Affine Connection

(Differential Geometry)

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Differential Geometry
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What is Affine connection?

In the branch of mathematics called differential geometry, an affine connection is a geometric object on a smooth manifold which connects nearby tangent spaces, so it permits tangent vector fields to be differentiated as if they were functions on the manifold with values in a fixed vector space. The notion of an affine connection has its roots in 19th-century geometry and tensor calculus, but was not fully developed until the early 1920s, by Élie Cartan (as part of his general theory of connections) and Hermann Weyl (who used the notion as a part of his foundations for general relativity). The terminology is due to Cartan and has its origins in the identification of tangent spaces in Euclidean space Rn by translation: the idea is that a choice of affine connection makes a manifold look infinitesimally like Euclidean space not just smoothly, but as an affine space. On any manifold of positive dimension there are infinitely many affine connections. If the manifold is further endowed with a Riemannian metric then there is a natural choice of affine connection, called the Levi-Civita connection. The choice of an affine connection is equivalent to prescribing a way of differentiating vector fields which satisfies several reasonable properties (linearity and the Leibniz rule). This yields a possible definition of an affine connection as a covariant derivative or (linear) connection on the tangent bundle. A choice of affine connection is also equivalent to a notion of parallel transport, which is a method for transporting tangent vectors along curves. This also defines a parallel transport on the frame bundle. Infinitesimal parallel transport in the frame bundle yields another description of an affine connection, either as a Cartan connection for the affine group or as a principal connection on the frame bundle. The main invariants of an affine connection are its torsion and its curvature. The torsion measures how closely the Lie bracket of vector fields can be recovered from the affine connection. Affine connections may also be used to define (affine) geodesics on a manifold, generalizing the straight lines of Euclidean space, although the geometry of those straight lines can be very different from usual Euclidean geometry; the main differences are encapsulated in the curvature of the connection.

Technology Types

connection (mathematicsdifferential geometry


Affiene verbinding (nl)Afinní konexe (cs)Conexão afim (pt)Connexion affine (fr)Połączenie afiniczne (pl)Σύνδεση affine (el)Афінна зв'язність (uk)Аффинная связность (ru)아핀 접속 (ko)アフィン接続 (ja)仿射联络 (zh)

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