nLab Ricci flow



Differential geometry

synthetic differential geometry


from point-set topology to differentiable manifolds

geometry of physics: coordinate systems, smooth spaces, manifolds, smooth homotopy types, supergeometry



smooth space


The magic algebraic facts




infinitesimal cohesion

tangent cohesion

differential cohesion

graded differential cohesion

singular cohesion

id id fermionic bosonic bosonic Rh rheonomic reduced infinitesimal infinitesimal & étale cohesive ʃ discrete discrete continuous * \array{ && id &\dashv& id \\ && \vee && \vee \\ &\stackrel{fermionic}{}& \rightrightarrows &\dashv& \rightsquigarrow & \stackrel{bosonic}{} \\ && \bot && \bot \\ &\stackrel{bosonic}{} & \rightsquigarrow &\dashv& \mathrm{R}\!\!\mathrm{h} & \stackrel{rheonomic}{} \\ && \vee && \vee \\ &\stackrel{reduced}{} & \Re &\dashv& \Im & \stackrel{infinitesimal}{} \\ && \bot && \bot \\ &\stackrel{infinitesimal}{}& \Im &\dashv& \& & \stackrel{\text{étale}}{} \\ && \vee && \vee \\ &\stackrel{cohesive}{}& \esh &\dashv& \flat & \stackrel{discrete}{} \\ && \bot && \bot \\ &\stackrel{discrete}{}& \flat &\dashv& \sharp & \stackrel{continuous}{} \\ && \vee && \vee \\ && \emptyset &\dashv& \ast }


Lie theory, ∞-Lie theory

differential equations, variational calculus

Chern-Weil theory, ∞-Chern-Weil theory

Cartan geometry (super, higher)

Riemannian geometry



Ricci flow is the gradient flow of the action functional of dilaton gravity: the Einstein-Hilbert action coupled to a dilaton field.

Equivalently it is the renormalization group flow of the bosonic string sigma-model for background fields containing gravity and dilaton (reviewed e.g. in Woolgra 07, Carfora 10, see also the introduction of Tseytlin 06).

In (Perelman 02) Ricci flow for dilaton gravity in 3d was shown to enjoy sufficient monotonicity properties such as to complete Richard Hamilton‘s proof of the Poincaré conjecture. Hamilton’s strategy was to equip a compact simply connected 3d manifold with a Riemannian metric, argue that its Ricci flow will, after many “pinchings” (points where the metric degenerates) produce a collection of 3-spheres and conclude that therefor the original manifold must have been a 3-sphere, too. The technical problem is to control the number of pinchings, which may occur rapidly. Adding also the dilaton field turns out not to change the qualitative nature of the flow but make it “monotone enough” to control the pinching.

In Rubinstein-Sinclair a typical such Ricci flow with pinchings is visualized as follows:



A quick survey is in the slides

  • Annibale Magni, Perelman’s dilaton (pdf).

and a detailed survey is in

  • Terry Tao, Ricci flow as a gradient flow, log-Sobolev inequalities, and Perelman entropy (blog post)

Visualization is in

  • J. Hyam Rubinstein and Robert Sinclair. “Visualizing Ricci Flow of Manifolds of Revolution”, Experimental Mathematics v. 14 n. 3, pp. 257–384.

The monotonicity of the Ricci flow for the string sigma-model in dilaton gravity background was established in

This was a key step in his completion of Hamilton’s program for how to prove the Poincare conjecture.

As sigma-model renormalization group flow

The identification of Ricci flow with the renormalization group flow of the bosonic string sigma-model is reviewed for instance in

and discussed in more detail for instance in

  • T Oliynyk, V Suneeta, E Woolgar, Irreversibility of World-sheet Renormalization Group Flow, Phys.Lett. B610 (2005) 115-121 (arXiv:hep-th/0410001)

  • T Oliynyk, V Suneeta, E Woolgar, A Gradient Flow for Worldsheet Nonlinear Sigma Models, Nucl.Phys. B739 (2006) 441-458 (arXiv:hep-th/0510239)

  • Arkady Tseytlin, On sigma model RG flow, “central charge” action and Perelman’s entropy, Phys.Rev.D75:064024,2007 (arXiv:hep-th/0612296)

See also at string theory – References – Fields medal work related to string theory.

See also

Last revised on November 25, 2020 at 14:07:16. See the history of this page for a list of all contributions to it.