Let M be an irreducible Riemannian symmetric space. The index i(M) of M is the minimal codimension of a totally geodesic submanifold of M. In previous work the authors proved that i(M) is bounded from below by the rank rk(M) of M. In this paper we classify all irreducible Riemannian symmetric spaces M for which the equality holds, that is, rk(M) = i(M). In this context we also obtain an explicit classification of all non-semisimple maximal totally geodesic submanifolds in irreducible Riemannian symmetric spaces of noncompact type and show that they are closely related to irreducible symmetric R-spaces. We also determine the index of some symmetric spaces and classify the irreducible Riemannian symmetric spaces of noncompact type with i(M) = 4,5 or 6.
- symmetric spaces
- totally geodesic submanifolds
- index of symmetric spaces