Ngô Quốc Anh

November 26, 2009

R-G: Scalar curvature

Filed under: Riemannian geometry — Ngô Quốc Anh @ 20:51

In Riemannian geometry, the scalar curvature (or Ricci scalar) is the simplest curvature invariant of a Riemannian manifold. To each point on a Riemannian manifold, it assigns a single real number determined by the intrinsic geometry of the manifold near that point. Specifically, the scalar curvature represents the amount by which the volume of a geodesic ball in a curved Riemannian manifold deviates from that of the standard ball in Euclidean space. In two dimensions, the scalar curvature is twice the Gaussian curvature, and completely characterizes the curvature of a surface. In more than two dimensions, however, the curvature of Riemannian manifolds involves more than one functionally independent quantity.

In general relativity, the scalar curvature is the Lagrangian density for the Einstein–Hilbert action. The Euler–Lagrange equations for this Lagrangian under variations in the metric constitute the vacuum Einstein field equations, and the stationary metrics are known as Einstein metrics. The scalar curvature is defined as the trace of the Ricci tensor, and it can be characterized as a multiple of the average of the sectional curvatures at a point. Unlike the Ricci tensor and sectional curvature, however, global results involving only the scalar curvature are extremely subtle and difficult. One of the few is the positive mass theorem of Richard Schoen, Shing-Tung Yau and Edward Witten. Another is the Yamabe problem, which seeks extremal metrics in a given conformal class for which the scalar curvature is constant.

Definition. The scalar curvature is the function S defined as the trace of the Ricci tensor.

Since the Ricci tensor is an (2,0)-tensor field then in the local coordinates

S = {\rm Trace}( {\rm Ric}) = g^{jk}R_{jk}.

Theorem (Contracted Bianchi Identity). The covariant derivatives of the Ricci and scalar curvatures satisfy the following identity

\displaystyle {\rm div} {\rm Ric} = \frac{1}{2} \nabla S.

Examples 1. We still work on the two-dimensional spherical surface of radius R whose metric is

\displaystyle \left( {{g_{ij}}} \right) = {R^2}\left( {\begin{array}{*{20}{c}} 1 & 0 \\ 0 & {{{\sin }^2}\theta } \\ \end{array} } \right)

as the previous topic. Then

\displaystyle S = {g^{jk}}{R_{jk}} = {g^{11}}{R_{11}} + {g^{22}}{R_{22}} = \frac{2}{{{R^2}}}.

Examples 2. We now work for the two-dimensional space-like “upper hyperboloid” of the Minkowski space whose metric is

\displaystyle {\left( {ds} \right)^2} = \frac{{{R^2}}}{{{r^2} + {R^2}}}{\left( {dr} \right)^2} + {r^2}{\left( {d\phi } \right)^2}

that is

\displaystyle \left( {{g_{ij}}} \right) = \left( {\begin{array}{*{20}{c}} {\frac{{{R^2}}}{{{r^2} + {R^2}}}} & 0 \\ 0 & {{r^2}} \\ \end{array} } \right),\left( {{g^{ij}}} \right) = \left( {\begin{array}{*{20}{c}} {\frac{{{r^2} + {R^2}}}{{{r^2}}}} & 0 \\ 0 & {\frac{1}{{{r^2}}}} \\ \end{array} } \right).


\displaystyle {R_{11}} = - \frac{1}{{{r^2} + {R^2}}},{R_{12}} = {R_{21}} = 0,{R_{22}} = - \frac{{{r^2}}}{{{R^2}}}


\displaystyle S = - \frac{2}{{{R^2}}}.

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