Topology of cell complexes and manifolds, classification of manifolds (e.g. smoothing, surgery), low dimensional topology (e.g. knot theory, invariants of 4-manifolds), embedding theory, combinatorial and PL topology, geometric group theory, infinite dimensional topology (e.g. Hilbert cube ...

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15
votes
2answers
2k views

Are non-PL manifolds CW-complexes?

Can every topological (not necessarily smooth or PL) manifold be given the structure of a CW complex? I'm pretty sure that the answer is yes. However, I have not managed to find a reference for ...
41
votes
8answers
4k views

Questions about analogy between Spec Z and 3-manifolds

I'm not sure if the questions make sense: Conc. primes as knots and Spec Z as 3-manifold - fits that to the Poincare conjecture? Topologists view 3-manifolds as Kirby-equivalence classes of framed ...
22
votes
3answers
3k views

Can every manifold be given an analytic structure?

Let $M$ be a (real) manifold. Recall that an analytic structure on $M$ is an atlas such that all transition maps are real-analytic (and maximal with respect to this property). (There's also a sheafy ...
32
votes
11answers
3k views

Compelling evidence that two basepoints are better than one

This question is inspired by an answer of Tim Porter. Ronnie Brown pioneered a framework for homotopy theory in which one may consider multiple basepoints. These ideas are accessibly presented in his ...
9
votes
2answers
1k views

When does the tangent bundle of a manifold admit a flat connection?

Let $M$ be a smooth manifold, and let $TM$ denote its tangent bundle. Under what conditions does $TM$ admit a flat connection $\omega$? Edit: Formerly, I asked about a flat connection on the frame ...
13
votes
3answers
1k views

finite generated group realized as fundamental group of manifolds

This is discussed in the standard textbooks on algebraic topology. Pick a presentation of the group $G = \langle g_1,g_2,...,g_n|r_1,r_2,...r_m \rangle$ where $g_i$ are generators and $r_j$ are ...
18
votes
5answers
2k views

Proof of the Reidemeister theorem

While preparing for my introduction to topology course, I've realized that I don't know where to find a detailed proof of the Reidemeister theorem (two link diagrams give isotopic links, iff they can ...
13
votes
3answers
1k views

When are (finite) simplicial complexes (smooth) manifolds?

Hi, is there an algorithm that determines if a given simplicial complex is a.) a manifold b.) a smooth manifold c.) homotopy equivalent to a manifold d.) a real algebraic variety ?
23
votes
1answer
831 views

Strong Whitney embedding theorem for non-compact manifolds

$\newcommand{\RR}{\mathbb{R}}$The present question arises from some confusion on my part regarding the precise statement of the strong Whitney embedding theorem for non-compact manifolds. The strong ...
16
votes
0answers
416 views

Monoid structure of oriented manifolds with connect sum

Take the class of all compact, connected, boundaryless, smooth oriented $n$-dimensional manifolds, each taken up to orientation-preserving diffeomorphism. This is a commutative monoid with operation ...
96
votes
1answer
9k views

What are the shapes of rational functions?

I would like to understand and compute the shapes of rational functions, that is, holomorphic maps of the Riemann sphere to itself, or equivalently, ratios of two polynomials, up to Moebius ...
28
votes
6answers
4k views

Triangulating surfaces

I've had a few undergraduate students ask me for references for the classical fact (due to Rado) that closed topological surfaces can be triangulated. I know two sources for this, namely Ahlfors's ...
20
votes
6answers
2k views

Failure of smoothing theory for topological 4-manifolds

Smoothing theory fails for topological 4-manifolds, in that a smooth structure on a topological 4-manifold $M$ is not equivalent to a vector bundle structure on the tangent microbundle of $M$. Is ...
29
votes
9answers
6k views

Nice proof of the Jordan curve theorem?

As a student, I was taught that the Jordan curve theorem is a great example of an intuitively clear statement which has no simple proof. What is the simplest known proof today? Is there an intuitive ...
31
votes
6answers
3k views

Status of PL topology

I posted this question on math stackexchange but received no answers. Since I know there are more people knowledgeable in geometric and piecewise-linear (PL) topology here, I'm reposting the question. ...
9
votes
6answers
2k views

CW-structures and Morse functions: a reference request

The following is probably well known, but I wasn't able to locate a reference in the literature. Let $f$ be a Morse function on a smooth compact manifold $M$ without boundary and let $\rho$ be a ...
31
votes
9answers
2k views

In knot theory: Benefits of working in $S^3$ instead of $\mathbb{R}^3$?

In several textbooks on knot theory (e.g. Lickorish's, Rolfsen's) knots are considered in $\mathbb{R}^3$ or $S^3$. The reason for working in $S^3$ is sometimes given at the beginning of a text as that ...
33
votes
2answers
1k views

Knot security (When to trust your life with a knot)

This question is related to a a question about self-tightening knots. I am supervising a senior thesis and my student is interested in knots. My student is also a rock climber and has an ...
15
votes
6answers
2k views

What are the open subsets of $\mathbb{R}^n$ that are diffeomorphic to $\mathbb{R}^n$

Hello, I would like to know if there is a known necessary and sufficient property on an open subset of $\mathbb{R}^n$ such that it is diffeomorphic to $\mathbb{R}^n$ : For example : 1) Are all ...
16
votes
3answers
1k views

Complete knot invariant?

I've seen a couple papers (that I now can't find) that say that in his paper "On irreducible 3-manifolds which are sufficiently large" Waldhausen proved that the data $\pi_1(\partial (S^3\setminus K)) ...
10
votes
3answers
603 views

Homotopy type of set of self homotopy-equivalences of a surface

Let $\Sigma$ be an oriented topological surface. For simplicity, assume that the genus of $\Sigma$ is at least $2$. There are a number of classical results on the homotopy types of various groups of ...
31
votes
3answers
4k views

Mazur's unpublished manuscript on primes and knots?

The story of the analogy between knots and primes, which now has a literature, started with an unpublished note by Barry Mazur. I'm not absolutely sure this is the one I mean, but in his paper, ...
17
votes
3answers
890 views

Cohomology of fibrations over the circle: how to compute the ring structure?

This question is inspired by Cohomology of fibrations over the circle Moreover, it can be considered a subquestion of the above, but somehow it seems to me that some of the more interesting points ...
11
votes
2answers
933 views

homotopy type of embeddings versus diffeomorphisms

Previously, I asked a question on mathoverflow comparing smooth embeddings and diffeomorphisms, which received a very interesting and somewhat unexpected answer by Agol. I now ask a further question ...
35
votes
2answers
919 views

Can knot diagrams be monotonically simplified using under moves?

It is well known that knot diagrams cannot be monotonically simplified using Reidemeister moves. For instance, the Goeritz unknot cannot be directly simplified. On the other hand, there is a stronger ...
23
votes
2answers
1k views

Why are there no wild arcs in the plane?

On math.stackexchange it was asked whether all arcs in the plane are ambient-isotopic. I suggested that one could prove this by appealing to the Schönflies theorem, which you can do as long as you can ...
16
votes
1answer
1k views

connectivity of the group of orientation-preserving homeomorphisms of the sphere

In the paper "Local Contractions and a Theorem of Poincare" Sternberg has mentioned the following question which was open when the paper was written: Is the group of orientation-preserving ...
16
votes
5answers
1k views

Compactification theorem for differentiable manifolds ?

Just parallelling this question, that seemed not to admit an easy answer at all, let's "soft down" the category and ask the same thing in the case of $\mathcal{C}^{\infty}$-differentiable manifolds ...
11
votes
2answers
2k views

What is Kirillov's method good for?

I am planing to study Kirillov's orbit method. I have seen Kirillov's method in several branch of mathematics, for instance, functional analysis, geometry, .... Why is this theory important for ...
30
votes
3answers
2k views

Independent evidence for the classification of topological 4-manifolds?

Is there any evidence for the classification of topological 4-manifolds, aside from Freedman's 1982 paper "The topology of four-dimensional manifolds", Journal of Differential Geometry 17(3) 357–453? ...
32
votes
0answers
809 views

Homotopy type of TOP(4)/PL(4)

It is known (e.g. the Kirby-Siebenmann book) that $\mathrm{TOP}(n)/\mathrm{PL}(n)\simeq K({\mathbb Z}/2,3)$ for $n>4$. I believe it is also known (Freedman-Quinn) that ...
21
votes
2answers
2k views

Elevator pitch for the Virtual Fibering Theorem

There has been a great deal of excitement among topologists about the proof of the Virtual Haken Theorem, and in fact of the Virtual Fibering Theorem (for closed hyperbolic 3-manifolds, but I'm ...
20
votes
2answers
634 views

Manifolds with homeomorphic interiors

Suppose that two compact topological manifolds with boundary have homeomorphic interiors. Can we conclude that the two manifolds are homeomorphic? What happens in the smooth category?
17
votes
2answers
736 views

Is there a discrete Cerf theory?

Towards the end of the 1990's, Robin Forman developed a discrete version of Morse theory, which concerns maps from a simplicial complex to $\mathbb{R}$ satisfying a combinatorial analogue to the ...
13
votes
2answers
846 views

Exotic spheres and stable homotopy in all large dimensions?

Given that the kervaire invariant one problem has been solved in (almost) all dimensions....my question is whether there exists an exotic sphere in all sufficently lagre dimensions? Given the ...
12
votes
3answers
695 views

Is it true that all sphere bundles are boundaries of disk bundles?

Let $E$ be the total space of the sphere bundle $S^k\to E\to M$, is it true that there exists a disk bundle $D^{k+1}\to N\to M$ such that $E=\partial N$? (where $D^{k+1}$ is the unit disk in $\mathbb ...
11
votes
0answers
415 views

Does every connected set that is not a line segment cross some dyadic square?

A dyadic square is a subset of $R^2$ of the form $x + 2^{-n} [0,1]^2$ with $x \in 2^{-m} Z^2$, for integers $m,n \geq 0$. We say that a set $A$ crosses a square $S$ if there exists a connected subset ...
11
votes
4answers
449 views

Minimal-length embeddings of braids into R^3 with fixed endpoints

(Apologies in advance for any imprecision in the following; I am a computer scientist and regret never having taken an actual course on topology.) One way to define the pure braid group $P_n$ is as ...
10
votes
5answers
861 views

Which manifolds admit a diffeomorphism of order $n$?

Let $n>1$. Which smooth manifolds admit a diffeomorphism $f$ of order $n$? For a closed orientable surface $S_g$ of genus $g$ and $n=2$ the answer is in the affirmative, since $S_g$ can be ...
8
votes
1answer
409 views

classification of smooth involutions of torus

Let $\mathbb{Z}_2=\{1,g\},T^2=\{(e^{i\theta_1},e^{i\theta_2})\}$ and place $T^2$ in $\mathbb{R}^3$ as the locus of the rotation of $2\pi$ rads of the circle$\{(y,z)|(y-2)^2+z^2=1\}$ around $z$ axis. ...
8
votes
7answers
1k views

Orbifold fundamental group in terms of loops?

In chapter 13 in his notes on 3-manifolds, Thurston defines the orbifold fundamental group to be the group of deck transformations of the universal cover of the orbifold. He also makes a statement ...
14
votes
4answers
671 views

4-dimensional h-cobordisms

I would like to know the state of the art concerning the following two questions. 1) Does there exist a smooth 4-dimensional h-cobordism (so between closed 3-manifolds) with non-vanishing Whitehead ...
13
votes
2answers
639 views

Uniqueness of compactification of an end of a manifold

Let $M$ be an $n$-dimensional manifold (smooth or topological). I call $\bar{M}$ a compactification of $M$ if it is an $n$-dimensional compact manifold with boundary $\partial \bar{M}$, an ...
10
votes
3answers
1k views

exotic differentiable structures on manifolds in dimensions 5 and 6

It's a result of low-dimensional topology that in dimensions 3 and lower, two manifolds are homeomorphic if and only if they are diffeomorphic. Milnor's 7-spheres give nice counterexamples to this ...
7
votes
1answer
882 views

Seiberg-Witten theory on 4-manifolds with boundary

What generalizations of Seiberg-Witten theory to 4-manifolds with boundary do exist? I would be especially interested in theories which "behave good" under gluing along the boundary (comparable to ...
6
votes
5answers
2k views

Geometric group theory and analysis

Geometric group theory is mainly concerned with topological and geometric properties of groups, spaces on which they act etc., so the ideas employed in GGT are mainly algebraic/geometric/topological. ...
5
votes
0answers
429 views

Commutator subgroup of a surface group

Let $\Sigma_{g,n}$ denote a compact orientable genus $g$ surface with $n$ boundary components. Assume that $g \geq 1$ and fix a basepoint $p \in \Sigma_{g,n}$. Define $S \subset ...
4
votes
1answer
488 views

Relation of SW and Donaldson Invariant

My question is: I am request for the reference that Is there any relationship between the Seiberg-Witten Invariant and Donaldson's Invariant? Or the relationship between Seiberg-Witten Moduli Space ...
20
votes
1answer
795 views

A function composed with itself produces the identity

Let $B$ be the closed unit ball in $\mathbb R^3$ and $f: B\to B$ continuous, such that $f\circ f$ is the identity (i.e., $f\circ f=\mathbb 1_B$) and $f$ restricted on $\partial B$ is also the identity ...
15
votes
1answer
500 views

Can the SL_2 character variety of a three-manifold be nonreduced?

Let $M^3$ be a three-manifold and consider the representation variety and the character variety of $M$: $$Y=\operatorname{Hom}(\pi_1(M^3),\operatorname{SL}(2,\mathbb C))$$ ...