Let $R \subset X \times Y$ be any relation between sets $X$ and $Y$. CH Dowker constructed two simplicial complexes $K$ and $L$ associated to $R$:
- a simplex in $K$ consists of finitely many elements $x \in X$ such that there exists a single $y \in Y$ with $(x,y) \in R$, and
- a simplex in $L$ consists of finitely many elements $y \in Y$ such that there exists a single $x \in X$ with $(x,y) \in R$.
Clearly, these are simplicial complexes. The main theorem of Dowker is the construction of a natural isomorphism of homology groups of $K$ and $L$. There is even a proof outline on nlab. In fact there is a homotopy equivalence between the geometric realizations although that requires an ordering on the simplices and is therefore not natural. This may be found in the paper
C. H. Dowker, Homology Groups of Relations, Annals of Math, 56, (1952), 84–95.
The goal of this paper was to prove equivalence of Cech, Vietoris and Alexander (co)homology theories. My question is
What other applications (if any) have been found for this theorem?
In particular, the fact that the relation itself creates the simplicial complexes seems to make this theorem have very limited uses beyond the consequences proved already by Dowker: I can't seem to find much on the internet at least. I wonder if the experts have some idea...