nLab diffeomorphism



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)



Given two kk-times differentiable manifolds (or smooth manifolds), then a diffeomorphism

f:XY f \;\colon\; X \longrightarrow Y

is a differentiable function such that there exists an inverse differentiabe function f 1f^{-1} (a function which is an inverse function on the underlying sets and is itself differentiable to the given degree).

Diffeomorphisms are the isomorphisms in the corrresponding category Diff of differentiable manifolds/smooth manifolds.


Relation to homeomorphisms

It is clear that


Every diffeomorphism is in particular a homeomorphism between the underlying topological spaces.

The converse in general fails. There exist differentiable maps with only continuous inverse. There are also differentiable bijections whose inverse is not even continuous.


The function f:f : \mathbb{R} \to \mathbb{R} given by xx 3x \mapsto x^3 is a homeomorphism but not a diffeomorphism. The diffeomorphism property fails at the origin, where the differential df:T 0T 0d f : T_0 \mathbb{R} \to T_0 \mathbb{R} is not onto.

But there is a rich collection of theorems about cases when the converse is true after all.


For nn \in \mathbb{N}, the open n-ball 𝔹 n\mathbb{B}^n is the open subset

𝔹 n={x n| i=1 n(x i) 2<1} n \mathbb{B}^n = \{ \vec x \in \mathbb{R}^n | \sum_{i = 1}^n (x^i)^2 \lt 1 \} \subset \mathbb{R}^n

of the Cartesian space n\mathbb{R}^n of all points of distance lower than 1 from the origin. This inherits the structure of a smooth manifold from the embedding into n\mathbb{R}^n.


In dimension dd \in \mathbb{N} for d4d \neq 4 we have:

every open subset of d\mathbb{R}^d which is homeomorphic to 𝔹 d\mathbb{B}^d is also diffeomorphic to it.

See the first page of (Ozols) for a list of references.

What’s a good/canonical textbook reference for this?


In dimension 4 the analog statement fails due to the existence of exotic smooth structures on 4\mathbb{R}^4.


For XX and YY smooth manifolds of dimension d=1d = 1, d=2d = 2 or d=3d = 3 we have:

if there is a homeomorphism from XX to YY, then there is also a diffeomorphism.

See the corollary on p. 2 of (Munkres).

Relation to homotopy equivalences

For the following kinds of manifolds Σ\Sigma it is true that every homotopy equivalence

α:Π(Σ)Π(Σ) \alpha \colon \Pi(\Sigma) \stackrel{\simeq}{\longrightarrow} \Pi(\Sigma)

(hence every equivalence of their fundamental infinity-groupoids) is homotopic to a diffeomorphism

a:ΣΣ a \colon \Sigma \stackrel{\simeq}{\longrightarrow} \Sigma

i.e. that given α\alpha there is aa with

αΠ(a). \alpha \simeq \Pi(a) \,.

A review of results and relevant literature is also on the first page of (Hass-Scott 92)-


  • V. Ozols, Largest normal neighbourhoods Proceedings of the American Mathematical Society Vol. 61, No. 1 (Nov., 1976), pp. 99-101 (jstor) (AMS: pdf)

  • James Munkres, Obstructions to the smoothing of piecewise-differentiable homeomorphisms Bull. Amer. Math. Soc. Volume 65, Number 5 (1959), 332-334. (Euclid)(AMS: pdf)

  • Zieschang, Vogt and Coldeway, Surfaces and planar discontinuous groups

  • Friedhelm Waldhausen, On Irreducible 3-Manifolds Which are Sufficiently Large, Annals of Mathematics

    Second Series, Vol. 87, No. 1 (Jan., 1968), pp. 56-88 (JSTOR)

  • Joel Hass, Peter Scott, Homotopy equivalence and homeomoprhism of 3-manifolds, Topology, Vol. 31, No. 3 (1992) pp. 493-517 (pdf)

Last revised on June 28, 2017 at 14:46:58. See the history of this page for a list of all contributions to it.