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 manifolds,...

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46
votes
11answers
5k 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 ...
38
votes
3answers
4k 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 ...
43
votes
4answers
3k views

Torsion in homology or fundamental group of subsets of Euclidean 3-space

Here's a problem I've found entertaining. Is it possible to find a subset of 3-dimensional Euclidean space such that its homology groups (integer coefficients) or one of its fundamental groups ...
19
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 this....
16
votes
3answers
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 ...
17
votes
2answers
837 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 $(n-1)$-...
12
votes
5answers
1k 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 ...
42
votes
8answers
5k 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 ...
23
votes
6answers
3k 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 ...
37
votes
7answers
3k 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 ...
30
votes
5answers
3k views

Fundamental groups of noncompact surfaces

I got fantastic answers to my previous question (about modern references for the fact that surfaces can be triangulated), so I thought I'd ask a related question. A basic fact about surface topology ...
10
votes
3answers
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 ...
40
votes
3answers
3k 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? ...
28
votes
1answer
2k 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 ...
20
votes
3answers
2k 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)) ...
14
votes
3answers
2k 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 ?
17
votes
5answers
2k 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 [...
29
votes
1answer
589 views

Classifiying sphere eversions

For a year I have been giving lectures on a (probalby) new way to present an explicit sphere eversion. These lectures include a review of many other explicit eversions that have been described, as ...
27
votes
1answer
550 views

Nilpotence of the stable Hopf map via framed cobordism

The Pontryagin-Thom construction shows that the stable homotopy groups of spheres are the same as the groups of stably framed manifolds up to cobordism. Specifically the Hopf map corresponds to the ...
14
votes
3answers
938 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 ...
16
votes
0answers
516 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 ...
15
votes
1answer
624 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 $M$: $$Y=\operatorname{Hom}(\pi_1(M^3),\operatorname{SL}(2,\mathbb C))$$ $$X=\operatorname{Hom}(\pi_1(...
11
votes
1answer
289 views

Are there non-smoothable homotopy/homology spheres?

A homotopy sphere is a topological $n$-manifold $M$ which is homotopy equivalent to $S^n$. A homology sphere is a topological $n$-manifold $M$ such that $H_i(M) \cong H_i(S^n)$ for all $i$. Note, by ...
10
votes
2answers
475 views

The boundary of a domain whose interior is diffeomorphic to the ball

We know that there are compact manifolds with diffeomorphic interiors but their boundaries are not homeomorphic (see the question Manifolds with homeomorphic interiors). My question is about a very ...
8
votes
1answer
342 views

3-manifolds with isomorphic fundamental groups

There are many non-homeomorphic 3-manifolds with isomorphic fundamental groups, for example the lens spaces $L(p,q_1)$ and $L(p,q_2)$ with $q_1 \ne \pm q_2^{\pm 1}\mod p$. Also, Seifert fibered spaces ...
6
votes
1answer
384 views

Bott's Formula for Grassmannians

Bott's Formula gives the dimension of the cohomology $H^{q}(\mathbb{P}^{n}, \Omega_{\mathbb{P}^{n}}^{p}(k))$ of the $k$-twisted sheaf of $p$-differential forms on the projective space $\mathbb{P}_{\...
2
votes
1answer
115 views

Under which conditions is it possible to find points with same distances under bi-Lipschitz map [closed]

Given two metric spaces $(X,d_X), (Y, d_Y)$, a bi-Lipschitz map $f:X \to Y$ and a finite set of points $\{x_1, \ldots, x_n\} \in X$. Consider in addition, that $X$ is a vector space over $\mathbb{R}$, ...
112
votes
2answers
11k 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 ...
45
votes
14answers
7k views

What are some of the big open problems in 3-manifold theory?

From what I understand, the geometrization theorem and its proof helped to settle a lot of outstanding questions about the geometry and topology of 3-manifolds, but there still seems to be quite a lot ...
58
votes
1answer
5k views

The mathematical theory of Feynman integrals

It is well known that Feynman integrals are one of the tools that physicists have and mathematicians haven't, sadly. Arguably, they are the most important such tool. Briefly, the question I'd like to ...
35
votes
9answers
4k views

Classification problem for non-compact manifolds

Background It is well-known that the compact two-dimensional manifolds are completely classified (by their orientability and their Euler characteristic). I'm also under the impression that there is ...
16
votes
9answers
8k views

Teichmuller Theory introduction

What is a good introduction to Teichmuller theory, mapping class groups etc., and relation to moduli space of curves or Riemann surfaces?
43
votes
10answers
9k 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 ...
29
votes
6answers
5k 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 ...
35
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. ...
32
votes
2answers
2k views

Drawing of the eight Thurston geometries?

Do you know of a picture, drawing, or other concise visual representation of the eight three-dimensional Thurston geometries? I am imagining something akin to the standard picture (of a sphere, ...
38
votes
4answers
2k views

To which extent can one recover a manifold from its group of homeomorphisms

Question. Suppose that $M$ is a closed connected topological manifold and $G$ is its group of homeomorphisms (with compact-open topology). Does $G$ (as a topological group) uniquely determine $M$? ...
25
votes
3answers
835 views

Do finite groups acting on a ball have a fixed point?

Suppose that $G$ is a finite group, acting via homeomorphisms on $B^n$, the closed $n$-dimensional ball. Does $G$ have a fixed point? A fixed point for $G$ is a point $p \in B^n$ where for all $g \...
23
votes
2answers
2k views

The difference between a handle decomposition and a CW decomposition

Let $M$ be a compact finite-dimensional smooth manifold. I have a question about the relationship between the statements that a Morse function induces a handle decomposition for $M$, and that it ...
33
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 ...
22
votes
2answers
2k views

Are topological manifolds homotopy equivalent to smooth manifolds?

There exist topological manifolds which don't admit a smooth structure in dimensions > 3, but I haven't seen much discussion on homotopy type. It seems much more reasonable that we can find a smooth ...
34
votes
1answer
2k views

Pach's “Animals”: What if the genus is positive?

Janos Pach asked a deep question 23 years ago (1988) that remains unsolved today: Can every animal—a topological ball in $\mathbb{R^3}$ composed of unit cubes glued face-to-face—be ...
34
votes
2answers
2k 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 ...
30
votes
4answers
1k views

Why do people study representations of 3-manifold groups into $SL(n,\mathbb{C})$?

Varieties of representations and characters of $3$-manifold groups in $SL(2,\mathbb{C})$ have been intensively studied. They have provided tools to identify geometric structures on manifolds, and are ...
19
votes
3answers
1k views

4D TQFT from a modular tensor category

I know the construction of a 3D topological quantum field theory (TQFT) from a modular tensor category. I heard that we can even (mathematically) construct 4D TQFT from a modular tensor category. I ...
39
votes
2answers
2k 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 ...
12
votes
2answers
1k 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 ...
11
votes
3answers
658 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, ...
19
votes
0answers
347 views

Topological description of inverting a knot

The first figure shows an offset overhand knot. To tie it, you simply bring the two cords together and make an overhand knot in them. It's more secure than it looks, and several climbers have been ...