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In mathematics , especially in the areas of analysis , differential geometry and differential topology , a diffeomorphism is a bijective , continuously differentiable mapping , the inverse mapping of which is also continuously differentiable.

The definition and target areas of the mapping can be open sets of the finite-dimensional real vector space or, more generally, differentiable manifolds. Depending on the differentiability class, one speaks of -diffeomorphisms ( ).

Image of a right angle mesh on a square under a diffeomorphism from the square on itself.


In vector space

A mapping between open subsets of the real vector space is called a diffeomorphism if:

  •  is bijective ,
  •  is continuously differentiable everywhere ,
  • the inverse mapping  is continuously differentiable everywhere.

If and even times continuously differentiable ("from the class " ), then one calls a -diffeomorphism. Are and infinitely differentiable ( "the Class "), this is referred as the diffeomorphism. If and both are real-analytic (“of the class ”), one calls a -diffeomorphism.

A mapping between open subsets is called local diffeomorphism if every point has an open neighborhood , so that its image is open and the restriction of to is a diffeomorphism.

On differentiable manifolds

The term is defined analogously on differentiable manifolds:

A mapping between two differentiable manifolds and is called diffeomorphism if it is bijective and both the inverse mapping and the inverse mapping are continuously differentiable . As above, the terms -, - and -diffeomorphism and local diffeomorphism are defined.

Two manifolds and are called diffeomorphic if there is a diffeomorphism from to . Manifolds that are diffeomorphic do not differ in terms of their differentiable structure .

Thus the diffeomorphism is precisely the isomorphism in the category of differentiable manifolds.


  • A diffeomorphism is always also a homeomorphism , but the reverse is not true.
  • From the differentiability of the inverse mapping it follows that at each point the derivative of (as a linear mapping from to or from the tangential space to ) is invertible (bijective, regular, of maximum rank).
  • Conversely, if the mapping is bijective and ( times) continuously differentiable and its derivation is invertible at every point, then it is a ( ) -diffeomorphism.

The sentence about the inverse mapping contains a stronger statement:

Theorem about the reverse mapping

A differentiable mapping with an invertible differential is locally a diffeomorphism. More precisely formulated:

Let be continuously differentiable and let the derivative of be invertible at this point . Then there exists an open neighborhood of in such that open and the restriction is a diffeomorphism.

This statement applies both to mappings between open sets of and to mappings between manifolds.


  • The mapping , where , is a diffeomorphism between the open set and the set of real numbers . Thus the open interval is diffeomorphic to .
  • The figure , is bijective and differentiable. But it is not a diffeomorphism, because it is not differentiable at the point 0.

Diffeomorphism and homeomorphism

For differentiable manifolds in dimension less than 4, homeomorphism always implies diffeomorphism: two differentiable manifolds of dimension less than or equal to 3 that are homeomorphic are also diffeomorphic. That is, if there is a homeomorphism, then there is also a diffeomorphism. This does not mean that every homeomorphism is a diffeomorphism.

This is not necessarily the case in higher dimensions. A prominent example are the Milnor spheres, according to John Willard Milnor : They are homeomorphic to the normal 7-dimensional sphere , but not diffeomorphic. For this discovery, Milnor received the Fields Medal in 1962 .


  • Klaus Jänich : Vector analysis. 5th edition. Springer Verlag, Berlin et al. 2005, ISBN 3-540-23741-0 ( Springer textbook ).
  • DK Arrowsmith, CM Place: An Introduction to Dynamical Systems. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge et al. 1990, ISBN 0-521-30362-1 .