Gauss–Codazzi equations

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In Riemannian geometry and pseudo-Riemannian geometry, the Gauss–Codazzi equations (also called the Gauss–Codazzi–Mainardi equations or Gauss–Peterson–Codazzi Formulas[1]) are fundamental formulas which link together the induced metric and second fundamental form of a submanifold of (or immersion into) a Riemannian or pseudo-Riemannian manifold.

The equations were originally discovered in the context of surfaces in three-dimensional Euclidean space. In this context, the first equation, often called the Gauss equation (after its discoverer Carl Friedrich Gauss), says that the Gauss curvature of the surface, at any given point, is dictated by the derivatives of the Gauss map at that point, as encoded by the second fundamental form.[2] The second equation, called the Codazzi equation or Codazzi-Mainardi equation, states that the covariant derivative of the second fundamental form is fully symmetric. It is named for Gaspare Mainardi (1856) and Delfino Codazzi (1868–1869), who independently derived the result,[3] although it was discovered earlier by Karl Mikhailovich Peterson.[4][5]

Formal statementEdit

Let   be an n-dimensional embedded submanifold of a Riemannian manifold P of dimension  . There is a natural inclusion of the tangent bundle of M into that of P by the pushforward, and the cokernel is the normal bundle of M:


The metric splits this short exact sequence, and so


Relative to this splitting, the Levi-Civita connection   of P decomposes into tangential and normal components. For each   and vector field Y on M,




The Gauss formula[6][clarification needed] now asserts that   is the Levi-Civita connection for M, and   is a symmetric vector-valued form with values in the normal bundle. It is often referred to as the second fundamental form.

An immediate corollary is the Gauss equation. For  ,


where   is the Riemann curvature tensor of P and R is that of M.

The Weingarten equation is an analog of the Gauss formula for a connection in the normal bundle. Let   and   a normal vector field. Then decompose the ambient covariant derivative of   along X into tangential and normal components:



  1. Weingarten's equation:  
  2. DX is a metric connection in the normal bundle.

There are thus a pair of connections: ∇, defined on the tangent bundle of M; and D, defined on the normal bundle of M. These combine to form a connection on any tensor product of copies of TM and TM. In particular, they defined the covariant derivative of  :


The Codazzi–Mainardi equation is


Since every immersion is, in particular, a local embedding, the above formulas also hold for immersions.

Gauss–Codazzi equations in classical differential geometryEdit

Statement of classical equationsEdit

In classical differential geometry of surfaces, the Codazzi–Mainardi equations are expressed via the second fundamental form (L, M, N):


The Gauss formula, depending on how one chooses to define the Gaussian curvature, may be a tautology. It can be stated as


where (e, f, g) are the components of the first fundamental form.

Derivation of classical equationsEdit

Consider a parametric surface in Euclidean 3-space,


where the three component functions depend smoothly on ordered pairs (u,v) in some open domain U in the uv-plane. Assume that this surface is regular, meaning that the vectors ru and rv are linearly independent. Complete this to a basis{ru,rv,n}, by selecting a unit vector n normal to the surface. It is possible to express the second partial derivatives of r using the Christoffel symbols and the second fundamental form.


Clairaut's theorem states that partial derivatives commute:


If we differentiate ruu with respect to v and ruv with respect to u, we get:


Now substitute the above expressions for the second derivatives and equate the coefficients of n:


Rearranging this equation gives the first Codazzi–Mainardi equation.

The second equation may be derived similarly.

Mean curvatureEdit

Let M be a smooth m-dimensional manifold immersed in the (m + k)-dimensional smooth manifold P. Let   be a local orthonormal frame of vector fields normal to M. Then we can write,


If, now,   is a local orthonormal frame (of tangent vector fields) on the same open subset of M, then we can define the mean curvatures of the immersion by


In particular, if M is a hypersurface of P, i.e.  , then there is only one mean curvature to speak of. The immersion is called minimal if all the   are identically zero.

Observe that the mean curvature is a trace, or average, of the second fundamental form, for any given component. Sometimes mean curvature is defined by multiplying the sum on the right-hand side by  .

We can now write the Gauss–Codazzi equations as


Contracting the   components gives us


When M is a hypersurface, this simplifies to


where     and  . In that case, one more contraction yields,


where   and   are the scalar curvatures of P and M respectively, and


If  , the scalar curvature equation might be more complicated.

We can already use these equations to draw some conclusions. For example, any minimal immersion[7] into the round sphere   must be of the form


where   runs from 1 to   and


is the Laplacian on M, and   is a positive constant.

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ Toponogov (2006)
  2. ^ This equation is the basis for Gauss's theorema egregium. Gauss 1828.
  3. ^ (Kline 1972, p. 885).
  4. ^ Peterson (1853)
  5. ^ Ivanov 2001.
  6. ^ Terminology from Spivak, Volume III.
  7. ^ Takahashi 1966


Historical references

  • Bonnet, Ossian (1867), "Memoire sur la theorie des surfaces applicables sur une surface donnee", Journal de l'École Polytechnique, 25: 31–151
  • Codazzi, Delfino (1868–1869), "Sulle coordinate curvilinee d'una superficie dello spazio", Ann. Mat. Pura Appl., 2: 101–19
  • Gauss, Carl Friedrich (1828), "Disquisitiones Generales circa Superficies Curvas" [General Discussions about Curved Surfaces], Comm. Soc. Gott. (in Latin), 6 ("General Discussions about Curved Surfaces")
  • Ivanov, A.B. (2001) [1994], "Peterson–Codazzi equations", Encyclopedia of Mathematics, EMS Press
  • Kline, Morris (1972), Mathematical Thought from Ancient to Modern Times, Oxford University Press, ISBN 0-19-506137-3
  • Mainardi, Gaspare (1856), "Su la teoria generale delle superficie", Giornale dell' Istituto Lombardo, 9: 385–404
  • Peterson, Karl Mikhailovich (1853), Über die Biegung der Flächen, Doctoral thesis, Dorpat University.


  • do Carmo, Manfredo P. Differential geometry of curves & surfaces. Revised & updated second edition. Dover Publications, Inc., Mineola, NY, 2016. xvi+510 pp. ISBN 978-0-486-80699-0, 0-486-80699-5
  • do Carmo, Manfredo Perdigão. Riemannian geometry. Translated from the second Portuguese edition by Francis Flaherty. Mathematics: Theory & Applications. Birkhäuser Boston, Inc., Boston, MA, 1992. xiv+300 pp. ISBN 0-8176-3490-8
  • Kobayashi, Shoshichi; Nomizu, Katsumi. Foundations of differential geometry. Vol. II. Interscience Tracts in Pure and Applied Mathematics, No. 15 Vol. II Interscience Publishers John Wiley & Sons, Inc., New York-London-Sydney 1969 xv+470 pp.
  • O'Neill, Barrett. Semi-Riemannian geometry. With applications to relativity. Pure and Applied Mathematics, 103. Academic Press, Inc. [Harcourt Brace Jovanovich, Publishers], New York, 1983. xiii+468 pp. ISBN 0-12-526740-1
  • V. A. Toponogov. Differential geometry of curves and surfaces. A concise guide. Birkhauser Boston, Inc., Boston, MA, 2006. xiv+206 pp. ISBN 978-0-8176-4384-3; ISBN 0-8176-4384-2.


  • Takahashi, Tsunero (1966), "Minimal immersions of Riemannian manifolds", Journal of the Mathematical Society of Japan
  • Simons, James. Minimal varieties in riemannian manifolds. Ann. of Math. (2) 88 (1968), 62–105.

External linksEdit