# Tagged Questions

Questions about algebraic methods and invariants to study and classify topological spaces: homotopy groups, (co)-homology groups, fundamental groups, covering spaces, and beyond.

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### Why can you turn clothing right-side-out?

My nephew was folding laundry, and turning the occasional shirt right-side-out. I showed him a "trick" where I turned it right-side-out by pulling the whole thing through a sleeve instead of the ...
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### How to distinguish walking on a sphere or on a torus?

Imagine that you're a flatlander walking in your world. How could you distinguish if the world is a sphere or a torus ? I can't see the difference from this point of view. If you are interested, this ...
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### Does a four-variable analog of the Hall-Witt identity exist?

Lately I have been thinking about commutator formulas, sparked by rereading the following paragraph in Isaacs (p.125): An amazing commutator formula is the Hall-Witt identity: [x,y^{-1},z]^y[y,z^...
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### Topology: The Board Game

Edit: I've drawn up some different rules, a map and some cards for playing an actual version of the game. They're available at my personal website with a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 license. ...
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### Is there a homology theory that counts connected components of a space?

It is well-known that the generators of the zeroth singular homology group $H_0(X)$ of a space $X$ correspond to the path components of $X$. I have recently learned that for Čech homology the ...
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### Direct proof that the wedge product preserves integral cohomology classes?

Let $H^k(M,\mathbb R)$ be the De Rham cohomology of a manifold $M$. There is a canonical map $H^k(M;\mathbb Z) \to H^k(M;\mathbb R)$ from the integral cohomology to the cohomology with coefficients ...
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### Explain “homotopy” to me [closed]

I have been struggling with general topology and now, algebraic topology is simply murder. Some people seem to get on alright, but I am not one of them unfortunately. Please, an answer I need is ...
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### Intuition of the meaning of homology groups

I am studying homology groups and I am looking to try and develop, if possible, a little more intuition about what they actually mean. I've only been studying homology for a short while, so if ...
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### In $n>5$, topology = algebra

During the study of the surgery theory I faced following sentence: Surgery theory works best for $n > 5$, when "topology = algebra". I don't know what is the meaning of topology=algebra. ...
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### Hanging a picture on the wall using two nails in such a way that removing any nail makes the picture fall down

A friend of mine told me that it's possible to hang a picture on the wall from a string using two nails in such a way that removing either of the two nails will make both the string and picture fall ...
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### How do different definitions of “degree” coincide?

I've recently read about a number of different notions of "degree." Reading over Javier Álvarez' excellent answer for the thousandth time finally prompted me to ask this question: How exactly do ...
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### Intuition behind Snake Lemma

I've been struggling with this for some time. I can prove the Snake Lemma, but I don't really “understand” it. By that I mean if no one told me Snake Lemma existed, I would not even ...
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### How To Present Algebraic Topology To Non-Mathematicians?

I am writing my master thesis in algebraic topology (fundamental groups) and as a system in my school students must write about one page about their theses explaining for non mathematicians the ...
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### Which manifolds are parallelizable?

Recall that a manifold $M$ of dimension $n$ is parallelizable if there are $n$ vector fields that form a basis of the tangent space $T_x M$ at every point $x \in M$. This is equivalent to the tangent ...
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### A really complicated calculus book

I've been studying math as a hobby, just for fun for years, and I had my goal to understand nearly every good undergraduate textbook and I think, I finally reached it. So now I need an another goal. I'...
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### Learning Roadmap for Algebraic Topology

I am now considering about studying algebraic topology. There are a lot of books about it, and I want to choose the most comprehensive book among them. I have a solid background in Abstract Algebra, ...
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### How much rigour is necessary?

I am taking a course in Algebraic Topology. We are using Hatcher as a textbook. One of the main problems I am facing with the textbook is its level of rigour. Example: On Pg 10, Hatcher mentions in ...
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### Homology of cube with a twist

Take the quotient space of the cube $I^3$ obtained by identifying each square face with opposite square via the right handed screw motion consisting of a translation by 1 unit perpendicular to the ...
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### Is $T^1 S^5$ abstractly diffeomorphic to $S^4\times S^5$?

One can ask When is $T^1 S^n$, the unit tangent bundle of $S^n$, abstractly diffeomorphic to $S^{n-1}\times S^n$? For even $n$, the answer is never. This is because $T^1 S^{2n}$ has torsion in ...
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### Geometry or topology behind the “impossible staircase”

This question on the topology of Escher games reminded me of a question I've had in my head for a little while now. Is there anything interesting geometric or topological that can be said about the ...
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### Do all continuous real-valued functions determine the topology?

Let $X$ be a topology space. If I know all the continuous functions from X to $\mathbb R$, will the topology on $X$ be determined? I know the $\mathbb R$ here is, somewhat, artificial. So if this is ...
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### How did we know to invent homological algebra?

Update: Qiaochu Yuan points out in the comments that the title of the question is misleading, as homological algebra did not begin with long exact sequences as I'd thought. (Original question follows....
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### Research in algebraic topology

I have started studying algebraic topology with the help of Armstrong(Basic), Massey, and Hatcher. If I plan to do research in algebraic topology in future: What else should I study after ...
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### Why is the Jordan Curve Theorem not “obvious”?

I am horribly confused about Jordan's Curve Theorem (henceforth JCT). Could you give me some reason why should the validity of this theorem be in doubt? I mean for anyone who trusts the eye theorem is ...
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### Paracompactness of CW complexes (rather long)

I finished reading Lee's 'introduction to topological manifolds' (2nd edition) and I'm currently tying up some loose ends. One thing I can't understand is the proof of paracompactness of CW complexes. ...
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### precise official definition of a cell complex and CW-complex

I would be very grateful If someone could state a precise definition (direct one and inductive one) of a cell complex and CW-complex, since my intuition is telling that some restriction is missing and ...
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### What is the topology of a world with portals?

Portal is a video game, where you can create 2 disks $D\in\mathbb{R}^3$, which then are identified. The world is glued together at these points. This kind of reminds me of some procedures to ...
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### “the only odd dimensional spheres with a unique smooth structure are $S^1$, $S^3$, $S^5$, $S^{61}$”

This (long) paper, Guozhen Wang, Zhouli Xu. "On the uniqueness of the smooth structure of the 61-sphere." arXiv:1601.02184 [math.AT]. proves that the only odd dimensional spheres with a ...
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### Does every continuous map from $\mathbb{H}P^{2n+1}$ to itself have a fixed point?

This question is motivated by Fixed point property of Cayley plane and idle curiosity. In the link, it is shown that every continuous map from the Cayley plane to itself has a fixed point and the ...
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### Are there nontrivial continuous maps between complex projective spaces?

Are there maps $f: \Bbb{CP}^n \rightarrow \Bbb{CP}^m$, with $n>m$, that are not null-homotopic? In particular, is there some non-null-homotopic map $\Bbb{CP}^n \rightarrow S^2$ for $n>1$? Can we ...
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### Surprising applications of topology [closed]

Today in class we got to see how to use the Brouwer Fixed Point theorem for $D^2$ to prove that a $3 \times 3$ matrix $M$ with positive real entries has an eigenvector with a positive eigenvalue. The ...
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### is the group of rational numbers the fundamental group of some space?

Which path connected space has fundamental group isomorphic to the group of rationals? More generally, is every group the fundamental group of a space?
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### What is the difference between homotopy and homeomorphism?

What is the difference between homotopy and homeomorphism? Let X and Y be two spaces, Supposed X and Y are homotopy equivalent and have the same dimension, can it be proved that they are homeomorphic? ...
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### Homotopy groups of $S^2$

I'd like to understand higher homotopy groups better and I guess there's no simpler way than understanding them for as simple spaces as possible; therefore $S^2$. My question essentially has two ...
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### Why algebraic topology is also called combinatorial topology?

I remember reading somewhere(at least more than once) that algebraic topology is also known by the name "Combinatorial Topology" which essentially tags the subject fundamentally with some counting ...
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### Cohomology of projective plane

How I can compute cohomology de Rham of the projective plane $P^{2}(\mathbb{R})$ using Mayer vietoris or any other methods?
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### Can we think of a chain homotopy as a homotopy?

I'm taking a course in algebraic topology, which includes an introduction to (simplicial) homology, and I'm looking for a bit of intuition regarding chain homotopies. The definitions I'm using are: ...
### How much of an $n$-dimensional manifold can we embed into $\mathbb{R}^n$?
I observed some naive examples. Spheres, for example, when we cut out one point, can be embedded into $\mathbb{R}^n$. And if we cut out a measure zero set of a projective space, it can be embedded ...