nLab moduli space of Riemannian metrics



Riemannian geometry

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)



The moduli space of (pseudo)-Riemannian metrics gg on a given space (manifold) XX.


On the site CartSp of smooth Cartesian spaces consider the sheaf

Met:CartSp opSet Met : CartSp^{op} \to Set

which sends each UCartSpU \in CartSp to the set of Riemannian metrics on UU.

Then let XX be a smooth manifold, or more generally a diffeological space, or more generally a Lie groupoid or more generally a smooth ∞-groupoid, all regarded in H=\mathbf{H} = Smooth∞Grpd.


Met(X):=Conc[X,Met] Met(X) := Conc [X,Met]

for the concretification of the internal hom: the space of metrics on XX. (Various variations and extensions of this statement are of interest and can easily be written out. The above direct statement works for possibly degenerate metrics.)

A point in this space is a single (pseudo-)Riemannian metric on XX.

The group Aut(X)Aut(X) of automorphisms of XX acts on this by precomposition in the natural way

Aut(X)×Met(X)Met(X) Aut(X) \times Met(X) \to Met(X)
((XϕX),g)ϕ *g. ((X \stackrel{\phi}{\to} X), g) \mapsto \phi^* g \,.

If XX is a smooth manifold then Aut(X)=Diff(X)Aut(X) = Diff(X) is the group of diffeomorphisms of XX.

The quotient (action groupoid, moduli stack)

Met(X)//Diff(X)SmoothGrpd Met(X)//Diff(X) \in Smooth\infty Grpd

is the moduli space of (pseudo-)Riemannian metrics on XX.

Various variations of this are of interest. For instance there one consider the Einstein-Hilbert action

S:Met(X)//Diff(X). S : Met(X)//Diff(X) \to \mathbb{R} \,.

The critical locus of this function is the moduli space of Einstein metrics.


For XX a smooth manifold, Met(X)Met(X) itself is a contractible space.


In the context of the theory of gravity, the moduli space of pseudo-Riemannian metrics on XX is the configuration space of the field theory of gravity (general relativity). The moduli space of Einstein metrics is then called the covariant phase space: this is the subspace of solutions of the Einstein equations.

moduli spaces


Textbook references include

  • Mikhail Gromov, Metric structures for Riemannian and non-Riemannian spaces Birkhäuser (1999)

chapter 4 of

  • A. L. Besse, Einstein Manifolds , Ergeb. Math. Grenzgeb. 10, Springer-Verlag, New York, (1987) MR 88f:53087 Zbl 0613.53001

  • M. E. Shanks, The Space of Metrics on a Compact Metrizable Space , American Journal of Mathematics Vol. 66, No. 3, Jul. (1944) (JSTOR)

  • Halldor Eliasson, On variations of metrics Math. Scand. 29 (1971) 317-327 (pdf)

  • F. Farrell, Pedro Ontaneda, The Teichmüller space of pinched negatively curved metrics on a hyperbolic manifold is not contractible (pdf)

  • Boris Botvinnik, Bernhard Hanke, Thomas Schick, and Mark Walsh, Homotopy groups of the space of metrics of positive scalar curvature (pdf)

Last revised on October 14, 2019 at 16:48:11. See the history of this page for a list of all contributions to it.