Splitting lemma (functions)

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See also splitting lemma in homological algebra.

In mathematics, especially in singularity theory the splitting lemma is a useful result due to René Thom which provides a way of simplifying the local expression of a function usually applied in a neighbourhood of a degenerate critical point.

Formal statement[edit]

Let \scriptstyle f:(\mathbb{R}^n,0)\to(\mathbb{R},0) be a smooth function germ, with a critical point at 0 (so \scriptstyle (\partial f/\partial x_i)(0)=0,\;(i=1,\dots, n)). Let V be a subspace of \scriptstyle\mathbb{R}^n such that the restriction f|V is non-degenerate, and write B for the Hessian matrix of this restriction. Let W be any complementary subspace to V. Then there is a change of coordinates \Phi(x,y) of the form \Phi(x,y) = (\phi(x,y),y) with \scriptstyle x\in V,\;y\in W, and a smooth function h on W such that

f\circ\Phi(x,y) = \textstyle\frac12 x^TBx + h(y).

This result is often referred to as the parametrized Morse lemma, which can be seen by viewing y as the parameter. It is the gradient version of the implicit function theorem.


There are extensions to infinite dimensions, to complex analytic functions, to functions invariant under the action of a compact group, . . .