Hitchin–Thorpe inequality

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In differential geometry the Hitchin–Thorpe inequality is a relation which restricts the topology of 4-manifolds that carry an Einstein metric.

Statement of the Hitchin–Thorpe inequality[edit]

Let M be a compact, oriented, smooth four-dimensional manifold. If there exists a Riemannian metric on M which is an Einstein metric, then following inequality holds

where is the Euler characteristic of and is the signature of . This inequality was first stated by John Thorpe[1] in a footnote to a 1969 paper focusing on manifolds of higher dimension. Nigel Hitchin then rediscovered the inequality, and gave a complete characterization [2] of the equality case in 1974; he found that if is an Einstein manifold with then must be a flat torus, a Calabi–Yau manifold, or a quotient thereof.

Idea of the proof[edit]

The main ingredients in the proof of the Hitchin–Thorpe inequality are the decomposition of the Riemann curvature tensor and the Generalized Gauss-Bonnet theorem.

Failure of the converse[edit]

A natural question to ask is whether the Hitchin–Thorpe inequality provides a sufficient condition for the existence of Einstein metrics. In 1995, Claude LeBrun and Andrea Sambusetti independently showed that the answer is no: there exist infinitely many non-homeomorphic compact, smooth, oriented 4-manifolds M that carry no Einstein metrics but nevertheless satisfy

LeBrun's examples [3] are actually simply connected, and the relevant obstruction depends on the smooth structure of the manifold. By contrast, Sambusetti's obstruction [4] only applies to 4-manifolds with infinite fundamental group, but the volume-entropy estimate he uses to prove non-existence only depends on the homotopy type of the manifold.


  1. ^ J. Thorpe, Some remarks on the Gauss-Bonnet formula, J. Math. Mech. 18 (1969) pp. 779--786.
  2. ^ N. Hitchin, On compact four-dimensional Einstein manifolds, J. Diff. Geom. 9 (1974) pp. 435--442.
  3. ^ C. LeBrun, Four-manifolds without Einstein Metrics, Math. Res. Letters 3 (1996) pp. 133--147.
  4. ^ A. Sambusetti, An obstruction to the existence of Einstein metrics on 4-manifolds, C.R. Acad. Sci. Paris 322 (1996) pp. 1213--1218.


  • Besse, Arthur L. (1987). Einstein Manifolds. Classics in Mathematics. Berlin: Springer. ISBN 3-540-74120-8.