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83
votes
16answers
11k 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 ...
52
votes
4answers
2k views

Parallelizability of the Milnor's exotic spheres in dimension 7

Are the Milnor's seven dimensional exotic spheres parallelizable?
30
votes
4answers
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 ...
28
votes
9answers
3k 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 ...
28
votes
4answers
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 ...
27
votes
3answers
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 ...
27
votes
3answers
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 ...
26
votes
3answers
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 ...
25
votes
3answers
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 ...
23
votes
1answer
469 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 ...
23
votes
1answer
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 ...
22
votes
3answers
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 ...
21
votes
14answers
7k 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: 1) the result that the solution space of a non-degenerate system of equations ...
21
votes
2answers
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 ...
21
votes
4answers
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 ...
21
votes
2answers
640 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 ...
20
votes
4answers
841 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
2answers
920 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
4answers
946 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
6answers
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 ...
19
votes
6answers
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 ...
18
votes
4answers
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 ...
17
votes
4answers
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
1answer
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 ...
17
votes
2answers
1k 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 ...
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 ...
16
votes
6answers
1k 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
1answer
790 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
1answer
464 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
1answer
576 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 ...
15
votes
1answer
1k 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
3answers
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. ...
15
votes
0answers
162 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 ...
15
votes
0answers
379 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 ...
14
votes
13answers
3k 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
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 ...
14
votes
5answers
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
4answers
988 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
0answers
337 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 ...
14
votes
0answers
569 views

Is the category of smooth manifolds equivalent to the opposite category of the category of commutative monoids of some additive symmetric monoidal category?

This is a followup to my previous question, which asked whether the category of commutative or noncommutative C*-algebras or von Neumann algebras is equivalent to the category of commutative or ...
13
votes
3answers
571 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 ...
13
votes
2answers
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 ...
13
votes
3answers
808 views

How to disjoint two cycles with zero intersection?

Suppose that $M^n$ is an orientable connected (thanks to Greg) manifold and $Z^k$ with $Z^{n-k}$ are two real cycles in $M^n$ with zero index of intersection $Z^k\cdot Z^{n-k}=0$ (for me these cylces ...
13
votes
1answer
594 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 ...
13
votes
2answers
752 views

Nice application of generalized smooth spaces

I am a fan of category theory in general, and I appreciate that various brands of generalized smooth spaces (Diffeological spaces, Chen spaces, Frolicher spaces ...) form much nicer categories of ...
13
votes
1answer
400 views

Derivation on real analytic manifolds

Let $M$ be a real analytic manifold. By $C^{\omega}(M)$ we mean the algebra of all analytic functions from $M$ to $\mathbb{R}$. Assume that $D$ is a derivation on $C^{\omega}(M)$ . Is there a ...
12
votes
7answers
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 ...
12
votes
6answers
782 views

Does every vector bundle allow a finite trivialization cover?

Suppose there is a vector bundle (smooth, with constant rank finite-dimensional fibres) over a (smooth, second-countable, Hausdorff, not necessarily connected) manifold $B$ of dimension $n$. (a) Is ...
12
votes
3answers
691 views

orientations for zero-dimensional manifolds

I am teaching a course on manifolds, and soon I will have to prove the Stokes' theorem which, of course, involves defining oriented manifolds. There are many ways to define an oriented manifold. My ...
12
votes
7answers
879 views

Cohomology classes annihilated by pullbacks

A friend of mine is interested in examples of the following situation: an oriented smooth fiber bundle $\pi \colon M \to B$ with $M$ and $B$ compact and a non-zero class $a \in H^3(B; \mathbb{Q})$ ...