TQFT - a new direction in algebraic topology

Mathematics – Quantum Algebra

Scientific paper

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16 pages, 9 figures (eps files), latex, uses Scientific Word macros

Scientific paper

We give an introduction for the non-expert to TQFT (Topological Quantum Field Theory), focussing especially on its role in algebraic topology. We compare the Atiyah axioms for TQFT with the Eilenberg Steenrod axioms for homology, give a few simple examples of TQFTs, and discuss some other approaches that have been taken to defining TQFT. We then propose a new formulation of TQFT, which is closer in spirit to the way conventional functors of algebraic topology, like homology, are presented. In this approach the fundamental operation of gluing is incorporated through the notion of a *gluing morphism*, which we define. It allows not only the gluing together of two separate objects, but also the self-gluing of a single object to be treated in the same fashion. As an example of our approach we reformulate and generalize a class of examples due to Quinn based on the Euler characteristic.

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