
Mathematics 2013
The mathematical foundations of general relativity revisitedAbstract: The purpose of this paper is to present for the first time an elementary summary of a few recent results obtained through the application of the formal theory of partial differential equations and Lie pseudogroups in order to revisit the mathematical foundations of general relativity. Other engineering examples (control theory, elasticity theory, electromagnetism) will also be considered in order to illustrate the three fundamental results that we shall provide. The paper is therefore divided into three parts corresponding to the different formal methods used. 1) CARTAN VERSUS VESSIOT: The quadratic terms appearing in the " Riemann tensor " according to the " Vessiot structure equations " must not be identified with the quadratic terms appearing in the well known " Cartan structure equations " for Lie groups and a similar comment can be done for the " Weyl tensor ". In particular, " curvature+torsion" (Cartan) must not be considered as a generalization of "curvature alone" (Vessiot). Roughly, Cartan and followers have not been able to " quotient down to the base manifold ", a result only obtained by Spencer in 1970 through the "nonlinear Spencer sequence" but in a way quite different from the one followed by Vessiot in 1903 for the same purpose and still ignored. 2) JANET VERSUS SPENCER: The " Ricci tensor " only depends on the nonlinear transformations (called " elations " by Cartan in 1922) that describe the "difference " existing between the Weyl group (10 parameters of the Poincar\'e subgroup + 1 dilatation) and the conformal group of spacetime (15 parameters). It can be defined by a canonical splitting, that is to say without using the indices leading to the standard contraction or trace of the Riemann tensor. Meanwhile, we shall obtain the number of components of the Riemann and Weyl tensors without any combinatoric argument on the exchange of indices. Accordingly, the Spencer sequence for the conformal Killing system and its formal adjoint fully describe the Cosserat/Maxwell/Weyl theory but General Relativity is not coherent at all with this result. 3) ALGEBRAIC ANALYSIS: Contrary to other equations of physics (Cauchy equations, Cosserat equations, Maxwell equations), the Einstein equations cannot be " parametrized ", that is the generic solution cannot be expressed by means of the derivatives of a certain number of arbitrary potentiallike functions, solving therefore negatively a 1000 $ challenge proposed by J. Wheeler in 1970. Accordingly, the mathematical foundations of mathematical physics must be revisited within this formal framework,
