nLab Morse lemma

Let $M$ be a smooth manifold, $f: M\to \mathbb{R}$ a real valued function.

$p\in M$ is a critical point of $f$ if for any curve $\gamma : (-\epsilon, \epsilon)\to M$ with $\gamma(0)=p$, the vector

$\frac{d(f\circ\gamma)}{dt} |_{t=0} = 0.$

The critical point is regular if for one (or equivalently any) chart $\phi : U^{\open}\to \mathbb{R}^n$, where $p\in U$ and $\phi(p) = 0\in \mathbb{R}^n$, the Hessian matrix

$\left(\frac{\partial^2 (f\circ \phi^{-1})}{\partial x^i\partial x^j}|_{0}\right)_{ij}$

is a nondegenerate (i.e. maximal rank) matrix.

Morse lemma states that for any regular critical point $p$ of $f$ there is a chart $\phi: U\to \mathbb{R}^n$ around $p$ such that the function in these coordinates is quadratic:

$(f\circ\phi^{-1})(x^1,\ldots,x^n) = f(p) +\sum_{i=1}^k x_i^2 - \sum_{j=k+1}^n x_j^2$

and number $k$ is determined by the Hessian matrix. While the Morse lemma is proved by Morse, the modern proof is by the Moser’s deformation method. The Morse lemma can be generalized to smooth functions on a Hilbert manifold, in which case there is a linear operator $A$ such that in suitable local coordinates, quadratic functional $f\circ\phi^{-1}$ can be written as $f(p)+$<$A x,x$>.

• V. Guillemin, S. Sternberg, Geometric asymptotics, Appendix 1

Last revised on March 9, 2010 at 19:28:18. See the history of this page for a list of all contributions to it.