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I am currently teaching a class at the University of Chicago on hyperbolic groups, and I have just introduced the concept of -hyperbolic (geodesic) metric spaces. A geodesic metrix space is -hyperbolic if for any geodesic triangle , and any there is some with . The quintessential -hyperbolic space is the hyperbolic plane, the unique (up to isometry) simply-connected complete Riemannian 2-manifold of constant curvature . It follows that any simply-connected complete Riemannian manifold of constant curvature is -hyperbolic for some depending on ; roughly one can take .
What gives this condition some power is the rich class of examples of spaces which are -hyperbolic for some . One very important class of examples are simply-connected complete Riemannian manifolds with upper curvature bounds. Such spaces enjoy a very strong comparison property with simply-connected spaces of constant curvature, and are therefore the prime examples of what are known as CAT(K) spaces.
Definition: A geodesic metric space is said to be , if the following holds. If is a geodesic triangle in , let be a comparison triangle in a simply connected complete Riemannian manifold of constant curvature . Being a comparison triangle means just that the length of is equal to the length of and so on. For any there is a corresponding point in the comparison edge which is the same distance from and as is from and respectively. The condition says, for all as above, and all , there is an inequality .
The term CAT here (coined by Gromov) is an acronym for Cartan-Alexandrov-Toponogov, who all proved significant theorems in Riemannian comparison geometry. From the definition it follows immediately that any space with is -hyperbolic for some depending only on . The point of this post is to give a short proof of the following fundamental fact:
CAT(K) Theorem: Let be a complete simply-connected Riemannian manifold with sectional curvature everywhere. Then with its induced Riemannian (path) metric is .