Cobordism is a fundamental equivalence relation on the class of compact manifolds of the same dimension, set up using the concept of the boundary of a manifold.

Cobordism is a fundamental equivalence relation on the class of compact manifolds of the same dimension, set up using the concept of the boundary of a manifold. Two manifolds of the same dimension are cobordant if their disjoint union is the boundary of a compact manifold one dimension higher.

Cobordisms are studied both for the equivalence relation that they generate, and as objects in their own right. Cobordism is a much coarser equivalence relation than diffeomorphism or homeomorphism of manifolds, and is significantly easier to study and compute. It is not possible to classify manifolds up to diffeomorphism or homeomorphism in dimensions ≥ 4 – because the word problem for groups cannot be solved – but it is possible to classify manifolds up to cobordism. Cobordisms are central objects of study in geometric topology and algebraic topology. In geometric topology, cobordisms are intimately connected with Morse theory, and h-cobordisms are fundamental in the study of high-dimensional manifolds, namely surgery theory. In algebraic topology, cobordism theories are fundamental extraordinary cohomology theories, and categories of cobordisms are the domains of topological quantum field theories. See Wiki page