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A Combinatorial Introduction to Topology (Dover Books on Mathematics) [Paperback]

Michael Henle
5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
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Book Description

28 Mar 2003 Dover Books on Mathematics
Excellent text covers vector fields, plane homology and the Jordan Curve Theorem, surfaces, homology of complexes, more. Problems and exercises. Some knowledge of differential equations and multivariate calculus required. Bibliography. 1979 edition.

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A Combinatorial Introduction to Topology (Dover Books on Mathematics) + Counterexamples in Topology (Dover Books on Mathematics) + Introduction to Topology: Third Edition (Dover Books on Mathematics)
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Product details

  • Paperback: 310 pages
  • Publisher: Dover Publications Inc.; New edition edition (28 Mar 2003)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0486679667
  • ISBN-13: 978-0486679662
  • Product Dimensions: 21.5 x 13.8 x 1.7 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 829,043 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
  • See Complete Table of Contents

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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An exceptionally clear introduction to topology. 20 July 2000
Henle covers an astonishing amount of ground in this book, from basic concepts such as compactness and connectedness to integral homology and continuous transformations. The emphasis is on algebraic topology, although point set topology is touched on in an introductory chapter and a summary of key results at the end of the book.
The style is clear, with touches of humour. For example, an introductory remark to the proof of the classification theorem for surfaces, which takes up 5 pages, promises that "the proof, although long, is thoroughly enjoyable"; and the topic of orientability is introduced with a "fable" about a topologist who moved from a cylinder to a Mobius strip.
The only improvement I can think of would be if the Hints and Answers section covered a higher proportion of the book's thought-provoking exercises.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A marvellous acheivement ! 28 Dec 1998
By A Customer
A very well written introduction to topology with the emphasis on the combinatorial part. I have five other topology books but this is by far the best one. It is surprising to find such a good book at this low price. I can only congratulate Professor Henle for his marvellous acheivement.
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Amazon.com: 4.5 out of 5 stars  6 reviews
25 of 25 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A good start 16 Aug 2002
By Dr. Lee D. Carlson - Published on Amazon.com
Historically, combinatorial topology was a precursor to what is now the field of algebraic topology, and this book gives an elementary introduction to the subject, directed towards the beginning student of topology or geometry. Due to its importance in applications, the physicist reader who is intending eventually to specialize in elementary particle physics will gain much in the perusal of this book.
Combinatorial topology can be viewed first as an attempt to study the properties of polyhedra and how they fit together to form more complicated objects. Conversely, one can view it as a way of studying complicated objects by breaking them up into elementary polyhedral pieces. The author takes the former view in this book, and he restricts his attention to the study of objects that are built up from polygons, with the proviso that vertices are joined to vertices and (whole) edges are joined to (whole) edges.
He begins the book with a consideration of the Euler formula, and as one example considers the Euler number of the Platonic solids, resulting in a Diophantine equation. This equation only has five solutions, the Platonic solids. The author then motivates the concept of a homeomorphism (he calls them "topological equivalences") by considering topological transformations in the plane. Using the notion of topological equivalence he defines the notions of cell, path, and Jordan curve. Compactness and connectedness are then defined, along with the general notion of a topological space.
Elementary notions from differential topology are then considered in chapter 2, with the reader encountering for the first time the connections between analysis and topology, via the consideration of the phase portraits of differential equations. Brouwer's fixed point theorem is proved via Sperner's lemma, the latter being a combinatorial result which deals with the labeling of vertices in a triangulation of the cell. Gradient vector fields, the Poincare index theorem, and dual vector fields, which are some elementary notions in Morse theory, are treated here briefly.
An excellent introduction to some elementary notions from algebraic topology is done in chapter 3. The author treats the case of plane homology (mod 2), which is discussed via the use of polygonal chains on a grating in the plane. Beginning students will find the presentation very understandable, and the formalism that is developed is used to give a proof of the Jordan curve theorem. Then in chapter 4, the author proves the classification theorem for surfaces, using a combinatorial definition of a surface.
The author raises the level of complication in chapter 5, wherein he studies the (mod 2) homology of complexes. A complex is defined somewhat loosely as a topological space that is constructed out of vertices, edges, and polygons via topological identification. He proves the invariance theorem for triangulations of surfaces by showing that the homology groups of the triangulation are same as the homology groups of the plane model of the surface. This is an example of the invariance principle, and the author briefly details some of the history of invariance principles, such as the Hauptvermutung, its counterexample due to the mathematician John Milnor, and Heawood's conjecture, the latter of which deals with the minimum number of colors needed to color all maps on a surface with a given Euler characteristic. Integral homology is also introduced by the author, and he shows the origin of torsion in the consideration of the "twist" in a surface.
In the last part of the book, the author returns to the consideration of continuous transformations, tackling first the idea of a universal covering space. Algebraic topology again makes its appearance via the consideration of transformations of triangulated topological spaces, i.e. simplicial transformations. He shows how these transformations induce transformations in the homology groups, thus introducing the reader to some notions from category theory. The elaboration of the invariance theorem for homology leads the author to studying the properties of the group homomorphisms via matrix algebra, and then to a proof of the Lefschetz fixed point theorem. The book ends with a brief discussion of homotopy, topological dynamics, and alternative homology theories.
The beginning student of topology will thus be well prepared to move on to more rigorous and advanced treatments of differential, algebraic, and geometric topology after the reading of this book. There are still many unsolved problems in these areas, and each one of these will require a deep understanding and intuition of the underlying concepts in topology. This book is a good start.
16 of 16 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Esoteric Fun 7 May 1997
By A Customer - Published on Amazon.com
Way back in 1980 I took a course at Oberlin College from Professor Henle in which he used this book (his own) as the text. Up until then I had been wavering as to a major, whether it should be in the hard sciences or Math. Michael Henle, his course, and this textbook decided me. I majored in Math.

The book gives a very hands on, concrete approach to what is a very abstract realm. An example that comes immediately to mind is the proof of the classification of manifolds, which comes down to a sequence of clever cut and paste operations on a large sheet with labeled edges. This text also has a curious sense of humor subtly hidden through it. Just look in the index under 'Man in the moon'. I dare you!

The exercises, which consist mostly of writing proofs, where there is very little notation and all your ideas have to be written out long-hand, are incredibly valuable for developing a logical mind. At least they were for me, back in 1980.
14 of 14 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An outstanding choice for advanced undergraduates in math 7 July 1996
By A Customer - Published on Amazon.com
I think this is Dover Publications best title in topology.There is a fantastic and thorough introduction to many ofthe finer theorems (e.g.: Brouwer's Fixed Point Theorem, Sperner's Lemma, etc.). I was absolutely captivated with the ease with which Dr. Henle explained some remarkably difficult concepts. Much time is spent on some of the more unusual topics for a text at this level, including homology and even the qualitative behavior of differential equations! A serious book, for advanced undergraduates and graduates. Very enriching, and a definite plus as a reference tool.
8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Splendidly intuitive yet rigorous 31 May 2001
By Ken Braithwaite - Published on Amazon.com
This covers the basics of algebraic topology with simplexes, covering in essence the fundamental ideas behind of the work of Poincare, Brouwer, and Alexander. He proves the Jordan curve theorem, classifies all compact surfaces, and the relationship with vector fields. The homology groups are defined and used.
There are excellent examples, clear writing, and humour. An outstanding introduction.
One nice feature is that he bases his notions of continuity on "nearness" not epsilon-delta.
1 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A reader's opinion 4 Jan 2007
By Darondeau Philippe - Published on Amazon.com
This is the second time I have bought this book since I offered

the first one to my son. An excellent introduction to the topic!
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