Topological Quantum Field Theory Seminar   RSS

14/07/2005, 14:00 — 15:00 — Room P3.10, Mathematics Building
, Instituto Superior Técnico

Twisted K-Theory

In 1945 Samuel Eilenberg and Norman E. Steenrod set forth the essential properties of a homology theory in terms of seven axioms; the last stipulating that the reduced homology of point is trivial. A number of years later (1957) Alexander Grothendieck introduced K-theory and expressed the Riemann-Roch theorem for nonsingular projective varieties by saying that the mapping E ch(E)*Td(X) from K 0 (X) to H * (X) is a natural transformation of covariant functors. Here K 0 (X) denotes the Grothendieck group of algebraic vector bundles on X , H * (X) denotes a suitable cohomology theory, ch is the Chern character, and Td (X) is the Todd class of the tangent bundle of X . Michael Atiyah and Friedrich Hirzebruch developed K-theory in the context of topological spaces and showed that topological K-theory satisfies the first six axioms of Eilenberg and Steenrod. Using Bott periodicity one readily shows that the K-theory of a point is infinite cyclic in even degrees and vanishes in odd degrees.

Recently Edward Witten has argued that K-theory is relevant to the classification of Ramond-Ramond (RR) charges as well as noncommutative Yang-Mills theory or open string field theory. In order to consider D-branes with a topologically non-trivial Neveu-Schwarts 3-form field H , one needs to work with a twisted version of topological K-theory. If H represents a torsion class, one may use the twisted K-theory developed by Peter Donavan and Max Karoubi. In this talk I shall describe two constructions of twisted K-theory one set forth by Michael Atiyah and Graeme Segal and the other by Daniel Freed, Michael J. Hopkins and Constantin Teleman. Due to personal limitations I shall give a braneless presentation.


  1. M Atiyah and F Hirzebruch, Vector bundles and homogenuous spaces, Proc. of Symposia in Pure Maths vol 3, Differential Geometry, Amer. Math. Soc. 1961, 7-38.
  2. M Atiyah and G Segal, Twisted K-theory, math.kt/0407054.
  3. A Borel and J-P Serre, Le théorème de Riemann-Roch, Bull. Soc. Math. France 86 (1958) 97-136.
  4. P Donavan and M Karoubi, Graded Brauer groups and K-theory with local coefficients, Publ. Math. IHES 38 (1970) 5-25.
  5. S Eilenberg and N E Steenrod, Axiomatic approach to homology theory, Proc. Nat. Acad. Sci. USA 31 (1945), 117-120.
  6. D Freed, M J Hopkins and C Teleman, Twisted K-theory and loop groups representations I, math.AT/0312155.
  7. E Witten, Overview of K-theory Applied to Strings, hep-th/0007175.

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Current organizers: José MourãoRoger Picken, Marko Stošić


FCT Projects PTDC/MAT-GEO/3319/2014, Quantization and Kähler Geometry, PTDC/MAT-PUR/31089/2017, Higher Structures and Applications.