first-order formulation of gravity




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The action functional of gravity was originally conceived as a functional on the space of pseudo-Riemannian metrics of a manifold XX. Later on it was realized that it may alternatively naturally be thought of as a functional on the space of connections with values in the Poincaré Lie algebra – essentially the Levi-Civita connection – subject to the constraint that the component in the translation Lie algebra defines a vielbein field. Mathematically this means that the field of gravity is modeled as a Cartan connection for the Lorentz group inside the Poincaré group. In physics this is known as the first order formalism or the Palatini formalism for gravity.

The field strength of gravity – the Riemann tensor – is the curvature of Levi-Civita connection. Typically this is referred to a spin connection in this context.

Promoting this perspective from the Poincaré group to the super Poincaré group yields supergravity formulated in super Cartan geometry. Promoting it further to the Lie n-algebra extensions of the super Poincaré group (from the brane scan/brane bouquet) yields type II supergravity, heterotic supergravity and 11-dimensional supergravity in higher Cartan geometry-formulation (D'Auria-Fré formulation of supergravity).

geometric contextgauge groupstabilizer subgrouplocal model spacelocal geometryglobal geometrydifferential cohomologyfirst order formulation of gravity
differential geometryLie group/algebraic group GGsubgroup (monomorphism) HGH \hookrightarrow Gquotient (“coset space”) G/HG/HKlein geometryCartan geometryCartan connection
examplesEuclidean group Iso(d)Iso(d)rotation group O(d)O(d)Cartesian space d\mathbb{R}^dEuclidean geometryRiemannian geometryaffine connectionEuclidean gravity
Poincaré group Iso(d1,1)Iso(d-1,1)Lorentz group O(d1,1)O(d-1,1)Minkowski spacetime d1,1\mathbb{R}^{d-1,1}Lorentzian geometrypseudo-Riemannian geometryspin connectionEinstein gravity
anti de Sitter group O(d1,2)O(d-1,2)O(d1,1)O(d-1,1)anti de Sitter spacetime AdS dAdS^dAdS gravity
de Sitter group O(d,1)O(d,1)O(d1,1)O(d-1,1)de Sitter spacetime dS ddS^ddeSitter gravity
linear algebraic groupparabolic subgroup/Borel subgroupflag varietyparabolic geometry
conformal group O(d,t+1)O(d,t+1)conformal parabolic subgroupMöbius space S d,tS^{d,t}conformal geometryconformal connectionconformal gravity
supergeometrysuper Lie group GGsubgroup (monomorphism) HGH \hookrightarrow Gquotient (“coset space”) G/HG/Hsuper Klein geometrysuper Cartan geometryCartan superconnection
examplessuper Poincaré groupspin groupsuper Minkowski spacetime d1,1|N\mathbb{R}^{d-1,1\vert N}Lorentzian supergeometrysupergeometrysuperconnectionsupergravity
super anti de Sitter groupsuper anti de Sitter spacetime
higher differential geometrysmooth 2-group GG2-monomorphism HGH \to Ghomotopy quotient G//HG//HKlein 2-geometryCartan 2-geometry
cohesive ∞-group∞-monomorphism (i.e. any homomorphism) HGH \to Ghomotopy quotient G//HG//H of ∞-actionhigher Klein geometryhigher Cartan geometryhigher Cartan connection
examplesextended super Minkowski spacetimeextended supergeometryhigher supergravity: type II, heterotic, 11d


Local and global framing

Discussion in the physics literature traditionally tends to ignore the global structure of spacetime manifolds and pretends that a vielbein field may be chosen globally, hence that spacetime admits a framing.

In general that is only valid locally, but it so happens that in the archetypical case of interest, namely for 4-dimensional globally hyperbolic spacetimes with orientable spatial slices, it is valid globally. See this remark at framed manifold for more.

See also at teleparallel gravity.


A decent introduction is in sections 4 and 5 of

A detailed account is in section I.4.1 of

See also

Revised on August 7, 2017 11:21:47 by Urs Schreiber (