Does anyone have any experience teaching stacks over the category of manifolds to students whose background is, say, a semester-long course on manifolds? Does anyone know of any publicly available notes on the subject, preferably in English? [My French is limited to the knowledge of the alphabet :). I can read Russian.]

I am aware of a paper by Behrend and Xu, Metzler's paper in the arxiv, and notes by Heinloth. Hepworth has a nice exposition of vector fields on stacks, but his papers are rather terse. Vistoli's notes on descent are quite nice, but are clearly aimed at algebraic geometers. And there differences between the categories of manifolds and schemes --- fiber products of manifolds are badly behaved, for one thing.

The challenges in teachign such a course seem many. For one thing I don't know how to talk about stacks without getting into 2-category theory. And most differential geometers don't know much of 1-category theory. But I don't want to start with a crash course on category theory.

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    $\begingroup$ One suggestion would be to limit yourself to orbifolds; then there are more resources available and teaching this to geometric topology students is not too difficult (in my experience). $\endgroup$
    – Misha
    Jan 10, 2013 at 18:03
  • $\begingroup$ Have looked at Weimin Chen's paper "A homotopy theory of orbispaces"? front.math.ucdavis.edu/0102.5020 $\endgroup$ Jan 10, 2013 at 18:57
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    $\begingroup$ @Misha Thank you for the suggestion. But presenting orbifolds as topological spaces with extra structure kind of defeats the purpose of explaining how to think of them as stacks, doesn't it? $\endgroup$ Jan 10, 2013 at 19:23
  • $\begingroup$ @Liviu I had, when it first came out. I don't understand it. $\endgroup$ Jan 10, 2013 at 19:25
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    $\begingroup$ @LiviuNicolaescu the link in your comment is broken, here is a replacement: arxiv.org/abs/math/0102020 $\endgroup$
    – David Roberts
    Mar 29, 2022 at 1:27

1 Answer 1


I had a good experience with Heinloth's notes. I tried to explain the two-categorical stuff in the example of the stack of principal $G$-bundles. For example, a nice way to understand 2-pull-backs is to calculate $G\cong *\times_{BG}*$ explicitly. And of course, orbifolds and gerbes, e.g. of $Spin^{c}$-reductions of a $Spin^{c}$-principal bundle a provide examples accessible to differential geometers.


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