Journal of Dynamical and Control Systems

, Volume 25, Issue 1, pp 109–157 | Cite as

Privileged Coordinates and Nilpotent Approximation of Carnot Manifolds, I. General Results

  • Woocheol Choi
  • Raphaël PongeEmail author


In this paper, we attempt to give a systematic account on privileged coordinates and nilpotent approximation of Carnot manifolds. By a Carnot manifold, it is meant a manifold with a distinguished filtration of subbundles of the tangent bundle which is compatible with the Lie bracket of vector fields. This paper lies down the background for its sequel (Choi and Ponge 2017) by clarifying a few points on privileged coordinates and the nilpotent approximation of Carnot manifolds. In particular, we give a description of all the systems of privileged coordinates at a given point. We also give an algebraic characterization of all nilpotent groups that appear as the nilpotent approximation at a given point. In fact, given a nilpotent group \(G\) satisfying this algebraic characterization, we exhibit all the changes of variables that transform a given system of privileged coordinates into another system of privileged coordinates in which the nilpotent approximation is given by \(G\).


Carnot manifolds Privileged coordinates Nilpotent approximation 

Mathematics Subject Classification (2010)

53C17 43A85 22E25 



The authors wish to thank Andrei Agrachev, Davide Barilari, Enrico Le Donne, and Frédéric Jean for useful discussions related to the subject matter of this paper. They also thank an anonymous referee whose insightful comments help improving the presentation of the paper. In addition, they would like to thank Henri Poincaré Institute (Paris, France), McGill University (Montréal, Canada) and University of California at Berkeley (Berkeley, USA) for their hospitality during the preparation of this paper.


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© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Mathematics EducationIncheon National UniversityIncheonSouth Korea
  2. 2.Department of Mathematical SciencesSeoul National UniversitySeoulSouth Korea

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