It is also sometimes referred to as Lobachevsky space or Bolyai--Lobachevsky space after the names of the author who first published on the topic of hyperbolic geometry. Sometimes the qualificative "real" is added to differentiate it from complex hyperbolic spaces, quaternionic hyperbolic spaces and the octononic hyperbolic plane which are the other symmetric spaces of negative curvature.
Hyperbolic space serves as the prototype of a Gromov hyperbolic space which is a far-reaching notion including differential-geometric as well as more combinatorial spaces via a synthetic approach to negative curvature. Another generalisation is the notion of a CAT(-1) space.
Hyperbolic space, developed independently by Nikolai Lobachevsky, János Bolyai and Carl Friedrich Gauss, is a geometrical space analogous to Euclidean space, but such that Euclid's parallel postulate is no longer assumed to hold. Instead, the parallel postulate is replaced by the following alternative (in two dimensions):
It is then a theorem that there are infinitely many such lines through P. This axiom still does not uniquely characterize the hyperbolic plane up to isometry; there is an extra constant, the curvature K < 0, which must be specified. However, it does uniquely characterize it up to homothety, meaning up to bijections which only change the notion of distance by an overall constant. By choosing an appropriate length scale, one can thus assume, without loss of generality, that K = −1.
The hyperbolic plane cannot be isometrically embedded into Euclidean 3-space by Hilbert's theorem. On the other hand the Nash embedding theorem implies that hyperbolic n-space can be isometrically embedded into some Euclidean space of larger dimension (4 for the hyperbolic plane).
When isometrically embedded to a Euclidean space every point of a hyperbolic space is a saddle point.
There are many more metric properties of hyperbolic space which differentiate it from Euclidean space. Some can be generalised to the setting of Gromov-hyperbolic spaces which is a generalisation of the notion of negative curvature to general metric spaces using only the large-scale properties. A finer notion is that of a CAT(-1)-space.
Every complete, connected, simply connected manifold of constant negative curvature −1 is isometric to the real hyperbolic space Hn. As a result, the universal cover of any closed manifold M of constant negative curvature −1, which is to say, a hyperbolic manifold, is Hn. Thus, every such M can be written as Hn/Γ where Γ is a torsion-free discrete group of isometries on Hn. That is, Γ is a lattice in SO+(n,1).
Two-dimensional hyperbolic surfaces can also be understood according to the language of Riemann surfaces. According to the uniformization theorem, every Riemann surface is either elliptic, parabolic or hyperbolic. Most hyperbolic surfaces have a non-trivial fundamental group π1=Γ; the groups that arise this way are known as Fuchsian groups. The quotient space H²/Γ of the upper half-plane modulo the fundamental group is known as the Fuchsian model of the hyperbolic surface. The Poincaré half plane is also hyperbolic, but is simply connected and noncompact. It is the universal cover of the other hyperbolic surfaces.
The analogous construction for three-dimensional hyperbolic surfaces is the Kleinian model.