Coarse Philosophies of Coarse Embeddabilities: Metric Space Conjectures Act Algorithmically On Manifolds – Thought of the Day 145.0


A coarse structure on a set X is defined to be a collection of subsets of X × X, called the controlled sets or entourages for the coarse structure, which satisfy some simple axioms. The most important of these states that if E and F are controlled then so is

E ◦ F := {(x, z) : ∃y, (x, y) ∈ E, (y, z) ∈ F}

Consider the metric spaces Zn and Rn. Their small-scale structure, their topology is entirely different, but on the large scale they resemble each other closely: any geometric configuration in Rn can be approximated by one in Zn, to within a uniformly bounded error. We think of such spaces as “coarsely equivalent”. The other axioms require that the diagonal should be a controlled set, and that subsets, transposes, and (finite) unions of controlled sets should be controlled. It is accurate to say that a coarse structure is the large-scale counterpart of a uniformity than of a topology.

Coarse structures and coarse spaces enjoy a philosophical advantage over coarse metric spaces, in that, all left invariant bounded geometry metrics on a countable group induce the same metric coarse structure which is therefore transparently uniquely determined by the group. On the other hand, the absence of a natural gauge complicates the notion of a coarse family, while it is natural to speak of sets of uniform size in different metric spaces it is not possible to do so in different coarse spaces without imposing additional structure.

Mikhail Leonidovich Gromov introduced the notion of coarse embedding for metric spaces. Let X and Y be metric spaces.

A map f : X → Y is said to be a coarse embedding if ∃ nondecreasing functions ρ1 and ρ2 from R+ = [0, ∞) to R such that

  • ρ1(d(x,y)) ≤ d(f(x),f(y)) ≤ ρ2(d(x,y)) ∀ x, y ∈ X.
  • limr→∞ ρi(r) = +∞ (i=1, 2).

Intuitively, coarse embeddability of a metric space X into Y means that we can draw a picture of X in Y which reflects the large scale geometry of X. In early 90’s, Gromov suggested that coarse embeddability of a discrete group into Hilbert space or some Banach spaces should be relevant to solving the Novikov conjecture. The connection between large scale geometry and differential topology and differential geometry, such as the Novikov conjecture, is built by index theory. Recall that an elliptic differential operator D on a compact manifold M is Fredholm in the sense that the kernel and cokernel of D are finite dimensional. The Fredholm index of D, which is defined by

index(D) = dim(kerD) − dim(cokerD),

has the following fundamental properties:

(1) it is an obstruction to invertibility of D;

(2) it is invariant under homotopy equivalence.

The celebrated Atiyah-Singer index theorem computes the Fredholm index of elliptic differential operators on compact manifolds and has important applications. However, an elliptic differential operator on a noncompact manifold is in general not Fredholm in the usual sense, but Fredholm in a generalized sense. The generalized Fredholm index for such an operator is called the higher index. In particular, on a general noncompact complete Riemannian manifold M, John Roe (Coarse Cohomology and Index Theory on Complete Riemannian Manifolds) introduced a higher index theory for elliptic differential operators on M.

The coarse Baum-Connes conjecture is an algorithm to compute the higher index of an elliptic differential operator on noncompact complete Riemannian manifolds. By the descent principal, the coarse Baum-Connes conjecture implies the Novikov higher signature conjecture. Guoliang Yu has proved the coarse Baum-Connes conjecture for bounded geometry metric spaces which are coarsely embeddable into Hilbert space. The metric spaces which admit coarse embeddings into Hilbert space are a large class, including e.g. all amenable groups and hyperbolic groups. In general, however, there are counterexamples to the coarse Baum-Connes conjecture. A notorious one is expander graphs. On the other hand, the coarse Novikov conjecture (i.e. the injectivity part of the coarse Baum-Connes conjecture) is an algorithm of determining non-vanishing of the higher index. Kasparov-Yu have proved the coarse Novikov conjecture for spaces which admit coarse embeddings into a uniformly convex Banach space.

Sobolev Spaces


For any integer n ≥ 0, the Sobolev space Hn(R) is defined to be the set of functions f which are square-integrable together with all their derivatives of order up to n:

f ∈ Hn(R) ⇐⇒ ∫-∞ [f2 + ∑k=1n (dkf/dxk)2 dx ≤ ∞

This is a linear space, and in fact a Hilbert space with norm given by:

∥f∥Hn = ∫-∞ [f2 + ∑k=1n (dkf/dxk)2) dx]1/2

It is a standard fact that this norm of f can be expressed in terms of the Fourier transform fˆ (appropriately normalized) of f by:

∥f∥2Hn = ∫-∞ [(1 + y2)n |fˆ(y)|2 dy

The advantage of that new definition is that it can be extended to non-integral and non-positive values. For any real number s, not necessarily an integer nor positive, we define the Sobolev space Hs(R) to be the Hilbert space of functions associated with the following norm:

∥f∥2Hs = ∫-∞ [(1 + y2)s |fˆ(y)|2 dy —– (1)

Clearly, H0(R) = L2(R) and Hs(R) ⊂ Hs′(R) for s ≥ s′ and in particular Hs(R) ⊂ L2(R) ⊂ H−s(R), for s ≥ 0. Hs(R) is, for general s ∈ R, a space of (tempered) distributions. For example δ(k), the k-th derivative of a delta Dirac distribution, is in H−k−1/2</sup−ε(R) for ε > 0.

In the case when s > 1/2, there are two classical results.

Continuity of Multiplicity:

If s > 1/2, if f and g belong to Hs(R), then fg belongs to Hs(R), and the map (f,g) → fg from Hs × Hs to Hs is continuous.

Denote by Cbn(R) the space of n times continuously differentiable real-valued functions which are bounded together with all their n first derivatives. Let Cnb0(R) be the closed subspace of Cbn(R) of functions which converges to 0 at ±∞ together with all their n first derivatives. These are Banach spaces for the norm:

∥f∥Cbn = max0≤k≤n supx |f(k)(x)| = max0≤k≤n ∥f(k)∥ C0b

Sobolev embedding:

If s > n + 1/2 and if f ∈ Hs(R), then there is a function g in Cnb0(R) which is equal to f almost everywhere. In addition, there is a constant cs, depending only on s, such that:

∥g∥Cbn ≤ c∥f∥Hs

From now on we shall always take the continuous representative of any function in Hs(R). As a consequence of the Sobolev embedding theorem, if s > 1/2, then any function f in Hs(R) is continuous and bounded on the real line and converges to zero at ±∞, so that its value is defined everywhere.

We define, for s ∈ R, a continuous bilinear form on H−s(R) × Hs(R) by:

〈f, g〉= ∫-∞ (fˆ(y))’ gˆ(y)dy —– (2)

where z’ is the complex conjugate of z. Schwarz inequality and (1) give that

|< f , g >| ≤ ∥f∥H−s∥g∥Hs —– (3)

which indeed shows that the bilinear form in (2) is continuous. We note that formally the bilinear form (2) can be written as

〈f, g〉= ∫-∞ f(x) g(x) dx

where, if s ≥ 0, f is in a space of distributions H−s(R) and g is in a space of “test functions” Hs(R).

Any continuous linear form g → u(g) on Hs(R) is, due to (1), of the form u(g) = 〈f, g〉 for some f ∈ H−s(R), with ∥f∥H−s = ∥u∥(Hs)′, so that henceforth we can identify the dual (Hs(R))′ of Hs(R) with H−s(R). In particular, if s > 1/2 then Hs(R) ⊂ C0b0 (R), so H−s(R) contains all bounded Radon measures.

Emancipating Microlinearity from within a Well-adapted Model of Synthetic Differential Geometry towards an Adequately Restricted Cartesian Closed Category of Frölicher Spaces. Thought of the Day 15.0


Differential geometry of finite-dimensional smooth manifolds has been generalized by many authors to the infinite-dimensional case by replacing finite-dimensional vector spaces by Hilbert spaces, Banach spaces, Fréchet spaces or, more generally, convenient vector spaces as the local prototype. We know well that the category of smooth manifolds of any kind, whether finite-dimensional or infinite-dimensional, is not cartesian closed, while Frölicher spaces, introduced by Frölicher, do form a cartesian closed category. It seems that Frölicher and his followers do not know what a kind of Frölicher space, besides convenient vector spaces, should become the basic object of research for infinite-dimensional differential geometry. The category of Frölicher spaces and smooth mappings should be restricted adequately to a cartesian closed subcategory.


Synthetic differential geometry is differential geometry with a cornucopia of nilpotent infinitesimals. Roughly speaking, a space of nilpotent infinitesimals of some kind, which exists only within an imaginary world, corresponds to a Weil algebra, which is an entity of the real world. The central object of study in synthetic differential geometry is microlinear spaces. Although the notion of a manifold (=a pasting of copies of a certain linear space) is defined on the local level, the notion of microlinearity is defined absolutely on the genuinely infinitesimal level. What we should do so as to get an adequately restricted cartesian closed category of Frölicher spaces is to emancipate microlinearity from within a well-adapted model of synthetic differential geometry.

Although nilpotent infinitesimals exist only within a well-adapted model of synthetic differential geometry, the notion of Weil functor was formulated for finite-dimensional manifolds and for infinite-dimensional manifolds. This is the first step towards microlinearity for Frölicher spaces. Therein all Frölicher spaces which believe in fantasy that all Weil functors are really exponentiations by some adequate infinitesimal objects in imagination form a cartesian closed category. This is the second step towards microlinearity for Frölicher spaces. Introducing the notion of “transversal limit diagram of Frölicher spaces” after the manner of that of “transversal pullback” is the third and final step towards microlinearity for Frölicher spaces. Just as microlinearity is closed under arbitrary limits within a well-adapted model of synthetic differential geometry, microlinearity for Frölicher spaces is closed under arbitrary transversal limits.