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Are there general surveys or introductions to the homotopy groups of spheres? I'm interested especially in connections to low-dimensional geometry and topology.

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Retagged reference request in lieu of big list and soft-question. Seemed more specific, but feel free to undo. – Cam McLeman May 14 '10 at 16:13
Cam, "reference-request" is a more precise tag. Thanks. – user2529 May 15 '10 at 4:26
up vote 30 down vote accepted

While my Algebraic Topology book and my unfinished book on spectral sequences (referred to in other answers to this question) contain some information about homotopy groups of spheres, they don't really qualify as a general survey or introduction. One source that fits this bill more closely is Chapter 1 of Doug Ravenel's "green book" Complex Cobordism and Stable Homotopy Groups of Spheres, from 1986. This introductory chapter starts at a reasonably accessible level, with increasing prerequisites in the later sections of the chapter. More recent surveys ought to exist, although at the moment I can't recall any. With the recent solution of the Kervaire invariant problem by Hill-Hopkins-Ravenel, this would be a good time for an updated survey.

Connections between homotopy groups of spheres and low-dimensional geometry and topology have traditionally been somewhat limited, with the Hopf bundle being the thing that comes most immediately to mind. A fairly recent connection is Soren Galatius' theorem that the homology groups of $Aut(F_n)$, the automorphism group of a free group, are isomorphic in a stable range of dimensions to the homology groups of "loop-infinity S-infinity", the space whose homotopy groups are the stable homotopy groups of spheres.

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You can find something in Allen Hatcher, "Spectral Sequences" .

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Hatcher's "Algebraic Topology".

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