On Chern's conjecture about the Euler characteristic of affine manifolds
MetadataShow full item record
The development the theory of characteristic classes allowed Shiing-Shen Chern to generalize the Gauss Bonnet theorem to Riemannian manifolds of arbitrary dimension. The Chern Gauss Bonnet theorem expresses the Euler characteristic as an integral of a polynomial evaluated on the curvature tensor, i.e if K is the curvature form of the Levi-Civita connection, the Chern Gauss Bonnet formula is . In particular, the theorem implies that if the Levi Civita connection is _at, the Euler characteristic is zero.An a_ne structure on a manifold is an atlas whose transition functions are a_ne transformations. The existence of such a structure is equivalent to the existence of a _at torsion free connection on the tangent bundle. Around 1955 Chern conjectured the following: Conjecture. The Euler characteristic of a closed affine manifold is zero. Not all fat torsion free connections on TM admit a compatible metric, and therefore, Chern-Weil theory cannot be used in general to write down the Euler class in terms of the curvature. In 1955, Benzécri  proved that a closed affine surface has zero Euler characteristic. Later, in 1958, Milnor  proved inequalities which completely characterise those oriented rank two bundles over a surface that admit a fiat connection. These inequalities prove that in case of a surface the condition "be torsion free" in Chern's conjecture is not necessary. In 1975, Kostant and Sullivan  proved Chern's conjecture in the case where the manifold is complete. In 1977, Smillie  proved that the condition that the connection is torsion free matters. For each even dimension greater than 2, Smillie constructed closed manifolds with non-zero Euler characteristic that admit a _at connection on their tangent bundle. In 2015, Klingler  proved the conjecture for special affine manifolds. That is, affine manifolds that admit a parallel volume form.