Characteristic classes are invariants of bundles living in the cohomology of the base. The most common examples of characteristic classes are the Chern, Stiefel–Whitney, and Pontryagin classes.

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Proving a $k$-multilinear symmetric map is invariant iff a condition is satisfied

In Huybrecht's book on complex geometry, he states the following lemma on page 193: Lemma 4.4.2: The $k$-multilinear symmetric map $P$ is invariant if and only if for all $B,B_1,\ldots, B_k \in ...
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Integral of generator $H^{2k}(\mathbb CP^k)$ over $\mathbb CP^k$ is 1

I'm trying to give a proof of the Hirzebruch signature theorem from a differentiable viewpoint (i.e. using de Rham cohomology). The proof works, except for one small step. We know that ...
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Vanishing of the first Chern class of a complex vector bundle

Suppose that $E\to M$ is a $\mathbb{C}^n$-bundle with a metric. This is equivalent to saying that there exists a chart $\{U_\alpha\}$ of $M$ and $\phi_{\alpha,\beta} \colon U_\alpha\cap U_\beta\to ...
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Orientability of $\gamma^n\oplus \gamma^n$ WITHOUT characteristic classes

I was curious to find an argument to show orientability of the $2n$-bundle $$\gamma^n\oplus \gamma^n$$ where $\gamma^n$ is the canonical $n$-bundle over the infinite grassmannians ...
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Prove that $w_{2n}(\gamma^n\oplus \gamma^n)\neq 0$

Let $\gamma^n$ be the canonical $n$-plane bundle over the infinite Grassmann manifold $G_n(\mathbb{R}^{\infty})$. I'm asked to prove that $$w_{2n}(\gamma^n\oplus \gamma^n)\neq 0$$ (exercise 9-A ...
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Introductions to Ehresmann connections and Chern-Simons forms

I am looking for introductory texts on Ehresmann connections and Chern-Simons forms. I seek detailed, hands-on presentation. Please, recommend sources that employ a differential forms approach rather ...
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underlying real vector bundle of a complex vector bundle

Let $\eta^\mathbb{C}$ be a complex line bundle. If the underlying $2$-dimensional vector bundle $\eta$ is not trivial as a real vector bundle, can we obtain that $\eta^\mathbb{C}$ is not trivial as a ...
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Formula for Stiefel-Whitney of tensor product

I need help for solving Ex. 7C from 'Characteristic Classes' by Milnor/Stasheff: The exercise asks to find a formula for the (total) Stiefel-Whitney class of $\xi^m\otimes\eta^n$ over a paracompact ...
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Relations on Stiefel-Whitney classes

Can arbitrary cohomology classes $w_1,\dots,w_n$ from $H^{*}(B,\mathbb{Z}_2)$ be Stiefel-Whitney classes of some bundle over the given base $B$ or there are some necessary relation which can be ...
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Does naturality for characteristic classes imply the classifying space is universal for them?

Let $G$ be a Lie group, $\mathfrak g$ its Lie algebra, $K$ its maximal compact subgroup. To every flat $G$-bundle $P$ over a smooth manifold $M$ I can associate a homomorphism $w_P: H^*(\mathfrak g, ...
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The map $\lambda: H^*(\tilde{G}_n)\to H^*(\tilde{G}_{n-1})$ maps Pontryagin classes to Pontryagin classes; why?

In Milnor/Stasheff Characteristic classes on page 180 there is a statement (inside a proof) that I don't fully understand. Let $\tilde{G}_k$ be the oriented real grassmanian, $e$ its Euler class: ...
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If the top Stiefel-Whitney class of a compact manifold is nonzer0, must there be another non-vanishing Stiefel-Whitney class?

I was trying to collect some examples of Stiefel-Whitney class computations, just to make myself more familiar with them. It seems from my (relatively short list) that if the top Stiefel-Whitney ...
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Constructing commutative diagram up to homotopy from a smooth map.

This is from the proof of Theorem 20.7 in "Characteristic classes" by Milnor and Stasheff. Let $f : M^n \rightarrow S^r$ be a smooth map where $M$ is smooth $n$-dimensional manifold and $S^r$ is ...
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Stiefel Whitney numbers of a $3$- manifold are $0$

In Milnor's book on Characteristic Class he asks to prove that (Problem 11-D) all Stiefel Whitney numbers of a $3$- manifold are $0$. I can show $w_{3}=0$ as $\chi (M)=0$. From dimension consideration ...
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Pontryagin classes of a tensor product of bundles

This question is related to " How to calculate characteristic classes of tensor products? " but interested in the Pontryagin classes instead of $c_1$. Specifically, given two real vector bundles $E$, ...
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Cobordism of two manifolds [closed]

Is $\mathbb RP^4 \times \mathbb RP^{12} \times \mathbb RP^{15}$ cobordant to $\mathbb RP^6 \times \mathbb RP^{9} \times \mathbb RP^{9} \times \mathbb RP^{7}$?
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Chern classes mod 2 equal Stiefel-Whitney classes via Milnor/Stasheff language

I'm having truble with Exercise 14B of Milnor/Stesheff Characteristic classes: prove that the total Chern class of a comple bundle is mapped to the Stiefel-Whitney class by the coefficient ...
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Stiefel-Whitney Numbers of $\mathbb{R}P^2\times \mathbb{R}P^2$

I'd like to calculate the Stiefel-Whitney numbers of $\mathbb{R}P^2\times\mathbb{R}P^2,$ but don't know how to. My first instinct was to say that the tangent bundle is isomorphic to the product of ...
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Tangent bundle of manifold with no odd dimensional sub-bundles

First, a preliminary remark: The Whitney sum of two vector bundles is orientable. I saw this statement somewhere and was wondering if it's true. In particular, it's easy to show that ...
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$\mathbb{R}P^4$ and $\mathbb{R}P^6$ do not admit fields of tangent $2$-planes

See the related question here. This is the second part of question 4-C in Milnor and Stasheff's book on characteristic classes. In the solution to the first part, we rely on the fact that having a ...
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Milnor's definition of bundle map in “Characteristic Classes”

In chapter 3 of "Characteristic Classes", Milnor defines bundle maps, requiring them to map fibers isomorphically onto fibers. Why not merely require homorphisms on fibers? (e.g., for the given ...
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Examples with zero first Stiefel-Whitney class and nonzero second Stiefel-Whitney class

What's the simplest/most concrete vector bundle you can think of that has zero first Stiefel-Whitney class but non-zero second? That would be the simplest space that doesn't have spinors. (See Spin ...
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Chern class of complex vector bundles

Let $\xi$ be an $n$-dimensional complex vector bundle. It is claimed that the Chern class of $\xi$ is $$ c(\xi)=(1+x_1)\cdots (1+x_n), $$ $|x_k|=2$, $c_j(\xi)$ is the $j$-th symmetric polynomial of ...
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Stiefel-Whitney classes with Z-coefficients

Stiefel-Whitney classes are defined (for example, in Milnor's Characteristic classes) as elements of the cohomology groups with $\mathbb{Z}_2$-coefficients as follows. $$w_i(E)=\phi^{-1} Sq^i(u)$$ ...
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Compute a chern class $c(K^n)$ for a non-singular algebraic hypersurface $K^n$ of degree $d$ in $P^{n+1}(C)$.

This is Problem 16-D in Characteristic classes by John W. Milnor and James D. Stasheff. Problem 16-D) If the complex manifold $K^n$ is complex analytically embedded in $K^{n+1}$ with dual ...
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Has anyone seen this combinatorial identity involving the Bernoulli and Stirling numbers?

Does anyone know a nice (combinatorial?) proof and/or reference for the following identity? $$\left( \frac{\alpha}{1 - e^{-\alpha}} \right)^{n+1} \equiv \sum_{j=0}^n \frac{(n-j)!}{n!} |s(n+1, ...
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Quick question: Tensoring a 2-torsion line bundle with a rank 2 nonsplit extension over a curve of genus 1

Everything is complex algebraic. Over a curve $C$ of genus $1$, let $V$ be a rank 2 vector bundle with $\deg \det(V)=1$, which is a nonsplit extension of $\mathcal{O}_C$ and $\mathcal{O}_C(p)$, where ...
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Stiefel-Whitney class of complex projective spaces

Let $T\mathbb{C}P^m$ be the tangent bundle of complex projective space. What is the total Stiefel-Whitney class $w(T\mathbb{C}P^m)$? Let $a_m$ be the maximal integer such that the $a_m$-th dual ...
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Constructing complex line bundles on orientable smooth manifolds

This questions ask how to construct a complex line bundle over a smooth compact orientable manifold without boundary starting with an n-2 dimensional orientable sub manifold without boundary. The ...
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Intersection theory proof of the poincare hopf theorem.

Suppose that $M$ is a connected compact oriented smooth manifold, and $X:M\rightarrow TM$ a vector field with isolated zeros. Then if $Z$ is the zero set of $X$ (a $0$-dimensional oriented manifold), ...
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What is the Chern class of the Kernel of a projection map after taking a blowup?

Let $S:= \mathbb{CP}^1 \times \mathbb{CP}^1 $ and $\tilde{S}$ the blowup of $S$ at one point. Let $a_1, a_2$ be generators for the cohomology $H^*(S, \mathbb{Z})$ and let $a_1, a_2$ and $E$ be the ...
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Identity used to prove the Chern-Weil theorem

I'm reading the proof of Chern-Weil theorem found in Nakahara's second edition book (page 422) but I got stucked at the very beginning of the proof. It says that from the identity ...
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What is the poinacre dual of the projectivization of a line bundle inside the projectivization of the sum of two line bundles?

Let $S:= \mathbb{CP}^1 \times \mathbb{CP}^1$. Let $TS \approx L_1 \oplus L_2$, where $L_1$ and $L_2$ are the pullback of $T\mathbb{CP}^1$ wrt to the respective projection maps. Note that ...
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given a specific vector bundle how to see whether the first Pontryagin class is zero

Let $Z_2$ be the group with $2$ elements. Let $a\in Z_2$ be the nontrivial element. Let $S^n$ be the $n$-sphere. Let $C(S^n,2)=\{(x,y)\in S^n\times S^n\mid x\neq y\}$. Let $a$ act on $C(S^n,2)$ by ...
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a question on oriented bundles and Euler class

In Characteristic classes, J. Milnor, J. Stasheff, Prop. 9.7, it is proved that: if the oriented vector bundle $\xi$ possesses a nowhere zero cross section, then the Euler class $e(\xi)=0$. I want ...
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A complex line bundle is trivial if and only if the first Chern class is zero

Let $\xi$ be a complex line bundle over a CW-complex $B$. I want to prove that $\xi$ is trivial if and only if $c_1(\xi)=0$. My attempt: Suppose $c_1(\xi)=0$. Then the Euler class $e(\xi)=0$. Since ...
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ways to see whether the Pontryagin class of a quaternionic line bundle over a CW-complex is zero

the first pontryagin class of a quaternionic line bundle over a CW-complex is zero if and only if the quaternionic line bundle is trivial or not? Let $\xi^\mathbb{H}$ be a given quaternionic line ...
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Second Chern class of $TS^2$

The induced metric on a sphere may be given by, $$ds^2 = d\theta^2 + \sin^2\theta\, d\phi^2$$ By using Cartan's method of moving frames, one can compute the curvature 2-form in an orthonormal basis ...
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chern class of complex line bundle

Let $\xi:=(\mathbb{C},E,p,B)$ be a complex line bundle, where $B$ is a manifold or CW-complex. How to determine whether the first Chern class $c_1(\xi)=0$ or non-vanishing?
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integral cohomology of real grassmannians

I have obtained that the cohomology rings $$ H^*(G_k(\mathbb{R}^\infty);\mathbb{Z}_2)=\mathbb{Z}_2[w_1,\cdots,w_k]. $$ Also $$ H^*(G_k(\mathbb{R}^m);\mathbb{Z}_2)=\mathbb{Z}_2[w_1,\cdots,w_k]/(\bar ...
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The tangent bundle of $\mathbb{CP}^1$ is not isomorphic to its dual.

This question is related to this one but is not a duplicate. In " Characteristic Classes" by Milnor and Stasheff on pages 167-168, the authors give a brief argument about why the tangent bundle of the ...
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the top chern class of the holomorphic tangent bundle is the euler class

Is the following true? Let X be a complex manifold of complex dimension d and let V denote its holomorphic tangent bundle (ie it's $T^{1,0} \subset T \otimes_R C$, where T is the tangent bundle of ...
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Reference request: Zero set of global section

Things are in the complex algebraic setting. Assume that a vector bundle $V$ of rank $n$ over a $\mathbb{P}^n$ has a global section $\sigma$. Is it true that the zero set of $\sigma$ is a ...
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Elementary proof of the fact that any orientable 3-manifold is parallelizable

A parallelizable manifold $M$ is a smooth manifold such that there exist smooth vector fields $V_1,...,V_n$ where $n$ is the dimension of $M$, such that at any point $p\in M$, the tangent vectors ...
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cohomology of classifying space of cyclic group

(1). Let $p$ be a prime number. Let $B\mathbb{Z}_p$ be the classifying space of the discrete group $\mathbb{Z}_p$. How to obtain $$ H^*(B\mathbb{Z}_p;\mathbb{Z}_p)=\mathbb{Z}_p[t]\otimes \Lambda[e]? ...
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K-theory formulation of the index theorem

The Atiyah-Singer index theorem is one of the most important results in twentieth century's mathematics. It states that for an elliptic differential operator $D$ on a smooth, oriented compact manifold ...
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What can we say about a vector bundle with trivial unit sphere bundle?

If you want to avoid the back story to this question, feel free to skip the paragraphs between the horizontal lines. Yesterday Georges Elencwajg asked me the following question (I'm paraphrasing): ...
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cohomology of complex grassmannians and quaternion grassmannians (the finite dimensional case)

Let $G_k(\mathbb{C}^N)$ be the complex grassmannian manifold. Let $G_k(\mathbb{H}^N)$ be the quaternion grassmannian manifold. Let $p$ be a prime integer (we may also impose extra conditions, such as ...
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Manifolds with vanishing Stiefel-Whitney classes but are not stably parallelizable

It is known that if a manifold is stably parallelizable, then it's Stiefel-Whitney classes must vanish. Is the converse true? Note that we know that the converse cannot hold if stably parallelizable ...
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cohomology homomorphism between grassmannians induced by inclusion

Let $i:G_k(\mathbb{R}^n)\to G_k(\mathbb{R}^\infty)$ be inclusion of grassmannians. Then $H^*(G_k(\mathbb{R}^\infty);\mathbb{Z}_2)=\mathbb{Z}_2[w_1,\cdots,w_k]$. $ ...