Fiber bundle


In mathematics, and particularly topology, a fiber bundle (Commonwealth English: fibre bundle) is a space that is locally a product space, but globally may have a different topological structure. Specifically, the similarity between a space and a product space is defined using a continuous surjective map, that in small regions of behaves just like a projection from corresponding regions of to The map called the projection or submersion of the bundle, is regarded as part of the structure of the bundle. The space is known as the total space of the fiber bundle, as the base space, and the fiber.

A cylindrical hairbrush showing the intuition behind the term fiber bundle. This hairbrush is like a fiber bundle in which the base space is a cylinder and the fibers (bristles) are line segments. The mapping would take a point on any bristle and map it to its root on the cylinder.

In the trivial case, is just and the map is just the projection from the product space to the first factor. This is called a trivial bundle. Examples of non-trivial fiber bundles include the Möbius strip and Klein bottle, as well as nontrivial covering spaces. Fiber bundles, such as the tangent bundle of a manifold and other more general vector bundles, play an important role in differential geometry and differential topology, as do principal bundles.

Mappings between total spaces of fiber bundles that "commute" with the projection maps are known as bundle maps, and the class of fiber bundles forms a category with respect to such mappings. A bundle map from the base space itself (with the identity mapping as projection) to is called a section of Fiber bundles can be specialized in a number of ways, the most common of which is requiring that the transition maps between the local trivial patches lie in a certain topological group, known as the structure group, acting on the fiber .



In topology, the terms fiber (German: Faser) and fiber space (gefaserter Raum) appeared for the first time in a paper by Herbert Seifert in 1933,[1][2][3] but his definitions are limited to a very special case. The main difference from the present day conception of a fiber space, however, was that for Seifert what is now called the base space (topological space) of a fiber (topological) space E was not part of the structure, but derived from it as a quotient space of E. The first definition of fiber space was given by Hassler Whitney in 1935[4] under the name sphere space, but in 1940 Whitney changed the name to sphere bundle.[5]

The theory of fibered spaces, of which vector bundles, principal bundles, topological fibrations and fibered manifolds are a special case, is attributed to Seifert, Heinz Hopf, Jacques Feldbau,[6] Whitney, Norman Steenrod, Charles Ehresmann,[7][8][9] Jean-Pierre Serre,[10] and others.

Fiber bundles became their own object of study in the period 1935–1940. The first general definition appeared in the works of Whitney.[11]

Whitney came to the general definition of a fiber bundle from his study of a more particular notion of a sphere bundle,[12] that is a fiber bundle whose fiber is a sphere of arbitrary dimension.[13]

Formal definition


A fiber bundle is a structure   where   and   are topological spaces and   is a continuous surjection satisfying a local triviality condition outlined below. The space   is called the base space of the bundle,   the total space, and   the fiber. The map   is called the projection map (or bundle projection). We shall assume in what follows that the base space   is connected.

We require that for every  , there is an open neighborhood   of   (which will be called a trivializing neighborhood) such that there is a homeomorphism   (where   is given the subspace topology, and   is the product space) in such a way that   agrees with the projection onto the first factor. That is, the following diagram should commute:

Local triviality condition

where   is the natural projection and   is a homeomorphism. The set of all   is called a local trivialization of the bundle.

Thus for any  , the preimage   is homeomorphic to   (since this is true of  ) and is called the fiber over   Every fiber bundle   is an open map, since projections of products are open maps. Therefore   carries the quotient topology determined by the map  

A fiber bundle   is often denoted


that, in analogy with a short exact sequence, indicates which space is the fiber, total space and base space, as well as the map from total to base space.

A smooth fiber bundle is a fiber bundle in the category of smooth manifolds. That is,   and   are required to be smooth manifolds and all the functions above are required to be smooth maps.



Trivial bundle


Let   and let   be the projection onto the first factor. Then   is a fiber bundle (of  ) over   Here   is not just locally a product but globally one. Any such fiber bundle is called a trivial bundle. Any fiber bundle over a contractible CW-complex is trivial.

Nontrivial bundles


Möbius strip

The Möbius strip is a nontrivial bundle over the circle.

Perhaps the simplest example of a nontrivial bundle   is the Möbius strip. It has the circle that runs lengthwise along the center of the strip as a base   and a line segment for the fiber  , so the Möbius strip is a bundle of the line segment over the circle. A neighborhood   of   (where  ) is an arc; in the picture, this is the length of one of the squares. The preimage   in the picture is a (somewhat twisted) slice of the strip four squares wide and one long (i.e. all the points that project to  ).

A homeomorphism (  in § Formal definition) exists that maps the preimage of   (the trivializing neighborhood) to a slice of a cylinder: curved, but not twisted. This pair locally trivializes the strip. The corresponding trivial bundle   would be a cylinder, but the Möbius strip has an overall "twist". This twist is visible only globally; locally the Möbius strip and the cylinder are identical (making a single vertical cut in either gives the same space).

Klein bottle


A similar nontrivial bundle is the Klein bottle, which can be viewed as a "twisted" circle bundle over another circle. The corresponding non-twisted (trivial) bundle is the 2-torus,  .

The Klein bottle immersed in three-dimensional space.
A torus.

Covering map


A covering space is a fiber bundle such that the bundle projection is a local homeomorphism. It follows that the fiber is a discrete space.

Vector and principal bundles


A special class of fiber bundles, called vector bundles, are those whose fibers are vector spaces (to qualify as a vector bundle the structure group of the bundle — see below — must be a linear group). Important examples of vector bundles include the tangent bundle and cotangent bundle of a smooth manifold. From any vector bundle, one can construct the frame bundle of bases, which is a principal bundle (see below).

Another special class of fiber bundles, called principal bundles, are bundles on whose fibers a free and transitive action by a group   is given, so that each fiber is a principal homogeneous space. The bundle is often specified along with the group by referring to it as a principal  -bundle. The group   is also the structure group of the bundle. Given a representation   of   on a vector space  , a vector bundle with   as a structure group may be constructed, known as the associated bundle.

Sphere bundles


A sphere bundle is a fiber bundle whose fiber is an n-sphere. Given a vector bundle   with a metric (such as the tangent bundle to a Riemannian manifold) one can construct the associated unit sphere bundle, for which the fiber over a point   is the set of all unit vectors in  . When the vector bundle in question is the tangent bundle  , the unit sphere bundle is known as the unit tangent bundle.

A sphere bundle is partially characterized by its Euler class, which is a degree   cohomology class in the total space of the bundle. In the case   the sphere bundle is called a circle bundle and the Euler class is equal to the first Chern class, which characterizes the topology of the bundle completely. For any  , given the Euler class of a bundle, one can calculate its cohomology using a long exact sequence called the Gysin sequence.

Mapping tori


If   is a topological space and   is a homeomorphism then the mapping torus   has a natural structure of a fiber bundle over the circle with fiber   Mapping tori of homeomorphisms of surfaces are of particular importance in 3-manifold topology.

Quotient spaces


If   is a topological group and   is a closed subgroup, then under some circumstances, the quotient space   together with the quotient map   is a fiber bundle, whose fiber is the topological space  . A necessary and sufficient condition for ( ) to form a fiber bundle is that the mapping   admits local cross-sections (Steenrod 1951, §7).

The most general conditions under which the quotient map will admit local cross-sections are not known, although if   is a Lie group and   a closed subgroup (and thus a Lie subgroup by Cartan's theorem), then the quotient map is a fiber bundle. One example of this is the Hopf fibration,  , which is a fiber bundle over the sphere   whose total space is  . From the perspective of Lie groups,   can be identified with the special unitary group  . The abelian subgroup of diagonal matrices is isomorphic to the circle group  , and the quotient   is diffeomorphic to the sphere.

More generally, if   is any topological group and   a closed subgroup that also happens to be a Lie group, then   is a fiber bundle.



A section (or cross section) of a fiber bundle   is a continuous map   such that   for all x in B. Since bundles do not in general have globally defined sections, one of the purposes of the theory is to account for their existence. The obstruction to the existence of a section can often be measured by a cohomology class, which leads to the theory of characteristic classes in algebraic topology.

The most well-known example is the hairy ball theorem, where the Euler class is the obstruction to the tangent bundle of the 2-sphere having a nowhere vanishing section.

Often one would like to define sections only locally (especially when global sections do not exist). A local section of a fiber bundle is a continuous map   where U is an open set in B and   for all x in U. If   is a local trivialization chart then local sections always exist over U. Such sections are in 1-1 correspondence with continuous maps  . Sections form a sheaf.

Structure groups and transition functions


Fiber bundles often come with a group of symmetries that describe the matching conditions between overlapping local trivialization charts. Specifically, let G be a topological group that acts continuously on the fiber space F on the left. We lose nothing if we require G to act faithfully on F so that it may be thought of as a group of homeomorphisms of F. A G-atlas for the bundle   is a set of local trivialization charts   such that for any   for the overlapping charts   and   the function   is given by   where   is a continuous map called a transition function. Two G-atlases are equivalent if their union is also a G-atlas. A G-bundle is a fiber bundle with an equivalence class of G-atlases. The group G is called the structure group of the bundle; the analogous term in physics is gauge group.

In the smooth category, a G-bundle is a smooth fiber bundle where G is a Lie group and the corresponding action on F is smooth and the transition functions are all smooth maps.

The transition functions   satisfy the following conditions


The third condition applies on triple overlaps UiUjUk and is called the cocycle condition (see Čech cohomology). The importance of this is that the transition functions determine the fiber bundle (if one assumes the Čech cocycle condition).

A principal G-bundle is a G-bundle where the fiber F is a principal homogeneous space for the left action of G itself (equivalently, one can specify that the action of G on the fiber F is free and transitive, i.e. regular). In this case, it is often a matter of convenience to identify F with G and so obtain a (right) action of G on the principal bundle.

Bundle maps


It is useful to have notions of a mapping between two fiber bundles. Suppose that M and N are base spaces, and   and   are fiber bundles over M and N, respectively. A bundle map or bundle morphism consists of a pair of continuous[14] functions   such that   That is, the following diagram is commutative:


For fiber bundles with structure group G and whose total spaces are (right) G-spaces (such as a principal bundle), bundle morphisms are also required to be G-equivariant on the fibers. This means that   is also G-morphism from one G-space to another, that is,   for all   and  

In case the base spaces M and N coincide, then a bundle morphism over M from the fiber bundle   to   is a map   such that   This means that the bundle map   covers the identity of M. That is,   and the following diagram commutes:


Assume that both   and   are defined over the same base space M. A bundle isomorphism is a bundle map   between   and   such that   and such that   is also a homeomorphism.[15]

Differentiable fiber bundles


In the category of differentiable manifolds, fiber bundles arise naturally as submersions of one manifold to another. Not every (differentiable) submersion   from a differentiable manifold M to another differentiable manifold N gives rise to a differentiable fiber bundle. For one thing, the map must be surjective, and   is called a fibered manifold. However, this necessary condition is not quite sufficient, and there are a variety of sufficient conditions in common use.

If M and N are compact and connected, then any submersion   gives rise to a fiber bundle in the sense that there is a fiber space F diffeomorphic to each of the fibers such that   is a fiber bundle. (Surjectivity of   follows by the assumptions already given in this case.) More generally, the assumption of compactness can be relaxed if the submersion   is assumed to be a surjective proper map, meaning that   is compact for every compact subset K of N. Another sufficient condition, due to Ehresmann (1951), is that if   is a surjective submersion with M and N differentiable manifolds such that the preimage   is compact and connected for all   then   admits a compatible fiber bundle structure (Michor 2008, §17).


  • The notion of a bundle applies to many more categories in mathematics, at the expense of appropriately modifying the local triviality condition; cf. principal homogeneous space and torsor (algebraic geometry).
  • In topology, a fibration is a mapping   that has certain homotopy-theoretic properties in common with fiber bundles. Specifically, under mild technical assumptions a fiber bundle always has the homotopy lifting property or homotopy covering property (see Steenrod (1951, 11.7) for details). This is the defining property of a fibration.
  • A section of a fiber bundle is a "function whose output range is continuously dependent on the input." This property is formally captured in the notion of dependent type.

See also



  1. ^ Seifert, Herbert (1933). "Topologie dreidimensionaler gefaserter Räume". Acta Mathematica. 60: 147–238. doi:10.1007/bf02398271.
  2. ^ "Topologie Dreidimensionaler Gefaserter Räume" on Project Euclid.
  3. ^ Seifert, H. (1980). Seifert and Threlfall, A textbook of topology. W. Threlfall, Joan S. Birman, Julian Eisner. New York: Academic Press. ISBN 0-12-634850-2. OCLC 5831391.
  4. ^ Whitney, Hassler (1935). "Sphere spaces". Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America. 21 (7): 464–468. Bibcode:1935PNAS...21..464W. doi:10.1073/pnas.21.7.464. PMC 1076627. PMID 16588001.
  5. ^ Whitney, Hassler (1940). "On the theory of sphere bundles". Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America. 26 (2): 148–153. Bibcode:1940PNAS...26..148W. doi:10.1073/pnas.26.2.148. PMC 1078023. PMID 16588328.
  6. ^ Feldbau, Jacques (1939). "Sur la classification des espaces fibrés". Comptes rendus de l'Académie des Sciences. 208: 1621–1623.
  7. ^ Ehresmann, Charles (1947). "Sur la théorie des espaces fibrés". Coll. Top. Alg. Paris. C.N.R.S.: 3–15.
  8. ^ Ehresmann, Charles (1947). "Sur les espaces fibrés différentiables". Comptes rendus de l'Académie des Sciences. 224: 1611–1612.
  9. ^ Ehresmann, Charles (1955). "Les prolongements d'un espace fibré différentiable". Comptes rendus de l'Académie des Sciences. 240: 1755–1757.
  10. ^ Serre, Jean-Pierre (1951). "Homologie singulière des espaces fibrés. Applications". Annals of Mathematics. 54 (3): 425–505. doi:10.2307/1969485. JSTOR 1969485.
  11. ^ See Steenrod (1951, Preface)
  12. ^ In his early works, Whitney referred to the sphere bundles as the "sphere-spaces". See, for example:
    • Whitney, Hassler (1935). "Sphere spaces". Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. 21 (7): 462–468. Bibcode:1935PNAS...21..464W. doi:10.1073/pnas.21.7.464. PMC 1076627. PMID 16588001.
    • Whitney, Hassler (1937). "Topological properties of differentiable manifolds" (PDF). Bull. Amer. Math. Soc. 43 (12): 785–805. doi:10.1090/s0002-9904-1937-06642-0.
  13. ^ Whitney, Hassler (1940). "On the theory of sphere bundles" (PDF). Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. 26 (2): 148–153. Bibcode:1940PNAS...26..148W. doi:10.1073/pnas.26.2.148. PMC 1078023. PMID 16588328.
  14. ^ Depending on the category of spaces involved, the functions may be assumed to have properties other than continuity. For instance, in the category of differentiable manifolds, the functions are assumed to be smooth. In the category of algebraic varieties, they are regular morphisms.
  15. ^ Or is, at least, invertible in the appropriate category; e.g., a diffeomorphism.


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