Geometry of rank 2 distributions with nonzero Wilczynski invariants Academic Article uri icon


  • In the famous 1910 "cinq variables" paper Cartan showed in particular that for maximally nonholonomic rank 2 distributions in 5 with non-zero covariant binary biquadratic form the dimension of the pseudo-group of local symmetries does not exceed 7 and among such distributions he described the one-parametric family of distributions for which this pseudo-group is exactly 7-dimensional. Using the novel interpretation of the Cartan covariant binary biquadratic form via the classical Wilczynski invariant of curves in projective spaces associated with abnormal extremals of the distributions [4, 27, 28] one can generalize this Cartan result to rank 2 distributions in n satisfying certain genericity assumption, called maximality of class, for arbitrary n 5.In the present paper for any rank 2 distribution of maximal class with at least one nonvanishing generalized Wilczynski invariants we construct the canonical frame on a (2n - 3)-dimensional bundle and describe explicitly the moduli spaces of the most symmetric models. The relation of our results to the divergence equivalence of Lagrangians of higher order is given as well. 2014 Copyright: the authors.

published proceedings


author list (cited authors)

  • Doubrov, B., & Zelenko, I.

citation count

  • 5

complete list of authors

  • Doubrov, Boris||Zelenko, Igor

publication date

  • April 2014