- Fundamental group
In

mathematics , the**fundamental group**is one of the basic concepts ofalgebraic topology . Associated with every point of atopological space there is a fundamental group that conveys information about the 1-dimensional structure of the portion of the space surrounding the given point. The fundamental group is the firsthomotopy group .**Intuition and definition**Before giving a precise definition of the fundamental group, we try to describe the general idea in non-mathematical terms. Take some space, and some point in it, and consider all the loops both starting and ending at this point — paths which start at this point, wander around as much as they like and eventually return to the starting point. Two loops can be combined together in an obvious way: travel along the first loop, then along the second. The set of all the loops with this method of combining them is the fundamental group, except that for technical reasons it is necessary to consider two loops to be the same if one can be deformed into the other without breaking.

For the precise definition, let "X" be a topological space, and let "x"

_{0}be a point of "X". We are interested in the set of continuous functions "f" : [0,1] → "X" with the property that "f"(0) = "x"_{0}= "f"(1). These functions are called**loops**with**base point**"x"_{0}. Any two such loops, say "f" and "g", are considered equivalent if there is a continuous function "h" : [0,1] × [0,1] → "X" with the property that, for all 0 ≤ "t" ≤ 1, "h"("t",0) = "f"("t"), "h"("t",1) = "g"("t") and "h"(0,"t") = "x"_{0}= "h"(1,"t"). Such an "h" is called afrom "f" to "g", and the correspondinghomotopy equivalence class es are called**homotopy classes**.The product "f" ∗ "g" of two loops "f" and "g" is defined by setting ("f" ∗ "g")(t) := "f"(2"t") if 0 ≤ "t" ≤ 1/2 and ("f" ∗ "g")(t) := "g"(2"t" − 1) if 1/2 ≤ "t" ≤ 1. Thus the loop "f" ∗ "g" first follows the loop "f" with "twice the speed" and then follows "g" with twice the speed. The product of two homotopy classes of loops ["f"] and ["g"] is then defined as ["f" ∗ "g"] , and it can be shown that this product does not depend on the choice of representatives.

With the above product, the set of all homotopy classes of loops with base point "x"

_{0}forms the**fundamental group**of "X" at the point "x"_{0}and is denoted :$pi\_1(X,x\_0),$or simply π("X","x"_{0}). The identity element is the constant map at the basepoint, and the inverse of a loop "f" is the loop "g" defined by "g"(t) = "f"(1 − "t"). That is, "g" follows "f" backwards.Although the fundamental group in general depends on the choice of base point, it turns out that,

up to isomorphism , this choice makes no difference if the space "X" is path-connected. For path-connected spaces, therefore, we can write π_{1}("X") instead of π_{1}("X","x"_{0}) without ambiguity whenever we care about theisomorphism class only.**Examples**In many spaces, such as

**R**^{"n"}, or any convex subset of**R**^{"n"}, there is only one homotopy class of loops, and the fundamental group is therefore trivial, i.e. ({0},+). A path-connected space with a trivial fundamental group is said to be simply connected.A more interesting example is provided by the

circle . It turns out that each homotopy class consists of all loops which wind around the circle a given number of times (which can be positive or negative, depending on the direction of winding). The product of a loop which winds around "m" times and another that winds around "n" times is a loop which winds around "m" + "n" times. So the fundamental group of the circle isisomorphic to $(mathbb\{Z\}\; ,\; +)$, the additive group ofinteger s. This fact can be used to give proofs of theBrouwer fixed point theorem and theBorsuk–Ulam theorem in dimension 2.Since the fundamental group is a homotopy invariant, the theory of the

winding number for the complex plane minus one point is the same as for the circle.Unlike the

homology group s and higher homotopy groups associated to a topological space, the fundamental group need not be abelian. For example, the fundamental group of a graph "G" is afree group . Here the rank of the free group is equal to 1 − χ("G"): one minus theEuler characteristic of "G", when "G" is connected. A somewhat more sophisticated example of a space with a non-abelian fundamental group is the complement of atrefoil knot in**R**^{3}.**Functoriality**If "f" : "X" → "Y" is a continuous map, "x"

_{0}∈"X" and "y"_{0}∈"Y" with "f"("x"_{0}) = "y"_{0}, then every loop in "X" with base point "x"_{0}can be composed with "f" to yield a loop in "Y" with base point "y"_{0}. This operation is compatible with the homotopy equivalence relation and with composition of loops. The resultinggroup homomorphism , called the induced homomorphism, is written as π("f") or, more commonly, : $f\_*colon\; pi\_1(X,\; x\_0)\; o\; pi\_1(Y,y\_0).$We thus obtain afunctor from the category of topological spaces with base point to thecategory of groups .It turns out that this functor cannot distinguish maps which are

homotopic relative the base point: if "f" and "g" : "X" → "Y" are continuous maps with "f"("x"_{0}) = "g"("x"_{0}) = "y"_{0}, and "f" and "g" are homotopic relative to {"x"_{0}}, then "f"_{*}= "g"_{*}. As a consequence, two homotopy equivalent path-connected spaces have isomorphic fundamental groups::$X\; simeq\; Y\; Rightarrow\; pi\_1(X,x\_0)\; cong\; pi\_1(Y,y\_0).$The fundamental group functor takes products to products and

coproduct s to coproducts. That is, if "X" and "Y" are path connected, then :$pi\_1\; (X\; imes\; Y)\; cong\; pi\_1(X)\; imes\; pi\_1(Y)$and :$pi\_1\; (Xvee\; Y)\; cong\; pi\_1(X)\; *\; pi\_1(Y).$(In the latter formula, $vee$ denotes thewedge sum of topological spaces, and * thefree product of groups.) Both formulas generalize to arbitrary products. Furthermore the latter formula is a special case of theSeifert–van Kampen theorem which states that the fundamental group functor takes pushouts along inclusions to pushouts.**Fibrations**A generalization of a product of spaces is given by a

fibration ,:$F\; ightarrow\; E\; ightarrow\; B.$

Here the total space "E" is a sort of "twisted product" of the base space "B" and the fiber "F".In general the fundamental groups of "B", "E" and "F"are terms in a long exact sequence involving higher homotopy groups. When all the spaces are connected, this has the following consequences for the fundamental groups:

* π

_{1}("B") and π_{1}("E") are isomorphic if "F" is simply connected

* π_{1}("B") and π_{1}("F") are isomorphic if "E" is contractible**Relationship to first homology group**The fundamental groups of a topological space "X" are related to its first singular

homology group , because a loop is also a singular 1-cycle. Mapping the homotopy class of each loop at a base point "x"_{0}to the homology class of the loop gives a homomorphism from the fundamental group π("X","x"_{0}) to the homology group "H"_{1}("X"). If "X" is path-connected, then this homomorphism issurjective and its kernel is thecommutator subgroup of π("X","x"_{0}), and "H"_{1}("X") is therefore isomorphic to the abelianization of π("X","x"_{0}). This is a special case of theHurewicz theorem of algebraic topology.**Universal covering space**If "X" is a topological space that is path connected, locally path connected and locally simply connected, then it has a simply connected universal covering space on which the fundamental group π("X","x"

_{0}) acts freely by deck transformations withquotient space "X". This space can be constructed analogously to the fundamental group by taking pairs ("x",γ), where "x" is a point in "X" and γ is a homotopy class of paths from "x"_{0}to "x" and the action of π("X","x"_{0}) is by concatenation of paths. It is uniquely determined as a covering space.**Examples**Let "G" be a connected, simply connected

compact Lie group , for example thespecial unitary group "SU"_{"n"}, and let Γ be a finite subgroup of "G". Then thehomogeneous space "X"="G"/Γ has fundamental group Γ, which acts by right multiplication on the universal covering space "G". Among the many variants of this construction, one of the most important is given bylocally symmetric space s "X"=Γ"G"/"K", where*"G" is a non-compact simply connected, connected

Lie group (often semisimple),

*"K" is a maximal compact subgroup of "G"

* Γ is a discrete countable torsion-free subgroup of "G".In this case the fundamental group is Γ and the universal covering space "G"/"K" is actually

contractible (by theCartan decomposition forLie group s).As an example take "G"="SL"

_{2}(**R**), "K"="SO"_{2}and Γ any torsion-freecongruence subgroup of themodular group "SL"_{2}(**Z**).An even simpler example is given by "G"=

**R**(so that "K" is trivial) and Γ =**Z**: in this case "X"=**R**/**Z**="S"^{1}.From the explicit realization, it also follows that the universal covering space of a path connected

topological group "H" is again a path connected topological group "G". Moreover the covering map is a continuous open homomorphism of "G" onto "H" with kernel Γ, a closed discrete normal subgroup of "G"::$1\; ightarrow\; Gamma\; ightarrow\; G\; ightarrow\; H\; ightarrow\; 1.$

Since "G" is a connected group with a continuous action by conjugation on a discrete group Γ, it must act trivially, so that Γ has to be a subgroup of the center of "G". In particular π

_{1}("H") = Γ is anAbelian group ; this can also easily be seen directly without using covering spaces. The group "G" is called the "universal covering group " of "H".**Edge-path group of a simplicial complex**If "X" is a connected

simplicial complex , an "edge-path" in "X" is defined to be a chain of vertices connected by edges in "X". Two edge-pathsare said to be "edge-equivalent" if one can be obtained from the other by successively switching between an edge and the two opposite edges of a triangle in "X".If "v" is a fixed vertex in "X", an "edge-loop" at "v" is an edge-path starting and ending at "v". The**edge-path group**"E"("X","v") is defined tobe the set of edge-equivalence classes of edge-loops at "v", with product and inverse defined by concatenation and reversal of edge-loops.The edge-path group is naturally isomorphic to π

_{1}(|"X"|,"v"), the fundamental group of thegeometric realisation |"X"| of "X". Since it depends only on the 2-skeleton"X"^{2}of "X" (i.e. the vertices, edges and triangles of "X"), the groups π_{1}(|"X"|,"v") and π_{1}(|"X"^{2}|,"v") are isomorphic.The edge-path group can be described explicitly in terms of

generators and relations . If "T" is a maximal spanning tree in the 1-skeleton of "X", then "E"("X","v") is canonically isomorphic to the group with generators the oriented edges of "X" not occurring in "T" and relations the edge-equivalences corresponding to triangles in "X" containing one or more edge not in "T". A similar result holds if "T" is replaced by anysimply connected —in particularcontractible —subcomplex of "X". This often gives a practical way of computing fundamental groups and can be used to show that everyfinitely presented group arises as the fundamental group of a finite simplicial complex. It is also one of the classical methods used for topologicalsurface s, which are classified by their fundamental groups.The "universal covering space" of a finite connected simplicial complex "X" can also be described directly as a simplicial complex using edge-paths. Its vertices are pairs ("w",γ) where "w" is a vertex of "X" and γ is an edge-equivalence class of paths from "v" to "w". The "k"-simplices containing ("w",γ) correspond naturally to the "k"-simplices containing "w". Each new vertex "u" of the "k"-simplex gives an edge "wu" and hence, by concatenation, a new path γ

_{"u"}from "v" to "u". The points ("w",γ) and ("u", γ_{"u"}) are the vertices of the "transported" simplex in the universal covering space. The edge-path group acts naturally by concatenation, preserving the simplicial structure, and the quotient space is just "X".It is well-known that this method can also be used to compute the fundamental group of an arbitrary topological space. This was doubtless known to Čech and

Leray and explicitly appeared as a remark in a paper by Weil (1960); various other authors such as L. Calabi, W-T. Wu and N. Berikashvili have also published proofs. In the simplest case of a compact space "X" with a finite open covering in which all non-empty finite intersections of open sets in the covering are contractible, the fundamental group can be identified with the edge-path group of the simplicial complex corresponding to the nerve of the covering.**Realizability**Every group can be realized as the fundamental group of a

connected CW-complex of dimension 2 (or higher). As noted above, though, only free groups can occur as fundamental groups of 1-dimensional CW-complexes (that is, graphs).Every

finitely presented group can be realized as the fundamental group of acompact , connected,smooth manifold of dimension 4 (or higher). But there are severe restrictions on which groups occur as fundamental groups of low-dimensional manifolds. For example, nofree abelian group of rank 4 or higher can be realized as the fundamental group of a manifold of dimension 3 or less.**Related concepts**The fundamental group measures the 1-dimensional hole structure of a space. For studying "higher-dimensional holes", the

homotopy group s are used. The elements of the "n"-th homotopy group of "X" are homotopy classes of (basepoint-preserving) maps from "S"^{"n"}to "X".The set of loops at a particular base point can be studied without regarding homotopic loops as equivalent. This larger object is the

loop space .**Fundamental groupoid**Rather than singling out one point and considering the loops based at that point up to homotopy, one can also consider "all" paths in the space up to homotopy (fixing the initial and final point). This yields not a group but a

groupoid , the**fundamental groupoid**of the space.**ee also***

Homotopy group , generalization of fundamental groupThere are also similar notions of fundamental group foralgebraic varieties (theétale fundamental group ) and fororbifold s (the orbifold fundamental group).**References*** Joseph J. Rotman, "An Introduction to Algebraic Topology", Springer-Verlag, ISBN 0-387-96678-1

*Isadore Singer and John A. Thorpe, "Lecture Notes on Elementary Geometry and Topology", Springer-Verlag (1967) ISBN 0-387-90202-3

*Allen Hatcher , [*http://www.math.cornell.edu/~hatcher/AT/ATpage.html "Algebraic Topology"*] ,Cambridge University Press (2002) ISBN 0-521-79540-0

*Peter Hilton andShaun Wylie , "Homology Theory", Cambridge University Press (1967) [warning: these authors use "contrahomology" forcohomology ]

* Richard Maunder, "Algebraic Topology", Dover (1996) ISBN 0486691314

*Deane Montgomery and Leo Zippin, "Topological Transformation Groups", Interscience Publishers (1955)

*James Munkres , "Topology",Prentice Hall (2000) ISBN 0131816292

*Herbert Seifert and William Threlfall, "A Textbook of Topology" (translated from German by Wofgang Heil),Academic Press (1980), ISBN 0126348502

*Edwin Spanier , "Algebraic Topology", Springer-Verlag (1966) ISBN 0-387-94426-5

*André Weil , "On discrete subgroups of Lie groups", Ann. of Math.**72**(1960), 369-384.

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***External links*** [

*http://www.istia.univ-angers.fr/~delanoue/topo_alg/ Animations to introduce to the fundamental group by Nicolas Delanoue*]

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