Math 529, Spring 2014


Course Title: Algebraic Topology

Instructor: Nigel Higson

Meeting Times: Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays, 1:25-2:15 in 104 Osmond.

Office Hours:  By appointment, or just try your luck and stop by my office, 228 McAllister.

Prerequisites:  The main requirements will be familiarity with the basic concepts of general topology (topological spaces, continuity, campactness, connectedness and so on) as well as familiarity with basic abstract algebra (groups, homomorphisms, quotient groups) and linear algebra.  Some experience with manifolds will be helpful, but not required.

Overview:   The main topic of the course will be the homology and cohomology of topological spaces: definitions, Eilenberg-Steenrod axioms, products, coefficients.  I’ll give applications to manifolds, fixed point theory, and, if time permits, to vector bundles.  Depending on the class’s prior exposure to the topic, I may or may not take time out to discuss covering spaces and the fundamental group.

Texts:  There will be no official textbooks.  There are lots of good books out there, including Hatcher’s, which is available from his web page.The book I’ll be following the closest is Homology Theory, by James Vick, and it’s available from a variety of sources.

Homework:  I’ll hand out occasional homework problems to help you deepen your understanding of the material that we’ll cover.  I’ll ask you to hand in some, but not all of the homework.  I’ll try to devote class periods once in a while to the discussion of problems.

Exams:  There will be none.

Academic Integrity:  All Penn State policies regarding ethics and honorable behavior apply to this course (see links below for policy statements). Academic integrity is the pursuit of scholarly activity free from fraud and deception and is an educational objective of this institution. All University policies regarding academic integrity apply to this course. Academic dishonesty includes, but is not limited to, cheating, plagiarizing, fabricating of information or citations, facilitating acts of academic dishonesty by others, having unauthorized possession of examinations, submitting work of another person or work previously used without informing the instructor, or tampering with the academic work of other students. For any material or ideas obtained from other sources, such as the text or things you see on the web, in the library, etc., a source reference must be given. Direct quotes from any source must be identified as such. All exam answers must be your own, and you must not provide any assistance to other students during exams. Any instances of academic dishonesty WILL be pursued under the University and Eberly College of Science regulations concerning academic integrity. 

For a more compelling account of what honesty and integrity should mean, at least for a scientist (or a mathematician), consider these famous words of Richard Feynman. 

Disability Statement: Penn State welcomes students with disabilities into the University's educational programs. Every Penn State campus has an office for students with disabilities. The Office for Disability Services (ODS) Web site provides contact information for every Penn State campus: For further information, please visit the Office for Disability Services Web site:   In order to receive consideration for reasonable accommodations, you must contact the appropriate disability services office at the campus where you are officially enrolled, participate in an intake interview, and provide documentation: If the documentation supports your request for reasonable accommodations, your campus’s disability services office will provide you with an accommodation letter. Please share this letter with your instructors and discuss the accommodations with them as early in your courses as possible. You must follow this process for every semester that you request accommodations.

Nigel Higson - 2014