane

on the surface, we will be running around one of the “squares,” which we’ll call

s-squares, to have a name.

dx

Running from (0, 0) to (1, 0), the tangent vector du 1 gives us a velocity on the

dx tangent to the first side of the s-square.

The vector dudx

1 will move a distance (approximately) to the next vertex. It

du1

dx

will turn towards du2 according to Γ11 . It changes magnitude according to Γ111 . In

2

particular, traversing the first side affects the tangent vector in the following way

dx dx dx

(163) 1

→ (1 + Γ111 ) 1 + Γ211 2 .

du du du

Now we want to push this vector along the path corresponding to the segement

from (1, 0) to (1, 1). We’re pushing in the direction of u2 , so we are interested in

Γ112 and Γ212 , but these have changed slightly, since we’re starting at a different

dΓ1 dΓ212

point. This change can be approximated using du12 1 and du1 . We have moved a

63

64 7. RIEMANNIAN CURVATURE TENSOR

1 1

1 dΓ112 dx

1 + Γ11 + 1 + Γ11 Γ12 + 1

du du1

dΓ 2

dx

+ Γ211 + 1 + Γ111 Γ212 + 12 1

du du2

(164) 1 1

dΓ 1 dΓ12 dx

= 1 + Γ111 + Γ112 + 12 1

+ Γ 1

Γ

11 12

1

+ Γ 11 1

du du du1

dΓ2 dΓ2 dx

+ Γ211 + Γ212 + 12 1

+ Γ111 Γ212 + Γ111 12 1

du du du2

dx

Pushing du1 the other way around the square, from (0, 0) to (0, 1) to (1, 1), yields

1 1

1 dΓ111 dx

1 + Γ12 + 1 + Γ12 Γ11 +

du2 du1

2 1

2 dΓ211 dx

+ Γ12 + 1 + Γ12 Γ11 +

du2 du2

(165)

1 1 dΓ111 1 1

1

1 dΓ11 dx

= 1 + Γ12 + Γ11 + + Γ12 Γ11 + Γ12 2

du2 du du1

2 2 dΓ211 1 2 1 dΓ11

2

dx

+ Γ12 + Γ11 + + Γ12 Γ11 + Γ12 2

du2 du du2

We want to push the vector x1 around the square two ways: in the u1 direction

and then the u2 direction, and also in the u2 direction and then the u1 direction.

Let’s call these x1 (12) and x1 (21). We’ll also say x1 (1) is the intermediate vector

after pushing x1 in only the u1 direction.

Based on the information available at the original point, we can make the

following “best guess.” We start with

(167) x2 (1) = x2 + Γ121 x1 + Γ221 x2

As we push x1 (1) to x1 (12), we can use the best information we have about the

current states of the various quantities. We have estimates of x1 (1) and x2 (1), and

we can also estimate the new Γk11 with

d 1

(168) Γ112 (1) = Γ112 + Γ

du1 12

d

(169) Γ212 (1) = Γ212 + 1 Γ212 .

du

1. INTRINSIC INTERPRETATIONS 65

x1 (12)

= x1 + Γ111 x1 + Γ211 x2

d

+ Γ112 + 1 Γ112 x1 + Γ111 x1 + Γ211 x2

du

d

(171) + Γ212 + 1 Γ212 x2 + Γ121 x1 + Γ221 x2

du

dΓ1 dΓ112 1 dΓ212 1

= 1 + Γ111 + Γ112 + 12 + Γ 1

Γ 1

12 11 + Γ + Γ 2

Γ 1

+ Γ x1

du1 du1 11 12 21

du1 21

dΓ1 2 dΓ212 dΓ212 2

+ Γ211 + Γ112 Γ211 + 12 Γ + Γ 2

+ + Γ 2

Γ 2

+ Γ x2

du1 11 12

du1 12 21

du1 21

(174) x2 (2) = x2 + Γ122 x1 + Γ222 x2

d 1

(175) Γ111 (2) = Γ111 + Γ

du2 11

d

(176) Γ211 (2) = Γ211 + 2 Γ211 .

du

Therefore,

x1 (21)

= x1 + Γ112 x1 + Γ212 x2

d

+ Γ111 + 2 Γ111 x1 + Γ112 x1 + Γ212 x2

du

d

(177) + Γ211 + 2 Γ211 x2 + Γ122 x1 + Γ222 x2

du

1 1 dΓ111 1 1 dΓ111 1 2 1 dΓ211 1

= 1 + Γ12 + Γ11 + + Γ11 Γ12 + Γ + Γ11 Γ22 + Γ x1

du2 du2 12 du2 22

dΓ1 2 dΓ211 dΓ211 2

+ Γ212 + Γ111 Γ212 + 11 Γ 12 + Γ 2

11 + + Γ 2

11 Γ 2

22 + Γ x2 .

du2 du2 du2 22

66 7. RIEMANNIAN CURVATURE TENSOR

Some measure of the curvature is given by how different x1 (12) is from x1 (21). If

we subtract, we see that

x1 (12) − x1 (21)

1

dΓ12 dΓ111 1 1 1 1 dΓ112 1 dΓ111 1

= − + Γ 12 Γ 11 − Γ 11 Γ 12 + Γ 11 − Γ

du1 du2 du1 du2 12

dΓ2 1 dΓ211 1

+ Γ212 Γ121 − Γ211 Γ122 + 12 Γ 21 − Γ x1

du1 du2 22

dΓ1 2 dΓ111 2 dΓ212 dΓ211

+ Γ112 Γ211 − Γ111 Γ212 + 12 Γ 11 − Γ 12 + −

(178) du1 du2 du1 du2

2 2

dΓ dΓ

+ Γ212 Γ221 − Γ211 Γ222 + 12 Γ2 − 11 Γ 2 x2

du1 21 du2 22

1

dΓ12 dΓ111 p 1 p 1 dΓp12 1 dΓp11 1

= − + Γ12 Γp1 − Γ11 Γp2 + Γ − Γ x1

du1 du2 du1 p1 du2 p2

p 2 p 2 dΓp12 2 dΓp11 2 dΓ212 dΓ211

+ Γ12 Γp1 − Γ11 Γp2 + Γ − Γ + − x2 .

du1 p1 du2 p2 du1 du2

If we were pushing x1 around an -square, then all terms will have a factor

dΓ1 1 2

of , except for the terms like du12 1 Γ11 , which would have a factor of . It is

2

conceivable that in a comparison with the actual function, the -terms would

become irrelevant. This brings agreement with the Riemannian curvature tensor.

k

That is, x1 (12) − x1 (21) = R112 xk . In Millman and Parker, it is shown that

l

R121 gl2

(179) K= .

g

l l

It seems that R112 or R212 could also be used with an appropriate gij . In our case,

this appears to be

l

R112 gl2

(180) K= .

g

This appears to be

h x1 (12) − x1 (21), x2 i

(181) .

g

To see that the difference seen in the vector x1 as it is pushed around the square

two different ways is relevant, we get an initial confirmation from the following.

In the Smarandache Manifolds book, it is shown that the relative angle between

two geodesics increases or decreases depending on the total curvature between the

geodesics. If the relative angle decreases by θ radians, then there must be θ total

curvature between. The total curvature, therefore, must be ± the angle between

x1 (12) and x1 (21). The formula given by Millman and Parker computes this angle.

We can verify this as follows.

(182) h x1 (12), x2 i = kx1 (12)k kx2 k ≈ kx1 k kx2 k cos θ12

(183) h x1 (21), x2 i = kx1 (21)k kx2 k ≈ kx1 k kx2 k cos θ21 ,

and we want θ12 − θ21 . We can use the trig identity

α+β α−β

(184) cos α − cos β = −2 sin sin

2 2

1. INTRINSIC INTERPRETATIONS 67

2

(185) g = kx1 × x2 k .

Therefore,

l

R121 gl2 kx1 k kx2 k (−2) sin θ12 +θ

2

21

sin θ12 −θ21

2

= 2 2 2

g kx1 k kx2 k sin θ

(186) θ12 − θ21

≈

kx1 k kx2 k sin θ

=K

CHAPTER 8

1. What we know

There has been some work done with polyhedral metrics by Gromov, and later

by Aitchison, and Rubinstein. The latter two worked with cubings of 3-manifolds,

which consist of flat 3-cubes, and the curvature is concentrated in the 1-skeleton.

The dihedral angle around each edge must be at least 2π, so the geometry is Euclid-

ean or hyperbolic around the edges. At each vertex, it is required that lk(v) has

the property that every 1-cycle has at least three edges and that every 1-cycle with

exactly three edges bounds a triangle contained in exactly one cube. I’m not sure

what lk(v) is, but my first guess is that it is a small ball about the vertex, and

I think this means that it is a simplicial complex. My second guess is that it is

the surface of this ball. Each triangle corresponds to a cube. We’re looking at the

triangulation of a 2-sphere. OK, I think this is it, and I believe lk(v) stands for the

link of v.

The simplest case might be eight cubes arranged like the octants of R3 about

the origin. Adding two more in the most obvious way yields the geometry of stacked

cones with impulse curvature − π2 .

Question 1. What is the nature of the curvature at a point beyond this type

of dihedral curvature?

This simple configuration consists of the corners of four cubes meeting at one

vertex. A polyhedral ball about this vertex would form a tetrahedron. Since only

one vertex is being considered, we can build the space out of four of the eight oc-

tants of R3 . We will use the x+ y + z + -octant and the three octants adjacent to it,

the x− y + z + -octant, the x+ y − z + -octant, and the x+ y + z − -octant. From this con-

figuration, we will identify the x− z + -quarter plane of the x− y + z + -octant with the

y − z + -quarter plane of the x+ y − z + -octant; the x− y + -quarter plane of the x− y + z + -

octant with the y + z − -quarter plane of the x+ y + z − -octant; and the x+ z − -quarter

plane of the x+ y + z − -octant with the x+ y − -quarter plane of the x+ y − z + -octant.

A view of this using cubes is shown in Figure 1. Note that we are left with four

semi-axes. The x+ -, y + -, and z + -axes remain, and the three negative axes have

been identified. We will refer to this last axis as the negative axis.

The geometry in the interior of each of the octants is Euclidean, and there is

π

2 radians of dihedral curvature along each of the axes. This can be seen in the

2-gon shown in Figure 2. It might be that it makes sense to say that there is 2π

69

70 8. CURVATURE OF 3-DIMENSIONAL SPACES

x− y + ≡ y + z − , and x+ z − ≡ x+ y − .

π

Figure 2. A 2-gon with total curvature 2.

steradians of curvature at the central vertex. One possible effect is some torsion in

the curvature of a curve near it.

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