I am Alden, one of Danny’s students. Error/naivete that may (will) be found here is mine. In these posts, I will attempt to give notes from Danny’s class on hyperbolic geometry (157b). This first post covers some models for hyperbolic space.
1. Models
We have a very good natural geometric understanding of , i.e. 3space with the euclidean metric. Pretty much all of our geometric and topological intuition about manifolds (Riemannian or not) comes from finding some reasonable way to embed or immerse them (perhaps locally) in . Let us look at some examples of 2manifolds.
 Example (curvature = 1) with its standard metric embeds in ; moreover, any isometry of is the restriction of (exactly one) isometry of the ambient space (this group of isometries being ). We could not ask for anything more from an embedding.
 Example (curvature = 0) Planes embed similarly.
 Example (curvature = 1) The pseudosphere gives an example of an isometric embedding of a manifold with constant curvature 1. Consider a person standing in the plane at the origin. The person holds a string attached to a rock at , and they proceed to walk due east dragging the rock behind them. The movement of the rock is always straight towards the person, and its distance is always 1 (the string does not stretch). The line traced out by the rock is a tractrix. Draw a right triangle with hypotenuse the tangent line to the curve and vertical side a vertical line to the axis. The bottom has length , which shows that the tractrix is the solution to the differential equation
The Tractrix
The surface of revolution about the axis is the pseudosphere, an isometric embedding of a surface of constant curvature 1. Like the sphere, there are some isometries of the pseudosphere that we can understand as isometries of , namely rotations about the axis. However, there are lots of isometries which do not extend, so this embeddeding does not serve us all that well.
 Example (hyperbolic space) By the Nash embedding theorem, there is a immersion of in , but by Hilbert, there is no immersion of any complete hyperbolic surface.That last example is the important one to consider when thinking about hypobolic spaces. Intuitively, manifolds with negative curvature have a hard time fitting in euclidean space because volume grows too fast — there is not enough room for them. The solution is to find (local, or global in the case of ) models for hyperbolic manfolds such that the geometry is distorted from the usual euclidean geometry, but the isometries of the space are clear.
2. 1Dimensional Models for Hyperbolic Space
While studying 1dimensional hyperbolic space might seem simplistic, there are nice models such that higher dimensions are simple generalizations of the 1dimensional case, and we have such a dimensional advantage that our understanding is relatively easy.
2.1. Hyperboloid Model
Parameterizing
Consider the quadratic form on defined by , where . This doesn’t give a norm, since is not positive definite, but we can still ask for the set of points with . This is (both sheets of) the hyperbola . Let be the upper sheet of the hyperbola. This will be 1dimensional hyperbolic space.
For any matrix , let . That is, matrices which preserve the form given by . The condition is equivalent to requiring that . Notice that if we let be the identity matrix, we would get the regular orthogonal group. We define , where has positive eigenvalues and negative eigenvalues. Thus . We similarly define to be matricies of determinant 1 preserving , and to be the connected component of the identity. is then the group of matrices preserving both orientation and the sheets of the hyperbolas.
We can find an explicit form for the elements of . Consider the matrix . Writing down the equations and gives us four equations, which we can solve to get the solutions
Since we are interested in the connected component of the identity, we discard the solution on the right. It is useful to do a change of variables , so we have (recall that ).
These matrices take to . In other words, acts transitively on with trivial stabilizers, and in particular we have parmeterizing maps
The first map is actually a Lie group isomorphism (with the group action on being ) in addition to a diffeomorphism, since
Metric
As mentioned above, is not positive definite, but its restriction to the tangent space of is. We can see this in the following way: tangent vectors at a point are characterized by the form . Specifically, , since (by a calculation) . Therefore, takes tangent vectors to tangent vectors and preserves the form (and is transitive), so we only need to check that the form is positive definite on one tangent space. This is obvious on the tangent space to the point . Thus, is a Riemannian manifold, and acts by isometries.
Let’s use the parameterization . The unit (in the metric) tangent at is . The distance between the points and is
In other words, is an isometry from to .
1dimensional hyperbollic space. The hyperboloid model is shown in blue, and the projective model is shown in red. An example of the projection map identifying with is shown.
2.2. Projective Model
Parameterizing
Real projective space is the set of lines through the origin in . We can think about as , where is associated with the line (point in ) intersecting in , and is the horizontal line. There is a natural projection by projecting a point to the line it is on. Under this projection, maps to .
Since acts on preserving the lines , it gives a projective action on fixing the points . Now suppose we have any projective linear isomorphism of fixing . The isomorphism is represented by a matrix with eigenvectors . Since scaling preserves its projective class, we may assume it has determinant 1. Its eigenvalues are thus and . The determinant equation, plus the fact that
Implies that is of the form of a matrix in . Therefore, the projective linear structure on is the “same” (has the same isometry (isomorphism) group) as the hyperbolic (Riemannian) structure on .
Metric
Clearly, we’re going to use the pushforward metric under the projection of to , but it turns out that this metric is a natural choice for other reasons, and it has a nice expression.
The map taking to is . The hyperbolic distance between and in is then (by the fact from the previous sections that is an isometry).
Recall the fact that . Applying this, we get the nice form
We also recall the cross ratio, for which we fix notation as . Then
Call the numerator of that fraction by and the denominator by . Then, recalling that , we have
Therefore, .
3. Hilbert Metric
Notice that the expression on the right above has nothing, a priori, to do with the hyperbolic projection. In fact, for any open convex body in , we can define the Hilbert metric on by setting , where and are the intersections of the line through and with the boundary of . How is it possible to take the cross ratio, since are not numbers? The line containing all of them is projectively isomorphic to , which we can parameterize as . The cross ratio does not depend on the choice of parameterization, so it is well defined. Note that the Hilbert metric is not necessarily a Riemannian metric, but it does make any open convex set into a metric space.
Therefore, we see that any open convex body in has a natural metric, and the hyperbolic metric in agrees with this metric when is thought of as a open convex set in .
4. HigherDimensional Hyperbolic Space
4.1. Hyperboloid
The higher dimensional hyperbolic spaces are completely analogous to the 1dimensional case. Consider with the basis and the 2form . This is the form defined by the matrix . Define to be the positive (positive in the direction) sheet of the hyperbola .
Let be the linear transformations preserving the form, so . This group is generated by as symmetries of the plane, together with as symmetries of the span of the (this subspace is euclidean). The group is the set of orientation preserving elements of which preserve the positive sheet of the hyperboloid (). This group acts transitively on with point stabilizers : this is easiest to see by considering the point . Here the stabilizer is clearly , and because acts transitively, any stabilizer is a conjugate of this.
As in the 1dimensional case, the metric on is , which is invariant under .
Geodesics in can be understood by consdering the fixed point sets of isometries, which are always totally geodesic. Here, reflection in a vertical (containing ) plane restricts to an (orientationreversing, but that’s ok) isometry of , and the fixed point set is obviously the intersection of this plane with . Now is transitive on , and it sends planes to planes in , so we have a bijection
{Totally geodesic subspaces through } {linear subspaces of through }
By considering planes through , we can see that these totally geodesic subspaces are isometric to lower dimensional hyperbolic spaces.
4.2. Projective
Analogously, we define the projective model as follows: consider the disk . I.e. the points in the plane inside the cone . We can think of as , so this disk is . There is, as before, the natural projection of to , and the pushforward of the hyperbolic metric agrees with the Hilbert metric on as an open convex body in .
Geodesics in the projective model are the intersections of planes in with ; that is, they are geodesics in the euclidean space spanned by the . One interesting consequence of this is that any theorem which is true in euclidean geometry which does not reply on facts about angles is still true for hyperbolic space. For example, Pappus’ hexagon theorem, the proof of which does not use angles, is true.
4.3. Projective Model in Dimension 2
In the case that , we can understand the projective isomorphisms of by looking at their actions on the boundary . The set is projectively isomorphic to as an abstract manifold, but it should be noted that is not a straight line in , which would be the most natural way to find ‘s embedded in .
In addition, any projective isomorphism of can be extended to a real projective isomorphism of . In other words, we can understand isometries of 2dimensional hyperbolic space by looking at the action on the boundary. Since is not a straight line, the extension is not trivial. We now show how to do this.
The automorphisms of are . We will consider . For any Lie group , there is an Adjoint action defined by (the derivative of) conjugation. We can similarly define an adjoint action by the Lie algebra on itself, as for any path with . If the tangent vectors and are matrices, then .
We can define the Killing form on the Lie algebra by . Note that is a matrix, so this makes sense, and the Lie group acts on the tangent space (Lie algebra) preserving this form.
Now let’s look at specifically. A basis for the tangent space (Lie algebra) is , , and . We can check that , , and . Using these relations plus the antisymmetry of the Lie bracket, we know
Therefore, the matrix for the Killing form in this basis is
This matrix has 2 positive eigenvalues and one negative eigenvalue, so its signature is . Since acts on preserving this form, we have , otherwise known at the group of isometries of the disk in projective space , otherwise known as .
Any element of (which, recall, was acting on the boundary of projective hyperbolic space ) therefore extends to an element of , the isometries of hyperbolic space, i.e. we can extend the action over the disk.
This means that we can classify isometries of 2dimensional hyperbolic space by what they do to the boundary, which is determined generally by their eigevectors ( acts on by projecting the action on , so an eigenvector of a matrix corresponds to a fixed line in , so a fixed point in . For a matrix , we have the following:
 (elliptic) In this case, there are no real eigenvalues, so no real eigenvectors. The action here is rotation, which extends to a rotation of the entire disk.
 (parabolic) There is a single real eigenvector. There is a single fixed point, to which all other points are attracted (in one direction) and repelled from (in the other). For example, the action in projective coordinates sending to : infinity is such a fixed point.
 (hyperbolic) There are two fixed point, one attracting and one repelling.

5. Complex Hyperbolic Space
We can do a construction analogous to real hyperbolic space over the complexes. Define a Hermitian form on with coordinates by . We will also refer to as . The (complex) matrix for this form is , where . Complex linear isomorphisms preserving this form are matrices such that . This is our definition for , and we define to be those elements of with determinant of norm 1.
The set of points such that is not quite what we are looking for: first it is a real dimensional manifold (not as we would like for whatever our definition of “complex hyperbolic space” is), but more importantly, does not restrict to a positive definite form on the tangent spaces. Call the set of points where by . Consider a point in and in . As with the real case, by the fact that is in the tangent space,
Because is hermitian, the expression on the right does not mean that , but it does mean that is purely imaginary. If , then , i.e. is not positive definite on the tangent spaces.
However, we can get rid of this negative definite subspace. as the complex numbers of unit length (or , say) acts on by multiplying coordinates, and this action preserves : any phase goes away when we apply the absolute value. The quotient of by this action is . The isometry group of this space is still , but now there are point stabilizers because of the action of . We can think of inside as the diagonal matrices, so we can write
And the projectivized matrices is the group of isometries of , where the middle is all vectors in with (which we think of as part of complex projective space). We can also approach this group by projectivizing, since that will get rid of the unwanted point stabilizers too: we have .
5.1. Case
In the case , we can actually picture . We can’t picture the original , but we are looking at the set of such that . Notice that . After projectivizing, we may divide by , so . The set of points which satisfy this is the interior of the unit circle, so this is what we think of for . The group of complex projective isometries of the disk is . The straight horizontal line is a geodesic, and the complex isometries send circles to circles, so the geodesics in are circles perpendicular to the boundary of in .
Imagine the real projective model as a disk sitting at height one, and the geodesics are the intersections of planes with the disk. Complex hyperbolic space is the upper hemisphere of a sphere of radius one with equator the boundary of real hyperbolic space. To get the geodesics in complex hyperbolic space, intersect a plane with this upper hemisphere and stereographically project it flat. This gives the familiar Poincare disk model.
5.2. Real ‘s contained in
contains 2 kinds of real hyperbolic spaces. The subset of real points in is (real) , so we have a many . In addition, we have copies of , which, as discussed above, has the same geometry (i.e. has the same isometry group) as real . However, these two real hyperbolic spaces are not isometric. the complex hyperbolic space has a more negative curvature than the real hyperbolic spaces. If we scale the metric on so that the real hyperbolic spaces have curvature , then the copies of will have curvature .
In a similar vein, there is a symplectic structure on such that the real are lagrangian subspaces (the flattest), and the are symplectic, the most negatively curved.
An important thing to mention is that complex hyperbolic space does not have constant curvature(!).
6. Poincare Disk Model and Upper Half Space Model
The projective models that we have been dealing with have many nice properties, especially the fact that geodesics in hyperbolic space are straight lines in projective space. However, the angles are wrong. There are models in which the straight lines are “curved” i.e. curved in the euclidean metric, but the angles between them are accurate. Here we are interested in a group of isometries which preserves angles, so we are looking at a conformal model. Dimension 2 is special, because complex geometry is real conformal geometry, but nevertheless, there is a model of in which the isometries of the space are conformal.
Consider the unit disk in dimensions. The conformal automorphisms are the maps taking (straight) diameters and arcs of circles perpendicular to the boundary to this same set. This model is abstractly isomorphic to the Klein model in projective space. Imagine the unit disk in a flat plane of height one with an upper hemisphere over it. The geodesics in the Klein model are the intersections of this flat plane with subspaces (so they are straight lines, for example, in dimension 2). Intersecting vertical planes with the upper hemisphere and stereographically projecting it flat give geodesics in the Poincare disk model. The fact that this model is the “same” (up to scaling the metric) as the example above of is a (nice) coincidence.
The Klein model is the flat disk inside the sphere, and the Poincare disk model is the sphere. Geodesics in the Klein model are intersections of subspaces (the angled plane) with the flat plane at height 1. Geodesics in the Poincare model are intersections of vertical planes with the upper hemisphere. The two darkened geodesics, one in the Klein model and one in the Poincare, correspond under orthogonal projection. We get the usual Poincare disk model by stereographically projecting the upper hemisphere to the disk. The projection of the geodesic is shown as the curved line inside the disk
The Poincare disk model. A few geodesics are shown.
Now we have the Poincare disk model, where the geodesics are straight diameters and arcs of circles perpendicular to the boundary and the isometries are the conformal automorphisms of the unit disk. There is a conformal map from the disk to an open half space (we typically choose to conformally identify it with the upper half space). Conveniently, the hyperbolic metric on the upper half space can be expressed at a point (euclidean coordinates) as . I.e. the hyperbolic metric is just a rescaling (at each point) of the euclidean metric.
One of the important things that we wanted in our models was the ability to realize isometries of the model with isometries of the ambient space. In the case of a oneparameter family of isometries of hyperbolic space, this is possible. Suppose that we have a set of elliptic isometries. Then in the disk model, we can move that point to the origin and realize the isometries by rotations. In the upper half space model, we can move the point to infinity, and realize them by translations.
Hi Alden – nice job! I leave it as an exercise to find the typos (of which there are not too many).
D.
It is a great idea to post notes here like this. Thanks.
Hello Alden,
Incredible post on hyperbolic geometry / Lobachevskian geometry i am starting to study in my year in London and we are just starting to learn about János Bolyai and Nikolai Ivanovich Lobachevsky. Today i have enjoyed reading your post after a lesson on Visualizing hyperbolic geometry.
Anyway good luck.
James Lirk
This is one of the best articles on hyperbolic geometry i`ve come accross online. I also have been studying hyperbolic geometry / Lobachevskian geometry for 1.5 years now. But this post is alittle beyond the first year of study i have passed.
Thanks Alden for a very interesting read.
Thanks so much James
Amazingly detailed article on hyperbolic geometry. How did you lay out the formulae and diagrams – is there some software that helps with this?