Spectral homology

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The inverse limit

of homology groups with coefficients in the Abelian group of nerves of open coverings of a topological space (also called Čech homology, or Aleksandrov–Čech homology). For a closed set , the groups can be defined in a similar way using the subsystems of all those subsets of having non-empty intersection with . The inverse limit of the groups is called the spectral homology group of the pair .

Since the inverse limit functor does not preserve exactness, the homology sequence of the pair is, in general, not exact. It is semi-exact, in the sense that the composite of any two mappings in the sequence is equal to zero. For a compact space the sequence turns out to be exact in the case when is a compact group or field (or, more generally, if is algebraically compact). The spectral homology of compact spaces is continuous in the sense that

Lack of exactness is not the only deficiency of spectral homology. The groups turn out to be non-additive, in the sense that the homology of a discrete union can be different from the direct sum . This deficiency disappears if one considers the spectral homology groups with compact support, defined as the direct limit taken over all compact subsets . It is natural to consider the functor , in view of the fact that all the usual homologies (simplicial, cellular and singular) are homologies with compact support.

The difference between the functors and is one of the examples of how homology groups react to small changes in their initial definition (on the other hand, cohomology groups exhibit significant stability in this respect). Among the logically possible variants of the definition of homology groups in general categories of topological spaces, the correct one was not the first to be selected. The theory of the homology groups associated with the Aleksandrov–Čech cohomology achieved great recognition only in the 1960's (although the first definitions were given in the 1940's and 1950's). The theory of satisfies all the Steenrod–Eilenberg axioms (and is a theory with compact supports). For compact spaces the following sequence is exact:

where is the derived inverse limit functor. In general there is an epimorphism whose kernel is zero for any algebraically compact group . For any locally compact space that is also homologically locally connected (with respect to ), the functors , , are isomorphic.


[1] S. Eilenberg, N.E. Steenrod, "Foundations of algebraic topology" , Princeton Univ. Press (1966)
[2] E.G. Sklyarenko, "On homology theory associated with the Aleksandrov–Čech cohomology" Russian Math. Surveys , 34 : 6 (1979) pp. 103–137 Uspekhi Mat. Nauk , 34 : 6 (1979) pp. 90–118
[3] W.S. Massey, "Homology and cohomology theory" , M. Dekker (1978)
How to Cite This Entry:
Spectral homology. Encyclopedia of Mathematics. URL:
This article was adapted from an original article by E.G. Sklyarenko (originator), which appeared in Encyclopedia of Mathematics - ISBN 1402006098. See original article