# Relative homology

Jump to navigation Jump to search

In algebraic topology, a branch of mathematics, the (singular) homology of a topological space relative to a subspace is a construction in singular homology, for pairs of spaces. The relative homology is useful and important in several ways. Intuitively, it helps determine what part of an absolute homology group comes from which subspace.

## Definition

Given a subspace $A\subset X$ , one may form the short exact sequence

$0\to C_{\bullet }(A)\to C_{\bullet }(X)\to C_{\bullet }(X)/C_{\bullet }(A)\to 0$ where $C_{\bullet }(X)$ denotes the singular chains on the space X. The boundary map on $C_{\bullet }(X)$ leaves $C_{\bullet }(A)$ invariant and therefore descends to a boundary map $\partial '_{\bullet }$ on the quotient. If we denote this quotient by $C_{n}(X,A):=C_{n}(X)/C_{n}(A)$ , we then have a complex

$\cdots \longrightarrow C_{n}(X,A){\xrightarrow {\partial '_{n}}}C_{n-1}(X,A)\longrightarrow \cdots$ Then the nth relative homology group is

$H_{n}(X,A):=\ker \partial '_{n}/\operatorname {im} \partial '_{n+1}.$ One says that relative homology is given by the relative cycles, chains whose boundaries are chains on A, modulo the relative boundaries (chains that are homologous to a chain on A, i.e. chains that would be boundaries, modulo A again).

## Properties

The above short exact sequences specifying the relative chain groups gives rise to a chain complex of short exact sequences. An application of the snake lemma then yields a long exact sequence

$\cdots \to H_{n}(A){\stackrel {i_{*}}{\to }}H_{n}(X){\stackrel {j_{*}}{\to }}H_{n}(X,A){\stackrel {\partial }{\to }}H_{n-1}(A)\to \cdots .$ The connecting map $\partial$ takes a relative cycle, representing a homology class in Hn(X, A), to its boundary (which is a cycle in A).

It follows that Hn(X, x0), where x0 is a point in X, is the n-th reduced homology group of X. In other words, Hi(X, x0) = Hi(X) for all i > 0. When i = 0, H0(X, x0) is the free module of one rank less than H0(X). The connected component containing x0 becomes trivial in relative homology.

The excision theorem says that removing a sufficiently nice subset ZA leaves the relative homology groups Hn(X, A) unchanged. Using the long exact sequence of pairs and the excision theorem, one can show that Hn(X, A) is the same as the n-th reduced homology groups of the quotient space X/A.

The n-th local homology group of a space X at a point x0 is defined to be Hn(X, X - {x0}). Informally, this is the "local" homology of X close to x0.

Relative homology readily extends to the triple (X, Y, Z) for ZYX.

One can define the Euler characteristic for a pair YX by

$\chi (X,Y)=\sum _{j=0}^{n}(-1)^{j}\;{\mbox{rank}}\;H_{j}(X,Y).$ The exactness of the sequence implies that the Euler characteristic is additive, i.e. if ZYX, one has

$\chi (X,Z)=\chi (X,Y)+\chi (Y,Z).\,$ ## Functoriality

Just as in absolute homology, continuous maps between spaces induce homomorphisms between relative homology groups. In fact, this map is exactly the induced map on homology groups, but it descends to the quotient.

Let $(X,A)$ and $(Y,B)$ be pairs of spaces such that $A\subseteq X$ and $B\subseteq Y$ , and let $f:X\to Y$ be a continuous map. Then there is an induced map $f_{\#}:C_{n}(X)\to C_{n}(Y)$ on the (absolute) chain groups. If $f(A)\subseteq B$ , then $f_{\#}(C_{n}(A))\subseteq C_{n}(B)$ . Let

{\begin{aligned}\pi _{X}&:C_{n}(X)\longrightarrow C_{n}(X)/C_{n}(A)\\\pi _{Y}&:C_{n}(Y)\longrightarrow C_{n}(Y)/C_{n}(B)\\\end{aligned}} be the natural projections which take elements to their equivalence classes in the quotient groups. Then the map $\pi _{Y}\circ f_{\#}:C_{n}(X)\to C_{n}(Y)/C_{n}(B)$ is a group homomorphism. Since $f_{\#}(C_{n}(A))\subseteq C_{n}(B)=\ker \pi _{Y}$ , this map descends to the quotient, inducing a well-defined map $\varphi :C_{n}(X)/C_{n}(A)\to C_{n}(Y)/C_{n}(B)$ such that the following diagram commutes:

Chain maps induce homomorphisms between homology groups, so $f$ induces a map $f_{*}:H_{n}(X,A)\to H_{n}(Y,B)$ on the relative homology groups.

## Examples

One important use of relative homology is the computation of the homology groups of quotient spaces $X/A$ . In the case that $A$ is a subspace of $X$ fulfilling the mild regularity condition that there exists a neighborhood of $A$ that has $A$ as a deformation retract, then the group ${\tilde {H}}_{n}(X/A)$ is isomorphic to $H_{n}(X,A)$ . We can immediately use this fact to compute the homology of a sphere. We can realize $S^{n}$ as the quotient of an n-disk by its boundary, i.e. $S^{n}=D^{n}/S^{n-1}$ . Applying the exact sequence of relative homology gives the following:
$\cdots \to {\tilde {H}}_{n}(D^{n})\rightarrow H_{n}(D^{n},S^{n-1})\rightarrow {\tilde {H}}_{n-1}(S^{n-1})\rightarrow {\tilde {H}}_{n-1}(D^{n})\to \cdots .$ Because the disk is contractible, we know its reduced homology groups vanish in all dimensions, so the above sequence collapses to the short exact sequence:

$0\rightarrow H_{n}(D^{n},S^{n-1})\rightarrow {\tilde {H}}_{n-1}(S^{n-1})\rightarrow 0.$ Therefore, we get isomorphisms $H_{n}(D^{n},S^{n-1})\cong {\tilde {H}}_{n-1}(S^{n-1})$ . We can now proceed by induction to show that $H_{n}(D^{n},S^{n-1})\cong \mathbb {Z}$ . Now because $S^{n-1}$ is the deformation retract of a suitable neighborhood of itself in $D^{n}$ , we get that $H_{n}(D^{n},S^{n-1})\cong {\tilde {H}}_{n}(S^{n})\cong \mathbb {Z} .$ Another insightful geometric example is given by the relative homology of $(X=\mathbb {C} ^{*},D=\{1,\alpha \})$ where $\alpha \neq 0,1$ . Then we can use the long exact sequence

{\begin{aligned}0&\to H_{1}(D)\to H_{1}(X)\to H_{1}(X,D)\\&\to H_{0}(D)\to H_{0}(X)\to H_{0}(X,D)\end{aligned}}={\begin{aligned}0&\to 0\to \mathbb {Z} \to H_{1}(X,D)\\&\to \mathbb {Z} ^{\oplus 2}\to \mathbb {Z} \to 0\end{aligned}} Using exactness of the sequence we can see that $H_{1}(X,D)$ contains a loop $\sigma$ counterclockwise around the origin. Since the cokernel of $\phi :\mathbb {Z} \to H_{1}(X,D)$ fits into the exact sequence

$0\to {\text{coker}}(\phi )\to \mathbb {Z} ^{\oplus 2}\to \mathbb {Z} \to 0$ it must be isomorphic to $\mathbb {Z}$ . One generator for the cokernel is the $1$ -chain $[1,\alpha ]$ since its boundary map is

$\partial ([1,\alpha ])=[\alpha ]-$ 