**104**

votes

**16**answers

14k views

### How do I make the conceptual transition from multivariable calculus to differential forms?

One way to define the algebra of differential forms $\Omega(M)$ on a smooth manifold $M$ (as explained by John Baez's week287) is as the exterior algebra of the dual of the module of derivations on ...

**56**

votes

**4**answers

3k views

### Parallelizability of the Milnor's exotic spheres in dimension 7

Are the Milnor's seven dimensional exotic spheres parallelizable?

**33**

votes

**4**answers

2k views

### Can cotangent bundles see exotic smooth structures?

I have two questions that are inspired by a couple of questions here on MO (referenced below), as well as by a conversation with some other grad students at a summer school.
Caveat: I'm not a ...

**30**

votes

**4**answers

2k views

### Are submersions of differentiable manifolds flat morphisms?

Let $\pi \colon M\to N$ be a smooth map between real smooth manifolds. Then $C^\infty(M)$ forms a module over $C^\infty(N)$ (via pullback). Is this module flat when $\pi$ is a submersion?
Recall that ...

**30**

votes

**3**answers

1k views

### What is the classifying space of “G-bundles with connections”

Let $G$ be a (maybe Lie) group, and $M$ a space (perhaps a manifold). Then a principal $G$-bundle over $M$ is a bundle $P \to M$ on which $G$ acts (by fiber-preserving maps), so that each fiber is a ...

**29**

votes

**15**answers

8k views

### What is the Implicit Function Theorem good for?

What are some applications of the Implicit Function Theorem in calculus? The only applications I can think of are:
the result that the solution space of a non-degenerate system of equations ...

**29**

votes

**3**answers

2k views

### When is a submanifold of $\mathbf R^n$ given by global equations?

Let $M \subset \mathbf R^n$ be a (smooth) submanifold of dimension $d$. Under which conditions does there exist global equations defining $M$? By global equations I mean : does there exist a smooth ...

**28**

votes

**9**answers

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 ...

**27**

votes

**9**answers

4k views

### Why differential forms are important?

Importance of differential forms is obvious to any geometer and some analysts dealing with manifolds, partly because so many results in modern geometry and related areas cannot even be formulated ...

**27**

votes

**3**answers

1k views

### Is it possible to improve the Whitney embedding theorem?

Edited to fix the example, as per Zack's suggestion.
Edit 2: So it turns out that when I think 'manifold' I tend to assume the nicest possible object. As I believe is standard, I would like to ...

**26**

votes

**2**answers

1k views

### Unifying Geometry for Characteristic Classes

When working with characteristic classes (more concretely Chern classes), one finds at least four essentially distinct approaches:
Axiomatic Approach. See, for instance, Vector Bundles and K-Theory, ...

**26**

votes

**3**answers

1k views

### Embeddings of $S^2$ in $\mathbb{CP}^2$

Suppose we are given an embedding of $S^2$ in $\mathbb{CP}^2$ with self-intersection 1. Is there a diffeomorphism of $\mathbb{CP}^2$ which takes the given sphere to a complex line?
Note: I suspect ...

**24**

votes

**6**answers

2k views

### How can you tell if a space is homotopy equivalent to a manifold?

Is there some criterion for whether a space has the homotopy type of a closed manifold (smooth or topological)? Poincare duality is an obvious necessary condition, but it's almost certainly not ...

**24**

votes

**1**answer

1k 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 ...

**24**

votes

**1**answer

1k views

### Can you flip the end of a large exotic $\mathbb{R}^4$

Can you flip the end of a large exotic $\mathbb{R}^4$
Background
Definition (Exotic $\mathbb{R}^4$):
An exotic $\mathbb{R}^4$ is a smooth manifold $R$ homeomorphic but not diffeomorphic to ...

**23**

votes

**2**answers

689 views

### Ellipses on spheres (and other surfaces)

Define an ellipse $E$ on a sphere as the locus of points whose sum of
shortest geodesic distances to two foci $p_1$ and $p_2$ is a constant $d$.
There are conditions on $\{ p_1, p_2, d \}$ for this ...

**23**

votes

**2**answers

1k views

### How can we detect the existence of almost-complex structures?

Any smooth $k$-manifold $M$ comes with a well-defined map $f:M\rightarrow BGL_{k}(\mathbb{R})$ (up to homotopy) classifying its tangent bundle. Since $GL_{k}(\mathbb{R})$ deformation-retracts onto ...

**23**

votes

**1**answer

488 views

### Diffeomorphisms of finite order not in the image of a circle action

Does there exist a closed smooth manifold $M$ and a diffeomorphism $f\colon M \to M$ such that:
$f$ is isotopic to the identity,
$f$ is of finite order, $f^n=ID$, and
$f$ is not contained in the ...

**22**

votes

**6**answers

3k views

### Is there a preferable convention for defining the wedge product?

There are different conventions for defininig the wedge product $\wedge$.
In Kobayashi-Nomizu, there is $\alpha\wedge\beta:=Alt(\alpha\otimes\beta)$,
in Spivak, we find ...

**22**

votes

**4**answers

1k views

### Can all n-manifolds be obtained by gluing finitely many blocks?

Fix a dimension $n\geqslant 2$. Let $S= \{M_1,\ldots, M_k\}$ be a finite set of smooth compact $n$-manifold with boundary. Let us say that a smooth closed $n$-manifold is generated by $S$ if it may ...

**22**

votes

**2**answers

810 views

### Cobordism of orbifolds?

Is it possible to setup classical cobordism theory in the context of orbifolds? For example, let's consider the free abelian group generated by oriented smooth orbifolds and quotient by those which ...

**21**

votes

**2**answers

2k views

### Level sets of Morse functions

Every compact two dimensional manifold admits a Morse function such that any its regular level set is at most two circles. I am interested in a generalization of that phenomenon.
Does there exist a ...

**20**

votes

**6**answers

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 ...

**20**

votes

**4**answers

995 views

### Is the space of diffeomorphisms homotopy equivalent to a CW-complex?

Clarification: My question concerns the homotopy type of the space of $C^k$ diffeomorphisms with the compact-open $C^k$ topology, where $0< k \leq\infty$. I have stated my question below with $k=1$ ...

**20**

votes

**2**answers

1k views

### When is a closed differential form harmonic relative to some metric?

Let $\omega$ be a closed non-exact differential $k$-form ($k \geq 1$) on a closed orientable manifold $M$.
Question: Is there always a Riemannian metric $g$ on $M$ such that $\omega$ is ...

**20**

votes

**4**answers

1k views

### Algorithmically unsolvable problems in topology

This question is inspired by a paper by B. Poonen that appeared on the arxiv some time ago: http://arxiv.org/abs/1204.0299. The paper gives a sample of algorithmically unsolvable problems from various ...

**19**

votes

**2**answers

2k views

### Universal property of the tangent bundle

If $X$ is a scheme (over some base scheme, but which I will ignore) its tangent bundle $T(X)$ is defined as the relative spectrum of the symmetric algebra of its sheaf of differentials. Combining the ...

**19**

votes

**0**answers

258 views

### Can one properly embed a differential manifold into numerical space of double dimension? [duplicate]

If $X$ is a $ C^\infty$ differential manifold of dimension $n$, then there exists an embedding $f:X\to \mathbb R^{2n+1}$.
This is a not too difficult theorem due to Whitney, proved in many textbooks.
...

**18**

votes

**2**answers

2k views

### Exotic differentiable structures on R^4?

This was going to be a comment to Differentiable structures on R^3, but I thought it would be better asked as a separate question.
So, it's mentioned in the previous question that $\mathbb{R}^4$ has ...

**18**

votes

**4**answers

3k views

### What is meant by smooth orbifold?

There seems to be some confusion over what the tangent space to a singular point of an orbifold is.
On the one hand there is the obvious notion that smooth structures on orbifolds lift to smooth ...

**18**

votes

**1**answer

1k views

### Characteristic classes of sphere bundles over spheres in terms of clutching functions

I'm trying to understand Milnor's proof of the existence of exotic 7-spheres.
Milnor finds his examples among $S^{3}$ bundles over $S^{4}$ (with structure group $SO(4)$ ). Such a bundle can be ...

**18**

votes

**0**answers

489 views

### Do there exist exotic 4-tori?

More precisely: are there known manifolds which are homeomorphic, but not diffeomorphic to the standard 4-torus? Are there any nice invariants distinguishing such manifolds?
Related: if such a ...

**17**

votes

**4**answers

2k views

### Two kinds of orientability/orientation for a differentiable manifold

Let $M$ be a differentiable manifold of dimension $n$. First I give two definitions of Orientability.
The first definition should coincide with what is given in most differential topology text books, ...

**17**

votes

**1**answer

839 views

### What's the Kirby Diagram of a universal $\mathbb{R}^4$?

What's the Kirby diagram of a universal $\mathbb{R}^4$?
Background
Define $\mathcal{R}$ as the set of smoothings of $\mathbb{R}^4$. For two oriented elements $R_1$, $R_2$ in $\mathcal{R}$ we can ...

**16**

votes

**7**answers

2k views

### Why should I prefer bundles to (surjective) submersions?

I hope this question isn't too open-ended for MO --- it's not my favorite type of question, but I do think there could be a good answer. I will happily CW the question if commenters want, but I also ...

**16**

votes

**5**answers

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 ...

**16**

votes

**6**answers

2k views

### Least number of charts to describe a given manifold

Hello, I'm wondering if there is a standard reference discussing the least number of charts in an atlas of a given manifold required to describe it.
E.g. a circle requires at least two charts, and ...

**16**

votes

**3**answers

1k views

### Noncommutative smooth manifolds

Connes defined a noncommutative analog of a closed oriented Riemannian spin^c manifold using spectral triples.
Using his definition it is unclear how to separate the smooth structure from the metric.
...

**16**

votes

**1**answer

494 views

### Is there a notion of a chain complex with corners?

Roughly speaking, algebraic topology works by reducing questions about topological objects such as manifolds and cell to questions about chain complexes.
On the topological side, although in the PL ...

**16**

votes

**1**answer

599 views

### How are these algebraic and geometric notions of homotopy of maps between manifolds related?

Let $M$ and $N$ be smooth manifolds, and $f,g: M \to N$ smooth maps. Denote by $(\Omega^\bullet M,\mathrm d_M)$ and $(\Omega^\bullet N, \mathrm d_N)$ the cdgas of de Rham forms in each manifold, and ...

**16**

votes

**0**answers

434 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

**1**answer

2k views

### GAGA and Chern classes

My question is as follows.
Do the Chern classes as defined by Grothendieck for smooth projective varieties coincide with the Chern classes as defined with the aid of invariant polynomials and ...

**15**

votes

**1**answer

762 views

### Periodic Orbit property

A topological space $X$ satisfies "Periodic orbit property", briefly POP, if for every continuous map
$f:X \to X$, there exist a natural number $n$ and a point $x_{0}\in X$ such that ...

**15**

votes

**0**answers

196 views

### Finite limits in the category of smooth manifolds?

The category of smooth manifolds does not have all finite limits. However, it does have some limits: it has finite products, it has splittings of idempotents, and it has certain other limits if we ...

**14**

votes

**13**answers

4k views

### What should be taught in a 1st course on smooth manifolds?

I am teaching a introductory course on differentiable manifolds next term. The course is aimed at fourth year US undergraduate students and first year US graduate students who have done basic ...

**14**

votes

**3**answers

740 views

### Does a *topological* manifold have an exhaustion by compact submanifolds with boundary?

If $M$ is a connected smooth manifold, then it is easy to show that there is a sequence of connected compact smooth submanifolds with boundary $M_1\subseteq M_2\subseteq\cdots$ such that ...

**14**

votes

**4**answers

434 views

### The limit of edge-midpoint convex polyhedra

Starting with a convex polyhedron $P_1 \subset \mathbb{R}^3$,
replace that with $P_2$, the convex hull of the midpoints of the edges of $P_1$.
Continuing this process, we obtain a ...

**14**

votes

**5**answers

2k views

### can you fool SnapPea?

A while back I thought I had some simple knots that "fooled" SnapPea. But I no longer remember those examples, if I ever had them to begin with.
What I'm looking for is a non-hyperbolizable knot ...

**14**

votes

**4**answers

1k views

### How to classify the algebras C^∞(M)?

This continues my question about smooth Gelfand-duality. In the book
Juan A. Navarro González & Juan B. Sancho de Salas, C∞-Differentiable Spaces, LNM 1824
it is shown that $M \mapsto ...

**14**

votes

**1**answer

565 views

### The cone on a manifold

I believe that I have run across the statement that if $X$ is a compact smooth manifold and $CX$ is the cone on $X$, i.e. $[0,1] \times X$ modulo $(0,x)\sim(0,y)$ for all $x,y \in X$, then $CX$ admits ...