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Differential Geometry Study Guide Recommendations Study Guides Math Book Recommendations Mathematics Books

What is the best self study book on differential geometry


for a beginner?
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Aleksandra Majcherek, MA Literature, University of Warsaw (2013)


19 Answers in Books

Charles Edwin, Highschool student.


2 Answers in Mathematics

Janet Greaves, Teacher


3 Answers in Books

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Charles Slade, former mathematician, current patent lawyer


Answered Nov 26, 2016 · Upvoted by Alon Amit, PhD in Mathematics; Mathcircler.

There’s a choice when writing a differential geometry textbook. You can choose to develop
the subject with or without coordinates. Each choice has its strengths and weaknesses. Using
a lot of coordinates has the advantage of being concrete and “real.” In a coordinate approach,
you can actually calculate things. But the disadvantage is that the “real” geometry can
sometimes be obscured behind several layers of calculations.

Using a coordinate-free approach has the advantage of being “pure.” The geometric concepts
themselves are more front-and-center. But the disadvantage is that things can quickly go
into abstract la-la-land unless you have a pretty high tolerance for abstraction.
Of course, anyone who wants to seriously learn differential geometry should be able to live at
least a little bit in both worlds. But there are very few textbooks that develop both worlds in
much depth.

That said, I really liked the book Differential Forms and Connections (9780521468008): R. W.
R. Darling . This book is appropriate for a freshman/sophomore math or physics major. It
develops a lot of machinery very concretely, with lots of explicit examples. The first part of
the book
Readis a little moreAnswer
coordinate-centric, but coordinate-free stuff
Notifs You isn’t omitted entirely.

More for math majors (and less for physics majors), I liked Spivak’s Calculus on Manifolds.
But I worry that this book has an all-too-common property: it’s a great book if you kind of
know what’s going on, but maybe not a great book to start with. (In saying this, I’m passing
along hearsay. I personally didn’t look at this book until I kind of knew what was going on,
and I found it pretty good. Friends of mine have lamented it as a first book.)

For more advanced readers, I liked Bredon’s Topology and Geometry. Despite the title, I’d call
this book 70% geometry and 30% topology. It’s probably most appropriate to someone who
has already had a first course in topology, or at least has seen enough topology in other
classes to be conversant in the basic concepts.

Even more generally, what’s the best differential geometry textbook? Lots of differential
geometry textbooks! I personally found that differential geometry books varied moreso than
other books on “main” subjects. For example, pretty much all abstract algebra books develop
in the same way, have pretty much the same theorems and definitions, sometimes even the
same exercises, etc. Maybe the order of topics is shuffled around, or a few special topics are
included or excluded. But two differential geometry books at the same level can differ
widely.

So, when learning differential geometry, I recommend going to the library and spend a few
hours just browsing. Grab 4 or 5 books you like, and try reading them in parallel. Pick a
“main” one, go for a while, and if something becomes unclear switch to another one.
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Mathieu Dutour Sikiric, PhD in math, about 50 published papers


Answered Sep 9, 2015

My standard answer is Nakahara, Geometry, Topology and Physics.


It is designed for physicists, so it goes to the point rather straightforwardly. It contains the
rigorous definitions. It gives several viewpoint on the questions considered.
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Yuan Yao, differential geometer at undergrad level....


Answered Sep 10, 2015

if you know a bunch of vector calculus (specifically the rigorous formulation and proof, of
the inverse function theorem and the implicit function theorem), and you know topology,
specifically homeomorphisms, hausdorff property, the countability axioms then a good start
is "introduction to smooth manifolds" by Lee.
if you only have first year calculus as background "analysis on manifolds" by munkres is a
good start.
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