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Directed combinatorial homology and noncommutative tori (The breaking of symmetries in algebraic topology)

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  24 February 2005

Dipartimento di Matematica, Università di Genova, Via Dodecaneso 35, 16146-Genova, Italy. e-mail:


This is a brief study of the homology of cubical sets, with two main purposes.

First, this combinatorial structure is viewed as representing directed spaces, breaking the intrinsic symmetries of topological spaces. Cubical sets have a directed homology, consisting of preordered abelian groups where the positive cone comes from the structural cubes.

But cubical sets can also express topological facts missed by ordinary topology. This happens, for instance, in the study of group actions or foliations, where a topologically-trivial quotient (the orbit set or the set of leaves) can be enriched with a natural cubical structure whose directed cohomology agrees with Connes' analysis in noncommutative geometry. Thus, cubical sets can provide a sort of ‘noncommutative topology’, without the metric information of C*-algebras.

Research Article
2005 Cambridge Philosophical Society

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Work supported by MIUR Research Projects.