# Questions tagged [stiefel-whitney]

For questions about Stiefel-Whitney classes which are characteristic classes associated to real vector bundles.

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### Is the top Stiefel-Whitney number of a topological manifold the Euler characteristic mod two?

Recall that the Stiefel-Whitney classes of a smooth manifold are defined to be those of its tangent bundle - this definition doesn't extend to topological manifolds as they don't have a tangent bundle....
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### What are the possible Stiefel-Whitney numbers of a five-manifold?

On a compact five-manifold, the Stiefel-Whitney number $w_2w_3$ can be nonzero. An example is the manifold $SU(3)/SO(3)$, and also another example is a $\mathbb{CP}^2$ bundle over a circle where the ...
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### Milnor's proof of cohomology of BO(n)

In Milnor/Stasheff characteristic classes there is the proof that $H^*(BO(n);\mathbb{Z}_2)$ is the polynomial ring on the first n Stiefel-Whitney classes. I understand the part that the latter ring is ...
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### Dixmier-Douady class is the third integral Stiefel-Whitney class

Let $M$ be (say smooth) manifold. From the short exact sequence of groups $0 \to \mathbb{Z} \to \mathbb{Z} \to \mathbb{Z}_2 \to 0$ (where the first map is multiplication by $2$) one obtain long exact ...
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### Stiefel-Whitney Class associated to Quadratic Form

I am trying to understand a bit of Milnor's paper "Algebraic K-Theory and Quadratic Forms". I guess, first things first. Why did Milnor come up with such an invariant? For any number field (such as ...
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### Obstruction to the existence of lifting of the classifying map

Let $E$ be an $n$-plane bundle over CW complex $X$. Then $E$ is a pullback of tautological bundle $\gamma_n$ over $BO(n)$ i.e. $E=f^*(\gamma_n)$. This $f$ is called classyfing map. One can show that ...
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### Two set of axioms for Stiefel-Whitney classes

Let $E \to X$ be a vector bundle. We can associate to $E$ several invariants: among them are the Stiefel-Whitney classes $w_i(E) \in H^i(X;\mathbb{Z}_2)$. These classes may be defined using the axioms:...
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### Stiefel-Whitney total class with prescribed zeros

First things first, I am aware of the existence of this topic. It's related, but old and my question hasn't been discussed there. So I hope it's not wrong to start a new topic. I'm currently ...
I am looking for an example of an oriented rank 5 (or lower) real vector bundle $V$ over an oriented manifold such that the cup product $w_2(V) w_3(V)$ of Stiefel-Whitney classes does not vanish. It ...