Algebraic topology

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A torus, one of the most frequently studied objects in algebraic topology Torus.png
A torus, one of the most frequently studied objects in algebraic topology

Algebraic topology is a branch of mathematics that uses tools from abstract algebra to study topological spaces. The basic goal is to find algebraic invariants that classify topological spaces up to homeomorphism, though usually most classify up to homotopy equivalence.

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Although algebraic topology primarily uses algebra to study topological problems, using topology to solve algebraic problems is sometimes also possible. Algebraic topology, for example, allows for a convenient proof that any subgroup of a free group is again a free group.

Main branches of algebraic topology

Below are some of the main areas studied in algebraic topology:

Homotopy groups

In mathematics, homotopy groups are used in algebraic topology to classify topological spaces. The first and simplest homotopy group is the fundamental group, which records information about loops in a space. Intuitively, homotopy groups record information about the basic shape, or holes, of a topological space.

Homology

In algebraic topology and abstract algebra, homology (in part from Greek ὁμός homos "identical") is a certain general procedure to associate a sequence of abelian groups or modules with a given mathematical object such as a topological space or a group. [1]

Cohomology

In homology theory and algebraic topology, cohomology is a general term for a sequence of abelian groups defined from a co-chain complex. That is, cohomology is defined as the abstract study of cochains, cocycles, and coboundaries. Cohomology can be viewed as a method of assigning algebraic invariants to a topological space that has a more refined algebraic structure than does homology. Cohomology arises from the algebraic dualization of the construction of homology. In less abstract language, cochains in the fundamental sense should assign 'quantities' to the chains of homology theory.

Manifolds

A manifold is a topological space that near each point resembles Euclidean space. Examples include the plane, the sphere, and the torus, which can all be realized in three dimensions, but also the Klein bottle and real projective plane which cannot be realized in three dimensions, but can be realized in four dimensions. Typically, results in algebraic topology focus on global, non-differentiable aspects of manifolds; for example Poincaré duality.

Knot theory

Knot theory is the study of mathematical knots. While inspired by knots that appear in daily life in shoelaces and rope, a mathematician's knot differs in that the ends are joined together so that it cannot be undone. In precise mathematical language, a knot is an embedding of a circle in 3-dimensional Euclidean space, . Two mathematical knots are equivalent if one can be transformed into the other via a deformation of upon itself (known as an ambient isotopy); these transformations correspond to manipulations of a knotted string that do not involve cutting the string or passing the string through itself.

Complexes

A simplicial 3-complex. Simplicial complex example.svg
A simplicial 3-complex.

A simplicial complex is a topological space of a certain kind, constructed by "gluing together" points, line segments, triangles, and their n-dimensional counterparts (see illustration). Simplicial complexes should not be confused with the more abstract notion of a simplicial set appearing in modern simplicial homotopy theory. The purely combinatorial counterpart to a simplicial complex is an abstract simplicial complex.

A CW complex is a type of topological space introduced by J. H. C. Whitehead to meet the needs of homotopy theory. This class of spaces is broader and has some better categorical properties than simplicial complexes, but still retains a combinatorial nature that allows for computation (often with a much smaller complex).

Method of algebraic invariants

An older name for the subject was combinatorial topology, implying an emphasis on how a space X was constructed from simpler ones [2] (the modern standard tool for such construction is the CW complex). In the 1920s and 1930s, there was growing emphasis on investigating topological spaces by finding correspondences from them to algebraic groups, which led to the change of name to algebraic topology. [3] The combinatorial topology name is still sometimes used to emphasize an algorithmic approach based on decomposition of spaces. [4]

In the algebraic approach, one finds a correspondence between spaces and groups that respects the relation of homeomorphism (or more general homotopy) of spaces. This allows one to recast statements about topological spaces into statements about groups, which have a great deal of manageable structure, often making these statement easier to prove. Two major ways in which this can be done are through fundamental groups, or more generally homotopy theory, and through homology and cohomology groups. The fundamental groups give us basic information about the structure of a topological space, but they are often nonabelian and can be difficult to work with. The fundamental group of a (finite) simplicial complex does have a finite presentation.

Homology and cohomology groups, on the other hand, are abelian and in many important cases finitely generated. Finitely generated abelian groups are completely classified and are particularly easy to work with.

Setting in category theory

In general, all constructions of algebraic topology are functorial; the notions of category, functor and natural transformation originated here. Fundamental groups and homology and cohomology groups are not only invariants of the underlying topological space, in the sense that two topological spaces which are homeomorphic have the same associated groups, but their associated morphisms also correspond — a continuous mapping of spaces induces a group homomorphism on the associated groups, and these homomorphisms can be used to show non-existence (or, much more deeply, existence) of mappings.

One of the first mathematicians to work with different types of cohomology was Georges de Rham. One can use the differential structure of smooth manifolds via de Rham cohomology, or Čech or sheaf cohomology to investigate the solvability of differential equations defined on the manifold in question. De Rham showed that all of these approaches were interrelated and that, for a closed, oriented manifold, the Betti numbers derived through simplicial homology were the same Betti numbers as those derived through de Rham cohomology. This was extended in the 1950s, when Samuel Eilenberg and Norman Steenrod generalized this approach. They defined homology and cohomology as functors equipped with natural transformations subject to certain axioms (e.g., a weak equivalence of spaces passes to an isomorphism of homology groups), verified that all existing (co)homology theories satisfied these axioms, and then proved that such an axiomatization uniquely characterized the theory.

Applications of algebraic topology

Classic applications of algebraic topology include:

Notable algebraic topologists

Important theorems in algebraic topology

See also

Notes

  1. Fraleigh (1976 , p. 163)
  2. Fréchet, Maurice; Fan, Ky (2012), Invitation to Combinatorial Topology, Courier Dover Publications, p. 101, ISBN   9780486147888 .
  3. Henle, Michael (1994), A Combinatorial Introduction to Topology, Courier Dover Publications, p. 221, ISBN   9780486679662 .
  4. Spreer, Jonathan (2011), Blowups, slicings and permutation groups in combinatorial topology, Logos Verlag Berlin GmbH, p. 23, ISBN   9783832529833 .

Related Research Articles

In the mathematical field of algebraic topology, the fundamental group of a topological space is the group of the equivalence classes under homotopy of the loops contained in the space. It records information about the basic shape, or holes, of the topological space. The fundamental group is the first and simplest homotopy group. The fundamental group is a homotopy invariant—topological spaces that are homotopy equivalent have isomorphic fundamental groups.

Topology Branch of mathematics

In mathematics, topology is concerned with the properties of a geometric object that are preserved under continuous deformations, such as stretching, twisting, crumpling and bending, but not tearing or gluing.

In mathematics, homology is a general way of associating a sequence of algebraic objects, such as abelian groups or modules, to other mathematical objects such as topological spaces. Homology groups were originally defined in algebraic topology. Similar constructions are available in a wide variety of other contexts, such as abstract algebra, groups, Lie algebras, Galois theory, and algebraic geometry.

In mathematics, specifically in homology theory and algebraic topology, cohomology is a general term for a sequence of abelian groups associated to a topological space, often defined from a cochain complex. Cohomology can be viewed as a method of assigning richer algebraic invariants to a space than homology. Some versions of cohomology arise by dualizing the construction of homology. In other words, cochains are functions on the group of chains in homology theory.

In mathematics, homotopy groups are used in algebraic topology to classify topological spaces. The first and simplest homotopy group is the fundamental group, which records information about loops in a space. Intuitively, homotopy groups record information about the basic shape, or holes, of a topological space.

In mathematics, particularly algebraic topology and homology theory, the Mayer–Vietoris sequence is an algebraic tool to help compute algebraic invariants of topological spaces, known as their homology and cohomology groups. The result is due to two Austrian mathematicians, Walther Mayer and Leopold Vietoris. The method consists of splitting a space into subspaces, for which the homology or cohomology groups may be easier to compute. The sequence relates the (co)homology groups of the space to the (co)homology groups of the subspaces. It is a natural long exact sequence, whose entries are the (co)homology groups of the whole space, the direct sum of the (co)homology groups of the subspaces, and the (co)homology groups of the intersection of the subspaces.

In mathematics, the Seifert–van Kampen theorem of algebraic topology, sometimes just called van Kampen's theorem, expresses the structure of the fundamental group of a topological space in terms of the fundamental groups of two open, path-connected subspaces that cover . It can therefore be used for computations of the fundamental group of spaces that are constructed out of simpler ones.

Geometric topology Branch of mathematics studying (smooth) functions of manifolds

In mathematics, geometric topology is the study of manifolds and maps between them, particularly embeddings of one manifold into another.

In mathematics, specifically in homotopy theory, a classifying spaceBG of a topological group G is the quotient of a weakly contractible space EG by a proper free action of G. It has the property that any G principal bundle over a paracompact manifold is isomorphic to a pullback of the principal bundle EGBG. As explained later, this means that classifying spaces represent a set-valued functor on the homotopy category of topological spaces. The term classifying space can also be used for spaces that represent a set-valued functor on the category of topological spaces, such as Sierpiński space. This notion is generalized by the notion of classifying topos. However, the rest of this article discusses the more commonly used notion of classifying space up to homotopy.

In mathematics, and algebraic topology in particular, an Eilenberg–MacLane space is a topological space with a single nontrivial homotopy group. As such, an Eilenberg–MacLane space is a special kind of topological space that can be regarded as a building block for homotopy theory; general topological spaces can be constructed from these via the Postnikov system. These spaces are important in many contexts in algebraic topology, including constructions of spaces, computations of homotopy groups of spheres, and definition of cohomology operations. The name is for Samuel Eilenberg and Saunders Mac Lane, who introduced such spaces in the late 1940s.

The pseudocircle is the finite topological space X consisting of four distinct points {a,b,c,d} with the following non-Hausdorff topology:

In mathematics and specifically in topology, rational homotopy theory is a simplified version of homotopy theory for topological spaces, in which all torsion in the homotopy groups is ignored. It was founded by Dennis Sullivan (1977) and Daniel Quillen (1969). This simplification of homotopy theory makes calculations much easier.

In mathematics, directed algebraic topology is a refinement of algebraic topology for directed spaces, topological spaces and their combinatorial counterparts equipped with some notion of direction. Some common examples of directed spaces are spacetimes and simplicial sets. The basic goal is to find algebraic invariants that classify directed spaces up to directed analogues of homotopy equivalence. For example, homotopy groups and fundamental n-groupoids of spaces generalize to homotopy monoids and fundamental n-categories of directed spaces. Directed algebraic topology, like algebraic topology, is motivated by the need to describe qualitative properties of complex systems in terms of algebraic properties of state spaces, which are often directed by time. Thus directed algebraic topology finds applications in Concurrency, Network traffic control, General Relativity, Noncommutative Geometry, Rewriting Theory, and Biological systems.

Ronald Brown (mathematician)

Ronald Brown is an English mathematician. Emeritus Professor in the School of Computer Science at Bangor University, he has authored many books and more than 160 journal articles.

This is a glossary of properties and concepts in algebraic topology in mathematics.

In algebraic topology, the fundamental groupoid is a certain topological invariant of a topological space. It can be viewed as an extension of the more widely-known fundamental group; as such, it captures information about the homotopy type of a topological space. In terms of category theory, the fundamental groupoid is a certain functor from the category of topological spaces to the category of groupoids.

[...] In certain situations it is much more elegant, even indispensable for understanding something, to work with fundamental groupoids ... people still obstinately persist, when calculating with fundamental groups, in fixing a single base point, instead of cleverly choosing a whole packet of points which is invariant under the symmetries of the situation, which thus get lost on the way. In certain situations (such as descent theorems for fundamental groups `a la Van Kampen Theorem it is much more elegant, even indispensable for understanding something, to work with fundamental groupoids with respect to a suitable packet of base points, [,,,]

In mathematics, nonabelian algebraic topology studies an aspect of algebraic topology that involves higher-dimensional algebras.

In mathematics, homotopy theory is a systematic study of situations in which maps come with homotopies between them. It originated as a topic in algebraic topology but nowadays it is studied as an independent discipline. Besides algebraic topology, the theory has also been used in other areas of mathematics such as algebraic geometry (e.g., A1 homotopy theory) and category theory (specifically the study of higher categories).

References

Further reading