Homological algebra

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A diagram used in the snake lemma, a basic result in homological algebra. Snake lemma origin.svg
A diagram used in the snake lemma, a basic result in homological algebra.

Homological algebra is the branch of mathematics that studies homology in a general algebraic setting. It is a relatively young discipline, whose origins can be traced to investigations in combinatorial topology (a precursor to algebraic topology) and abstract algebra (theory of modules and syzygies) at the end of the 19th century, chiefly by Henri Poincaré and David Hilbert.

Contents

The development of homological algebra was closely intertwined with the emergence of category theory. By and large, homological algebra is the study of homological functors and the intricate algebraic structures that they entail. One quite useful and ubiquitous concept in mathematics is that of chain complexes , which can be studied through both their homology and cohomology. Homological algebra affords the means to extract information contained in these complexes and present it in the form of homological invariants of rings, modules, topological spaces, and other 'tangible' mathematical objects. A powerful tool for doing this is provided by spectral sequences.

From its very origins, homological algebra has played an enormous role in algebraic topology. Its influence has gradually expanded and presently includes commutative algebra, algebraic geometry, algebraic number theory, representation theory, mathematical physics, operator algebras, complex analysis, and the theory of partial differential equations. K-theory is an independent discipline which draws upon methods of homological algebra, as does the noncommutative geometry of Alain Connes.

History of homological algebra

Homological algebra began to be studied in its most basic form in the 1800s as a branch of topology, but it wasn't until the 1940s that it became an independent subject with the study of objects such as the ext functor and the tor functor, among others. [1]

Chain complexes and homology

The notion of chain complex is central in homological algebra. An abstract chain complex is a sequence of abelian groups and group homomorphisms, with the property that the composition of any two consecutive maps is zero:

The elements of Cn are called n-chains and the homomorphisms dn are called the boundary maps or differentials. The chain groupsCn may be endowed with extra structure; for example, they may be vector spaces or modules over a fixed ring R. The differentials must preserve the extra structure if it exists; for example, they must be linear maps or homomorphisms of R-modules. For notational convenience, restrict attention to abelian groups (more correctly, to the category Ab of abelian groups); a celebrated theorem by Barry Mitchell implies the results will generalize to any abelian category. Every chain complex defines two further sequences of abelian groups, the cyclesZn = Ker dn and the boundariesBn = Im dn+1, where Ker d and Im d denote the kernel and the image of d. Since the composition of two consecutive boundary maps is zero, these groups are embedded into each other as

Subgroups of abelian groups are automatically normal; therefore we can define the nth homology groupHn(C) as the factor group of the n-cycles by the n-boundaries,

A chain complex is called acyclic or an exact sequence if all its homology groups are zero.

Chain complexes arise in abundance in algebra and algebraic topology. For example, if X is a topological space then the singular chains Cn(X) are formal linear combinations of continuous maps from the standard n-simplex into X; if K is a simplicial complex then the simplicial chains Cn(K) are formal linear combinations of the n-simplices of K; if A = F/R is a presentation of an abelian group A by generators and relations, where F is a free abelian group spanned by the generators and R is the subgroup of relations, then letting C1(A) = R, C0(A) = F, and Cn(A) = 0 for all other n defines a sequence of abelian groups. In all these cases, there are natural differentials dn making Cn into a chain complex, whose homology reflects the structure of the topological space X, the simplicial complex K, or the abelian group A. In the case of topological spaces, we arrive at the notion of singular homology, which plays a fundamental role in investigating the properties of such spaces, for example, manifolds.

On a philosophical level, homological algebra teaches us that certain chain complexes associated with algebraic or geometric objects (topological spaces, simplicial complexes, R-modules) contain a lot of valuable algebraic information about them, with the homology being only the most readily available part. On a technical level, homological algebra provides the tools for manipulating complexes and extracting this information. Here are two general illustrations.

Standard tools

Exact sequences

In the context of group theory, a sequence

of groups and group homomorphisms is called exact if the image of each homomorphism is equal to the kernel of the next:

Note that the sequence of groups and homomorphisms may be either finite or infinite.

A similar definition can be made for certain other algebraic structures. For example, one could have an exact sequence of vector spaces and linear maps, or of modules and module homomorphisms. More generally, the notion of an exact sequence makes sense in any category with kernels and cokernels.

Short exact sequence

The most common type of exact sequence is the short exact sequence. This is an exact sequence of the form

where ƒ is a monomorphism and g is an epimorphism. In this case, A is a subobject of B, and the corresponding quotient is isomorphic to C:

(where f(A) = im(f)).

A short exact sequence of abelian groups may also be written as an exact sequence with five terms:

where 0 represents the zero object, such as the trivial group or a zero-dimensional vector space. The placement of the 0's forces ƒ to be a monomorphism and g to be an epimorphism (see below).

Long exact sequence

A long exact sequence is an exact sequence indexed by the natural numbers.

The five lemma

Consider the following commutative diagram in any abelian category (such as the category of abelian groups or the category of vector spaces over a given field) or in the category of groups.

FiveLemma.png

The five lemma states that, if the rows are exact, m and p are isomorphisms, l is an epimorphism, and q is a monomorphism, then n is also an isomorphism.

The snake lemma

In an abelian category (such as the category of abelian groups or the category of vector spaces over a given field), consider a commutative diagram:

SnakeLemma01.png

where the rows are exact sequences and 0 is the zero object. Then there is an exact sequence relating the kernels and cokernels of a, b, and c:

Furthermore, if the morphism f is a monomorphism, then so is the morphism ker a → ker b, and if g' is an epimorphism, then so is coker b → coker c.

Abelian categories

In mathematics, an abelian category is a category in which morphisms and objects can be added and in which kernels and cokernels exist and have desirable properties. The motivating prototype example of an abelian category is the category of abelian groups, Ab. The theory originated in a tentative attempt to unify several cohomology theories by Alexander Grothendieck. Abelian categories are very stable categories, for example they are regular and they satisfy the snake lemma. The class of Abelian categories is closed under several categorical constructions, for example, the category of chain complexes of an Abelian category, or the category of functors from a small category to an Abelian category are Abelian as well. These stability properties make them inevitable in homological algebra and beyond; the theory has major applications in algebraic geometry, cohomology and pure category theory. Abelian categories are named after Niels Henrik Abel.

More concretely, a category is abelian if

The Ext functor

Let R be a ring and let ModR be the category of modules over R. Let B be in ModR and set T(B) = HomR(A,B), for fixed A in ModR. This is a left exact functor and thus has right derived functors RnT. The Ext functor is defined by

This can be calculated by taking any injective resolution

and computing

Then (RnT)(B) is the homology of this complex. Note that HomR(A,B) is excluded from the complex.

An alternative definition is given using the functor G(A)=HomR(A,B). For a fixed module B, this is a contravariant left exact functor, and thus we also have right derived functors RnG, and can define

This can be calculated by choosing any projective resolution

and proceeding dually by computing

Then (RnG)(A) is the homology of this complex. Again note that HomR(A,B) is excluded.

These two constructions turn out to yield isomorphic results, and so both may be used to calculate the Ext functor.

Tor functor

Suppose R is a ring, and denoted by R-Mod the category of left R-modules and by Mod-R the category of right R-modules (if R is commutative, the two categories coincide). Fix a module B in R-Mod. For A in Mod-R, set T(A) = ARB. Then T is a right exact functor from Mod-R to the category of abelian groups Ab (in the case when R is commutative, it is a right exact functor from Mod-R to Mod-R) and its left derived functors LnT are defined. We set

i.e., we take a projective resolution

then remove the A term and tensor the projective resolution with B to get the complex

(note that ARB does not appear and the last arrow is just the zero map) and take the homology of this complex.

Spectral sequence

Fix an abelian category, such as a category of modules over a ring. A spectral sequence is a choice of a nonnegative integer r0 and a collection of three sequences:

  1. For all integers rr0, an object Er, called a sheet (as in a sheet of paper), or sometimes a page or a term,
  2. Endomorphisms dr : ErEr satisfying drodr = 0, called boundary maps or differentials,
  3. Isomorphisms of Er+1 with H(Er), the homology of Er with respect to dr.
The E2 sheet of a cohomological spectral sequence SpectralSequence.png
The E2 sheet of a cohomological spectral sequence

A doubly graded spectral sequence has a tremendous amount of data to keep track of, but there is a common visualization technique which makes the structure of the spectral sequence clearer. We have three indices, r, p, and q. For each r, imagine that we have a sheet of graph paper. On this sheet, we will take p to be the horizontal direction and q to be the vertical direction. At each lattice point we have the object .

It is very common for n = p + q to be another natural index in the spectral sequence. n runs diagonally, northwest to southeast, across each sheet. In the homological case, the differentials have bidegree (r, r  1), so they decrease n by one. In the cohomological case, n is increased by one. When r is zero, the differential moves objects one space down or up. This is similar to the differential on a chain complex. When r is one, the differential moves objects one space to the left or right. When r is two, the differential moves objects just like a knight's move in chess. For higher r, the differential acts like a generalized knight's move.

Derived functor

Suppose we are given a covariant left exact functor F : AB between two abelian categories A and B. If 0 → ABC → 0 is a short exact sequence in A, then applying F yields the exact sequence 0 → F(A) → F(B) → F(C) and one could ask how to continue this sequence to the right to form a long exact sequence. Strictly speaking, this question is ill-posed, since there are always numerous different ways to continue a given exact sequence to the right. But it turns out that (if A is "nice" enough) there is one canonical way of doing so, given by the right derived functors of F. For every i≥1, there is a functor RiF: AB, and the above sequence continues like so: 0 → F(A) → F(B) → F(C) → R1F(A) → R1F(B) → R1F(C) → R2F(A) → R2F(B) → ... . From this we see that F is an exact functor if and only if R1F = 0; so in a sense the right derived functors of F measure "how far" F is from being exact.

Functoriality

A continuous map of topological spaces gives rise to a homomorphism between their nth homology groups for all n. This basic fact of algebraic topology finds a natural explanation through certain properties of chain complexes. Since it is very common to study several topological spaces simultaneously, in homological algebra one is led to simultaneous consideration of multiple chain complexes.

A morphism between two chain complexes, is a family of homomorphisms of abelian groups that commute with the differentials, in the sense that for all n. A morphism of chain complexes induces a morphism of their homology groups, consisting of the homomorphisms for all n. A morphism F is called a quasi-isomorphism if it induces an isomorphism on the nth homology for all n.

Many constructions of chain complexes arising in algebra and geometry, including singular homology, have the following functoriality property: if two objects X and Y are connected by a map f, then the associated chain complexes are connected by a morphism and moreover, the composition of maps f: X  Y and g: Y  Z induces the morphism that coincides with the composition It follows that the homology groups are functorial as well, so that morphisms between algebraic or topological objects give rise to compatible maps between their homology.

The following definition arises from a typical situation in algebra and topology. A triple consisting of three chain complexes and two morphisms between them, is called an exact triple, or a short exact sequence of complexes, and written as

if for any n, the sequence

is a short exact sequence of abelian groups. By definition, this means that fn is an injection, gn is a surjection, and Im fn =  Ker gn. One of the most basic theorems of homological algebra, sometimes known as the zig-zag lemma, states that, in this case, there is a long exact sequence in homology

where the homology groups of L, M, and N cyclically follow each other, and δn are certain homomorphisms determined by f and g, called the connecting homomorphisms . Topological manifestations of this theorem include the Mayer–Vietoris sequence and the long exact sequence for relative homology.

Foundational aspects

Cohomology theories have been defined for many different objects such as topological spaces, sheaves, groups, rings, Lie algebras, and C*-algebras. The study of modern algebraic geometry would be almost unthinkable without sheaf cohomology.

Central to homological algebra is the notion of exact sequence; these can be used to perform actual calculations. A classical tool of homological algebra is that of derived functor; the most basic examples are functors Ext and Tor.

With a diverse set of applications in mind, it was natural to try to put the whole subject on a uniform basis. There were several attempts before the subject settled down. An approximate history can be stated as follows:

These move from computability to generality.

The computational sledgehammer par excellence is the spectral sequence; these are essential in the Cartan-Eilenberg and Tohoku approaches where they are needed, for instance, to compute the derived functors of a composition of two functors. Spectral sequences are less essential in the derived category approach, but still play a role whenever concrete computations are necessary.

There have been attempts at 'non-commutative' theories which extend first cohomology as torsors (important in Galois cohomology).

See also

Related Research Articles

The snake lemma is a tool used in mathematics, particularly homological algebra, to construct long exact sequences. The snake lemma is valid in every abelian category and is a crucial tool in homological algebra and its applications, for instance in algebraic topology. Homomorphisms constructed with its help are generally called connecting homomorphisms.

Exact sequence Sequence of homomorphisms such that each kernel equals the preceding image

An exact sequence is a concept in mathematics, especially in group theory, ring and module theory, homological algebra, as well as in differential geometry. An exact sequence is a sequence, either finite or infinite, of objects and morphisms between them such that the image of one morphism equals the kernel of the next.

In mathematics, and more specifically in homological algebra, the splitting lemma states that in any abelian category, the following statements are equivalent for a short exact sequence

In mathematics, a chain complex is an algebraic structure that consists of a sequence of abelian groups and a sequence of homomorphisms between consecutive groups such that the image of each homomorphism is included in the kernel of the next. Associated to a chain complex is its homology, which describes how the images are included in the kernels.

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, group cohomology is a set of mathematical tools used to study groups using cohomology theory, a technique from algebraic topology. Analogous to group representations, group cohomology looks at the group actions of a group G in an associated G-moduleM to elucidate the properties of the group. By treating the G-module as a kind of topological space with elements of representing n-simplices, topological properties of the space may be computed, such as the set of cohomology groups . The cohomology groups in turn provide insight into the structure of the group G and G-module M themselves. Group cohomology plays a role in the investigation of fixed points of a group action in a module or space and the quotient module or space with respect to a group action. Group cohomology is used in the fields of abstract algebra, homological algebra, algebraic topology and algebraic number theory, as well as in applications to group theory proper. As in algebraic topology, there is a dual theory called group homology. The techniques of group cohomology can also be extended to the case that instead of a G-module, G acts on a nonabelian G-group; in effect, a generalization of a module to non-Abelian coefficients.

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 algebraic topology, a branch of mathematics, singular homology refers to the study of a certain set of algebraic invariants of a topological space X, the so-called homology groups Intuitively, singular homology counts, for each dimension n, the n-dimensional holes of a space. Singular homology is a particular example of a homology theory, which has now grown to be a rather broad collection of theories. Of the various theories, it is perhaps one of the simpler ones to understand, being built on fairly concrete constructions.

In mathematics, certain functors may be derived to obtain other functors closely related to the original ones. This operation, while fairly abstract, unifies a number of constructions throughout mathematics.

In algebra, a module homomorphism is a function between modules that preserves the module structures. Explicitly, if M and N are left modules over a ring R, then a function is called an R-module homomorphism or an R-linear map if for any x, y in M and r in R,

In algebra, a flat module over a ring R is an R-module M such that taking the tensor product over R with M preserves exact sequences. A module is faithfully flat if taking the tensor product with a sequence produces an exact sequence if and only if the original sequence is exact.

In homological algebra and algebraic topology, a spectral sequence is a means of computing homology groups by taking successive approximations. Spectral sequences are a generalization of exact sequences, and since their introduction by Jean Leray (1946), they have become important computational tools, particularly in algebraic topology, algebraic geometry and homological algebra.

In mathematics, the derived categoryD(A) of an abelian category A is a construction of homological algebra introduced to refine and in a certain sense to simplify the theory of derived functors defined on A. The construction proceeds on the basis that the objects of D(A) should be chain complexes in A, with two such chain complexes considered isomorphic when there is a chain map that induces an isomorphism on the level of homology of the chain complexes. Derived functors can then be defined for chain complexes, refining the concept of hypercohomology. The definitions lead to a significant simplification of formulas otherwise described by complicated spectral sequences.

In algebraic topology, universal coefficient theorems establish relationships between homology groups with different coefficients. For instance, for every topological space X, its integral homology groups:

In mathematics, in the field of homological algebra, the Grothendieck spectral sequence, introduced by Alexander Grothendieck in his Tôhoku paper, is a spectral sequence that computes the derived functors of the composition of two functors , from knowledge of the derived functors of F and G.

In mathematics, reduced homology is a minor modification made to homology theory in algebraic topology, designed to make a point have all its homology groups zero. This change is required to make statements without some number of exceptional cases.

In homological algebra, the hyperhomology or hypercohomology of a complex of objects of an abelian category is an extension of the usual homology of an object to complexes. It is a sort of cross between the derived functor cohomology of an object and the homology of a chain complex.

In mathematics, particularly homological algebra, the zig-zag lemma asserts the existence of a particular long exact sequence in the homology groups of certain chain complexes. The result is valid in every abelian category.

In mathematics, and more specifically in homological algebra, a resolution is an exact sequence of modules, which is used to define invariants characterizing the structure of a specific module or object of this category. When, as usually, arrows are oriented to the right, the sequence is supposed to be infinite to the left for (left) resolutions, and to the right for right resolutions. However, a finite resolution is one where only finitely many of the objects in the sequence are non-zero; it is usually represented by a finite exact sequence in which the leftmost object or the rightmost object is the zero-object.

References

  1. Weibel, Charles A. (1999). "History of Homological Algebra". History of Topology. pp. 797–836. doi:10.1016/b978-044482375-5/50029-8. ISBN   9780444823755.