nLab
Lev Pontrjagin

Lev Semёnovič Pontrjagin (Лев Семёнович Понтрягин) was an influential Soviet mathematician working in Moscow. His main works till the late 1940s were in general topology, especially the study of topological groups (including study of Pontrjagin duality) and algebraic topology in which he also explored applications of differentiable manifolds for computation of homotopy groups (the Pontrjagin theorem); including the introduction of unstable framed cobordism (unstable Cohomotopy) in that work. After the success of the French mathematical school in the late 1940s in introducing new methods of sheaf theory, which Pontrjagin did not like as being less direct than the more intuitive geometric methods he was master of, and after some pressure from the government, Pontrjagin switched into applied mathematics where he did some fundamental work, especially in optimization theory.

Pontrjagin was a full member of the (Soviet) Academy of Sciences. He was blind since the age of 14.

Selected writings

Introducing Pontrjagin duality:

  • Lev Pontrjagin, Theory of topological commutative groups, Annals of Mathematics Second Series, Vol. 35, No. 2 (Apr., 1934), pp. 361-388 (doi:10.2307/1968438)

    Russian translation: Uspekhi Mat. Nauk, 1936, no. 2, 177–195 (mathnet:umn8882)

Introducing Pontryagin's theorem – the bijection between cobordism classes of normally framed submanifolds of a closed smooth manifold and its Cohomotopy-sets, established via the Pontryagin-Thom collapse/Cohomotopy charge – and its application to the computation of

the first stable homotopy group of spheres:

and the second stable homotopy group of spheres:

all three of which are available in English translation in Gamkrelidze 86.

A comprehensive account of this cobordism theory/stable homotopy theory via Pontryagin's theorem (now mostly: “Pontryagin-Thom theorem”) is then given in:

Introducing the Pontrjagin product:

  • Lev Pontrjagin, Homologies in compact Lie groups, Rec. Math. [Mat. Sbornik] N.S., 1939 Volume 6(48), Number 3, Pages 389–422 (mathnet:5835)

Introducing Pontrjagin classes:

  • Л. С. Понтрягин, Характеристические циклы многообразий, ДАН, XXXV, № 2 (1942).

  • Л. С. Понтрягин, Характеристические циклы дифференцируемых многообразий, Матем. сб., 21(63):2 (1947), 233–284. MathNet.Ru PDF. English translation: Lev Pontrjagin, Characteristic cycles on differentiable manifolds, Mat. Sbornik N. S. 21(63) (1947), 233-284; A.M.S. Translation 32 (1950).

Selected articles:

category: people

Last revised on November 14, 2021 at 00:11:20. See the history of this page for a list of all contributions to it.