# Morse–Palais lemma

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In mathematics, the Morse–Palais lemma is a result in the calculus of variations and theory of Hilbert spaces. Roughly speaking, it states that a smooth enough function near a critical point can be expressed as a quadratic form after a suitable change of coordinates.

The Morse–Palais lemma was originally proved in the finite-dimensional case by the American mathematician Marston Morse, using the Gram–Schmidt orthogonalization process. This result plays a crucial role in Morse theory. The generalization to Hilbert spaces is due to Richard Palais and Stephen Smale.

## Statement of the lemma

Let (H, 〈 , 〉) be a real Hilbert space, and let U be an open neighbourhood of 0 in H. Let f : U → R be a (k + 2)-times continuously differentiable function with k ≥ 1, i.e. f ∈ Ck+2(UR). Assume that f(0) = 0 and that 0 is a non-degenerate critical point of f, i.e. the second derivative D2f(0) defines an isomorphism of H with its continuous dual space H by

${\displaystyle H\ni x\mapsto \mathrm {D} ^{2}f(0)(x,-)\in H^{*}.\,}$

Then there exists a subneighbourhood V of 0 in U, a diffeomorphism φ : V → V that is Ck with Ck inverse, and an invertible symmetric operator A : H → H, such that

${\displaystyle f(x)=\langle A\varphi (x),\varphi (x)\rangle }$

for all x ∈ V.

## Corollary

Let f : U → R be Ck+2 such that 0 is a non-degenerate critical point. Then there exists a Ck-with-Ck-inverse diffeomorphism ψ : V → V and an orthogonal decomposition

${\displaystyle H=G\oplus G^{\perp },}$

such that, if one writes

${\displaystyle \psi (x)=y+z{\mbox{ with }}y\in G,z\in G^{\perp },}$

then

${\displaystyle f(\psi (x))=\langle y,y\rangle -\langle z,z\rangle }$

for all x ∈ V.

## References

• Lang, Serge (1972). Differential manifolds. Reading, Mass.–London–Don Mills, Ont.: Addison–Wesley Publishing Co., Inc.