Invariant manifold

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In dynamical systems, a branch of mathematics, an invariant manifold is a topological manifold that is invariant under the action of the dynamical system.[1] Examples include the slow manifold, center manifold, stable manifold, unstable manifold, subcenter manifold and inertial manifold.

Typically, although by no means always, invariant manifolds are constructed as a 'perturbation' of an invariant subspace about an equilibrium. In dissipative systems, an invariant manifold based upon the gravest, longest lasting modes forms an effective low-dimensional, reduced, model of the dynamics. [2]


Consider the differential equation dx/dt = f(x),\ x \in \mathbb R^n, with flow x(t)=\phi_t(x_0) being the solution of the differential equation with x(0)=x_0. A set S \subset \mathbb R^n is called an invariant set for the differential equation if, for each x_0 \in S, the solution t \mapsto \phi_t(x_0), defined on its maximal interval of existence, has its image in S. Alternatively, the orbit passing through each x_0 \in S lies in S. In addition, S is called an invariant manifold if S is a manifold. [3]


Simple 2D dynamical system[edit]

For any fixed parameter a, consider the variables x(t),y(t) governed by the pair of coupled differential equations

dx/dt=ax-xy\quad\text{and}\quad dy/dt=-y+x^2-2y^2.

The origin is an equilibrium. This system has two invariant manifolds of interest through the origin.

  • The vertical line x=0 is invariant as when x=0 the x-equation becomes dx/dt=0 which ensures x remains zero. This invariant manifold, x=0, is a stable manifold of the origin (when a\geq0) as all initial conditions x(0)=0,\ y(0)>-1/2 lead to solutions asymptotically approaching the origin.
  • The parabola y=x^2/(1+2a) is invariant for all parameter a. One can see this invariance by considering the time derivative d/dt[y-x^2/(1+2a)] and finding it is zero on y=x^2/(1+2a) as required for an invariant manifold. For a>0 this parabola is the unstable manifold of the origin. For a=0 this parabola is a center manifold, more precisely a slow manifold, of the origin.
  • For a<0 there is only an invariant stable manifold about the origin, the stable manifold including all (x,y),\ y>-1/2.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Hirsh M.W., Pugh C.C., Shub M., Invariant Manifolds, Lect. Notes. Math., 583, Springer, Berlin — Heidelberg, 1977
  2. ^ A. J. Roberts. The utility of an invariant manifold description of the evolution of a dynamical system. SIAM J. Math. Anal., 20:1447–1458, 1989.
  3. ^ C. Chicone. Ordinary Differential Equations with Applications, volume 34 of Texts in Applied Mathematics. Springer, 2006, p.34