nLab integrable distribution of subspaces


This entry is about the concept of subspaces of vector bundles and Lie algebroids. For the concept in functional analysis see at distribution.


Lie theory

∞-Lie theory (higher geometry)


Smooth structure

Higher groupoids

Lie theory

∞-Lie groupoids

∞-Lie algebroids

Formal Lie groupoids



Related topics


\infty-Lie groupoids

\infty-Lie groups

\infty-Lie algebroids

\infty-Lie algebras



Let p:VMp:V\to M be a smooth vector bundle. Any smooth family of kk-dimensional subspaces W mp 1(m)W_m\subset p^{-1}(m) where mMm\in M is called a distribution of k-dimensional subspaces in VMV\to M. If V=TMV = T M is the tangent bundle of MM then we talk about distributions of tangent vectors.

A distribution of tangent vectors is called integrable if the Lie bracket of its sections is involutive, i.e. if X,Y:MWTMX,Y: M\to W\subset T M are two sections (vector fields belonging to the distribution) of WMW\to M then the bracket [X,Y][X,Y] of these vector fields is also a section of WW: [X,Y]W[X,Y]\in W.

More generally, if a vector bundle is equipped with the structure of a Lie algebroid, then a distribution of subspaces is integrable if its sections are closed under the given Lie bracket. This reduces to the previous case for the tangent Lie algebroid. Hence integrable distributions are sub-Lie algebroids.


A basic result on integrability is the Frobenius theorem (Wikipedia) which relates involutivity to integrability in the sense of partial differential equations. Examples include complex analytic manifolds which correspond exactly to complex manifolds with an integrable almost complex structure. Courant algebroids are a quite general tool to express the integrability of geometric structure that include these as special cases.

Last revised on October 18, 2018 at 12:03:58. See the history of this page for a list of all contributions to it.