# Connection (mathematics)

In differential geometry, a **connection** (also **connexion**) or **covariant derivative** is a way of specifying a derivative of a vector field along another vector field on a manifold. That is an application to tangent bundles; there are more general connections, used in differential geometry and other fields of mathematics to formulate intrinsic differential equations. *Connection* may refer to a connection on any vector bundle, or also a connection on a principal bundle.

Connections give rise to parallel transport along a curve on a manifold. A connection also leads to invariants of curvature (see also curvature tensor and curvature form), and the so-called torsion.

## General concept

The general concept can be summarized as follows: given a fiber bundle

with *E* the *total space* and *B* the *base space*, the tangent space at any point of *E* has a canonical "vertical" subspace (
see vertical space), the subspace tangent to the fiber. The connection fixes a choice of "horizontal" subspace (see horizontal space) at each point of *E* so that the tangent space of *E* is a direct sum of vertical and horizontal subspaces. Usually more requirements are imposed on the choice of "horizontal" subspaces, but they depend on the type of the bundle.

Given a the induced bundle has an induced connection.
If is a segment then the connection on *B* gives a trivialization on the induced bundle over *I*, i.e. a choice of smooth one-parameter family of isomorphisms between the fibers over *I*. This family is called *parallel displacement* along the curve and it gives an equivalent description of connection (which in case of Levi-Civita connection on a Riemannian manifold is called parallel transport).

There are many ways to describe a connection; in one particular approach, a connection can be locally described as a matrix of 1-forms on the base space which is the multiplant of the difference between the covariant derivative and the ordinary partial derivative in a coordinate chart. That is, *partial derivatives* are not an intrinsic notion on a manifold: a connection 'fixes up' the concept and permits discussion in geometric terms.

## Possible approaches

There are quite a number of possible approaches to the connection concept. They include the following:

- A rather direct module-style approach to covariant differentiation, stating the conditions allowing vector fields to act as differential operators on vector bundle sections.
- Traditional index notation specifies the connection by components; see Covariant derivative (three indices, but this is
a tensor).**not** - In Riemannian geometry there is a way of deriving a connection from the metric tensor (Levi-Civita connection).
- Using principal bundles and Lie algebra-valued differential forms (see connection form and Cartan connection).
- The most abstract approach may be that suggested by Alexander Grothendieck, where a connection is seen as descent data from infinitesimal neighbourhoods of the diagonal.

The connections referred to above are *linear* or *affine* connections. There is also a concept of projective connection; the most commonly-met form of this is the Schwarzian derivative in complex analysis.

See also: Gauss-Manin connection