Grassmannian

In mathematics, a Grassmannian is the space of all kdimensional subspaces of an ndimensional vector space V, often denoted G_{k}(V) or simply G_{k,n}. The Grassmannian is named after Hermann Grassmann. The Grassmannian G_{1}(V) is just the space of lines through the origin in V, that is, it is the projective space P(V). Grassmannians can therefore be thought of as generalizations of projective space.
When k = 2, the Grassmannian is the space of all planes through the origin. In Euclidean 3space, a plane is completely characterized by the one and only line perpendicular to it (and viceversa); hence G_{2,3} is isomorphic to G_{1,3} (both of which are isomorphic to the real projective plane).
Grassmannians often carry a natural geometrical structure derived from V. For example, when V is a real vector space the Grassmannian G_{k,n} can be given the structure of a smooth manifold of dimension k(n − k). For a fixed field K, we can consider for an ndimensional vector space V, the set of subspaces with appropriate extra structure (e.g. a topological space, homogeneous space, differential manifold or algebraic variety), and notice that up to appropriate isomorphisms, we have a welldefined geometric object for the given pair (n,k).
Supposing first that K is the real number or complex number field, the easiest approach to Grassmannians is probably to consider them as homogeneous spaces. That is, the group action of GL(V) on the kdimensional subspaces has a single orbit, as is shown in linear algebra. The stabilizer H of K^{k} in K^{n}, embedded using the first k coordinates, can be identified quickly as the block matrices defined by the condition a_{ij} = 0 for i = 1 to k and j > k (the upper righthand block is 0). We can therefore identify G_{k,n} as the coset space GL(K^{n})/H. This then provides a topology on the Grassmannian, and a smooth structure.
There can be other approaches: for example orthogonal groups also act transitively, so that the Grassmannians also appear as coset spaces for those groups. This shows directly that the real Grassmannians are compact (for the same result for complex Grassmannians one applies the unitary group). This representation might also be preferred in homotopy theory.
In the case of a general field K, something similar can be done with algebraic groups and their cosets. Then Grassmannians can be shown to be projective varieties. Explicit homogeneous coordinates are known, and come from the kth exterior power: apply the wedge product to a basis of a kdimensional subspace and the resulting kvector is welldefined, up to a scalar multiple. It follows that the equations defining the Grassmannian can be regarded as the identities satisfied by k × k minors.
Schubert cells
The detailed study of the Grassmannians uses a decomposition into subsets called Schubert cells, which were first applied in enumerative geometry. The Schubert cells for G_{k,n} are defined in terms of an auxiliary flag: take subspaces V_{1}, V_{2}, ..., V_{k}, with V_{i} contained in V_{i+1}. Then we consider the corresponding subset of G_{k,n}, consisting of the W having intersection with V_{i} of dimension at least i, for i = 1 to k.
See also
For an example of use of Grassmannians in differential geometry, see Gauss map and in projective geometry, see Plücker coordinates. Flag manifolds are generalizations of Grassmannians and Stiefel manifolds are closely related.