Algebraic & Geometric Topology

Higher order intersection numbers of 2–spheres in 4–manifolds

Rob Schneiderman and Peter Teichner

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This is the beginning of an obstruction theory for deciding whether a map f:S2X4 is homotopic to a topologically flat embedding, in the presence of fundamental group and in the absence of dual spheres. The first obstruction is Wall’s self-intersection number μ(f) which tells the whole story in higher dimensions. Our second order obstruction τ(f) is defined if μ(f) vanishes and has formally very similar properties, except that it lies in a quotient of the group ring of two copies of π1X modulo S3–symmetry (rather then just one copy modulo S2–symmetry). It generalizes to the non-simply connected setting the Kervaire–Milnor invariant which corresponds to the Arf–invariant of knots in 3–space.

We also give necessary and sufficient conditions for moving three maps f1,f2,f3:S2X4 to a position in which they have disjoint images. Again the obstruction λ(f1,f2,f3) generalizes Wall’s intersection number λ(f1,f2) which answers the same question for two spheres but is not sufficient (in dimension 4) for three spheres. In the same way as intersection numbers correspond to linking numbers in dimension 3, our new invariant corresponds to the Milnor invariant μ(1,2,3), generalizing the Matsumoto triple to the non simply-connected setting.

Article information

Algebr. Geom. Topol., Volume 1, Number 1 (2001), 1-29.

Received: 6 August 2000
Accepted: 4 September 2000
First available in Project Euclid: 21 December 2017

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Digital Object Identifier

Mathematical Reviews number (MathSciNet)

Zentralblatt MATH identifier

Primary: 57N13: Topology of $E^4$ , $4$-manifolds [See also 14Jxx, 32Jxx]
Secondary: 57N35: Embeddings and immersions

intersection number 4–manifold Whitney disk immersed 2–sphere cubic form


Schneiderman, Rob; Teichner, Peter. Higher order intersection numbers of 2–spheres in 4–manifolds. Algebr. Geom. Topol. 1 (2001), no. 1, 1--29. doi:10.2140/agt.2001.1.1.

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