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A bilinear form is simply a linear map $\langle -,-\rangle\colon V \otimes V \to k$ out of a tensor product of $k$-modules into the ring $k$ (typically taken to be a field).
It is called symmetric if $\langle x,y\rangle = \langle y,x\rangle$ for all $x,y \in V$. For variants on this, such as the property of being conjugate-symmetric, see inner product space.
It is called nondegenerate if the mate $V \to V^\ast = \hom(V, k)$ is injective (a monomorphism).
Let $k = \mathbb{R}$ be the real numbers. A symmetric bilinear form is called
positive definite if $\langle x,x\rangle \gt 0$ if $x \neq 0$.
negative definite if $\langle x,x\rangle \lt 0$ if $x \neq 0$.
An inner product on a real vector space is an example of a symmetric bilinear form. (For some authors, an inner product on a real vector space is precisely a positive definite symmetric bilinear form. Other authors relax the positive definiteness to nondegeneracy. Perhaps some authors even drop the nondegeneracy condition (citation?).)
If $f \colon \mathbb{R}^n \to \mathbb{R}$ is of class $C^2$, then the Hessian of $f$ at a point defines a symmetric bilinear form. It may be degenerate, but in Morse theory, a Morse function is a $C^2$ function such that the Hessian at each critical point is nondegenerate.
Concepts which relate to (non-degenerate) bilinear forms from the nPOV and/or categorifications of the concept of bilinear forms include
Last revised on August 22, 2020 at 18:40:28. See the history of this page for a list of all contributions to it.