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46
votes
15answers
3k views

Teaching homology via everyday examples

What stories, puzzles, games, paradoxes, toys, etc from everyday life are better understood after learning homology theory? To be more precise, I am teaching a short course on homology, from ...
38
votes
4answers
2k 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 ...
30
votes
11answers
5k views

Why torsion is important in (co)homology ?

I've once been told that "torsion in homology and cohomology is regarded by topologists as a very deep and important phenomenon". I presume an analogous statement could be said in the context of ...
28
votes
5answers
4k views

What is a cohomology theory (seriously)?

This question has bugged me for a long time. Is there a unifying concept behind everything that is called a "cohomology theory"? I know that there exist generalized cohomology theories, Weil ...
25
votes
3answers
1k views

For which spaces is homology (or cohomology) determined by the Eilenberg-Steenrod axioms

This is a spinoff of Can anyone give me a good example of two interestingly different ordinary cohomology theories? . By an ordinary homology theory, I mean a functor on topological spaces which ...
24
votes
3answers
3k views

Spaces with same homotopy and homology groups that are not homotopy equivalent?

A common caution about Whitehead's theorem is that you need the map between the spaces; it's easy to give examples of spaces with isomorphic homotopy groups that are not homotopy equivalent. (See Are ...
21
votes
10answers
5k views

What is (co)homology, and how does a beginner gain intuition about it?

This question comes along with a lot of associated sub-questions, most of which would probably be answered by a sufficiently good introductory text. So a perfectly acceptable answer to this question ...
21
votes
3answers
877 views

Geometric Interpretation of the Lower Central Series for the Fundamental Group?

For any group G we can form the lower central series of normal subgroups by taking $G_0 = G$, $G_1 = [G,G]$, $G_{i+1} = [G,G_i]$. We can check this gives a normal chain $G_0 > G_1 > ... > ...
20
votes
3answers
1k views

Why is homology not (co)representable?

This is in the same vein as my previous question on the representability of the cohomology ring. Why are the homology groups not corepresentable in the homotopy category of spaces?
19
votes
2answers
2k views

Does this approach for the Poincare conjecture work?

Several months ago a paper was posted at http://arxiv.org/abs/1001.4164 called "Another way of answering Henri Poincare's fundamental question." The author gave a talk on it today at my institution. ...
19
votes
3answers
926 views

Are fundamental groups of aspherical manifolds Hopfian?

A group $G$ is Hopfian if every epimorphism $G\to G$ is an isomorphism. A smooth manifold is aspherical if its universal cover is contractible. Are all fundamental groups of aspherical closed smooth ...
18
votes
12answers
5k views

“Homotopy-first” courses in algebraic topology

A first course in algebraic topology, at least the ones I'm familiar with, generally gets students to a point where they can calculate homology right away. Building the theory behind it is generally ...
17
votes
2answers
976 views

What is the Hopf algebra structures in the homology of the based loop spaces of $E_7$ and $E_8$?

Since $\Omega X$ is a $H$-space, if it has homology of finite type, the homology acquires the structure of a Hopf algebra. Bott has shown that for $X=G$ a Lie group, in fact $H_*(\Omega X)$ is free ...
16
votes
3answers
1k views

Does homology have a coproduct?

Standard algebraic topology defines the cup product which defines a ring structure on the cohomology of a topological space. This ring structure arises because cohomology is a contravariant functor ...
15
votes
2answers
1k views

Is there a map of spectra implementing the Thom isomorphism?

A well known theorem in algebraic topology relates the (co)homology of the Thom space $X^\mu$ of a orientable vector bundle $\mu$ of dimension $n$ over a space $X$ to the (co)homology of $X$ itself: ...
15
votes
5answers
718 views

What fraction of n x n invertible integer matrices contain at least one unit?

The question is simple: What fraction of matrices in $G_n = \text{GL}_n(\mathbb{Z})$ have at least one unit entry (i.e., either $\lbrace\pm 1 \rbrace$)? I'm not sure what the correct measure ...
15
votes
2answers
912 views

Simple curves on non-orientable surfaces.

Given an element in the (first) homology group of a surface, I would like to know if it can be represented as a simple closed curve. For orientable surfaces, this is well-known, but I wasn't able to ...
14
votes
3answers
1k views

Homology theory constructed in a homotopy-invariant way

Singular homology sends homotopic morphisms on equal morphisms and weakly equivalent spaces on isomorphic objects. So singular homology is in fact defined on the homotopy category of topological ...
14
votes
3answers
926 views

Cohomology of associative algebras

Let $A$ be an associative algebra over a commutative ring $k$. I've read statements saying that Hochschild (co)homology is the "right" notion of (co)homology for associative algebras. When $A$ is ...
14
votes
2answers
547 views

Massey Products vs. $A_\infty$-Structures

Does anyone know a good reference for a proof of the fact that given a dga $A$, an $A_\infty$-structure on $HA$ is ''the same'' as coherent choices for all of the higher Massey products of $HA$? More ...
14
votes
0answers
543 views

Homology classes of subvarieties of toric varieties

Let $X$ be a smooth proper toric variety, $Z\subseteq X$ a smooth subvariety. Is the fundamental class $[Z] \in H_\ast(X) = A_\ast(X)$ nonzero? Background If $X$ is a Kaehler variety, this is ...
13
votes
3answers
2k views

Does homology detect chain homotopy equivalence?

Is the following true: If two chain complexes of free abelian groups have isomorphic homology modules then they are chain homotopy equivalent.
13
votes
1answer
411 views

Ordinal-indexed homology theory?

Back when I was a grad student sitting in on Mike Freedman's topology seminar at UCSD, he posed the following question. Does there exist a good homology theory $H_{\alpha}(X)$ where $\alpha$ is an ...
12
votes
2answers
428 views

Is the singular homology of a real algebraic set always finitely generated?

Here is a precise statement of my question: Let $p\in \mathbb{R}[x_1, \ldots, x_n]$ be a polynomial, and let $Z(p)\subset \mathbb{R}^n$ be the set of zeros of $p$. Must the singular homology $H_i ...
12
votes
2answers
569 views

Are acyclic subcomplexes of finite contractible 2-complexes contractible?

Let $Y$ be a contractible finite simplicial 2-complex. Let $X$ be an acyclic subcomplex of $Y$ (i.e. $X$ connected, $H_1(X)=0$, $H_2(X)=0$). Is $X$ contractible? (Equivalently, is $\pi_1(X)$ ...
11
votes
1answer
803 views

Is it true that all real projective space $RP^n$ can not be smoothly embedded in $R^{n+1}$ for n >1

So first for n even, $RP^n$ is not orientable, hence can not be embedded in $\mathbb{R}^{n+1}$. For odd n, $RP^{n}$ is orientable, hence the normal bundle is trivial. Now using stiefel-Whitney ...
11
votes
1answer
433 views

On the wikipedia entry for Borel-Moore homology

The wikipedia page on Borel-Moore homology claims to give several definitions of it, all of which are supposed to coincide for those spaces $X$ which are homotopy equivalent to a finite CW complex and ...
11
votes
1answer
288 views

Are totally degenerate chains null-homologous?

Let $X$ be a CW complex. Suppose $\gamma\in C_n(X)$ is a cycle which is a sum of maps $\sigma:\Delta^n\to X$ which factor as $\Delta^n\to\mathbb R^{n-1}\to X$. Does it follow that $\gamma$ is ...
11
votes
0answers
335 views

Singular chains generated by manifolds with corners — does it really work?

Usually we define singular homology via the complex of singular chains: $$C_\ast(X)=\bigoplus_{n\geq 0}\mathbb Z\langle\sigma:\Delta^n\to X\rangle$$ where the right hand side denotes the free abelian ...
11
votes
0answers
420 views

About maps inducing bijections on homotopy classes

Let us assume that $f:X \to Y$ is a map of connected CW complexes, having the following property: if $K$ is a finite CW complex, then the induced map $f_{\ast}:[K,X] \to [K,Y]$ on \emph{free} homotopy ...
10
votes
7answers
1k views

Smooth classifying spaces?

Take G to be a group. I care about discrete groups, but the answer in general would be welcome too. There are the various ways to construct the classifying space of G, bar construction, cellular ...
10
votes
1answer
308 views

finite complex with non-finitely generated homology with local coefficients

I am looking for an explicit example, if one exists, of a (pointed) finite connected CW-complex $X$ such that some homology group with local coefficients $H_n(X,{\mathbb Z}[\pi_1 X])$ is not a ...
9
votes
4answers
943 views

A map inducing isomorphisms on homology but not on homotopy

As a consequence of the Whitehead theorem, Spanier's Algebraic Topology book has on 7.6.25 the following theorem: A weak homotopy equivalence induces isomorphisms of the corresponding integral ...
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 ...
9
votes
2answers
965 views

What would be the ramifications of homotopy theory being as easy as homology theory?

Greg Muller, in a post called Rational Homotopy Theory on the blog "The Everything Seminar" wrote "I tend to think of homotopy theory a little bit like ‘The One That Got Away’ from mathematics as a ...
9
votes
1answer
496 views

What does this naive attempt at $S^1$-equivariant homology describe?

After reading Cohen and Voronov's notes on string topology, one can find the following construction: Suppose we have a topological space $X$ with continuous action of $S^1$. This means we have a map ...
9
votes
1answer
580 views

Does the bordism homology theory satisfy the weak equivalence axiom?

There is an interesting and important homology theory called bordism. Briefly speaking, a singular manifold in a space $X$ is a pair $(M, f)$ where $M$ is a closed smooth manifold and $f : M \to X$ is ...
8
votes
4answers
2k views

homology with compact supports

In one of the exercises in McDuff and Salamon, they mention homology with compact supports. I know how to define *co*homology with compact supports, but I can't picture the homology version. How do ...
8
votes
1answer
206 views

The Image of the Mod 2 Homology of BSp in the Homology of BSO

I'm essentially trying to figure out exactly what the title asks for. I've been scouring old Seminaires Henri Cartan and books by Stong to try to see exactly how to do this, but the combination of ...
8
votes
0answers
282 views

Singular chains as an HZ-module spectrum

For $R$ any ring and $H R$ its Eilenberg-MacLane spectrum -- a ring spectrum -- there is an equivalence between the $\infty$-categories of $H R$-module spectra and that of unbounded chain complexes of ...
7
votes
3answers
833 views

Request: intermediate-level proof: every 2-homology class of a 4-manifold is generated by a surface.

Hi, everyone: For the sake of context, I am a graduate student, and I have taken classes in algebraic topology and differential geometry. Still, the 2 proofs I have found are a little too terse for ...
7
votes
2answers
737 views

Are the homology and cohomology Serre spectral sequences dual to each other?

If we use homology and cohomology over a field $k$, if a space has homology and cohomology groups of finite type in each degree, then $H_\ast(X;k)$ is dual to $H^\ast(X;k)$ using the universal ...
7
votes
2answers
678 views

The word “torsion” and its connection to geometry and homology

In an $R$-module $M$, an element $m \in M$ is said to be torsion if $am = 0$ for some $a \in R$ with $a \neq 0$. Also, for a non-orientable (closed) surface such as the projective plane or the Klein ...
7
votes
4answers
496 views

Realizing complexes with bases as cellular complexes

This is a question a friend of mine asked me some time ago. I suspect the answer is "no" but can't prove it. Every free complex of abelian groups is isomorphic to the reduced cellular complex of some ...
7
votes
1answer
302 views

What are the applications of Dowker's theorem?

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 ...
7
votes
2answers
965 views

Poincaré quasi-isomorphism

Suppose we have a simplicial combinatorial manifold (just a triangulated manifold) and its Poincaré dual cell complex. Corresponding homology simplicial and homology cell complexes are ...
7
votes
1answer
276 views

A description of cellular boundary maps in terms of a Morse function

I'm writing a paper on classical Morse Theory and I'm interested in applying Morse functions to the computation of homology groups of a compact manifold $M$. The standard way in which this is done is ...
7
votes
1answer
187 views

worked out examples in borel-moore homology

I'm trying to learn about BM homology. I've found a few references and they are all quite abstract and high-powered. I am actually familiar with derived categories and sheaves so I don't mind thinking ...
7
votes
1answer
419 views

Is it always possible to compute the Betti numbers of a nice space with a well-chosen Lefschetz zeta function?

Let $X$ be a smooth projective variety. If I've understood correctly, the Weil conjectures imply that it is possible to compute the Betti numbers of $X(\mathbb{C})$ by computing the local zeta ...
7
votes
2answers
900 views

Deformation theory of co-$A_\infty$ structures.

The following question is related to my previous post on co-$A_\infty$ spaces (co-$A_\infty$ spaces), but goes in a somewhat different direction. Some Background: In trying to classify $A_\infty$ ...