Cubical vs. simplicial singular homology - MathOverflow most recent 30 from http://mathoverflow.net 2013-05-18T22:44:16Z http://mathoverflow.net/feeds/question/3656 http://www.creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc/2.5/rdf http://mathoverflow.net/questions/3656/cubical-vs-simplicial-singular-homology Cubical vs. simplicial singular homology Georges Elencwajg 2009-11-01T10:48:01Z 2012-05-19T16:47:25Z <p>Singular homology is usually defined via singular simplices, but Serre in his thesis uses singular cubes, which he claims are better adapted to the study of fibre spaces. This young man (25 years old at the time) seemed to know what he was talking about and has had a not too unsuccessful career since.</p> <p>So my (quite connected) questions are </p> <p>1) Why do so few books use this approach ( I only know Massey's) ?</p> <p>2) What are the pro's and con's of both approaches ?</p> <p>3) Does it matter ? After all the homology groups obtained are the same.</p> http://mathoverflow.net/questions/3656/cubical-vs-simplicial-singular-homology/3658#3658 Answer by Ilya Nikokoshev for Cubical vs. simplicial singular homology Ilya Nikokoshev 2009-11-01T11:56:24Z 2009-11-01T11:56:24Z <p>I don't know for sure, but it would appear he means that it's easier to construct a cubic chain on a product <code>X x Y</code> given cubic chains on <code>X</code> and <code>Y</code> compared to the simplex chain given two simplex chains.</p> <p>Since it's a simple exercise to go from simplices to cubes and vice versa, I don't see any advantage to cubes. In fact, I would expect any good book to explain that <em>either</em> of approaches could be used.</p> <p>It would unnecessarily complicate the notation in the modern retellings of higher category theory, though. I learned about it from Lurie, <em>Higher Topos Theory</em>, <a href="http://arxiv.org/abs/math/0608040" rel="nofollow">0608040</a> and there you really want to map simplices because you'll want to draw a picture of simplex <code>[a_0, a_1, ..., a_n]</code> being related to a composition of <code>n</code> categorical arrows, the arrow from <code>a_0</code> to <code>a_1</code> and so on.</p> http://mathoverflow.net/questions/3656/cubical-vs-simplicial-singular-homology/3661#3661 Answer by Kevin Lin for Cubical vs. simplicial singular homology Kevin Lin 2009-11-01T13:01:41Z 2009-11-02T18:14:21Z <p>If I remember correctly, the proof of homotopy invariance of singular homology (at least the one in Hatcher) involves cutting a (simplex)x(interval) into simplices, which perhaps can be confusing. In cubical singular homology you'd just have to cut a (cube)x(interval) into cubes, which is obvious. This sort of thing maybe also comes up in other basic results that involve homotopies, such as (graded-)commutativity of cup product.</p> <p>It doesn't really matter, since as you say, you get the same results at the end of the day. But perhaps in some sense simplices are more "basic" than cubes, since you can easily cut cubes (or any other polyhedron) into simplices, but you can't cut simplices into (finitely many) cubes or even "rectangle-ubes".</p> <p>As for Ilya's answer, I actually don't think that cubes would necessarily complicate higher category theory stuff that much. It might even make certain things easier. Simplices are just a nice formalism with which to describe things like homotopies, and higher homotopies, and so forth. For example, if you have maps f, g, h such that (f compose g) and h are homotopic, you can think of the homotopy as being a triangle filling in the appropriate diagram. However, suppose you just have maps f and g that are homotopic. Then the homotopy is a "triangle" with a "degenerate" edge filling in the appropriate diagram. So simplices are not perfect either, we still need to allow for "degenerate" situations. In that case, we could have just started with cubes, allowing degenerate edges, to begin with...</p> http://mathoverflow.net/questions/3656/cubical-vs-simplicial-singular-homology/3670#3670 Answer by Kevin Walker for Cubical vs. simplicial singular homology Kevin Walker 2009-11-01T14:43:35Z 2009-11-01T14:43:35Z <p>I think simplices are more convenient for constructing cones, while cubes are more convenient for constructing products. In fact, we can think of simplices as smallest collection of polyhedra which contains a point (0-simplex) and is closed under taking cones, while the cubes are the smallest collection which contain an interval (1-cube) and are closed under products. (Alternatively, contain a point and closed under taking product with an interval.) </p> <p>Personally, I think it is more convenient to do singular homology with the larger collection of polyhedra which is closed under both cones and products. (The n-dimensional polyhedra in this collection are indexed by rooted trees with n edges. The simplices correspond to maximal depth trees where the valence of a vertex is at most 2, while the cubes correspond to minimal depth (star-shaped) trees where the root vertex has valence n and all the other vertices have valence 1.)</p> http://mathoverflow.net/questions/3656/cubical-vs-simplicial-singular-homology/3795#3795 Answer by Tyler Lawson for Cubical vs. simplicial singular homology Tyler Lawson 2009-11-02T13:31:55Z 2009-11-02T13:31:55Z <p>Others have mentioned the advantages to cubical sets and so I don't want to say much on those; I'll just mention some facts about the other direction. The main disadvantage that comes solely from the point of view of homology is that you have this irritating normalization procedure: you have to take the cubical chains on X and take the quotient by degenerate cubes. (You can do the same for simplicial chains and you get the same answer as the original.) The cubical theory gets niceties that others have stated.</p> <p>The main advantages of simplices are mostly apparent when you move a little further along into homotopy theory. The homotopy theory of simplicial sets is in some senses simply easier than the cubical analogue. For example, the cartesian product of two simplicial sets has as geometric realization the product of the geometric realizations of its factors. On the other hand, the standard "cubical interval" I, which realizes to [0,1], has a self-product I^2, whose geometric realization has fundamental group &#8484;. Simplices in some ways play more nicely with degeneracies than cubes do.</p> <p>Simplices are also more closely tied to categories via the simplicial nerve functor. For example, there are the simplicial constructions of classifying spaces coming from categories, and these give you nice constructions of group cohomology. (Perhaps I just don't know the cubical analogues.)</p> <p>There is also the ubiquitous "bar construction" which is unreasonably useful in algebraic topology, and which comes most naturally from a simplicial construction. We use this to resolve modules, show equivalences between algebras over different operads, and more applications that are almost too numerous to name. For example, May used it quite heavily in his proofs that spaces X which are algebras over an E<sub>&#8734;</sub>-operad have infinitely many deloopings BX, B<sup>2</sup>X, ... </p> <p>There has been a lot of work done on cubical sets, however, but I'm not the best authority on it. Try <a href="http://ncatlab.org/nlab/show/cubical+set" rel="nofollow">here</a> for a starting point.</p> http://mathoverflow.net/questions/3656/cubical-vs-simplicial-singular-homology/3836#3836 Answer by Peter Arndt for Cubical vs. simplicial singular homology Peter Arndt 2009-11-02T18:42:24Z 2009-11-02T18:42:24Z <p><a href="http://www.bangor.ac.uk/~mas010/" rel="nofollow">Ronnie Brown</a> has for a long time been working with cubical strict higher categories and argues that, while for representing spaces the advantages of simplicial sets may be bigger, for carrying algebraic structure cubical sets are preferrable. Indeed, the composition of higher cells is not as nicely visible in simplicial sets as in cubical (or globular) sets. Also the definition of inverses to higher cells is much more algebraic in flavor, and algebraic tricks like subdivision into smaller cells works in a more obvious way.</p> <p>Also, people who work with cubical sets have found it advantageous to introduce more degeneracy maps than just the obvious ones which "identify" opposite sides of the cube, e.g. such which identify neighbouring sides (e.g. as in ). This allows for more flexibility when folding cubes into the desired shapes, e.g. into balls as <a href="http://www.tac.mta.ca/tac/volumes/1999/n7/5-07abs.html" rel="nofollow">here</a>.</p> http://mathoverflow.net/questions/3656/cubical-vs-simplicial-singular-homology/83666#83666 Answer by Ronnie Brown for Cubical vs. simplicial singular homology Ronnie Brown 2011-12-16T21:58:14Z 2012-05-19T16:47:25Z <p>Our new book </p> <p>Nonabelian algebraic topology: filtered spaces, crossed complexes, cubical homotopy groupoids, EMS Tracts in Mathematics vol 15 <a href="http://pages.bangor.ac.uk/~mas010/nonab-a-t.html" rel="nofollow">http://pages.bangor.ac.uk/~mas010/nonab-a-t.html</a></p> <p>uses mainly cubical, rather than simplicial, sets. The reasons are explained in the Introduction. In strict cubical higher categories we can easily express</p> <p><em>algebraic inverse to subdivision</em>, </p> <p>a simple intuition which I have found difficult to express in simplicial terms. Thus cubes are useful for local-to-global problems. This intuition is crucial for our Higher Homotopy Seifert-van Kampen Theorem, which enables new calculations of some homotopy types, and suggests a new foundation for algebraic topology at the border between homotopy and homology. </p> <p>Also cubes have a nice tensor product and this is <em>crucial</em> in the book for obtaining some homotopy classification results. </p> <p>I have found that with cubes I have been able to conjecture and in the end prove theorems which have enabled new nonabelian calculations in homotopy theory, e.g. of second relative homotopy groups. So I have been happy to use cubes until someone comes up with something better. ($n$-simplicial methods, in conjunction with cubical ideas, turned out, however, to be necessary for proofs in the work with J.-L. Loday.) </p> <p>See also some beamer presentations available on my preprint page. </p> <p>Here is a further emphasis on the above point on algebraic structures: consider the following diagram:</p> <p><img src="http://pages.bangor.ac.uk/~mas010/composition2.jpg" alt="composition"></p> <p>From left to right pictures subdivision; from right to left pictures composition. The composition idea is well formulated in terms of double categories, and that idea is easily generalised to $n$-fold categories, and is expressed well in a cubical context. In that context one can conjecture, and eventually prove, higher dimensional Seifert-van Kampen Theorems, which allow new calculations in algebraic topology. Such multiple compositions are difficult to handle in globular or simplicial terms. </p> <p>The further advantage of cubes, as mentioned in above answers, is that the formula $I^m \times I^n \cong I^{m+n}$ makes cubes very helpful in considering monoidal and monoidal closed structures. </p>