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Density on a manifold

In mathematics, and specifically differential geometry, a density is a spatially varying quantity on a differentiable
manifold that can be integrated in an intrinsic manner. Abstractly, a density is a section of a certain trivial line bundle,
called the density bundle. An element of the density bundle at x is a function that assigns a volume for the parallelotope
spanned by the n given tangent vectors at x.

From the operational point of view, a density is a collection of functions on coordinate charts which become multiplied by
the absolute value of the Jacobian determinant in the change of coordinates. Densities can be generalized into s-
densities, whose coordinate representations become multiplied by the s-th power of the absolute value of the jacobian
determinant. On an oriented manifold, 1-densities can be canonically identified with the n-forms on M. On non-orientable
manifolds this identification cannot be made, since the density bundle is the tensor product of the orientation bundle of M
and the n-th exterior product bundle of T∗M (see pseudotensor).

Contents
Motivation (densities in vector spaces)
Orientations on a vector space
s-densities on a vector space
Definition
Integration
Conventions
Properties
References

Motivation (densities in vector spaces)


In general, there does not exist a natural concept of a "volume" for a parallelotope generated by vectors v1, ..., vn in a n-
dimensional vector space V. However, if one wishes to define a function μ : V × ... × V → R that assigns a volume for any
such parallelotope, it should satisfy the following properties:

If any of the vectors vk is multiplied by λ ∈ R, the volume should be multiplied by |λ|.


If any linear combination of the vectors v1, ..., vj−1, vj+1, ..., vn is added to the vector vj, the volume should stay
invariant.
These conditions are equivalent to the statement that μ is given by a translation-invariant measure on V, and they can be
rephrased as

Any such mapping μ : V × ... × V → R is called a density on the vector space V. Note that if (v1, ..., vn) is any basis for V,
then fixing μ(v1, ..., vn) will fix μ entirely; it follows that the set Vol(V) of all densities on V forms a one-dimensional vector
space. Any n-form ω on V defines a density |ω| on V by
Orientations on a vector space
The set Or(V) of all functions o : V × ... × V → R that satisfy

forms a one-dimensional vector space, and an orientation on V is one of the two elements o ∈ Or(V) such that
|o(v1, ..., vn)| = 1 for any linearly independent v1, ..., vn. Any non-zero n-form ω on V defines an orientation o ∈ Or(V) such
that

and vice versa, any o ∈ Or(V) and any density μ ∈ Vol(V) define an n-form ω on V by

In terms of tensor product spaces,

s-densities on a vector space


The s-densities on V are functions μ : V × ... × V → R such that

Just like densities, s-densities form a one-dimensional vector space Vols(V), and any n-form ω on V defines an s-density |
ω|s on V by

The product of s1- and s2-densities μ1 and μ2 form an (s1+s2)-density μ by

In terms of tensor product spaces this fact can be stated as

Definition
Formally, the s-density bundle Vols(M) of a differentiable manifold M is obtained by an associated bundle construction,
intertwining the one-dimensional group representation

of the general linear group with the frame bundle of M.


The resulting line bundle is known as the bundle of s-densities, and is denoted by

A 1-density is also referred to simply as a density.

More generally, the associated bundle construction also allows densities to be constructed from any vector bundle E on M.

In detail, if (Uα,φα) is an atlas of coordinate charts on M, then there is associated a local trivialization of

subordinate to the open cover Uα such that the associated GL(1)-cocycle satisfies

Integration
Densities play a significant role in the theory of integration on manifolds. Indeed, the definition of a density is motivated
by how a measure dx changes under a change of coordinates (Folland 1999, Section 11.4, pp. 361-362).

Given a 1-density ƒ supported in a coordinate chart Uα, the integral is defined by

where the latter integral is with respect to the Lebesgue measure on Rn. The transformation law for 1-densities together
with the Jacobian change of variables ensures compatibility on the overlaps of different coordinate charts, and so the
integral of a general compactly supported 1-density can be defined by a partition of unity argument. Thus 1-densities are a
generalization of the notion of a volume form that does not necessarily require the manifold to be oriented or even
orientable. One can more generally develop a general theory of Radon measures as distributional sections of using
the Riesz representation theorem.

The set of 1/p-densities such that is a normed linear space whose completion is called

the intrinsic Lp space of M.

Conventions
In some areas, particularly conformal geometry, a different weighting convention is used: the bundle of s-densities is
instead associated with the character

With this convention, for instance, one integrates n-densities (rather than 1-densities). Also in these conventions, a
conformal metric is identified with a tensor density of weight 2.

Properties
The dual vector bundle of is .
Tensor densities are sections of the tensor product of a density bundle with a tensor bundle.

References
Berline, Nicole; Getzler, Ezra; Vergne, Michèle (2004), Heat Kernels and Dirac Operators, Berlin, New York: Springer-
Verlag, ISBN 978-3-540-20062-8.
Folland, Gerald B. (1999), Real Analysis: Modern Techniques and Their Applications (Second ed.), ISBN 978-0-471-
31716-6, provides a brief discussion of densities in the last section.
Nicolaescu, Liviu I. (1996), Lectures on the geometry of manifolds, River Edge, NJ: World Scientific Publishing Co.
Inc., ISBN 978-981-02-2836-1, MR 1435504 (https://www.ams.org/mathscinet-getitem?mr=1435504)

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