Riemann Surfaces (Pt. III)
Point of Post: This is a continuation of this post.
‘The’ Riemann Sphere
The last example we shall be a three-in-one. In particular, we shall define three Riemann surfaces , and , which shall end up being equivalent (biholomorphic).
First, we consider , which topologically is just the one-point compactification of . Clearly is a chart on . We claim that with
is a chart on . Indeed, it’s clear that is bijective, and continuous everywhere but at . It’s continuoust at , because if is a neighborhood of then is just , and thus is the complement in of a compact subset of , and thus open in . Now, since is open, and is evidently continuous it follows that is indeed a chart on . Now, we claim that is an atlas for . Now, since the domains of these charts cover it really suffices to check that the two charts are compatible. But, this follows since the intersection of their domains is and the overlap map (in both directions!) is just the map given by , which is a biholomorphism. When we give this complex structure, we call it the extended complex plane or the Riemann sphere.
Next, we shall imbue the -sphere with the structure of a Riemann surface. Indeed, as usual, let and , and define charts and (where , and similarly for ) by the formulae
It’s evident that are homeomorphisms onto and thus we see that is a topological atlas for (since their domains form an open cover) and thus we need merely check that and are compatible. This is easily verified, since one can check that
on , which is a biholomorphism . When we give this complex structure, it is called the Riemann Sphere.
Lastly, we define the complex projective line or just the projective line, denoted or just for short. Intuitively, we can think of as being along with a “point at infinity” which allows parallel lines to intersect. Rigorously, we define to be the space of all -dimensional (complex!) subspaces of . Since any line in through the origin is determined by one non-zero point on it, we may identify with points of , but we must be careful to not differentiate between points which differ by a action. To be more precise, we know that acts on via and thus we can consider the orbit space (i.e. the equivalence class of points, where two points are equivalent if they are in the same orbit of the action). We see that the orbits of are of the form which are exactly the nonzero points on a line in –thus we can identify with . The advantage of this is that we now have a projection map , which using the quotient topology given by this map, allows us to topologize .
The question is then, why is ((now a topological space!) naturally a Riemann surface? Well, let’s denote as (the colon is meant to prompt one to think of ratios–the real important characteristic of a line!). Define then to be and to be the set –these are going to be the chart neighborhoods of the complex structure on . Wait, what? This seems like a very unmotivated choice of sets used to cover –what gives? Well, let’s explore this a little more. What does it mean for a point to be equal to for some ? Well, evidently if then
Conversely, if for some then for some , and so, in particular, . Now, noting that for any (they just differ by multiplication!) we see that despite the somewhat strange appearance of , one has that . Similarly, you can convince yourself that .
Now that we have identified what our coordinate neighborhoods are going to be, and figured out what they “really look like” it shouldn’t be hard to see how we’re going to map them homeomorphically into . In particular, define by and by . It’s obvious that are homeomorphisms onto , and thus is a topological atlas for . Now, since and form an intersecting open cover of and each is connected, it follows that is connected. It remains to check that these atlases are compatible. It’s a little less obvious how to check this, but the idea is simple enough. We know that and . Now, the question is, what does look like? Well, take , and we see that . Now, and thus we see that . Similarly, one can check that is just the inversion map . Thus, we see that our atlas is compatible and thus defines a complex structure on .
It should be obvious that these three spaces are homeomorphic. But, the construction of the complex structures on each space is so similar, it really differs only by what symbols we used, it should not be shocking that all three of these spaces are, in fact, biholomorphic. All three of these biholomorphic objects shall be called ‘the’ Riemann sphere, or one of their individual names. The Riemann sphere is one of the most fundamental of all Riemann surfaces. It shall be integral in defining the notion of meromorphic functions. More importantly though, we shall prove that the Riemann sphere is the only simply connected compact Riemann surface. It is obviously one of the simplest examples to work with as well.
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 Conway, John B. Functions of One Complex Variable. New York: Springer-Verlag, 1978. Print.
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 Markley, Nelson Groh. Topological Groups: An Introduction. Hoboken, NJ: Wiley, 2010. Print.