nLab
moduli space of Riemannian metrics

Context

Riemannian geometry

Differential geometry

differential geometry

synthetic differential geometry

Axiomatics

Models

Concepts

Theorems

Applications

Contents

Idea

The moduli space of (pseudo)-Riemannian metrics gg on a given space (manifold) XX.

Definition

On the site CartSp of smooth Cartesian spaces consider the sheaf

Met:CartSp opSet Met : CartSp^{op} \to Set

which sends each UCartSpU \in CartSp to the set of Riemannian metrics on UU.

Then let XX be a smooth manifold, or more generally a diffeological space, or more generally a Lie groupoid or more generally a smooth ∞-groupoid, all regarded in H=\mathbf{H} = Smooth∞Grpd.

Write

Met(X):=Conc[X,Met] Met(X) := Conc [X,Met]

for the concretification of the internal hom: the space of metrics on XX. (Various variations and extensions of this statement are of interest and can easily be written out. The above direct statement works for possibly degenerate metrics.)

A point in this space is a single (pseudo-)Riemannian metric on XX.

The group Aut(X)Aut(X) of automorphisms of XX acts on this by precomposition in the natural way

Aut(X)×Met(X)Met(X) Aut(X) \times Met(X) \to Met(X)
((XϕX),g)ϕ *g. ((X \stackrel{\phi}{\to} X), g) \mapsto \phi^* g \,.

If XX is a smooth manifold then Aut(X)=Diff(X)Aut(X) = Diff(X) is the group of diffeomorphisms of XX.

The quotient (action groupoid, moduli stack)

Met(X)//Diff(X)SmoothGrpd Met(X)//Diff(X) \in Smooth\infty Grpd

is the moduli space of (pseudo-)Riemannian metrics on XX.

Various variations of this are of interest. For instance there one consider the Einstein-Hilbert action

S:Met(X)//Diff(X). S : Met(X)//Diff(X) \to \mathbb{R} \,.

The critical locus of this function is the moduli space of Einstein metrics.

Properties

For XX a smooth manifold, Met(X)Met(X) itself is a contractible space.

Applications

In the context of the theory of gravity, the moduli space of pseudo-Riemannian metrics on XX is the configuration space of the field theory of gravity (general relativity). The moduli space of Einstein metrics is then called the covariant phase space: this is the subspace of solutions of the Einstein equations.

References

Textbook references include

  • Mikhail Gromov, Metric structures for Riemannian and non-Riemannian spaces Birkhäuser (1999)

chapter 4 of

  • A. L. Besse, Einstein Manifolds , Ergeb. Math. Grenzgeb. 10, Springer-Verlag, New York, (1987) MR 88f:53087 Zbl 0613.53001

  • M. E. Shanks, The Space of Metrics on a Compact Metrizable Space , American Journal of Mathematics Vol. 66, No. 3, Jul. (1944) (JSTOR)

  • Halldor Eliasson, On variations of metrics Math. Scand. 29 (1971) 317-327 (pdf)

  • F. Farrell, Pedro Ontaneda, The Teichmüller space of pinched negatively curved metrics on a hyperbolic manifold is not contractible (pdf)

  • Boris Botvinnik, Bernhard Hanke, Thomas Schick, and Mark Walsh, Homotopy groups of the space of metrics of positive scalar curvature (pdf)

Revised on August 16, 2011 01:31:09 by Urs Schreiber (194.81.173.201)