Orientation character

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In algebraic topology, a branch of mathematics, an orientation character on a group is a group homomorphism

. This notion is of particular significance in surgery theory.


Given a manifold M, one takes (the fundamental group), and then sends an element of to if and only if the class it represents is orientation-reversing.

This map is trivial if and only if M is orientable.

The orientation character is an algebraic structure on the fundamental group of a manifold, which captures which loops are orientation reversing and which are orientation preserving.

Twisted group algebra

The orientation character defines a twisted involution (*-ring structure) on the group ring , by (i.e., , accordingly as is orientation preserving or reversing). This is denoted .


  • In real projective spaces, the orientation character evaluates trivially on loops if the dimension is odd, and assigns -1 to noncontractible loops in even dimension.


The orientation character is either trivial or has kernel an index 2 subgroup, which determines the map completely.

See also

External links