Flat tori in three-dimensional space and convex integration

Abstract : It is well-known that the curvature tensor is an isometric invariant of C2 Riemannian manifolds. This invariant is at the origin of the rigidity observed in Riemannian geometry. In the mid 1950s, Nash amazed the world mathematical community by showing that this rigidity breaks down in regularity C1. This unexpected flexibility has many paradoxical consequences, one of them is the existence of C1 isometric embeddings of flat tori into Euclidean three-dimensional space. In the 1970s and 1980s, M. Gromov, revisiting Nash's results introduced convex integration theory offering a general framework to solve this type of geometric problems. In this research, we convert convex integration theory into an algorithm that produces isometric maps of flat tori. We provide an implementation of a convex integration process leading to images of an embedding of a flat torus. The resulting surface reveals a C1 fractal structure: Although the tangent plane is defined everywhere, the normal vector exhibits a fractal behavior. Isometric embeddings of flat tori may thus appear as a geometric occurrence of a structure that is simultaneously C1 and fractal. Beyond these results, our implementation demonstrates that convex integration, a theory still confined to specialists, can produce computationally tractable solutions of partial differential relations.
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Contributor : Vincent Borrelli <>
Submitted on : Wednesday, September 25, 2013 - 9:46:49 AM
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Vincent Borrelli, Saïd Jabrane, Francis Lazarus, Boris Thibert. Flat tori in three-dimensional space and convex integration. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America , National Academy of Sciences, 2012, 109 (19), pp.7218-7223. ⟨10.1073/pnas.1118478109⟩. ⟨hal-00865755⟩

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