# Lecture on Equivariant Cohomology

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1 Lecture on Equivariant Cohomology Sébastien Racanière February 20, 2004 I wrote these notes for a hours lecture at Imperial College during January and February. Of course, I tried to track down and remove all mistakes from them. Nevertheless it is very unlikely I succeeded in doing so. If you find any, please let me know. For a topological space, we will denote the singular cohomology with coefficients in. If is a manifold, it will also sometimes mean the de Rham cohomology. It will either be clear which one is meant, or it will not matter at all. 1 Prerequisite Theorem 1.1 Leray-Hirsch Theorem, [5] Let be a fibre bundle with fibre. Assume that for each degree, the vector space has finite dimension. Assume that, for every, there exists classes! #" %'' +*," in -. that restricts, on each fibre, to a basis of the cohomology in degree. Let /01 2 be an inclusion of a fibre. The map is an isomorphism of FG module. In the case of particular fibre to apply the theorem. 8: B -7 ";<" / - A ";<" connected, it is sufficient to check that / is surjective for a 1

2 Theorem 1.2 Mayer-Vietoris exact sequence, [1] Let be a topological space. Let and be two open subsets such that. There exists a long exact sequence ' 3 6? 7. 3 Theorem 1.3 Theorem 4.41 in [5] If is a fibre bundle with fibre and if is path-connected, then there exists a long exact sequence '!-6 '-7-6!3 The maps 3. and -7 of the fibre in and the projection respectively. FG are induced from the injection Theorem 1.4 Whitehead s theorem, Theorem 4.5 in [5] Let and be two connected CW-complex. Let be a continuous map. Assume that induces isomorphisms between 3 and -7 for all. Then is a homotopy equivalence. If is the inclusion of in, then in addition is a deformation retract of. Theorem 1.5 See [], Chap. I, 5 Let be a fibre bundle in the topological category. Assume that for each in, the fibre satisfies. Then induces an isomorphism Theorem 1.6 [3] If is a bundle with a paracompact base and if ->, is contractible for each > in*, then is shrinkable. That is there exists a section and a homotopy! #"% ' such that 1.!,+ +.-/+10, 2.! 1, /+0, 3.! 5, "7 8. Corollary 1.7 Under the hypothesis of the preceding theorem, and have the same homotopy type and all the sections of are fibre wise homotopic. Theorem 1.8 Gleason Lemma, Chap. I, 2 in [6] If is a compact group then for any space on which acts freely, the projection ;:< is locally trivial. 2

3 2 Motivations Let be a manifold and a compact Lie group acting on. If the action is free then : is a nice manifold and has a nice topology. If the action is not free then the quotient may have bad properties. For example, let the circle act on the sphere by rotation around the vertical axis. The quotient is a segment. It is contractible and its cohomology is trivial. The problem here is that the two poles of the sphere have non-trivial stabilisers. The aim of equivariant cohomology is to provide a cohomology that will be the cohomology of the quotient in the nice case and that will keep some trace of the non-trivial stabilisers. One way to do that is to force the action to be free. For example we could replace by where is a space on which the action is free. But then the cohomology of.6:< depends on the choice of. We will see that we can get away with this problem by asking to have all its homotopy groups to vanish. 3 Definition Let be a compact Lie group. A topological space on which acts is called a -space. If is a -space, the definition of the equivariant cohomology of is very simple. It is the usual cohomology of the quotient of by the diagonal action of, where is some contractible space on which acts freely. Such a space is not unique, but because cohomology is a homotopy invariant, we will see that our definition does not depend on the choice of. Let us start by proving the existence of a contractible space with a free action of. Proposition 3.1 There exists a contractible space on which acts freely. The projection ; is a -principal fibre bundle. The proposition remains true if is simply a topological group see [8]. Proof. There exists an injection of into a + for big enough see [2, Corollary ]. If we find + then we can take to be +. group Let be the space of orthonormal families of vectors in. The and the quotient is the Grassmannian + acts freely on 3

4 of -dimensional subvector spaces of. The map # '' 1 A. Thus because is trivial and be- is a fibre bundle of fibre cause of the long exact sequence of Theorem 1.3, we have whenever. By taking big enough, precisely for can repeat the process and get ' This last group is trivial for. Let be the direct limit of all the also denote by. Lemma 3.2 The group + #, we with the induced topology, which we will is trivial for all. Proof. Let be a map from the sphere to. As is compact, there exists such that 0 is included in. By taking big enough, we see that is homotopic, with respect to the base point, to the constant map. In addition, + acts freely on. The spaces and are CW-complexes. One can find a decomposition of these spaces into CW-complexes such that the decomposition of, resp., is induced by restriction of the one for, resp. the details are left to the reader. Thus and also is a CW-complexe. By Theorem 1.4 and Lemma 3.2, is contractible. Remark 3.3 The space is not unique. Indeed we can replace by where is any contractible space on which acts in whatever way. 4

5 To prove Proposition 3.1 for G with the set of free families of, one just has to replace vectors in. Definition 3.4 We call the quotient ; : the classifying space of. Proposition 3.5 Let be a paracompact -space. The space 7 :, is well defined up to homotopy. Proof. Let and be two contractible spaces on which acts freely. Let be equal to. We make act on by the diagonal action. The natural map 3.6:< 3 : is locally trivial with fibre. Because Corollary 1.7 applies, this map is a homotopy equivalence. The proposition follows since we can do the same with. : and,6:<. Corollary 3.6 The space is well defined up to homotopy. The following Remark justifies the name classifying space for ;. Remark 3.7 If is a paracompact manifold and is a principal - bundle, then there exists a map ;, well defined up to homotopy, such that is isomorphic to 7, the pull-back of the -bundle ; by. Proof. On one hand, the pull-back of the bundle ; by the natural projection ; is the the bundle. On the other hand, the pullback of the principal -bundle by the projection E is also ; Since is a fibration with contractible fibre, Corollary 1.7 applies. Sections of exist. To such a section we associate the composition with the projection ;. The map we get is the we were looking for. For the uniqueness up to homotopy, notice that there exists a one to one correspondence between maps ; such that is isomorphic 5

6 0 + to and sections of. We have just seen how to associate a to a section. Inversely, assume that is given. Let! be an isomorphism between and! Now, simply define a section by,+ 0 "7! 6+,+ Because all sections of are homotopic, the homotopy class of is unique. Proposition 3.8 For all, the groups ;7 and are isomorphic. Proof. Study the long exact sequence arising from the fibre bundle ; of fiber. Definition 3. Let be a space. We define the -equivariant cohomology of to be : + When is paracompact, because of Proposition 3.5, the equivariant cohomology of is well defined. In general one can use Theorem 1.5. Indeed, let 7 and be two contractible spaces on which acts freely. By Theorem 1.5, the maps,, induce isomorphisms E Hence, the equivariant cohomoloyg is well-defined. The equivariant cohomology is a ring and the natural projection ; makes it into a module over 7. This cohomology, as we will see, is a nice one but it lacks certain properties of the usual cohomology of a manifold. For example, Poincaré duality does not work since there is usually no top cohomology class. It is worth mentioning that equivariant cohomology is also well-defined when the group is not a compact Lie 6

7 4 Examples and properties Recall that is a compact Lie group. When we motivated the definition of equivariant cohomology, we said that it should be isomorphic to the cohomology of the quotient when the action is free. Let us prove it is indeed the case. Theorem 4.1 Let be a -space. Assume that the action is free. Then the equivariant cohomology of is the cohomology of the quotient :. In fact, the Theorem remains true for a locally free action. Proof. The map 5 : is a fibre bundle with contractible fibre. By Theorem : Lemma 4.2 If is a contractible -space, its cohomology is the cohomology of the classifying space ;. Proof. Indeed, is a contractible space on which acts freely. The following Proposition tells us what kind of object the equivariant cohomology of a space is. Its proof is easy. Proposition 4.3 Let the projection be a -space. Its equivariant cohomology is a ring. Also, ; is well-defined up to homotopy. It makes 3 into a ; -module. Let us now see what happens in the example we gave in Section 2: the circle action on the -sphere. Definition 4.4 A -space if as 7 modules. is said to be equivariantly formal for the action of 3 ; +4? 7

8 If 3 is finitely generated, then by the Leray-Hirsch Theorem 1.1 it is enough to check that 3 ; 4 3 as vector spaces to prove that is equivariantly formal. A space on which a group acts trivially is equivariantly formal. The reverse is not true as the next Proposition 4.5 will show. Proposition 4.5 Let be the unit sphere in. The action, by rotation around the vertical axis, of the circle on the sphere is equivariantly formal. Proof. The proof requires the following result: in one variable,, of degree ", with - is a polynomial algebra This will be proved in Proposition In particular, is of dimension one and # is of dimension zero. Let, resp., be the open consisting of points above the tropic of Capricorn, resp. below the tropic of Cancer. Both and are contractible and invariant. Thus, by Lemma 4.2, 2. The circle acts freely on the intersection of and. The quotient is a segment, hence point. Using the Mayer-Vietoris sequence for the decomposition of and, we deduce the long exact sequence in ' pt 6 pt By comparing dimensions, we deduce that is equivariantly formal for the action of. Notice that Frances Kirwan proved [7] that if a compact Lie group acts in Hamiltonian way on a compact symplectic manifold then is equivariantly formal for the action of. In particular, since our action of on the sphere is Hamiltonian the symplectic form is the volume form induced by the Euclidean metric of and the moment map is the height function, Proposition 4.5 follows from Kirwan s result. Let us say a few words about equivariant cohomologies with non compact groups. Example 4.6 If is, then and ;. If is, then is as well and ; is just a point. 8 #

9 This last example can be generalised. Proposition 4.7 Let be a topological group and a subgroup. Assume that : is contractible. If is a -space then the cohomologies 3 and are naturally isomorphic. In particular, by taking a connected compact Lie group and its complexification, we see that and equivariant cohomologies are isomorphic. Also, if acts on, then 3. We see this example is not going to be very exciting. Proof. Let 7. be a -principal bundle with a contractible total space. The restricted action of on is also free. Consider 2 7. It is a fibre bundle with contractible fibre : Theorem The proposition follows from Let us get back to more serious things and see some examples of classifying spaces. We showed in the proof of Proposition 3.1 that is contractible. But or of dimensions Example 4.8 thus # is also the direct limit of spheres of either all dimensions. This remark leads to the following examples. 1. The group acts freely on the odd dimensional spheres, 2. The group acts freely on all spheres, thus, the spheres of quaternionic vec- 3. The group acts freely on the tor spaces, thus We wish now to compute the cohomology of the s. To do so we need to develop some tools. From now on, is a compact connected Lie group. Let us recall some basic facts about this kind of Lie groups.

10 Proposition 4. There exists a maximal torus in. All such maximal tori are conjugated. Let G be the normaliser of. The group G : is called the Weyl group. It is a finite group, let be its cardinal. It acts on : and : : G is a finite covering. Also, the Bruhat decomposition of : even dimensions. is a cell decomposition with cells of The first part of the Proposition can be found in almost any book on compact Lie group, see for example [2]. I have to admit I didn t find any reference for the Bruhat decomposition suggestions are welcome. In the case of, we have Proposition 4.10 A maximal torus in + is given by the subgroup of diagonal matrices. The Weyl group is the symmetric group of a set of elements. It acts on by permuting the diagonal entries. We will now investigate the relation between equivariant cohomology of a space with respect to a compact Lie group and with respect to a maximal torus. Proposition 4.11 Let be a maximal torus in, then : G :G pt Proof. The existence of the finite covering : : G implies Also, noting : G :6 the Euler number of a manifold : G :G Because of the Bruhat decomposition of :, the odd degree cohomology of : vanishes. The odd degree cohomology of : G also then vanishes and : G : G :G 1 We will now use the previous proposition to prove 10

11 Theorem 4.12 Let be a -space. Let be a maximal torus for. The Weyl group acts on and 3 Proof. The fibre : G of the bundle has trivial real cohomology. We deduce from Theorem 1.5 that 3 3. Next consider the covering with covering group in the same fashion. We have : : : G2 7 : : G Beware, in Equality 1, the action of on is induced only by the multiplication on the right of on, the action of on or is not involved. The theorem follows from Equality 1 and Equality Proposition 4.13 The cohomology of the classifying space of polynomials in variables where is of degree. + is a ring A similar theorem is true for any compact connected Lie group. This Proposition shows in particular that the + -equivariant cohomology of a point does not have any top cohomology. Proof. Let us first consider the case. In this case,. is the circle and the universal bundle is. It is well known see [1] for example that the cohomology of is isomorphic to " :, where is the Euler class of the. # -bundle if you are more of an algebraic geometer than a differential geometer, you may prefer to take! to be the Euler class tautological bundle over, the two different approaches will give the same result, and that the injections, for 0, are compatible with these presentations of the cohomology of the projective spaces. The Proposition is proven for. 11

12 In the general case, let be the subgroup of diagonal matrices. It is a maximal torus in +. Its classifying space is and its cohomology is " '', where is the Euler class of the tautological bundle over the -th. The Weyl group acts on by permuting the diagonal entries, hence it acts on by permutation of the factors. The induce action on its cohomology is the permutation of the s. We deduce where the " '' s are the symmetric polynomials in the Let be a paracompact manifold with a complex vector bundle. Choose a hermitian metric on. Let be the associated bundle. Then is isomorphic to. Let be such that the pull-back bundle + is isomorphic to. Hence is isomorphic to + bundle. Definition 4.14 The 5. Let us define the Chern classes of the complex vector s. Chern class 1 7 of is -. A different choice of a hermitian metric would give an isomorphic + bundle. Thus,% 7 is independent of the choice of the metric. More generally: Definition 4.15 Let be a paracompact space. Let be a + - principal bundle. We define the -th Chern class of to be in # % 72 -, where is a map 2 + such that +. There exist many ways of defining the Chern classes for a vector bundle over a manifold using a connection or by studying the cohomology of the projectivised bundle for example. There exists an axiomatic definition of these classes. To check that our definition coincides with other definitions, we just have to check that satisfy these axioms: ' 1. For the tautological line bundle over, is the Euler class. 12

13 2. If is a sum of complex line bundles class. '. ' 7 satisfies., then the total 3. If 2 is a complex vector bundle and a continuous map, then.. The first point follows from the proof of Proposition The third point is clear by definition. To prove the second point, we just have to notice that decomposing a vector bundle into a sum of line bundles corresponds to reducing the structure group from to a maximal torus. This, with the proof of Proposition 4.13, proves the second axiom is verified. Let us take a small break. Recall the Whitehead s Theorem states that if a map between CW-complexes induces isomorphisms between all the homotopy groups, then it is a homotopy equivalence. Compare this result to the following Lemma. Lemma 4.16 The sphere and are both CW-complexes whose homotopy groups are isomorphic. Nevertheless, they have not the same homotopy type. The problem here is that the isomorphisms between the homotopy groups are not given by a map. Proof. We already know that and are CW complexes. The homotopy groups of and are the same except for the second one, indeed the Hopf fibration induces a long exact sequence ' All the homotopy groups of vanish, except its fundamental which is isomorphic to. Also, the first and second homotopy groups of vanish. We deduce that '' 13

14 and have isomorphic homotopy groups, apart from the second one which is trivial for and for. In addition, because of the fibration and because is contractible, the second homotopy group of is isomorphic to whereas all the others are trivial. It follows that and have isomorphic homotopy groups. But, because of Proposition 4.13, they clearly have very different cohomologies. This proves they don t have the same homotopy type. Assume is a manifold and is a closed submanifold. The restriction map is of course never injective. This is why I found the next Theorem due to Borel and Hsiang very surprising the first time I read it. Theorem 4.17 Theo in [4] Assume is a manifold acted on smoothly is finitely generated and that the by a compact torus. Suppose also that action of is equivariantly formal. Let be the set of fixed points. The restriction map is injective. Proof. We will prove the Theorem by induction on the dimension of. Assume first that. The set of fixed point is a closed submanifold of. Let be a invariant neighbourhood of that retracts onto. Let. Because every proper subgroup of is finite, the action of on and is locally free. By Theorem 4.1, we have Because contracts to, we also have : 17 14: 7+4? 14

15 0 0 This cohomology groups fit into the Mayer-Vietoris exact sequence ' B 4 6 4: 4: For big, 4: 1 : hence the restriction map B 7 is an isomorphism for big. Assume satisfies 0. On one hand, multiplication by is injective in B. On the other hand, for all in, - C D. By choosing big enough, we deduce that C and that. We have proved the Theorem for. Assume the Theorem is true for tori of dimension and G. Write ' the first. Assume Let denote factors in and be the last factor. We first have to prove that the action of is equivariantly formal on. The equivariant cohomology of is the cohomology of The inclusion of in ' and gives rise to a commutative diagram factorises through The vertical double arrow is an isomorphism. The top horizontal arrow is surjective. It follows that the left vertical arrow is also surjective. By the Leray-Hirsch Theorem 1.1, this means that the action of on is equivariantly formal. We can give an explicit isomorphism. Choose elements, denoted >! '' >, in which restrict on to a basis of. Still denote > their restrictions to and and to. The maps G+4?, %+45> A?CE> '' +4 B B ' +45> A?C > 15

16 0 are isomorphisms. Let The group acts on isomorphism be the set of fixed points in for the action of. and its set of fixed points is. There is a canonical Consider the commutative diagram It induces another commutative diagram B satisfies 0 Assume. Because the top arrow in the previous diagram is injective this is our theorem for tori of dimension, we also have 0. Write %+4?> '' The image of by is D It follows that there exist polynomials Let ' % 4?> such that for each '' 1 '' 1 '' 1+4?> be the division of by. We have D C C 16

17 > Because multiplication by is an injective map in, the image of by must be zero. We can repeat with what was done with, and so on and so on. We deduce by induction that the s are infinitely divisible by. Therefore they are equal to the zero polynomial and 2. We have proved that 3 is an injective homomorphism. The space on the right hand side is canonically isomorphic to 4. If we apply the induction hypothesis for the action of the -dimensionnal torus on, we find an injection In the above injection, the tensor product of the left hand side by is naturally isomorphic to, whereas the tensor product of the right hand side by the same space is naturally isomorphic to 7. The composition of the injection 3 with the tensor product of the injection 4 with is true for any torus. proves the theorem is true for of dimension. By induction it The assumption that the group is a torus in Theorem 4.17 is necessary. Indeed, let act on " ' > A " ' > >' This action is equivariantly formal Lemma 4.1 but it doesn t have any fixed point so that is empty and. In particular the restriction map 7 is not injective. We will see that the above action of is equivariantly formal. But before doing so we need to know what is the cohomology of. Lemma 4.18 The cohomology of of degree 17 4 is a polynomial ring in one variable "

18 Proof. The proof is similar to that of Theorem A maximal torus in is given by the set of diagonal matrices The Weyl group is the symetric group on a set of elements. It acts on by replacing by. In particular, it replaces the tautological bundle over by its inverse bundle and multiplies in G " + by. This means where is 0 ", a class of degree. Notice that the of is the same as the of. By this I mean that whenever a complex vector bundle of rank is given, the choice of a hermitian metric reduces the structure group to. The structure group can be further reduce to if and only if the determinant bundle is trivial. In this case, the s we defined in < and both induce the second Chern class on the vector bundle. Also, whenever the determinant bundle is trivial, the first Chern class vanishes. That is why there is no! in More generally, one can prove the cohomology of ring in variables where. '' Lemma 4.1 The above action of on Proof. The graded vector space 4B even degree and vanish in odd degree. The computation of. + is a polynomial is equivariantly formal. has dimension in is a special case of the next Lemma. Lemma 4.20 Let be a compact Lie group. Let be a subgroup. The group acts on : and : So far, all the actions we considered were either locally free or equivariantly formal. This of course is far from being the general case, as the above Lemma 4.20 is showing. 18

19 Proof. Define a map : : ",+ A " It is well-defined because if ",+ ",+, there exists in and in such that and + Therefore + mod Moreover, the previous map is a homeomorphism. Indeed, we can explicitly give an inverse This proves the lemma. : : " + A ",+ The action of on is transitive. The stabiliser of " 1 of diagonal matrices in is the subgroup. According to Lemma 4.20, we have This graded vector space has indeed dimension in every even degree and vanish in odd degrees. Remark 4.21 The restriction of the preceding action of to the maximal torus of diagonal matrices is the same as the action of on in Proposition 4.5, once we have identified with through the stereographic projection. Hence, one may have proved Lemma 4.1 using Theorem Let us now have a look at the functorial properties of equivariant cohomology. Proposition 4.22 Let 2 be a homomorphism of groups and a space on which acts. The homomorphism induces an action of on and there exists a natural homomorphism 3 3 1

20 0 Proof. Let act on The map " ' by ', for 0 7 A " ' ' is well-defined and induces an homomorphism as in the proposition. Proposition 4.23 Let and be spaces. Let an equivariant map that is 0 0. There exists a natural homomorphism of ; - modules -. 3 Proof. Look at the map induced by. There is not in general an equivalent of the Künneth formula. This is illustrated by the two following examples. Example Let act on B by multiplication. We have but 3 4? 3-7.: 2. Let be a space. Let be a single point. Then and In the last example, we nevertheless have 3 7: 3 if 2 otherwise B +45 ; This is a special case of the following proposition. 20.

21 0 Proposition 4.25 Let and be -spaces. Assume that is equivariantly formal for the action of. Assume also that the usual cohomology of is finitely generated as a ring. Then Proof. By the Leray-Hirsh Theorem 1.1, to say that to say that the inclusion of into. is equivariantly formal is induces a surjective homomorphism from. onto -. The injection of into can be factorised through 3 7, hence the homomorphism. -7 is surjective. Because the map 3. is a fibration with fibre, by the Leray-Hirsh Theorem we have 3. +4?. +4. Corollary 4.26 Let be an equivariantly trivial space. Then, for with the diagonal action of is equivariantly trivial., Proof. The proof is straightforward by induction. The Corollary is true for If it is true for G, then ? ; 3 +4? ;. 21

22 References [1] R. BOTT, L. W. TU Differential Forms in Algebraic Topology, Graduate Texts in Mathematics 82, Springer. [2] J. J. DUISTERMAAT and J. A. Kolk, Lie Groups, Universitext, Springer. [3] A. DOLD Partitions of Unity in the Theory of Fibrations,Annals of Math., vol. 78, No [4] V. W. GUILLEMIN and S. Sternberg, Supersymmetry and Equivariant de Rham Theory, Mathematics Past and Present, Springer. [5] A. HATCHER Algebraic Topology, Cambridge University Press. [6] W. Y. HSIANG Cohomology Theory of Topological Transformation Groups, Ergebnisse der Mathematik und ihrer Grenzgebiete, Brand 85, Springer- Verlag. [7] F. C. KIRWAN Cohomology of Quotients in Algebraic and Symplectic Geometry, Princeton University Press. [8] J. MILNOR Construction of Universal Bundles, II, Annals of Math., vol. 63, No , [] J. P. SERRE Homologie Singulière des espaces fibrés, Ann. of Math., vol ,

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