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Concept# Contorsion tensor

Summary

The contorsion tensor in differential geometry is the difference between a connection with and without torsion in it. It commonly appears in the study of spin connections. Thus, for example, a vielbein together with a spin connection, when subject to the condition of vanishing torsion, gives a description of Einstein gravity. For supersymmetry, the same constraint, of vanishing torsion, gives (the field equations of) 11-dimensional supergravity. That is, the contorsion tensor, along with the connection, becomes one of the dynamical objects of the theory, demoting the metric to a secondary, derived role.
The elimination of torsion in a connection is referred to as the absorption of torsion, and is one of the steps of Cartan's equivalence method for establishing the equivalence of geometric structures.
In metric geometry, the contorsion tensor expresses the difference between a metric-compatible affine connection with Christoffel symbol and the unique torsion-free Levi-Civita connection for the same metric.
The contorsion tensor is defined in terms of the torsion tensor as (up to a sign, see below)
where the indices are being raised and lowered with respect to the metric:
The reason for the non-obvious sum in the definition of the contorsion tensor is due to the sum-sum difference that enforces metric compatibility. The contorsion tensor is antisymmetric in the first two indices, whilst the torsion tensor itself is antisymmetric in its last two indices; this is shown below.
The full metric compatible affine connection can be written as:
Where the torsion-free Levi-Civita connection:
In affine geometry, one does not have a metric nor a metric connection, and so one is not free to raise and lower indices on demand. One can still achieve a similar effect by making use of the solder form, allowing the bundle to be related to what is happening on its base space. This is an explicitly geometric viewpoint, with tensors now being geometric objects in the vertical and horizontal bundles of a fiber bundle, instead of being indexed algebraic objects defined only on the base space.

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Torsion tensor

In differential geometry, the notion of torsion is a manner of characterizing a twist or screw of a moving frame around a curve. The torsion of a curve, as it appears in the Frenet–Serret formulas, for instance, quantifies the twist of a curve about its tangent vector as the curve evolves (or rather the rotation of the Frenet–Serret frame about the tangent vector). In the geometry of surfaces, the geodesic torsion describes how a surface twists about a curve on the surface.

Metric connection

In mathematics, a metric connection is a connection in a vector bundle E equipped with a bundle metric; that is, a metric for which the inner product of any two vectors will remain the same when those vectors are parallel transported along any curve. This is equivalent to: A connection for which the covariant derivatives of the metric on E vanish. A principal connection on the bundle of orthonormal frames of E. A special case of a metric connection is a Riemannian connection; there is a unique such which is torsion free, the Levi-Civita connection.

Ehresmann connection

In differential geometry, an Ehresmann connection (after the French mathematician Charles Ehresmann who first formalized this concept) is a version of the notion of a connection, which makes sense on any smooth fiber bundle. In particular, it does not rely on the possible vector bundle structure of the underlying fiber bundle, but nevertheless, linear connections may be viewed as a special case. Another important special case of Ehresmann connections are principal connections on principal bundles, which are required to be equivariant in the principal Lie group action.

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