Symplectic Geometry and Frame Theory

Clayton Shonkwiler

Colorado State University


This talk!

Take Home Message

Symplectic geometry is a powerful set of tools which is useful for the study of frames


A frame in \(\mathbb{C}^d\) is an ordered spanning set \(\{\phi_1,\dots ,\phi_N\}\), which we often represent as a short, fat matrix

\Phi = \begin{bmatrix} \phi_1 | \phi_2 | \dots | \phi_N \end{bmatrix} \in \mathbb{C}^{d \times N}

Symplectic Geometry

Definition. A symplectic manifold is a smooth manifold \(M\) together with a closed, non-degenerate 2-form \({\omega \in \Omega^2(M)}\).

Example: \((S^2,d\theta\wedge dz)\)

Example. \((\mathbb{R}^2,dx \wedge dy) = (\mathbb{C},\frac{i}{2}dz \wedge d\bar{z})\)

Any smooth (affine or projective) complex variety is a symplectic manifold.

Example. \((S^2,\omega)\), where \(\omega_p(u,v) = (u \times v) \cdot p\)

Example. \((\mathbb{R}^2,\omega)\) where \(\omega(u,v) = \langle i u, v \rangle \)

Example. \((\mathbb{C}^n, \frac{i}{2} \sum dz_k \wedge d\overline{z}_k)\)

dx \wedge dy \left( a \frac{\partial}{\partial x} + b \frac{\partial}{\partial y}, c \frac{\partial }{\partial x} + d \frac{\partial}{\partial y} \right) = ad - bc


If \(H: M \to \mathbb{R}\) is smooth, then there exists a unique vector field \(X_H\) so that \({dH = \iota_{X_H}\omega}\), i.e.,

dH(\cdot) = \omega(X_H, \cdot)

(\(X_H\) is called the Hamiltonian vector field for \(H\), or sometimes the symplectic gradient of \(H\))

Example. \(H: (S^2, d\theta\wedge dz) \to \mathbb{R}\) given by \(H(\theta,z) = z\).

\(dH = dz = \iota_{\frac{\partial}{\partial \theta}}(d\theta\wedge dz)\), so \(X_H = \frac{\partial}{\partial \theta}\).

Lie Group Actions

Let \(G\) be a Lie group, and let \(\mathfrak{g}\) be its Lie algebra. If \(G\) acts on \((M,\omega)\), then each \(V \in \mathfrak{g}\) determines a vector field \(X_V\) on \(M\) by

X_V(p) = \left.\frac{d}{dt}\right|_{t=0}\exp(t V) \cdot p

\(S^1=U(1)\) acts on \((S^2,d\theta \wedge dz)\) by

e^{it} \cdot(\theta, z) = (\theta + t, z)

For \(r \in \mathbb{R} \simeq \mathfrak{u}(1)\), \(X_r = r \frac{\partial}{\partial \theta}\).

Momentum Maps

Definition. An action of \(U(1)\) on \((M,\omega)\) is Hamiltonian if there exists a map

\mu: M \to \mathfrak{u}(1)^* \simeq \mathbb{R}

so that \(d\mu = \iota_{X}\omega\), where \(X\) is the vector field generated by the circle action.

\(X = \frac{\partial}{\partial \theta}\)

\(\iota_X\omega = \iota_{\frac{\partial}{\partial \theta}} d\theta \wedge dz = dz \)

\(\mu(\theta,z) = z\)

Momentum Maps

Definition. An action of \(G\) on \((M,\omega)\) is Hamiltonian if each one-parameter subgroup action is Hamiltonian. Equivalently, there exists a map

\mu: M \to \mathfrak{g}^*

so that \(\omega_p(X_V, X) = D_p \mu(X)(V)\) for each \(p \in M\), \(X \in T_pM\), and \(V \in \mathfrak{g}\).

\(X_{V_{(a,b,c)}}(x,y,z) = (a,b,c) \times (x,y,z)\)

\((\iota_{X_{V_{(a,b,c)}}}\omega)_{(x,y,z)} = a dx + b dy + c dz \)

\(\mu(x,y,z)(V_{(a,b,c)}) = (x,y,z)\cdot(a,b,c)\)

Group Actions on Frames

What compact Lie groups act nicely on \(\mathbb{C}^{d \times N}\)?

  1. \(U(d)\) acts on the left
  2. \(U(N)\) acts on the right
  3. \(U(1)^d\) acts on the left
  4. \(U(1)^N\) acts on the right
\mu_{U(d)}(\Phi) = \Phi \Phi^*
\mu_{U(N)}(\Phi) = -\Phi^*\Phi
\mu_{U(1)^d}\left(\begin{bmatrix} \rule[.8mm]{4mm}{.5px}\, \phi^1 \rule[.8mm]{4mm}{.5px}\\ \vdots \\ \rule[.8mm]{4mm}{.5px}\, \phi^d \rule[.8mm]{4mm}{.5px} \end{bmatrix}\right) = \left(\frac{1}{2}\|\phi^1\|^2 , \dots , \frac{1}{2}\|\phi^d\|^2\right)
\mu_{U(1)^N} \left(\begin{bmatrix} \phi_1 | \cdots | \phi_N \end{bmatrix}\right) = \left(-\frac{1}{2}\|\phi_1\|^2 , \dots , -\frac{1}{2}\|\phi_N\|^2\right)

Parseval frames


unit-norm frames

\(\mu_{U(1)^N}^{-1}\left(-\frac{1}{2},\dots , -\frac{1}{2}\right)\)


The (finite) unit-norm tight frames (FUNTFs) are the level set

Let \(\mu\) be the momentum map of the product group

U(d) \times U(1)^N
\mu^{-1}\left(\frac{N}{d} I_d, \left(-\frac{1}{2},\dots , -\frac{1}{2}\right)\right)= \mu^{-1}\left(\frac{N}{d}I_d, -\vec{\frac{1}{2}}\right)

The Frame Homotopy Conjecture

Theorem [Cahill–Mixon–Strawn ’17]

The space of length-\(N\) FUNTFs in \(\mathbb{C}^d\) is path-connected for all \(N \geq d\geq 1\).

A New Proof

FUNTF space is connected if and only if

\mu^{-1}\!\left(\frac{N}{d}I_d, -\vec{\frac{1}{2}}\right)\!/(U(d)\times U(1)^N) =: \mathbb{C}^{d \times N} /\!/\!_{\left(\frac{N}{d}I_d, -\vec{\frac{1}{2}}\right)}(U(d)\times U(1)^N)
\simeq \left(\mathbb{C}^{d \times N}/\!/\!_{\frac{N}{d}I_d}U(d)\right)/\!/\!_{-\vec{\frac{1}{2}}}U(1)^N
\simeq \operatorname{Gr}_d(\mathbb{C}^N)/\!/\!_{-\vec{\frac{1}{2}}} U(1)^N

Theorem [Atiyah] 

Torus reductions of compact, connected symplectic manifolds are connected.


A Double Generalization

Theorem [with Needham]

For any invertible, Hermitian matrix \(S\) and any \(r_1, \dots , r_N \geq 0\), the space of frames \(\Phi = [\phi_1 | \cdots | \phi_N]\) with

\Phi \Phi^* = S
\|\phi_i\|^2 = r_i


is either empty or path-connected.

Symplectic Geometry and Frame Theory

This seems to be a pretty general viewpoint, with a number of potential applications...

See, for example, Tom Needham’s talk.

Thank you!

Funding: Simons Foundation


The geometry of constrained random walks and an application to frame theory

Clayton Shonkwiler

2018 IEEE Statistical Signal Processing Workshop (SSP), 343–347