special holonomy


Differential geometry

differential geometry

synthetic differential geometry






Differential cohomology



For XX a space equipped with a GG-connection on a bundle \nabla (for some Lie group GG) and for xXx \in X any point, the parallel transport of \nabla assigns to each curve Γ:S 1X\Gamma : S^1 \to X in XX starting and ending at xx an element hol (γ)G hol_\nabla(\gamma) \in G: the holonomy of \nabla along that curve.

The holonomy group of \nabla at xx is the subgroup of GG on these elements.

If \nabla is the Levi-Civita connection on a Riemannian manifold and the holonomy group is a proper subgroup HH of the special orthogonal group, one says that (X,g)(X,g) is a manifold of special holonomy .



Berger's theorem says that if a manifold XX is

then the possible special holonomy groups are the following

classification of special holonomy manifolds by Berger's theorem:

G-structurespecial holonomydimensionpreserved differential form
Kähler manifoldU(k)2k2kKähler forms
Calabi-Yau manifoldSU(k)2k2k
hyper-Kähler manifoldSp(k)4k4k
G2 manifoldG277associative 3-form
Spin(7) manifoldSpin(7)8Cayley form

Relation to GG-reductions

A manifold having special holonmy means that there is a corresponding reduction of structure groups.


Let (X,g)(X,g) be a connected Riemannian manifold of dimension nn with holonomy group Hol(g)O(n)Hol(g) \subset O(n).

For GO(n)G \subset O(n) some other subgroup, (X,g)(X,g) admits a torsion-free G-structure precisely if Hol(g)Hol(g) is conjugate to a subgroup of GG.

Moreover, the space of such GG-structures is the coset G/LG/L, where LL is the group of elements suchthat conjugating Hol(g)Hol(g) with them lands in GG.

This appears as (Joyce prop. 3.1.8)


The classification in Berger's theorem is due to

  • M. Berger, Sur les groupes d’holonomie homogène des variétés à connexion affine et des variétés riemanniennes, Bull. Soc. Math. France 83 (1955)

For more see

  • Dominic Joyce, Compact manifolds with special holonomy , Oxford Mathematical Monogrophs (200)

  • Luis J. Boya, Special Holonomy Manifolds in Physics Monografías de la Real Academia de Ciencias de Zaragoza. 29: 37–47, (2006). (pdf)

Revised on December 16, 2012 17:15:53 by Urs Schreiber (