- Geometry and topology
mathematics, geometry and topology is an umbrella termfor geometryand topology, as the line between these two is often blurred, most visibly in local to global theorems in Riemannian geometry, and results like the Gauss–Bonnet theoremand Chern-Weil theory.
Sharp distinctions between geometry and topology can be drawn, as discussed below.
It is also the title of a journal
Geometry and Topologythat covers these topics.
It is distinct from "geometric topology", which more narrowly involves applications of topology to geometry.
Differential geometry and topology
Geometric topology(including low-dimensional topologyand surgery theory)
It does not include such parts of
algebraic topologyas homotopy theory, but some areas of geometry and topology (such as surgery theory, particularly algebraic surgery theory) are heavily algebraic.
Distinction between geometry and topology
Pithily, geometry has "local" structure (or infinitesimal), while topology only has "global" structure. Alternatively, geometry has "continuous" moduli, while topology has "discrete" moduli.
By examples, an archetypal example of geometry is
Riemannian geometry, while an archetypal example of topology is homotopy theory. The study of metric spaces is geometry, the study of topological spaces is topology.
The terms are not used completely consistently:
symplectic manifolds are a boundary case, and coarse geometryis global, not local.
Local versus global structure
Differentiable manifolds (of a given dimension) are all locally diffeomorphic (by definition), so there are no local invariants to a differentiable structure (beyond dimension). So differentiable structures on a manifold is an example of topology.
By contrast, the curvature of a
Riemannian manifoldis a local (indeed, infinitesimal) invariant (and is the only local invariant under isometry).
If a structure has a discrete moduli (if it has no deformations, or if a deformation of a structure is isomorphic to the original structure), the structure is said to be rigid, and its study (if its is a geometric or topological structure) is topology. If have non-trivial deformations, the structure is said to be flexible, and its study is geometry.
The space of
homotopyclasses of maps is discrete [Given point-set conditions, which are satisfied for manifolds; more generally homotopy classes form a totally disconnectedbut not necessarily discrete space; for example, the fundamental groupof the Hawaiian earring.] , so studying maps up to homotopy is topology.Similarly, differentiable structures on a manifold is usually a discrete space, and hence an example of topology, but exotic R4s have continuous moduli of differentiable structures. Algebraic varietieshave continuous moduli spaces, hence their study is algebraic geometry. Note that these are finite-dimensional moduli spaces.
The space of Riemannian metrics on a given differentiable manifold is an infinite-dimensional space.
Symplectic manifolds are a boundary case, and parts of their study are called symplectic topologyand symplectic geometry.
Darboux's theorem, a symplectic manifold has no local structure, which suggests that their study be called topology.
By contrast, the space of symplectic structures on a manifold form a continuous moduli, which suggests that their study be called geometry.
However, up to
isotopy, the space of symplectic structures is discrete (any family of symplectic structures are isotopic) [ [http://www.math.duke.edu/~bryant/ParkCityLectures.pdf Introduction to Lie Groups and Symplectic Geometry] , by Robert Bryant, p. 103-104] .
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