Hochschild Cohomology Tethers to Closed String Algebra by way of Cyclicity.


When we have an open and closed Topological Field Theory (TFT) each element ξ of the closed algebra C defines an endomorphism ξa = ia(ξ) ∈ Oaa of each object a of B, and η ◦ ξa = ξb ◦ η for each morphism η ∈ Oba from a to b. The family {ξa} thus constitutes a natural transformation from the identity functor 1B : B → B to itself.

For any C-linear category B we can consider the ring E of natural transformations of 1B. It is automatically commutative, for if {ξa}, {ηa} ∈ E then ξa ◦ ηa = ηa ◦ ξa by the definition of naturality. (A natural transformation from 1B to 1B is a collection of elements {ξa ∈ Oaa} such that ξa ◦ f = f ◦ ξb for each morphism f ∈ Oab from b to a. But we can take a = b and f = ηa.) If B is a Frobenius category then there is a map πab : Obb → Oaa for each pair of objects a, b, and we can define jb : Obb → E by jb(η)a = πab(η) for η ∈ Obb. In other words, jb is defined so that the Cardy condition ιa ◦ jb = πab holds. But the question arises whether we can define a trace θ : E → C to make E into a Frobenius algebra, and with the property that

θaa(ξ)η) = θ(ξja(η)) —– (1)

∀ ξ ∈ E and η ∈ Oaa. This is certainly true if B is a semisimple Frobenius category with finitely many simple objects, for then E is just the ring of complex-valued functions on the set of classes of these simple elements, and we can readily define θ : E → C by θ(εa) = θa(1a)2, where a is an irreducible object, and εa ∈ E is the characteristic function of the point a in the spectrum of E. Nevertheless, a Frobenius category need not be semisimple, and we cannot, unfortunately, take E as the closed string algebra in the general case. If, for example, B has just one object a, and Oaa is a commutative local ring of dimension greater than 1, then E = Oaa, and so ιa : E → Oaa is an isomorphism, and its adjoint map ja ought to be an isomorphism too. But that contradicts the Cardy condition, as πaa is multiplication by ∑ψiψi, which must be nilpotent.

The commutative algebra E of natural endomorphisms of the identity functor of a linear category B is called the Hochschild cohomology HH0(B) of B in degree 0. The groups HHp(B) for p > 0, vanish if B is semisimple, but in the general case they appear to be relevant to the construction of a closed string algebra from B. For any Frobenius category B there is a natural homomorphism K(B) → HH0(B) from the Grothendieck group of B, which assigns to an object a the transformation whose value on b is πba(1a) ∈ Obb. In the semisimple case this homomorphism induces an isomorphism K(B) ⊗ C → HH0(B).

For any additive category B the Hochschild cohomology is defined as the cohomology of the cochain complex in which a k-cochain F is a rule that to each composable k-tuple of morphisms

Y0φ1 Y1φ2 ··· →φk Yk —– (2)

assigns F(φ1,…,φk) ∈ Hom(Y0,Yk). The differential in the complex is defined by

(dF)(φ1,…,φk+1) = F(φ2,…,φk+1) ◦ φ1 + ∑i=1k(−1)i F(φ1,…,φi+1 ◦ φi,…,φk+1) + (−1)k+1φk+1 ◦ F(φ1,…,φk) —– (3)

(Notice, in particular, that a 0-cochain assigns an endomorphism FY to each object Y, and is a cocycle if the endomorphisms form a natural transformation. Similarly, a 2-cochain F gives a possible infinitesimal deformation F(φ1, φ2) of the composition law (φ1, φ2) ↦ φ2 ◦ φ1 of the category, and the deformation preserves the associativity of composition iff F is a cocycle.)

In the case of a category B with a single object whose algebra of endomorphisms is O the cohomology just described is usually called the Hochschild cohomology of the algebra O with coefficients in O regarded as a O-bimodule. This must be carefully distinguished from the Hochschild cohomology with coefficients in the dual O-bimodule O. But if O is a Frobenius algebra it is isomorphic as a bimodule to O, and the two notions of Hochschild cohomology need not be distinguished. The same applies to a Frobenius category B: because Hom(Yk, Y0) is the dual space of Hom(Y0, Yk) we can think of a k-cochain as a rule which associates to each composable k-tuple of morphisms a linear function of an element φ0 ∈ Hom(Yk, Y0). In other words, a k-cochain is a rule which to each “circle” of k + 1 morphisms

···→φ0 Y0φ1 Y1 →φ2···→φk Ykφ0··· —– (4)

assigns a complex number F(φ01,…,φk).

If in this description we restrict ourselves to cochains which are cyclically invariant under rotating the circle of morphisms (φ01,…,φk) then we obtain a sub-cochain complex of the Hochschild complex whose cohomology is called the cyclic cohomology HC(B) of the category B. The cyclic cohomology, which evidently maps to the Hochschild cohomology is a more natural candidate for the closed string algebra associated to B than is the Hochschild cohomology. A very natural Frobenius category on which to test these ideas is the category of holomorphic vector bundles on a compact Calabi-Yau manifold.

Superconformal Spin/Field Theories: When Vector Spaces have same Dimensions: Part 1, Note Quote.


A spin structure on a surface means a double covering of its space of non-zero tangent vectors which is non-trivial on each individual tangent space. On an oriented 1-dimensional manifold S it means a double covering of the space of positively-oriented tangent vectors. For purposes of gluing, this is the same thing as a spin structure on a ribbon neighbourhood of S in an orientable surface. Each spin structure has an automorphism which interchanges its sheets, and this will induce an involution T on any vector space which is naturally associated to a 1-manifold with spin structure, giving the vector space a mod 2 grading by its ±1-eigenspaces. A topological-spin theory is a functor from the cobordism category of manifolds with spin structures to the category of super vector spaces with its graded tensor structure. The functor is required to take disjoint unions to super tensor products, and additionally it is required that the automorphism of the spin structure of a 1-manifold induces the grading automorphism T = (−1)degree of the super vector space. This choice of the supersymmetry of the tensor product rather than the naive symmetry which ignores the grading is forced by the geometry of spin structures if the possibility of a semisimple category of boundary conditions is to be allowed. There are two non-isomorphic circles with spin structure: S1ns, with the Möbius or “Neveu-Schwarz” structure, and S1r, with the trivial or “Ramond” structure. A topological-spin theory gives us state spaces Cns and Cr, corresponding respectively to S1ns and S1r.

There are four cobordisms with spin structures which cover the standard annulus. The double covering can be identified with its incoming end times the interval [0,1], but then one has a binary choice when one identifies the outgoing end of the double covering over the annulus with the chosen structure on the outgoing boundary circle. In other words, alongside the cylinders A+ns,r = S1ns,r × [0,1] which induce the identity maps of Cns,r there are also cylinders Ans,r which connect S1ns,r to itself while interchanging the sheets. These cylinders Ans,r induce the grading automorphism on the state spaces. But because Ans ≅ A+ns by an isomorphism which is the identity on the boundary circles – the Dehn twist which “rotates one end of the cylinder by 2π” – the grading on Cns must be purely even. The space Cr can have both even and odd components. The situation is a little more complicated for “U-shaped” cobordisms, i.e., cylinders with two incoming or two outgoing boundary circles. If the boundaries are S1ns there is only one possibility, but if the boundaries are S1r there are two, corresponding to A±r. The complication is that there seems no special reason to prefer either of the spin structures as “positive”. We shall simply choose one – let us call it P – with incoming boundary S1r ⊔ S1r, and use P to define a pairing Cr ⊗ Cr → C. We then choose a preferred cobordism Q in the other direction so that when we sew its right-hand outgoing S1r to the left-hand incoming one of P the resulting S-bend is the “trivial” cylinder A+r. We shall need to know, however, that the closed torus formed by the composition P ◦ Q has an even spin structure. The Frobenius structure θ on C restricts to 0 on Cr.

There is a unique spin structure on the pair-of-pants cobordism in the figure below, which restricts to S1ns on each boundary circle, and it makes Cns into a commutative Frobenius algebra in the usual way.


If one incoming circle is S1ns and the other is S1r then the outgoing circle is S1r, and there are two possible spin structures, but the one obtained by removing a disc from the cylinder A+r is preferred: it makes Cr into a graded module over Cns. The chosen U-shaped cobordism P, with two incoming circles S1r, can be punctured to give us a pair of pants with an outgoing S1ns, and it induces a graded bilinear map Cr × Cr → Cns which, composing with the trace on Cns, gives a non-degenerate inner product on Cr. At this point the choice of symmetry of the tensor product becomes important. Let us consider the diffeomorphism of the pair of pants which shows us in the usual case that the Frobenius algebra is commutative. When we lift it to the spin structure, this diffeomorphism induces the identity on one incoming circle but reverses the sheets over the other incoming circle, and this proves that the cobordism must have the same output when we change the input from S(φ1 ⊗ φ2) to T(φ1) ⊗ φ2, where T is the grading involution and S : Cr ⊗ Cr → Cr ⊗ Cr is the symmetry of the tensor category. If we take S to be the symmetry of the tensor category of vector spaces which ignores the grading, this shows that the product on the graded vector space Cr is graded-symmetric with the usual sign; but if S is the graded symmetry then we see that the product on Cr is symmetric in the naive sense.

There is an analogue for spin theories of the theorem which tells us that a two-dimensional topological field theory “is” a commutative Frobenius algebra. It asserts that a spin-topological theory “is” a Frobenius algebra C = (Cns ⊕ CrC) with the following property. Let {φk} be a basis for Cns, with dual basis {φk} such that θCkφm) = δmk, and let βk and βk be similar dual bases for Cr. Then the Euler elements χns := ∑ φkφk and χr = ∑ βkβk are independent of the choices of bases, and the condition we need on the algebra C is that χns = χr. In particular, this condition implies that the vector spaces Cns and Cr have the same dimension. In fact, the Euler elements can be obtained from cutting a hole out of the torus. There are actually four spin structures on the torus. The output state is necessarily in Cns. The Euler elements for the three even spin structures are equal to χe = χns = χr. The Euler element χo corresponding to the odd spin structure, on the other hand, is given by χo = ∑(−1)degβkβkβk.

A spin theory is very similar to a Z/2-equivariant theory, which is the structure obtained when the surfaces are equipped with principal Z/2-bundles (i.e., double coverings) rather than spin structures.

It seems reasonable to call a spin theory semisimple if the algebra Cns is semisimple, i.e., is the algebra of functions on a finite set X. Then Cr is the space of sections of a vector bundle E on X, and it follows from the condition χns = χr that the fibre at each point must have dimension 1. Thus the whole structure is determined by the Frobenius algebra Cns together with a binary choice at each point x ∈ X of the grading of the fibre Ex of the line bundle E at x.

We can now see that if we had not used the graded symmetry in defining the tensor category we should have forced the grading of Cr to be purely even. For on the odd part the inner product would have had to be skew, and that is impossible on a 1-dimensional space. And if both Cns and Cr are purely even then the theory is in fact completely independent of the spin structures on the surfaces.

A concrete example of a two-dimensional topological-spin theory is given by C = C ⊕ Cη where η2 = 1 and η is odd. The Euler elements are χe = 1 and χo = −1. It follows that the partition function of a closed surface with spin structure is ±1 according as the spin structure is even or odd.

The most common theories defined on surfaces with spin structure are not topological: they are 2-dimensional conformal field theories with N = 1 supersymmetry. It should be noticed that if the theory is not topological then one does not expect the grading on Cns to be purely even: states can change sign on rotation by 2π. If a surface Σ has a conformal structure then a double covering of the non-zero tangent vectors is the complement of the zero-section in a two-dimensional real vector bundle L on Σ which is called the spin bundle. The covering map then extends to a symmetric pairing of vector bundles L ⊗ L → TΣ which, if we regard L and TΣ as complex line bundles in the natural way, induces an isomorphism L ⊗C L ≅ TΣ. An N = 1 superconformal field theory is a conformal-spin theory which assigns a vector space HS,L to the 1-manifold S with the spin bundle L, and is equipped with an additional map

Γ(S,L) ⊗ HS,L → HS,L

(σ,ψ) ↦ Gσψ,

where Γ(S,L) is the space of smooth sections of L, such that Gσ is real-linear in the section σ, and satisfies G2σ = Dσ2, where Dσ2 is the Virasoro action of the vector field σ2 related to σ ⊗ σ by the isomorphism L ⊗C L ≅ TΣ. Furthermore, when we have a cobordism (Σ,L) from (S0,L0) to (S1,L1) and a holomorphic section σ of L which restricts to σi on Si we have the intertwining property

Gσ1 ◦ UΣ,L = UΣ,L ◦ Gσ0


Why Can’t There Be Infinite Descending Chain Of Quotient Representations? – Part 3



For a quiver Q, the category Rep(Q) of finite-dimensional representations of Q is abelian. A morphism f : V → W in the category Rep(Q) defined by a collection of morphisms fi : Vi → Wi is injective (respectively surjective, an isomorphism) precisely if each of the linear maps fi is.

There is a collection of simple objects in Rep(Q). Indeed, each vertex i ∈ Q0 determines a simple object Si of Rep(Q), the unique representation of Q up to isomorphism for which dim(Vj) = δij. If Q has no directed cycles, then these so-called vertex simples are the only simple objects of Rep(Q), but this is not the case in general.

If Q is a quiver, then the category Rep(Q) has finite length.

Given a representation E of a quiver Q, then either E is simple, or there is a nontrivial short exact sequence

0 → A → E → B → 0

Now if B is not simple, then we can break it up into pieces. This process must halt, as every representation of Q consists of finite-dimensional vector spaces. In the end, we will have found a simple object S and a surjection f : E → S. Take E1 ⊂ E to be the kernel of f and repeat the argument with E1. In this way we get a filtration

… ⊂ E3 ⊂ E2 ⊂ E1 ⊂ E

with each quotient object Ei−1/Ei simple. Once again, this filtration cannot continue indefinitely, so after a finite number of steps we get En = 0. Renumbering by setting Ei := En−i for 1 ≤ i ≤ n gives a Jordan-Hölder filtration for E. The basic reason for finiteness is the assumption that all representations of Q are finite-dimensional. This means that there can be no infinite descending chains of subrepresentations or quotient representations, since a proper subrepresentation or quotient representation has strictly smaller dimension.

In many geometric and algebraic contexts, what is of interest in representations of a quiver Q are morphisms associated to the arrows that satisfy certain relations. Formally, a quiver with relations (Q, R) is a quiver Q together with a set R = {ri} of elements of its path algebra, where each ri is contained in the subspace A(Q)aibi of A(Q) spanned by all paths p starting at vertex aiand finishing at vertex bi. Elements of R are called relations. A representation of (Q, R) is a representation of Q, where additionally each relation ri is satisfied in the sense that the corresponding linear combination of homomorphisms from Vai to Vbi is zero. Representations of (Q, R) form an abelian category Rep(Q, R).

A special class of relations on quivers comes from the following construction, inspired by the physics of supersymmetric gauge theories. Given a quiver Q, the path algebra A(Q) is non-commutative in all but the simplest examples, and hence the sub-vector space [A(Q), A(Q)] generated by all commutators is non-trivial. The vector space quotientA(Q)/[A(Q), A(Q)] is seen to have a basis consisting of the cyclic paths anan−1 · · · a1 of Q, formed by composable arrows ai of Q with h(an) = t(a1), up to cyclic permutation of such paths. By definition, a superpotential for the quiver Q is an element W ∈ A(Q)/[A(Q), A(Q)] of this vector space, a linear combination of cyclic paths up to cyclic permutation.

The Natural Theoretic of Electromagnetism. Thought of the Day 147.0


In Maxwell’s theory, the field strength F = 1/2Fμν dxμ ∧ dxν is a real 2-form on spacetime, and thence a natural object at the same time. The homogeneous Maxwell equation dF = 0 is an equation involving forms and it has a well-known local solution F = dA’, i.e. there exists a local spacetime 1-form A’ which is a potential for the field strength F. Of course, if spacetime is contractible, as e.g. for Minkowski space, the solution is also a global one. As is well-known, in the non-commutative Yang-Mills theory case the field strength F = 1/2FAμν TA ⊗ dxμ ∧ dxν is no longer a spacetime form. This is a somewhat trivial remark since the transformation laws of such field strength are obtained as the transformation laws of the curvature of a principal connection with values in the Lie algebra of some (semisimple) non-Abelian Lie group G (e.g. G = SU(n), n 2 ≥ 2). However, the common belief that electromagnetism is to be intended as the particular case (for G =U(1)) of a non-commutative theory is not really physically evident. Even if we subscribe this common belief, which is motivated also by the tremendous success of the quantized theory, let us for a while discuss electromagnetism as a standalone theory.

From a mathematical viewpoint this is a (different) approach to electromagnetism and the choice between the two can be dealt with on a physical ground only. Of course the 1-form A’ is defined modulo a closed form, i.e. locally A” = A’ + dα is another solution.

How can one decide whether the potential of electromagnetism should be considered as a 1-form or rather as a principal connection on a U(1)-bundle? First of all we notice that by a standard hole argument (one can easily define compact supported closed 1-forms, e.g. by choosing the differential of compact supported functions which always exist on a paracompact manifold) the potentials A and A’ represent the same physical situation. On the other hand, from a mathematical viewpoint we would like the dynamical field, i.e. the potential A’, to be a global section of some suitable configuration bundle. This requirement is a mathematical one, motivated on the wish of a well-defined geometrical perspective based on global Variational Calculus.

The first mathematical way out is to restrict attention to contractible spacetimes, where A’ may be always chosen to be global. Then one can require the gauge transformations A” = A’ + dα to be Lagrangian symmetries. In this way, field equations select a whole equivalence class of gauge-equivalent potentials, a procedure which solves the hole argument problem. In this picture the potential A’ is really a 1-form, which can be dragged along spacetime diffeomorphism and which admits the ordinary Lie derivatives of 1-forms. Unfortunately, the restriction to contractible spacetimes is physically unmotivated and probably wrong.

Alternatively, one can restrict electromagnetic fields F, deciding that only exact 2-forms F are allowed. That actually restricts the observable physical situations, by changing the homogeneous Maxwell equations (i.e. Bianchi identities) by requiring that F is not only closed but exact. One should in principle be able to empirically reject this option.

On non-contractible spacetimes, one is necessarily forced to resort to a more “democratic” attitude. The spacetime is covered by a number of patches Uα. On each patch Uα one defines a potential A(α). In the intersection of two patches the two potentials A(α) and A(β) may not agree. In each patch, in fact, the observer chooses his own conventions and he finds a different representative of the electromagnetic potential, which is related by a gauge transformation to the representatives chosen in the neighbour patch(es). Thence we have a family of gauge transformations, one in each intersection Uαβ, which obey cocycle identities. If one recognizes in them the action of U(1) then one can build a principal bundle P = (P, M, π; U(1)) and interpret the ensuing potential as a connection on P. This leads way to the gauge natural formalism.

Anyway this does not close the matter. One can investigate if and when the principal bundle P, in addition to the obvious principal structure, can be also endowed with a natural structure. If that were possible then the bundle of connections Cp (which is associated to P) would also be natural. The problem of deciding whether a given gauge natural bundle can be endowed with a natural structure is quite difficult in general and no full theory is yet completely developed in mathematical terms. That is to say, there is no complete classification of the topological and differential geometric conditions which a principal bundle P has to satisfy in order to ensure that, among the principal trivializations which determine its gauge natural structure, one can choose a sub-class of trivializations which induce a purely natural bundle structure. Nor it is clear how many inequivalent natural structures a good principal bundle may support. Though, there are important examples of bundles which support at the same time a natural and a gauge natural structure. Actually any natural bundle is associated to some frame bundle L(M), which is principal; thence each natural bundle is also gauge natural in a trivial way. Since on any paracompact manifold one can choose a global Riemannian metric g, the corresponding tangent bundle T(M) can be associated to the orthonormal frame bundle O(M, g) besides being obviously associated to L(M). Thence the natural bundle T(M) may be also endowed with a gauge natural bundle structure with structure group O(m). And if M is orientable the structure can be further reduced to a gauge natural bundle with structure group SO(m).

Roughly speaking, the task is achieved by imposing restrictions to cocycles which generate T(M) according to the prescription by imposing a privileged class of changes of local laboratories and sets of measures. Imposing the cocycle ψ(αβ) to take its values in O(m) rather than in the larger group GL(m). Inequivalent gauge natural structures are in one-to-one correspondence with (non isometric) Riemannian metrics on M. Actually whenever there is a Lie group homomorphism ρ : GU(m) → G for some s onto some given Lie group G we can build a natural G-principal bundle on M. In fact, let (Uα, ψ(α)) be an atlas of the given manifold M, ψ(αβ) be its transition functions and jψ(αβ) be the induced transition functions of L(M). Then we can define a G-valued cocycle on M by setting ρ(jψ(αβ)) and thence a (unique up to fibered isomorphisms) G-principal bundle P(M) = (P(M), M, π; G). The bundle P(M), as well as any gauge natural bundle associated to it, is natural by construction. Now, defining a whole family of natural U(1)-bundles Pq(M) by using the bundle homomorphisms

ρq: GL(m) → U(1): J ↦ exp(iq ln det|J|) —– (1)

where q is any real number and In denotes the natural logarithm. In the case q = 0 the image of ρ0 is the trivial group {I}; and, all the induced bundles are trivial, i.e. P = M x U(1).

The natural lift φ’ of a diffeomorphism φ: M → M is given by

φ'[x, e]α = [φ(x), eiq ln det|J|. e]α —– (2)

where J is the Jacobin of the morphism φ. The bundles Pq(M) are all trivial since they allow a global section. In fact, on any manifold M, one can define a global Riemannian metric g, where the local sections glue together.

Since the bundles Pq(M) are all trivial, they are all isomorphic to M x U(1) as principal U(1)-bundles, though in a non-canonical way unless q = 0. Any two of the bundles Pq1(M) and Pq2(M) for two different values of q are isomorphic as principal bundles but the isomorphism obtained is not the lift of a spacetime diffeomorphism because of the two different values of q. Thence they are not isomorphic as natural bundles. We are thence facing a very interesting situation: a gauge natural bundle C associated to the trivial principal bundle P can be endowed with an infinite family of natural structures, one for each q ∈ R; each of these natural structures can be used to regard principal connections on P as natural objects on M and thence one can regard electromagnetism as a natural theory.

Now that the mathematical situation has been a little bit clarified, it is again a matter of physical interpretation. One can in fact restrict to electromagnetic potentials which are a priori connections on a trivial structure bundle P ≅ M x U(1) or to accept that more complicated situations may occur in Nature. But, non-trivial situations are still empirically unsupported, at least at a fundamental level.

Morphism of Complexes Induces Corresponding Morphisms on Cohomology Objects – Thought of the Day 146.0

Let A = Mod(R) be an abelian category. A complex in A is a sequence of objects and morphisms in A

… → Mi-1 →di-1 Mi →di → Mi+1 → …

such that di ◦ di-1 = 0 ∀ i. We denote such a complex by M.

A morphism of complexes f : M → N is a sequence of morphisms fi : Mi → Ni in A, making the following diagram commute, where diM, diN denote the respective differentials:


We let C(A) denote the category whose objects are complexes in A and whose morphisms are morphisms of complexes.

Given a complex M of objects of A, the ith cohomology object is the quotient

Hi(M) = ker(di)/im(di−1)

This operation of taking cohomology at the ith place defines a functor

Hi(−) : C(A) → A,

since a morphism of complexes induces corresponding morphisms on cohomology objects.

Put another way, an object of C(A) is a Z-graded object

M = ⊕i Mi

of A, equipped with a differential, in other words an endomorphism d: M → M satisfying d2 = 0. The occurrence of differential graded objects in physics is well-known. In mathematics they are also extremely common. In topology one associates to a space X a complex of free abelian groups whose cohomology objects are the cohomology groups of X. In algebra it is often convenient to replace a module over a ring by resolutions of various kinds.

A topological space X may have many triangulations and these lead to different chain complexes. Associating to X a unique equivalence class of complexes, resolutions of a fixed module of a given type will not usually be unique and one would like to consider all these resolutions on an equal footing.

A morphism of complexes f: M → N is a quasi-isomorphism if the induced morphisms on cohomology

Hi(f): Hi(M) → Hi(N) are isomorphisms ∀ i.

Two complexes M and N are said to be quasi-isomorphic if they are related by a chain of quasi-isomorphisms. In fact, it is sufficient to consider chains of length one, so that two complexes M and N are quasi-isomorphic iff there are quasi-isomorphisms

M ← P → N

For example, the chain complex of a topological space is well-defined up to quasi-isomorphism because any two triangulations have a common resolution. Similarly, all possible resolutions of a given module are quasi-isomorphic. Indeed, if

0 → S →f M0 →d0 M1 →d1 M2 → …

is a resolution of a module S, then by definition the morphism of complexes


is a quasi-isomorphism.

The objects of the derived category D(A) of our abelian category A will just be complexes of objects of A, but morphisms will be such that quasi-isomorphic complexes become isomorphic in D(A). In fact we can formally invert the quasi-isomorphisms in C(A) as follows:

There is a category D(A) and a functor Q: C(A) → D(A)

with the following two properties:

(a) Q inverts quasi-isomorphisms: if s: a → b is a quasi-isomorphism, then Q(s): Q(a) → Q(b) is an isomorphism.

(b) Q is universal with this property: if Q′ : C(A) → D′ is another functor which inverts quasi-isomorphisms, then there is a functor F : D(A) → D′ and an isomorphism of functors Q′ ≅ F ◦ Q.

First, consider the category C(A) as an oriented graph Γ, with the objects lying at the vertices and the morphisms being directed edges. Let Γ∗ be the graph obtained from Γ by adding in one extra edge s−1: b → a for each quasi-isomorphism s: a → b. Thus a finite path in Γ∗ is a sequence of the form f1 · f2 ·· · ·· fr−1 · fr where each fi is either a morphism of C(A), or is of the form s−1 for some quasi-isomorphism s of C(A). There is a unique minimal equivalence relation ∼ on the set of finite paths in Γ∗ generated by the following relations:

(a) s · s−1 ∼ idb and s−1 · s ∼ ida for each quasi-isomorphism s: a → b in C(A).

(b) g · f ∼ g ◦ f for composable morphisms f: a → b and g: b → c of C(A).

Define D(A) to be the category whose objects are the vertices of Γ∗ (these are the same as the objects of C(A)) and whose morphisms are given by equivalence classes of finite paths in Γ∗. Define a functor Q: C(A) → D(A) by using the identity morphism on objects, and by sending a morphism f of C(A) to the length one path in Γ∗ defined by f. The resulting functor Q satisfies the conditions of the above lemma.

The second property ensures that the category D(A) of the Lemma is unique up to equivalence of categories. We define the derived category of A to be any of these equivalent categories. The functor Q: C(A) → D(A) is called the localisation functor. Observe that there is a fully faithful functor

J: A → C(A)

which sends an object M to the trivial complex with M in the zeroth position, and a morphism F: M → N to the morphism of complexes


Composing with Q we obtain a functor A → D(A) which we denote by J. This functor J is fully faithful, and so defines an embedding A → D(A). By definition the functor Hi(−): C(A) → A inverts quasi-isomorphisms and so descends to a functor

Hi(−): D(A) → A

establishing that composite functor H0(−) ◦ J is isomorphic to the identity functor on A.

Categories of Pointwise Convergence Topology: Theory(ies) of Bundles.

Let H be a fixed, separable Hilbert space of dimension ≥ 1. Lets denote the associated projective space of H by P = P(H). It is compact iff H is finite-dimensional. Let PU = PU(H) = U(H)/U(1) be the projective unitary group of H equipped with the compact-open topology. A projective bundle over X is a locally trivial bundle of projective spaces, i.e., a fibre bundle P → X with fibre P(H) and structure group PU(H). An application of the Banach-Steinhaus theorem shows that we may identify projective bundles with principal PU(H)-bundles and the pointwise convergence topology on PU(H).

If G is a topological group, let GX denote the sheaf of germs of continuous functions G → X, i.e., the sheaf associated to the constant presheaf given by U → F(U) = G. Given a projective bundle P → X and a sufficiently fine good open cover {Ui}i∈I of X, the transition functions between trivializations P|Ui can be lifted to bundle isomorphisms gij on double intersections Uij = Ui ∩ Uj which are projectively coherent, i.e., over each of the triple intersections Uijk = Ui ∩ Uj ∩ Uk the composition gki gjk gij is given as multiplication by a U(1)-valued function fijk : Uijk → U(1). The collection {(Uij, fijk)} defines a U(1)-valued two-cocycle called a B-field on X,which represents a class BP in the sheaf cohomology group H2(X, U(1)X). On the other hand, the sheaf cohomology H1(X, PU(H)X) consists of isomorphism classes of principal PU(H)-bundles, and we can consider the isomorphism class [P] ∈ H1(X,PU(H)X).

There is an isomorphism

H1(X, PU(H)X) → H2(X, U(1)X) provided by the

boundary map [P] ↦ BP. There is also an isomorphism

H2(X, U(1)X) → H3(X, ZX) ≅ H3(X, Z)

The image δ(P) ∈ H3(X, Z) of BP is called the Dixmier-Douady invariant of P. When δ(P) = [H] is represented in H3(X, R) by a closed three-form H on X, called the H-flux of the given B-field BP, we will write P = PH. One has δ(P) = 0 iff the projective bundle P comes from a vector bundle E → X, i.e., P = P(E). By Serre’s theorem every torsion element of H3(X,Z) arises from a finite-dimensional bundle P. Explicitly, consider the commutative diagram of exact sequences of groups given by


where we identify the cyclic group Zn with the group of n-th roots of unity. Let P be a projective bundle with structure group PU(n), i.e., with fibres P(Cn). Then the commutative diagram of long exact sequences of sheaf cohomology groups associated to the above commutative diagram of groups implies that the element BP ∈ H2(X, U(1)X) comes from H2(X, (Zn)X), and therefore its order divides n.

One also has δ(P1 ⊗ P2) = δ(P1) + δ(P2) and δ(P) = −δ(P). This follows from the commutative diagram


and the fact that P ⊗ P = P(E) where E is the vector bundle of Hilbert-Schmidt endomorphisms of P . Putting everything together, it follows that the cohomology group H3(X, Z) is isomorphic to the group of stable equivalence classes of principal PU(H)-bundles P → X with the operation of tensor product.

We are now ready to define the twisted K-theory of the manifold X equipped with a projective bundle P → X, such that Px = P(H) ∀ x ∈ X. We will first give a definition in terms of Fredholm operators, and then provide some equivalent, but more geometric definitions. Let H be a Z2-graded Hilbert space. We define Fred0(H) to be the space of self-adjoint degree 1 Fredholm operators T on H such that T2 − 1 ∈ K(H), together with the subspace topology induced by the embedding Fred0(H) ֒→ B(H) × K(H) given by T → (T, T2 − 1) where the algebra of bounded linear operators B(H) is given the compact-open topology and the Banach algebra of compact operators K = K(H) is given the norm topology.

Let P = PH → X be a projective Hilbert bundle. Then we can construct an associated bundle Fred0(P) whose fibres are Fred0(H). We define the twisted K-theory group of the pair (X, P) to be the group of homotopy classes of maps

K0(X, H) = [X, Fred0(PH)]

The group K0(X, H) depends functorially on the pair (X, PH), and an isomorphism of projective bundles ρ : P → P′ induces a group isomorphism ρ∗ : K0(X, H) → K0(X, H′). Addition in K0(X, H) is defined by fibre-wise direct sum, so that the sum of two elements lies in K0(X, H2) with [H2] = δ(P ⊗ P(C2)) = δ(P) = [H]. Under the isomorphism H ⊗ C2 ≅ H, there is a projective bundle isomorphism P → P ⊗ P(C2) for any projective bundle P and so K0(X, H2) is canonically isomorphic to K0(X, H). When [H] is a non-torsion element of H3(X, Z), so that P = PH is an infinite-dimensional bundle of projective spaces, then the index map K0(X, H) → Z is zero, i.e., any section of Fred0(P) takes values in the index zero component of Fred0(H).

Let us now describe some other models for twisted K-theory which will be useful in our physical applications later on. A definition in algebraic K-theory may given as follows. A bundle of projective spaces P yields a bundle End(P) of algebras. However, if H is an infinite-dimensional Hilbert space, then one has natural isomorphisms H ≅ H ⊕ H and

End(H) ≅ Hom(H ⊕ H, H) ≅ End(H) ⊕ End(H)

as left End(H)-modules, and so the algebraic K-theory of the algebra End(H) is trivial. Instead, we will work with the Banach algebra K(H) of compact operators on H with the norm topology. Given that the unitary group U(H) with the compact-open topology acts continuously on K(H) by conjugation, to a given projective bundle PH we can associate a bundle of compact operators EH → X given by


with δ(EH) = [H]. The Banach algebra AH := C0(X, EH) of continuous sections of EH vanishing at infinity is the continuous trace C∗-algebra CT(X, H). Then the twisted K-theory group K(X, H) of X is canonically isomorphic to the algebraic K-theory group K(AH).

We will also need a smooth version of this definition. Let AH be the smooth subalgebra of AH given by the algebra CT(X, H) = C(X, L1PH),

where L1PH = PH ×PUL1. Then the inclusion CT(X, H) → CT(X, H) induces an isomorphism KCT(X, H) → KCT(X, H) of algebraic K-theory groups. Upon choosing a bundle gerbe connection, one has an isomorphism KCT(X, H) ≅ K(X, H) with the twisted K-theory defined in terms of projective Hilbert bundles P = PH over X.

Finally, we propose a general definition based on K-theory with coefficients in a sheaf of rings. It parallels the bundle gerbe approach to twisted K-theory. Let B be a Banach algebra over C. Let E(B, X) be the category of continuous B-bundles over X, and let C(X, B) be the sheaf of continuous maps X → B. The ring structure in B equips C(X, B) with the structure of a sheaf of rings over X. We can therefore consider left (or right) C(X, B)-modules, and in particular the category LF C(X, B) of locally free C(X, B)-modules. Using the functor in the usual way, for X an equivalence of additive categories

E(B, X) ≅ LF (C(X, B))

Since these are both additive categories, we can apply the Grothendieck functor to each of them and obtain the abelian groups K(LF(C(X, B))) and K(E(B, X)). The equivalence of categories ensures that there is a natural isomorphism of groups

K(LF (C(X, B))) ≅ K(E(B, X))

This motivates the following general definition. If A is a sheaf of rings over X, then we define the K-theory of X with coefficients in A to be the abelian group

K(X, A) := K LF(A)

For example, consider the case B = C. Then C(X, C) is just the sheaf of continuous functions X → C, while E(C, X) is the category of complex vector bundles over X. Using the isomorphism of K-theory groups we then have

K(X, C(X,C)) := K(LF (C(X, C))) ≅ K (E(C, X)) = K0(X)

The definition of twisted K-theory uses another special instance of this general construction. For this, we define an Azumaya algebra over X of rank m to be a locally trivial algebra bundle over X with fibre isomorphic to the algebra of m × m complex matrices over C, Mm(C). An example is the algebra End(E) of endomorphisms of a complex vector bundle E → X. We can define an equivalence relation on the set A(X) of Azumaya algebras over X in the following way. Two Azumaya algebras A, A′ are called equivalent if there are vector bundles E, E′ over X such that the algebras A ⊗ End(E), A′ ⊗ End(E′) are isomorphic. Then every Azumaya algebra of the form End(E) is equivalent to the algebra of functions C(X) on X. The set of all equivalence classes is a group under the tensor product of algebras, called the Brauer group of X and denoted Br(X). By Serre’s theorem there is an isomorphism

δ : Br(X) → tor(H3(X, Z))

where tor(H3(X, Z)) is the torsion subgroup of H3(X, Z).

If A is an Azumaya algebra bundle, then the space of continuous sections C(X, A) of X is a ring and we can consider the algebraic K-theory group K(A) := K0(C(X,A)) of equivalence classes of projective C(X, A)-modules, which depends only on the equivalence class of A in the Brauer group. Under the equivalence, we can represent the Brauer group Br(X) as the set of isomorphism classes of sheaves of Azumaya algebras. Let A be a sheaf of Azumaya algebras, and LF(A) the category of locally free A-modules. Then as above there is an isomorphism

K(X, C(X, A)) ≅ K Proj (C(X, A))

where Proj (C(X, A)) is the category of finitely-generated projective C(X, A)-modules. The group on the right-hand side is the group K(A). For given [H] ∈ tor(H3(X, Z)) and A ∈ Br(X) such that δ(A) = [H], this group can be identified as the twisted K-theory group K0(X, H) of X with twisting A. This definition is equivalent to the description in terms of bundle gerbe modules, and from this construction it follows that K0(X, H) is a subgroup of the ordinary K-theory of X. If δ(A) = 0, then A is equivalent to C(X) and we have K(A) := K0(C(X)) = K0(X). The projective C(X, A)-modules over a rank m Azumaya algebra A are vector bundles E → X with fibre Cnm ≅ (Cm)⊕n, which is naturally an Mm(C)-module.


Ringed Spaces (1)


A ringed space is a broad concept in which we can fit most of the interesting geometrical objects. It consists of a topological space together with a sheaf of functions on it.

Let M be a differentiable manifold, whose topological space is Hausdorff and second countable. For each open set U ⊂ M , let C(U) be the R-algebra of smooth functions on U .

The assignment

U ↦ C(U)

satisfies the following two properties:

(1) If U ⊂ V are two open sets in M, we can define the restriction map, which is an algebra morphism:

rV, U : C(V) → C(U), ƒ ↦ ƒ|U

which is such that

i) rU, U = id

ii) rW, U = rV, U ○ rW, V

(2) Let {Ui}i∈I be an open covering of U and let {ƒi}i∈I, ƒi ∈ C(Ui) be a family such that ƒi|Ui ∩ Uj = ƒj| Ui ∩ Uj ∀ i, j ∈ I. In other words the elements of the family {ƒi}i∈I agree on the intersection of any two open sets Ui ∩ Uj. Then there exists a unique ƒ ∈ C(U) such that ƒ|Ui = ƒi.

Such an assignment is called a sheaf. The pair (M, C), consisting of the topological space M, underlying the differentiable manifold, and the sheaf of the C functions on M is an example of locally ringed space (the word “locally” refers to a local property of the sheaf of C functions.

Given two manifolds M and N, and the respective sheaves of smooth functions CM and CN, a morphism ƒ from M to N, viewed as ringed spaces, is a morphism |ƒ|: M → N of the underlying topological spaces together with a morphism of algebras,

ƒ*: CN(V) →  CM-1(V)), ƒ*(φ)(x) = φ(|ƒ|(x))

compatible with the restriction morphisms.

Notice that, as soon as we give the continuous map |ƒ| between the topological spaces, the morphism ƒ* is automatically assigned. This is a peculiarity of the sheaf of smooth functions on a manifold. Such a property is no longer true for a generic ringed space and, in particular, it is not true for supermanifolds.

A morphism of differentiable manifolds gives rise to a unique (locally) ringed space morphism and vice versa.

Moreover, given two manifolds, they are isomorphic as manifolds iff they are isomorphic as (locally) ringed spaces. In the language of categories, we say we have a fully faithful functor from the category of manifolds to the category of locally ringed spaces.

The generalization of algebraic geometry to the super-setting comes somehow more naturally than the similar generalization of differentiable geometry. This is because the machinery of algebraic geometry was developed to take already into account the presence of (even) nilpotents and consequently, the language is more suitable to supergeometry.

Let X be an affine algebraic variety in the affine space An over an algebraically closed field k and let O(X) = k[x1,…., xn]/I be its coordinate ring, where the ideal I is prime. This corresponds topologically to the irreducibility of the variety X. We can think of the points of X as the zeros of the polynomials in the ideal I in An. X is a topological space with respect to the Zariski topology, whose closed sets are the zeros of the polynomials in the ideals of O(X). For each open U in X, consider the assignment

U ↦ OX(U)

where OX(U) is the k-algebra of regular functions on U. By definition, these are the functions ƒ X → k that can be expressed as a quotient of two polynomials at each point of U ⊂ X. The assignment U ↦ OX(U) is another example of a sheaf is called the structure sheaf of the variety X or the sheaf of regular functions. (X, OX) is another example of a (locally) ringed space.

Canonical Actions on Bundles – Philosophizing Identity Over Gauge Transformations.


In physical applications, fiber bundles often come with a preferred group of transformations (usually the symmetry group of the system). The modem attitude of physicists is to regard this group as a fundamental structure which should be implemented from the very beginning enriching bundles with a further structure and defining a new category.

A similar feature appears on manifolds as well: for example, on ℜ2 one can restrict to Cartesian coordinates when we regard it just as a vector space endowed with a differentiable structure, but one can allow also translations if the “bigger” affine structure is considered. Moreover, coordinates can be chosen in much bigger sets: for instance one can fix the symplectic form w = dx ∧ dy on ℜ2 so that ℜ2 is covered by an atlas of canonical coordinates (which include all Cartesian ones). But ℜ2 also happens to be identifiable with the cotangent bundle T*ℜ so that we can restrict the previous symplectic atlas to allow only natural fibered coordinates. Finally, ℜ2 can be considered as a bare manifold so that general curvilinear coordinates should be allowed accordingly; only if the full (i.e., unrestricted) manifold structure is considered one can use a full maximal atlas. Other choices define instead maximal atlases in suitably restricted sub-classes of allowed charts. As any manifold structure is associated with a maximal atlas, geometric bundles are associated to “maximal trivializations”. However, it may happen that one can restrict (or enlarge) the allowed local trivializations, so that the same geometrical bundle can be trivialized just using the appropriate smaller class of local trivializations. In geometrical terms this corresponds, of course, to impose a further structure on the bare bundle. Of course, this newly structured bundle is defined by the same basic ingredients, i.e. the same base manifold M, the same total space B, the same projection π and the same standard fiber F, but it is characterized by a new maximal trivialization where, however, maximal refers now to a smaller set of local trivializations.

Examples are: vector bundles are characterized by linear local trivializations, affine bundles are characterized by affine local trivializations, principal bundles are characterized by left translations on the fiber group. Further examples come from Physics: gauge transformations are used as transition functions for the configuration bundles of any gauge theory. For these reasons we give the following definition of a fiber bundle with structure group.

A fiber bundle with structure group G is given by a sextuple B = (E, M, π; F ;>.., G) such that:

  • (E, M, π; F) is a fiber bundle. The structure group G is a Lie group (possibly a discrete one) and λ : G —–> Diff(F) defines a left action of G on the standard fiber F .
  • There is a family of preferred trivializations {(Uα, t(α)}α∈I of B such that the following holds: let the transition functions be gˆ(αβ) : Uαβ —–> Diff(F) and let eG be the neutral element of G. ∃ a family of maps g(αβ) : Uαβ —–> G such

    that, for each x ∈ Uαβγ = Uα ∩ Uβ ∩ Uγ

    g(αα)(x) = eG

    g(αβ)(x) = [g(βα)(x)]-1

    g(αβ)(x) . g(βγ)(x) . g(γα)(x) = eG


    (αβ)(x) = λ(g(αβ)(x)) ∈ Diff(F)

The maps g(αβ) : Uαβ —–> G, which depend on the trivialization, are said to form a cocycle with values in G. They are called the transition functions with values in G (or also shortly the transition functions). The preferred trivializations will be said to be compatible with the structure. Whenever dealing with fiber bundles with structure group the choice of a compatible trivialization will be implicitly assumed.

Fiber bundles with structure group provide the suitable framework to deal with bundles with a preferred group of transformations. To see this, let us begin by introducing the notion of structure bundle of a fiber bundle with structure group B = (B, M, π; F; x, G).

Let B = (B, M, π; F; x, G) be a bundle with a structure group; let us fix a trivialization {(Uα, t(α)}α∈I and denote by g(αβ) : Uαβ —–> G its transition functions. By using the canonical left action L : G —–> Diff(G) of G onto itself, let us define gˆ(αβ) : Uαβ —–> Diff(G) given by gˆ(αβ)(x) = L (g(αβ)(x)); they obviously satisfy the cocycle properties. Now by constructing a (unique modulo isomorphisms) principal bundle PB = P(B) having G as structure group and g(αβ) as transition functions acting on G by left translation Lg : G —> G.

The principal bundle P(B) = (P, M, p; G) constructed above is called the structure bundle of B = (B, M, π; F; λ, G).

Notice that there is no similar canonical way of associating a structure bundle to a geometric bundle B = (B, M, π; F), since in that case the structure group G is at least partially undetermined.

Each automorphism of P(B) naturally acts over B.

Let, in fact, {σ(α)}α∈I be a trivialization of PB together with its transition functions g(αβ) : Uαβ —–> G defined by σ(β) = σ(α) . g(αβ). Then any principal morphism Φ = (Φ, φ) over PB is locally represented by local maps ψ(α) : Uα —> G such that

Φ : [x, h]α ↦ [φ(α)(x), ψ(α)(x).h](α)

Since Φ is a global automorphism of PB for the above local expression, the following property holds true in Uαβ.

φ(α)(x) = φ(β)(x) ≡ x’

ψ(α)(x) = g(αβ)(x’) . ψ(β)(x) . g(βα)(x)

By using the family of maps {(φ(α), ψ(α))} one can thence define a family of global automorphisms of B. In fact, using the trivialization {(Uα, t(α)}α∈I, one can define local automorphisms of B given by

Φ(α)B : (x, y) ↦ (φ(α)(x), [λ(ψ(α)(x))](y))

These local maps glue together to give a global automorphism ΦB of the bundle B, due to the fact that g(αβ) are also transition functions of B with respect to its trivialization {(Uα, t(α)}α∈I.

In this way B is endowed with a preferred group of transformations, namely the group Aut(PB) of automorphisms of the structure bundle PB, represented on B by means of the canonical action. These transformations are called (generalized) gauge transformations. Vertical gauge transformations, i.e. gauge transformations projecting over the identity, are also called pure gauge transformations.

Functoriality in Low Dimensions. Note Quote.

Let CW be the category of CW-complexes and cellular maps, let CW0 be the full subcategory of path connected CW-complexes and let CW1 be the full subcategory of simply connected CW-complexes. Let HoCW denote the category of CW-complexes and homotopy classes of cellular maps. Let HoCWn denote the category of CW-complexes and rel n-skeleton homotopy classes of cellular maps. Dimension n = 1: It is straightforward to define a covariant truncation functor

t<n = t<1 : CW0 → HoCW together with a natural transformation

emb1 : t<1 → t<∞,

where t<∞ : CW0 → HoCW is the natural “inclusion-followed-by-quotient” functor given by t<∞(K) = K for objects K and t<∞(f) = [f] for morphisms f, such that for all objects K, emb1∗ : H0(t<1K) → H0(t<∞K) is an isomorphism and Hr(t<1K) = 0 for r ≥ 1. The details are as follows: For a path connected CW-complex K, set t<1(K) = k0, where k0 is a 0-cell of K. Let emb1(K) : t<1(K) = k0 → t<∞(K) = K be the inclusion of k0 in K. Then emb1∗ is an isomorphism on H0 as K is path connected. Clearly Hr(t<1K) = 0 for r ≥ 1. Let f : K → L be a cellular map between objects of CW0. The morphism t<1(f) : t<1(K) = k0 → l0 = t<1(L) is the homotopy class of the unique map from a point to a point. In particular, t<1(idK) = [idk0] and for a cellular map g : L → P we have t<1(gf) = t<1(g) ◦ t<1(f), so that t<1 is indeed a functor. To show that emb1 is a natural transformation, we need to see that


that is


commutes in HoCW. This is where we need the functor t<1 to have values only in HoCW, not in CW, because the square need certainly not commute in CW. (The points k0 and l0 do not know anything about f, so l0 need not be the image of k0 under f.) Since L is path connected, there is a path ω : I → L from l0 = ω(0) to f (k0) = ω(1). Then H : {k0} × I → L, H(k0, t) = ω(t), defines a homotopy from

k0 → l0 → L to k0 → K →f L.

Dimension n = 2: We will define a covariant truncation functor t<n = t<2 : CW1 → HoCW

together with a natural transformation
emb2 : t<2 → t<∞,

where t<∞ : CW1 → HoCW is as above (only restricted to simply connected spaces), such that for all objects K, emb2∗ : Hr(t<2K) → Hr(t<∞K) is an isomorphism for r = 0, 1, and Hr(t<2K) = 0 for r ≥ 2. For a simply connected CW-complex K, set t<2(K) = k0, where k0 is a 0-cell of K. Let emb2(K) : t<2(K) = k0 → t<∞(K) = K be the inclusion as in the case n = 1. It follows that emb2∗ is an isomorphism both on H0 as K is path connected and on H1 as H1(k0) = 0 = H1(K), while trivially Hr(t<2K) = 0 for r ≥ 2. On a cellular map f, t<2(f) is defined as in the case n = 1. As in the case n = 1, this yields a functor and emb2 is a natural transformation.

Homotopically Truncated Spaces.

The Eckmann–Hilton dual of the Postnikov decomposition of a space is the homology decomposition (or Moore space decomposition) of a space.

A Postnikov decomposition for a simply connected CW-complex X is a commutative diagram


such that pn∗ : πr(X) → πr(Pn(X)) is an isomorphism for r ≤ n and πr(Pn(X)) = 0 for r > n. Let Fn be the homotopy fiber of qn. Then the exact sequence

πr+1(PnX) →qn∗ πr+1(Pn−1X) → πr(Fn) → πr(PnX) →qn∗ πr(Pn−1X)

shows that Fn is an Eilenberg–MacLane space K(πnX, n). Constructing Pn+1(X) inductively from Pn(X) requires knowing the nth k-invariant, which is a map of the form kn : Pn(X) → Yn. The space Pn+1(X) is then the homotopy fiber of kn. Thus there is a homotopy fibration sequence

K(πn+1X, n+1) → Pn+1(X) → Pn(X) → Yn

This means that K(πn+1X, n+1) is homotopy equivalent to the loop space ΩYn. Consequently,

πr(Yn) ≅ πr−1(ΩYn) ≅ πr−1(K(πn+1X, n+1) = πn+1X, r = n+2,

= 0, otherwise.

and we see that Yn is a K(πn+1X, n+2). Thus the nth k-invariant is a map kn : Pn(X) → K(πn+1X, n+2)

Note that it induces the zero map on all homotopy groups, but is not necessarily homotopic to the constant map. The original space X is weakly homotopy equivalent to the inverse limit of the Pn(X).

Applying the paradigm of Eckmann–Hilton duality, we arrive at the homology decomposition principle from the Postnikov decomposition principle by changing:

    • the direction of all arrows
    • π to H
    • loops Ω to suspensions S
    • fibrations to cofibrations and fibers to cofibers
    • Eilenberg–MacLane spaces K(G, n) to Moore spaces M(G, n)
    • inverse limits to direct limits

A homology decomposition (or Moore space decomposition) for a simply connected CW-complex X is a commutative diagram


such that jn∗ : Hr(X≤n) → Hr(X) is an isomorphism for r ≤ n and Hr(X≤n) = 0 for

r > n. Let Cn be the homotopy cofiber of in. Then the exact sequence

Hr(X≤n−1) →in∗ Hr(X≤n) → Hr(Cn) →in∗ Hr−1(X≤n−1) → Hr−1(X≤n)

shows that Cn is a Moore space M(HnX, n). Constructing X≤n+1 inductively from X≤n requires knowing the nth k-invariant, which is a map of the form kn : Yn → X≤n.

The space X≤n+1 is then the homotopy cofiber of kn. Thus there is a homotopy cofibration sequence

Ynkn X≤nin+1 X≤n+1 → M(Hn+1X, n+1)

This means that M(Hn+1X, n+1) is homotopy equivalent to the suspension SYn. Consequently,

H˜r(Yn) ≅ Hr+1(SYn) ≅ Hr+1(M(Hn+1X, n+1)) = Hn+1X, r = n,

= 0, otherwise

and we see that Yn is an M(Hn+1X, n). Thus the nth k-invariant is a map kn : M(Hn+1X, n) → X≤n

It induces the zero map on all reduced homology groups, which is a nontrivial statement to make in degree n:

kn∗ : Hn(M(Hn+1X, n)) ∼= Hn+1(X) → Hn(X) ∼= Hn(X≤n)

The original space X is homotopy equivalent to the direct limit of the X≤n. The Eckmann–Hilton duality paradigm, while being a very valuable organizational principle, does have its natural limitations. Postnikov approximations possess rather good functorial properties: Let pn(X) : X → Pn(X) be a stage-n Postnikov approximation for X, that is, pn(X) : πr(X) → πr(Pn(X)) is an isomorphism for r ≤ n and πr(Pn(X)) = 0 for r > n. If Z is a space with πr(Z) = 0 for r > n, then any map g : X → Z factors up to homotopy uniquely through Pn(X). In particular, if f : X → Y is any map and pn(Y) : Y → Pn(Y) is a stage-n Postnikov approximation for Y, then, taking Z = Pn(Y) and g = pn(Y) ◦ f, there exists, uniquely up to homotopy, a map pn(f) : Pn(X) → Pn(Y) such that


homotopy commutes. Let X = S22 e3 be a Moore space M(Z/2,2) and let Y = X ∨ S3. If X≤2 and Y≤2 denote stage-2 Moore approximations for X and Y, respectively, then X≤2 = X and Y≤2 = X. We claim that whatever maps i : X≤2 → X and j : Y≤2 → Y such that i : Hr(X≤2) → Hr(X) and j : Hr(Y≤2) → Hr(Y) are isomorphisms for r ≤ 2 one takes, there is always a map f : X → Y that cannot be compressed into the stage-2 Moore approximations, i.e. there is no map f≤2 : X≤2 → Y≤2 such that


commutes up to homotopy. We shall employ the universal coefficient exact sequence for homotopy groups with coefficients. If G is an abelian group and M(G, n) a Moore space, then there is a short exact sequence

0 → Ext(G, πn+1Y) →ι [M(G, n), Y] →η Hom(G, πnY) → 0,

where Y is any space and [−,−] denotes pointed homotopy classes of maps. The map η is given by taking the induced homomorphism on πn and using the Hurewicz isomorphism. This universal coefficient sequence is natural in both variables. Hence, the following diagram commutes:


Here we will briefly write E2(−) = Ext(Z/2,−) so that E2(G) = G/2G, and EY (−) = Ext(−, π3Y). By the Hurewicz theorem, π2(X) ∼= H2(X) ∼= Z/2, π2(Y) ∼= H2(Y) ∼= Z/2, and π2(i) : π2(X≤2) → π2(X), as well as π2(j) : π2(Y≤2) → π2(Y), are isomorphisms, hence the identity. If a homomorphism φ : A → B of abelian groups is onto, then E2(φ) : E2(A) = A/2A → B/2B = E2(B) remains onto. By the Hurewicz theorem, Hur : π3(Y) → H3(Y) = Z is onto. Consequently, the induced map E2(Hur) : E23Y) → E2(H3Y) = E2(Z) = Z/2 is onto. Let ξ ∈ E2(H3Y) be the generator. Choose a preimage x ∈ E23Y), E2(Hur)(x) = ξ and set [f] = ι(x) ∈ [X,Y]. Suppose there existed a homotopy class [f≤2] ∈ [X≤2, Y≤2] such that

j[f≤2] = i[f].


η≤2[f≤2] = π2(j)η≤2[f≤2] = ηj[f≤2] = ηi[f] = π2(i)η[f] = π2(i)ηι(x) = 0.

Thus there is an element ε ∈ E23Y≤2) such that ι≤2(ε) = [f≤2]. From ιE2π3(j)(ε) = jι≤2(ε) = j[f≤2] = i[f] = iι(x) = ιEY π2(i)(x)

we conclude that E2π3(j)(ε) = x since ι is injective. By naturality of the Hurewicz map, the square


commutes and induces a commutative diagram upon application of E2(−):


It follows that

ξ = E2(Hur)(x) = E2(Hur)E2π3(j)(ε) = E2H3(j)E2(Hur)(ε) = 0,

a contradiction. Therefore, no compression [f≤2] of [f] exists.

Given a cellular map, it is not always possible to adjust the extra structure on the source and on the target of the map so that the map preserves the structures. Thus the category theoretic setup automatically, and in a natural way, singles out those continuous maps that can be compressed into homologically truncated spaces.