Wall's finiteness obstruction

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In geometric topology, a field within mathematics, the obstruction to a finitely dominated space X being homotopy-equivalent to a finite CW-complex is its Wall finiteness obstruction w(X) which is an element in the reduced zeroth algebraic K-theory of the integral group ring . It is named after the mathematician C. T. C. Wall.

By Milnor's work[1] on finitely dominated spaces, no generality is lost in letting X be a CW-complex. A finite domination of X is a finite CW-complex K together with maps and such that . By a construction due to Milnor it is possible to extend r to a homotopy equivalence where is a complex obtained from K by attaching cells to kill the relative homotopy groups . will be finite if all relative homotopy groups are finitely generated. Wall showed that this will be the case if and only if his finiteness obstruction vanishes. More precisely, using covering space theory and the Hurewicz theorem one can identify with . Wall then showed that the cellular chain complex is chain-homotopy equivalent to a chain complex of finite type of projective -modules, and that will be finitely generated if and only if these modules are stably-free. Stably-free modules vanish in reduced K-theory. This motivates the definition


See also[edit]


  1. ^ Milnor, J. On spaces having the homotopy type of a CW-complex. Transactions of the American Mathematical Society Vol. 90, No. 2 (Feb., 1959), pp. 272-280.
  • Varadarajan, Kalathoor (1989), The finiteness obstruction of C. T. C. Wall, Canadian Mathematical Society Series of Monographs and Advanced Texts, New York: John Wiley & Sons Inc., ISBN 0-471-62306-7, MR 989589 .
  • Ferry, Steve; Ranicki, Andrew (2001), "A survey of Wall's finiteness obstruction", Surveys on Surgery Theory, Vol. 2, Ann. of Math. Stud., 149, Princeton, NJ: Princeton Univ. Press, pp. 63–79, MR 1818772, arXiv:math/0008070Freely accessible .
  • Rosenberg, Jonathan (2005), "K-theory and geometric topology", in Friedlander, Eric M.; Grayson, Daniel R., Handbook of K-Theory (PDF), Berlin: Springer, pp. 577–610, MR 2181830, doi:10.1007/978-3-540-27855-9_12