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Algebraic Topology 1st Edition

4.1 out of 5 stars 40 customer reviews
ISBN-13: 978-0521795401
ISBN-10: 0521535379
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Editorial Reviews


"Algebraic topoligy books that emphasize geometrical intuition usually have only a modest technical reach. Remarkably, Hatcher (Cornell Univ.) offers a highly geometrical treatment that neverheless matches the coverage of, e.g., Edwin Henry Spanier's very formidable and identically titled classic work... He promises two advanced companion volumes, one on spectral sequences, one on vector bundles. One anticipates the combined treatise doing for algebraic topology what Michael Spivak's magisterial five-volume set did for differential geometry." Choice

Book Description

In most mathematics departments at major universities one of the three or four basic first-year graduate courses is in the subject of algebraic topology. This introductory textbook in algebraic topology is suitable for use in a course or for self-study, featuring broad coverage of the subject and a readable exposition, with many examples and exercises. The four main chapters present the basic material of the subject: fundamental group and covering spaces, homology and cohomology, higher homotopy groups, and homotopy theory generally. A unique feature of the book is the inclusion of many optional topics for which elementary expositions are hard to find. Researchers and students alike will welcome this aspect of the book.

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 556 pages
  • Publisher: Cambridge University Press; 1 edition (December 3, 2001)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0521535379
  • ISBN-13: 978-0521795401
  • ASIN: 0521795400
  • Product Dimensions: 7 x 1.3 x 10 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 2.6 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (40 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #56,263 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Jason Schorn on May 25, 2006
Format: Paperback
Allen Hatcher has gone to great length's in order to create a text which, albeit overly verbose, can be used as a gentle introduction to modern Algebraic Topology. Why 'modern'? Compare this text with the tried and tested texts of Spanier, Munkres as well as May and, almost immediately, you will see what I mean. The obvious example is Hatcher's use of CW-complexes as opposed to the more traditional build up beginning with simplices. For the die-hard mathematician who enjoys less fluff, this book is not for you and, in particular, if this is your first venture in Algebriac Topology, you enjoy the theorem-proof-theorem style with a light sprinkling of explaination, then I would recommend J.J. Rotman's text. Whereas, if you enjoy filler, background information, and lots of side-notes or examples, then Hatcher's text would be a perfect fit. Myself, I fall into the category of those who enjoy the more terse texts but, I purchased Hatcher's (the hardcover) because of the clarity and percision found in the proofs. The majority of other texts have a tendancy to obfuscate the underlying meaning that should be unerstood by the up-and-coming mathematician. Of course this approach has it's merits since, in particular, it forces the reader to fill in the blanks but, as a matter of insight, Hatcher's approach is also beneficial. Another positive strength of Hatcher's text lies in the fact that he effectively breaks the subject into it's prime sub-categories in such a way that the reader can begin with either of the four parts of the text without having to rely too much on previous sections. This novel feature allows someone interested in, say, Cohomology to pick up an begin learning about Cohomology without having to waste time making their way through material they are not interested in.Read more ›
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Format: Paperback
There are many really good textbooks on algebraic topology and each has its own merit: Bredon for his effort in explaining everything that can be dealt without using spectral equences, Fomenko & Novikov for their effort in unifying differential geometry and algebraic/differential topology.
Hatcher's book is intended as one of the series that cover every aspect of the subject. Separate books on vector bundles and K-theory, and spectral sequences respectively, are to appear sometime in the future. Thus this one covers ordinary homology/cohomology and homotopy theory only. His writing style is helpful and user-friendly, not demanding extensive "mathematical maturity".
I am not sure if this is "the" textbook on algebraic topology, but I bet this is among the best ones. You would not regret if you buy this, even when an electronic version is available online (for free) from the author's home page.
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Format: Paperback
No serious introductory text on basic algebraic topology has ever achieved this level of clarity, readability and depth. Its richness in examples (in both the main text and the problems) exposes a beginner to the underlying mechanisms of geometry in algebraic topology; its choice and arrangement of topics strike a perfect balance between accesibility and substantiveness; its lively and motivating exposition makes a student reluctant to attend the often boring topology classes. For a novice, this should be the first reading on the subject before (s)he is ruined by the many existing daunting texts; for a veteran, this can be very nourishing, especially if (s)he is already ruined by those either unreadable or shallow 'introduction's.
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Format: Paperback
This book is intended as an "introduction to alegbraic topology" and I rated the book accordingly.

I found the book refreshing at points and thorougly frustrating at other points. This was one of the first book I approached when trying to learn formal algebraic topology. Prior to reading it I had indirect exposure to algebraic topology in application to physics especially when learning about differential forms where one is usually exposed to homology cohomology and derham cohomology, etc. I found the physics texts MUCH more instructive than this text which is supposed to be from the mathematicians perspective.

The book has it's merits:

1) it is organized well and attempts to relate the main topics in algebraic topolgy - homotopy and homology

2) it has many examples to help solidify the concept presented

3) it has plenty of exercises of varying difficulty.

4) it genuinely tries to motivate the mathematical ideas of algebraic topology.

However it has many faults. I was particulary disturbed by it's lack of definitions. At some point I felt like I was having a conversation or reading a "pop" math books for the dilettante not mathematician. I found myself repeatedly going back and having to REREAD THE TEXT to get the definition of some mathematical object. In my humble opinion a math text should clearly state definitions and properties and not try to "explain" them in prose without the preceding definitions.

The author also states minimal prerequisites ( algebra and point set topology ), however, it is clear alot more is needed.

Although there are plenty of examples, the author, simply states conclusions which maybe "self-evident" to someone with previous exposure to algebraic topology but not to a novice.
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