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Concept# Tangent space

Summary

In mathematics, the tangent space of a manifold is a generalization of to curves in two-dimensional space and to surfaces in three-dimensional space in higher dimensions. In the context of physics the tangent space to a manifold at a point can be viewed as the space of possible velocities for a particle moving on the manifold.
In differential geometry, one can attach to every point of a differentiable manifold a tangent space—a real vector space that intuitively contains the possible directions in which one can tangentially pass through . The elements of the tangent space at are called the tangent vectors at . This is a generalization of the notion of a vector, based at a given initial point, in a Euclidean space. The dimension of the tangent space at every point of a connected manifold is the same as that of the manifold itself.
For example, if the given manifold is a -sphere, then one can picture the tangent space at a point as the plane that touches the sphere at that point and is perpendicular to the sphere's radius through the point. More generally, if a given manifold is thought of as an embedded submanifold of Euclidean space, then one can picture a tangent space in this literal fashion. This was the traditional approach toward defining parallel transport. Many authors in differential geometry and general relativity use it. More strictly, this defines an affine tangent space, which is distinct from the space of tangent vectors described by modern terminology.
In algebraic geometry, in contrast, there is an intrinsic definition of the tangent space at a point of an algebraic variety that gives a vector space with dimension at least that of itself. The points at which the dimension of the tangent space is exactly that of are called non-singular points; the others are called singular points. For example, a curve that crosses itself does not have a unique tangent line at that point. The singular points of are those where the "test to be a manifold" fails. See Zariski tangent space.

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Manifold

In mathematics, a manifold is a topological space that locally resembles Euclidean space near each point. More precisely, an -dimensional manifold, or -manifold for short, is a topological space with the property that each point has a neighborhood that is homeomorphic to an open subset of -dimensional Euclidean space. One-dimensional manifolds include lines and circles, but not lemniscates. Two-dimensional manifolds are also called surfaces. Examples include the plane, the sphere, and the torus, and also the Klein bottle and real projective plane.

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In mathematics and physics, a vector space (also called a linear space) is a set whose elements, often called vectors, may be added together and multiplied ("scaled") by numbers called scalars. Scalars are often real numbers, but can be complex numbers or, more generally, elements of any field. The operations of vector addition and scalar multiplication must satisfy certain requirements, called vector axioms. The terms real vector space and complex vector space are often used to specify the nature of the scalars: real coordinate space or complex coordinate space.

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