nLab Eilenberg-Zilber map



Homological algebra

homological algebra

(also nonabelian homological algebra)



Basic definitions

Stable homotopy theory notions



diagram chasing

Schanuel's lemma

Homology theories




Denote by


For A,BsAbA,B \in sAb two simplicial abelian group, the Eilenberg-Zilber map (or Eilenberg-MacLane map or shuffle map) is the natural transformation of chain complexes

A,B:C(A)C(B)C(AB) \nabla_{A,B} \;\colon\; C(A) \otimes C(B) \longrightarrow C(A \otimes B)

defined on two n-simplices aA pa \in A_p and bB qb \in B_q by

A,B:ab (μ,ν)Sh(p,q)sgn(μ,ν)(s ν(a))(s μ(b))C p+q(AB)=A p+qB p+q, \nabla_{A,B} \;\colon\; a \otimes b \;\mapsto\; \sum_{(\mu,\nu) \in Sh(p,q)} sgn(\mu,\nu) \cdot \big(s_\nu(a)\big) \otimes \big(s_\mu(b)\big) \;\; \in C_{p+q}(A \otimes B) = A_{p+q} \otimes B_{p+q} \,,


  • the sum is over all (p,q)(p,q)-shuffles

    (μ,ν)=(μ 1,,μ p,ν 1,,ν q), (\mu,\nu) = (\mu_1, \cdots, \mu_p, \nu_1, \cdots, \nu_q) \,,
  • sgn(μ,ν)sgn(\mu,\nu) is the signature of the corresponding permutation,

  • the maps s μs_{\mu} and s νs_\nu are defined by:

    s μs μ p1s μ 21s μ 11 s_{\mu} \coloneqq s_{\mu_p - 1} \circ \cdots \circ s_{\mu_2 - 1} \circ s_{\mu_1 - 1}


    s νs ν q1s ν 21s ν 11. s_{\nu} \coloneqq s_{\nu_q - 1} \circ \cdots \circ s_{\nu_2 - 1} \circ s_{\nu_1 - 1} \,.


The shift in the indices in Def. is to be coherent with the convention that the shuffle (μ,ν)(\mu, \nu) is a permutation of {1,,p+q}\{1, \dots, p+q\}. In many references the shift disappears by making it a permutation of {0,,p+q1}\{0, \dots, p+q-1\}, instead.


The sum in Def. may be understood as being over all non-degenerate simplices in the Cartesian product Δ[p]×Δ[q]\Delta[p] \times \Delta[q] of simplices. See at products of simplices for more on this.


This Eilenberg-Zilber map (Def. ) co/restricts to the normalized chain complex inside the Moore complex, to a chain map of the form:

A,B:N(A)N(B)N(AB). \nabla_{A,B} \;\colon\; N(A) \otimes N(B) \longrightarrow N(A \otimes B) \,.


Monoidal properties


The Eilenberg-Zilber map (Def. ) is a lax monoidal transformation that makes CC and NN into lax monoidal functors.

See at monoidal Dold-Kan correspondence for details.

For the next statement notice that both sAbsAb and Ch +Ch_\bullet^+ are in fact symmetric monoidal categories.


The EZ map (Def. ) is symmetric in that for all A,BsAbA,B \in sAb the square

CACB σ CBCA A,B B,A C(AB) C(σ) C(BA) \array{ C A \otimes C B &\stackrel{\sigma}{\to}& C B \otimes C A \\ {}^{\mathllap{\nabla_{A,B}}} \big\downarrow && \big\downarrow^{\mathrlap{\nabla_{B,A}}} \\ C(A\otimes B) &\stackrel{C(\sigma)}{\to}& C(B \otimes A) }

commutes, where σ\sigma denotes the symmetry isomorphism in sAbsAb and Ch +Ch_\bullet^+.

Eilenberg-Zilber theorem


(Eilenberg-Zilber/Alexander-Whitney deformation retraction)


and denote

Then there is a deformation retraction


For unnormalized chain complexes, where we have a homotopy equivalence, this is the original Eilenberg-Zilber theorem (Eilenberg & Zilber 1953, Eilenberg & MacLane 1954, Thm. 2.1). The above deformation retraction for normalized chain complexes is Eilenberg & MacLane 1954, Thm. 2.1a. Both are reviewed in May 1967, Cor. 29.10. Explicit description of the homotopy operator is given in Gonzalez-Diaz & Real 1999.


  • The Eilenberg-Zilber map induces a functor from simplicial Lie algebras to dg-Lie algebras (see here).

  • The Eilenberg-Zilber map controls the formula for transgression in group cohomology, see there fore more.

  • In the context of filtered spaces X *,Y *X_*, Y_* and their associated fundamental crossed complexes ΠX *,ΠY *\Pi X_*, \Pi Y_* there is a natural Eilenberg-Zilber morphism

    η:ΠX *ΠY *Π(X *Y *)\eta: \Pi X_* \otimes \Pi Y_* \to \Pi (X_* \otimes Y_*)

    which is difficult to define directly because of the complications of the tensor product of crossed complexes, but has a direct definition in terms of the associated cubical homotopy ω\omega–groupoids. This morphism is an isomorphism of free crossed complexes if X *,Y *X_*, Y_* are the skeletal filtrations of CW-complexes. For more on all this, see the book Nonabelian Algebraic Topology p. 533.


The Eilenberg-Zilber map was introduced in:

following the Eilenberg-Zilber theorem of

Review and further discussion:

The specific maps introduced by Eilenberg-Mac Lane have stronger properties which for simplicial sets K,LK,L make C(K)C(L)C(K) \otimes C(L) a strong deformation retract of C(K×L)C(K \times L). This is exploited in

  • Ronnie Brown, The twisted Eilenberg-Zilber theorem. Simposio di Topologia (Messina, 1964), Edizioni Oderisi, Gubbio (1965), 33–37. pdf

Last revised on July 13, 2021 at 10:16:19. See the history of this page for a list of all contributions to it.