is precisely . Let be a triangle in with geodesic segments as its sides. is said to satisfy the inequality if there is a comparison triangle in the model space , with sides of the same length as the sides of , such that distances between points on are less than or equal to the distances between corresponding points on .
The geodesic metric space is said to be a space if every geodesic triangle in with perimeter less than satisfies the inequality. A (not-necessarily-geodesic) metric space is said to be a space with curvature if every point of has a geodesically convexneighbourhood. A space with curvature may be said to have non-positive curvature.
More generally, the standard space is a space. So, for example, regardless of dimension, the sphere of radius (and constant curvature ) is a space. Note that the diameter of the sphere is (as measured on the surface of the sphere) not (as measured by going through the centre of the sphere).
The punctured plane is not a space since it is not geodesically convex (for example, the points and cannot be joined by a geodesic in with arc length 2), but every point of does have a geodesically convex neighbourhood, so is a space of curvature .
The closed subspace of given by
equipped with the induced length metric is not a space for any .
Any product of spaces is . (This does not hold for negative arguments.)
As a special case, a complete CAT(0) space is also known as a Hadamard space; this is by analogy with the situation for Hadamard manifolds. A Hadamard space is contractible (it has the homotopy type of a single point) and, between any two points of a Hadamard space, there is a unique geodesic segment connecting them (in fact, both properties also hold for general, possibly incomplete, CAT(0) spaces). Most importantly, distance functions in Hadamard spaces are convex: if are two geodesics in X defined on the same interval of time I, then the function given by
Let be a space. Then the following properties hold:
Given any two points (with if ), there is a unique geodesic segment that joins to ; moreover, this segment varies continuously as a function of its endpoints.
Every local geodesic in with length at most is a geodesic.
The -balls in of radius less than are (geodesically) convex.
The -balls in of radius less than are contractible.
Approximate midpoints are close to midpoints in the following sense: for every and every there exists a such that, if is the midpoint of a geodesic segment from to with and
It follows from these properties that, for the universal cover of every space is contractible; in particular, the higher homotopy groups of such a space are trivial. As the example of the -sphere shows, there is, in general, no hope for a space to be contractible if .