It seems an easy problem but I couldn't prove it.

Let $M$ be a manifold with boundary and $N\subset \mathrm{int}(M)$ is a strong deformation retract of $M$.

Then I wonder whether $M-N$ is homotopic equivalent to the boundary of $M$ or not.

  • $\begingroup$ $M=[0,1]$ has a strong deformation retract to $N= \{0\}$. The complement is contractible, but the boundary of $M$ is not. $\endgroup$ – S. Carnahan Jun 20 '10 at 15:36
  • $\begingroup$ If $M=\mathbb{R}$, with empty boundary, and $N=[0,+\infty)$, then the answer is no. Do you want $M$ to be compact? $\endgroup$ – S. Carnahan Jun 20 '10 at 16:44
  • $\begingroup$ Yes, and it should have boundary. $\endgroup$ – hopflink Jun 21 '10 at 2:22

Take a compact contactible manifold $C$ whose boundary is not a homotopy sphere sphere (those are no so easy to construct, but it has been done long ago). Then removing a point (or equivalently a small ball) from the interior of $C$ gives a manifold that is homotopy equivalent (by excison in homology) to the boundary of the small ball, which is a sphere. This is a desired counterexample.

EDIT: References to how to built contactible manifolds can by found e.g. in my paper pp.8-9..

  • $\begingroup$ Thank you! Can you let me know or give me a reference how can I construct such a contractible manifold? $\endgroup$ – hopflink Jun 21 '10 at 2:21

The Alexander horned sphere furnishes an example of a subspace of the interior of a compact $3$-ball that is contractible (being a $3$-ball itself) and whose complement is not simply connected.

There are also less pathological examples in high dimensions: If $n$ is at least $5$ or so then it is not hard to make a smooth compact contractible $n$-manifold whose boundary is not simply connected, whereas the complement of a point in a simply connected manifold of dimension $3$ or more must be simply connected.

EDIT: I retract (heh) my first example. I overlooked the requirement that the subset should be a deformation retract; I was using the weaker requirement that the inclusion should have an inverse up to homotopy.

EDIT: Doh! My first example was correct. If i:A-->B is an inclusion of compact metric spaces and A is homeomorphic to a ball, then by the Tietze extension theorem there is a retraction r:B-->A. If B is also a ball, then the resulting "straight-line" homotopy from ir to the identity gives a deformation retraction.

  • $\begingroup$ The 3-ball does not retract onto the 2-sphere, because such a retraction would be onto on 2-dimensional homology. Maybe you meant "horned 2-ball". $\endgroup$ – Igor Belegradek Jun 20 '10 at 18:13
  • $\begingroup$ I did not say that the Alexander horned sphere is an example; I said that it <i>furnishes</i> an example. $\endgroup$ – Tom Goodwillie Jun 20 '10 at 19:28
  • $\begingroup$ How does one construct a deformation retraction of the ambient disk onto a wildly embedded disk? The pair does not seem to satisfy the Homotopy Extension Property. Maybe in the case of Alexander's horned disk the retraction can be constructed by hand. Am I missing an obvious way to do it? $\endgroup$ – Igor Belegradek Jun 20 '10 at 20:41
  • $\begingroup$ My mistake. Answer now edited. $\endgroup$ – Tom Goodwillie Jun 20 '10 at 21:27
  • $\begingroup$ The questioner can find other examples of wild disks in disks of higher dimensions in MathSciNet references to the original example of Fox-Artin arc [Fix, Artin, "Some wild cells and spheres in three-dimensional space", Ann. of Math. (2) 49, (1948). 979--990]. The argument of Tom Goodwillie's second edit applies to all of them. $\endgroup$ – Igor Belegradek Jun 21 '10 at 13:45

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