There's an exercise at the end of Ch. 2 of Mosher & Tangora's "Cohomology Operations and Applications in Homotopy Theory", which says:

Suppose the cocycle $u\in C^{2p}(X;Z)$ satisfies $\delta u=2a$ for some $a$.

i. Show that $u \cup_0 u + u\cup_1 u$ is a cocycle mod 4.

ii. Define a natural operation, the Pontrjagin square, $P_2:H^{2p}(-;Z_2)\rightarrow H^{4p}(-;Z_4)$.

iii. Show that $\rho P_2(u)=u\cup u$, where $\rho:H^*(-;Z_4)\rightarrow H^*(-;Z_2)$ denotes reduction mod 2.

iv. Show that $P_2(u+v)=P_2(u)+P_2(v)+u\cup v$, where $u\cup v$ is computed with the non-trivial pairing $Z_2 \otimes Z_2\rightarrow Z_4$.

First of all, I'm confused by the first sentence. Shouldn't it just say $u$ is a cochain, not a cocycle? Probably more importantly, I don't really see what's supposed to be going on in part (i), since those two addends aren't in the same cohomological dimensions. I'm getting that

$\delta (u\cup_0 u+u\cup_1 u) = 4(a\cup u)+2(a\cup_1 u+u\cup_1 a)$,

and I'm not sure how to cancel the last terms. The addends in the RHS came straight from the addends on the LHS, i.e. there's no interaction between the two terms as far as I can tell, which makes me doubt myself. This could be just a lot of silliness on my part, but I'd appreciate it if someone could clear this up for me. And of course I'd love to hear about fun or unexpected applications of this particular operation...

**EDIT**

Following Tyler's suggestion, I've found that changing the formula to $u\cup_0 u+u\cup_1 \delta u$ does wonders.

Now that I've reached it, I'm having difficulty with part (iv). I have that

$P_2(u+v)=P_2(u)+P_2(v)+u\cup_0 v+v\cup_0 u+u\cup_1 \delta v+v\cup_1 \delta u$.

So somehow those last four terms are supposed to collapse into $u\cup v$ as computed using the non-trivial pairing. How exactly should this work? I have a vague sense that a representing cochain should only be spitting out the values 0(mod 4) and 2(mod 4), the latter only when the cup guys both spat out 1(mod 2)'s. So I'm slightly inclined to believe that the first two loose terms, which are equal since $\deg(u)=\deg(v)=2p$ and $\cup_0=\cup$ (the usual cup product), might sum to the desired "$u\cup v$" thing. Assuming we represent $u$ and $v$ by the same cochains throughout the equation, which I'm pretty sure is a valid thing to do(???), then if they evaluate to an even number then that sum will be 0(mod 4) while if they evaluate to an odd number then that sum will be 2(mod 4). So I'm thinking that somehow those last two terms should vanish. But why? And is there a concise way of writing everything I've just said, e.g. using notation $\rho:Z_2\otimes Z_2\rightarrow Z_4$ for the pairing, etc.? *And probably more importantly, is there any significance to the fact that the cup product measures the failure of the Pontrjagin square to be a group homomorphism?*