 TOPICS # Gaussian Curvature

Gaussian curvature, sometimes also called total curvature (Kreyszig 1991, p. 131), is an intrinsic property of a space independent of the coordinate system used to describe it. The Gaussian curvature of a regular surface in at a point is formally defined as (1)

where is the shape operator and det denotes the determinant.

If is a regular patch, then the Gaussian curvature is given by (2)

where , , and are coefficients of the first fundamental form and , , and are coefficients of the second fundamental form (Gray 1997, p. 377). The Gaussian curvature can be given entirely in terms of the first fundamental form (3)

and the metric discriminant (4)

by (5)

where are Christoffel symbols of the first kind. Equivalently, (6)

where   (7)   (8)

Writing this out,   (9)

The Gaussian curvature is also given by (10)

(Gray 1997, p. 380), as well as (11)

where is the permutation symbol, is the unit normal vector and is the unit tangent vector. The Gaussian curvature is also given by   (12)   (13)   (14)

where is the scalar curvature, and the principal curvatures, and and the principal radii of curvature. For a Monge patch with , (15)

The Gaussian curvature of a surface defined implicitly by is given by (16)

(Trott 2004, pp. 1285-1286).

The Gaussian curvature and mean curvature satisfy (17)

with equality only at umbilic points, since (18)

If is a point on a regular surface and and are tangent vectors to at , then the Gaussian curvature of at is related to the shape operator by (19)

Let be a nonvanishing vector field on which is everywhere perpendicular to , and let and be vector fields tangent to such that , then (20)

(Gray 1997, p. 410).

For a sphere, the Gaussian curvature is . For Euclidean space, the Gaussian curvature is . For Gauss-Bolyai-Lobachevsky space, the Gaussian curvature is . A developable surface is a regular surface and special class of minimal surface on which Gaussian curvature vanishes everywhere.

A point on a regular surface is classified based on the sign of as given in the following table (Gray 1997, p. 375), where is the shape operator.

 Sign Point elliptic point hyperbolic point but parabolic point and planar point

A surface on which the Gaussian curvature is everywhere positive is called synclastic, while a surface on which is everywhere negative is called anticlastic. Surfaces with constant Gaussian curvature include the cone, cylinder, Kuen surface, plane, pseudosphere, and sphere. Of these, the cone and cylinder are the only developable surfaces of revolution.

Anticlastic, Brioschi Formula, Developable Surface, Elliptic Point, Hyperbolic Point, Integral Curvature, Mean Curvature, Metric Tensor, Minimal Surface, Parabolic Point, Planar Point, Scalar Curvature, Synclastic, Total Curvature, Umbilic Point Explore this topic in the MathWorld classroom

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## References

Geometry Center. "Gaussian Curvature." http://www.geom.umn.edu/zoo/diffgeom/surfspace/concepts/curvatures/gauss-curv.html.Gray, A. "The Gaussian and Mean Curvatures" and "Surfaces of Constant Gaussian Curvature." §16.5 and Ch. 21 in Modern Differential Geometry of Curves and Surfaces with Mathematica, 2nd ed. Boca Raton, FL: CRC Press, pp. 373-380 and 481-500, 1997.Kreyszig, E. Differential Geometry. New York: Dover, p. 131, 1991.Trott, M. The Mathematica GuideBook for Graphics. New York: Springer-Verlag, 2004. http://www.mathematicaguidebooks.org/.

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Gaussian Curvature

## Cite this as:

Weisstein, Eric W. "Gaussian Curvature." From MathWorld--A Wolfram Web Resource. https://mathworld.wolfram.com/GaussianCurvature.html