A Nonsmooth Approach to Einstein's Theory of Gravity

Speaker: Robert McCann

Date: Tue, Aug 1, 2023

Location: PIMS, University of British Columbia

Subject: Mathematics

Class: Scientific

CRG: Pacific Interdisciplinary Hub on Optimal Transport


While Einstein’s theory of gravity is formulated in a smooth setting, the celebrated singularity theorems of Hawking and Penrose describe many physical situations in which this smoothness must eventually breakdown. In positive-definite signature, there is a highly successful theory of metric and metric-measure geometry which includes Riemannian manifolds as a special case, but permits the extraction of nonsmooth limits under curvature and dimension bounds analogous to the energy conditions in relativity: here sectional curvature is reformulated through triangle comparison, while Ricci curvature is reformulated using entropic convexity along geodesics of probability measures.

This lecture explores recent progress in the development of an analogous theory in Lorentzian signature, whose ultimate goal is to provide a nonsmooth theory of gravity. We highlight how the null energy condition of Penrose admits a nonsmooth formulation as a variable lower bound on timelike Ricci curvature.

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