Deformation retract

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{{#invoke:Hatnote|hatnote}}Template:Main other In topology, a branch of mathematics, a retraction[1] is a continuous mapping from the entire space into a subspace which preserves the position of all points in that subspace. A deformation retraction is a map which captures the idea of continuously shrinking a space into a subspace.



Let X be a topological space and A a subspace of X. Then a continuous map

is a retraction if the restriction of r to A is the identity map on A; that is, r(a) = a for all a in A. Equivalently, denoting by

the inclusion, a retraction is a continuous map r such that

that is, the composition of r with the inclusion is the identity of A. Note that, by definition, a retraction maps X onto A. A subspace A is called a retract of X if such a retraction exists. For instance, any space retracts to a point in the obvious way (the constant map yields a retraction). If X is Hausdorff, then A must be closed.

If is a retraction, then the composition is an idempotent continuous map from X to X. Conversely, given any idempotent continuous map , we obtain a retraction onto the image of s by restricting the codomain.

A space X is known as an absolute retract if for every normal space Y that contains X as a closed subspace, X is a retract of Y. The unit cube In as well as the Hilbert cube Iω are absolute retracts.

Neighborhood retract

If there exists an open set U such that

and A is a retract of U, then A is called a neighborhood retract of X.

A space X is an absolute neighborhood retract (or ANR) if for every normal space Y that embeds X as a closed subset, X is a neighborhood retract of Y. The n-sphere Sn is an absolute neighborhood retract.

Deformation retract and strong deformation retract

A continuous map

is a deformation retraction of a space X onto a subspace A if, for every x in X and a in A,

In other words, a deformation retraction is a homotopy between a retraction and the identity map on X. The subspace A is called a deformation retract of X. A deformation retraction is a special case of homotopy equivalence.

A retract need not be a deformation retract. For instance, having a single point as a deformation retract would imply a space is path connected (in fact, it would imply contractibility of the space).

Note: An equivalent definition of deformation retraction is the following. A continuous map r: XA is a deformation retraction if it is a retraction and its composition with the inclusion is homotopic to the identity map on X. In this formulation, a deformation retraction carries with it a homotopy between the identity map on X and itself.

If, in the definition of a deformation retraction, we add the requirement that

for all t in [0, 1] and a in A, then F is called a strong deformation retraction. In other words, a strong deformation retraction leaves points in A fixed throughout the homotopy. (Some authors, such as Allen Hatcher, take this as the definition of deformation retraction.)

As an example, the n-sphere Sn is a strong deformation retract of Rn+1\{0}; as strong deformation retraction one can choose the map

Neighborhood deformation retract

A closed subspace A is a neighborhood deformation retract of X if there exists a continuous map (where ) such that and a homotopy such that for all , for all , and for all .[2]


  • Deformation retraction is a particular case of homotopy equivalence. In fact, two spaces are homotopy equivalent if and only if they are both deformation retracts of a single larger space.
  • Any topological space which deformation retracts to a point is contractible and vice versa. However, there exist contractible spaces which do not strongly deformation retract to a point.[3]


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  • J.P. May, A concise course in algebraic topology
  • Munkres, James; Topology, Prentice Hall; 2nd edition (December 28, 1999). ISBN 0-13-181629-2.

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