An Introduction to Conformal Ricci Flow

Research paper by Arthur E. Fischer

Indexed on: 31 Dec '03Published on: 31 Dec '03Published in: Mathematics - Differential Geometry


We introduce a variation of the classical Ricci flow equation that modifies the unit volume constraint of that equation to a scalar curvature constraint. The resulting equations are named the Conformal Ricci Flow Equations because of the role that conformal geometry plays in constraining the scalar curvature. These equations are analogous to the incompressible Navier-Stokes equations of fluid mechanics inasmuch as a conformal pressure arises as a Lagrange multiplier to conformally deform the metric flow so as to maintain the scalar curvature constraint. The equilibrium points are Einstein metrics with a negative Einstein constant and the conformal pressue is shown to be zero at an equilibrium point and strictly positive otherwise. The geometry of the conformal Ricci flow is discussed as well as the remarkable analytic fact that the constraint force does not lose derivatives and thus analytically the conformal Ricci equation is a bounded perturbation of the classical unnormalized Ricci equation. That the constraint force does not lose derivatives is exactly analogous to the fact that the real physical pressure force that occurs in the Navier-Stokes equations is a bounded function of the velocity. Using a nonlinear Trotter product formula, existence and uniqueness of solutions to the conformal Ricci flow equations is proven. Lastly, we discuss potential applications to Perelman's proposed implementation of Hamilton's program to prove Thurston's 3-manifold geometrization conjectures.