Chains in CR geometry as geodesics of a Kropina metric
Published Web Locationhttps://doi.org/10.1016/j.aim.2019.05.004
With the help of a generalization of the Fermat principle in general relativity, we show that chains in CR geometry are geodesics of a certain Kropina metric constructed from the CR structure. We study the projective equivalence of Kropina metrics and show that if the kernel distributions of the corresponding 1-forms are non-integrable then two projectively equivalent metrics are trivially projectively equivalent. As an application, we show that sufficiently many chains determine the CR structure up to conjugacy, generalizing and reproving the main result of [J.-H. Cheng, 1988]. The correspondence between geodesics of the Kropina metric and chains allows us to use the methods of metric geometry and the calculus of variations to study chains. We use these methods to re-prove the result of [H. Jacobowitz, 1985] that locally any two points of a strictly pseudoconvex CR manifolds can be joined by a chain. Finally, we generalize this result to the global setting by showing that any two points of a connected compact strictly pseudoconvex CR manifold which admits a pseudo-Einstein contact form with positive Tanaka-Webster scalar curvature can be joined by a chain.