Geodesics and Distance

  • John M. LeeEmail author
Part of the Graduate Texts in Mathematics book series (GTM, volume 176)


In this chapter, we explore the relationships among geodesics, lengths, and distances on a Riemannian manifold. One of the main goals is to show that all length-minimizing curves are geodesics, and all geodesics are locally length minimizing. Later, we prove the Hopf–Rinow theorem, which states that a connected Riemannian manifold is geodesically complete if and only if it is complete as a metric space. At the end of the chapter, we study distance functions (which express the distance to a point or other subset) and show how they can be used to construct coordinates that put a metric in a particularly simple form.

Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing AG 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of MathematicsUniversity of WashingtonSeattleUSA

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