Journal article

Polynomial-Time Computation Of Homotopy Groups And Postnikov Systems In Fixed Dimension

For several computational problems in homotopy theory, we obtain algorithms with running time polynomial in the input size. In particular, for every fixed k >= 2, there is a polynomial-time algorithm that, for a 1-connected topological space X given as a finite simplicial complex, or more generally, as a simplicial set with polynomial-time homology, computes the kth homotopy group pi(k)(X), as well as the first k stages of a Postnikov system of X. Combined with results of an earlier paper, this yields a polynomial-time computation of [X, Y], i.e., all homotopy classes of continuous mappings X -> Y, under the assumption that Y is (k - 1)-connected and dim X <= 2k - 2. We also obtain a polynomial-time solution of the extension problem, where the input consists of finite simplicial complexes X -> Y, where Y is (k - 1)-connected and dim X <= 2k - 1, plus a subspace A subset of X and a (simplicial) map f : A -> Y, and the question is the extendability of f to all of X. The algorithms are based on the notion of a simplicial set with polynomial-time homology, which is an enhancement of the notion of a simplicial set with effective homology developed earlier by Sergeraert and his coworkers. Our polynomial-time algorithms are obtained by showing that simplicial sets with polynomial-time homology are closed under various operations, most notably Cartesian products, twisted Cartesian products, and classifying space. One of the key components is also polynomial-time homology for the Eilenberg-MacLane space K(Z, 1), provided in another recent paper by Krcal, Matousek, and Sergeraert.


Related material