In differential geometry, representation theory and harmonic analysis, a **symmetric space** is a smooth manifold whose group of symmetries contains an inversion symmetry about every point. There are two ways to formulate the inversion symmetry, via Riemannian geometry or via Lie theory. The Lie theoretic definition is more general and more algebraic.

In Riemannian geometry, the inversions are geodesic symmetries, and these are required to be isometries, leading to the notion of a **Riemannian symmetric space**. More generally, in Lie theory a symmetric space is a homogeneous space *G*/*H* for a Lie group *G* such that the stabilizer *H* of a point is an open subgroup of the fixed point set of an involution of *G*. This definition includes (globally) Riemannian symmetric spaces and pseudo-Riemannian symmetric spaces as special cases.

Riemannian symmetric spaces arise in a wide variety of situations in both mathematics and physics. They were first studied extensively and classified by Élie Cartan. More generally, classifications of irreducible and semisimple symmetric spaces have been given by Marcel Berger. They are important in representation theory and harmonic analysis as well as differential geometry.

Read more about Symmetric Space: Definition Using Geodesic Symmetries, General Definition, Riemannian Symmetric Spaces Are Symmetric Spaces, Classification of Riemannian Symmetric Spaces, Symmetric Spaces in General, Weakly Symmetric Riemannian Spaces

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### Famous quotes containing the word space:

“Mere human beings can’t afford to be fanatical about anything.... Not even about justice or loyalty. The fanatic for justice ends by murdering a million helpless people to clear a *space* for his law-courts. If we are to survive on this planet, there must be compromises.”

—Storm Jameson (1891–1986)

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