Journal of Symplectic Geometry

Volume 7 (2009)

Number 4

A nonholonomic Moser theorem and optimal transport

Pages: 381 – 414



Boris Khesin

Paul Lee


We prove the following nonholonomic version of the classical Moser theorem: given a bracket-generating distribution on a connected compact manifold (possibly with boundary), two volume forms of equal total volume can be isotoped by the flow of a vector field tangent to this distribution. We describe formal solutions of the corresponding nonholonomic mass transport problem and present the Hamiltonian framework for both the Otto calculus and its nonholonomic counterpart as infinite-dimensional Hamiltonian reductions on diffeomorphism groups.

Finally, we define a nonholonomic analog of the Wasserstein (or, Kantorovich) metric on the space of densities and prove that the subriemannian heat equation defines a gradient flow on the nonholonomic Wasserstein space with the potential given by the Boltzmann relative entropy functional.

Full Text (PDF format)