nLab topological G-space




topology (point-set topology, point-free topology)

see also differential topology, algebraic topology, functional analysis and topological homotopy theory


Basic concepts

Universal constructions

Extra stuff, structure, properties


Basic statements


Analysis Theorems

topological homotopy theory

Representation theory

Homotopy theory

homotopy theory, (∞,1)-category theory, homotopy type theory

flavors: stable, equivariant, rational, p-adic, proper, geometric, cohesive, directed

models: topological, simplicial, localic, …

see also algebraic topology



Paths and cylinders

Homotopy groups

Basic facts




In the context of topology, a topological GG-space (traditionally just GG-space, for short, if the context is clear) is a topological space equipped with an action of a topological group GG – the equivariance group (usually taken to be the topological group underlying a compact Lie group, such as a finite group).

The canonical homomorphisms of topological GG-spaces are GG-equivariant continuous functions, and the canonical choice of homotopies between these are GG-equivariant continuous homotopies (for trivial GG-action on the interval).

A GG-equivariant version of the Whitehead theorem says that on G-CW complexes these GG-equivariant homotopy equivalences are equivalently those maps that induce weak homotopy equivalences on all fixed point spaces for all subgroups of GG (compact subgroups, if GG is allowed to be a Lie group).

By Elmendorf's theorem, this, in turn, is equivalent to the (∞,1)-presheaves over the orbit category of GG. See below at In topological spaces – Homotopy theory.

See (Henriques-Gepner 07) for expression in terms of topological groupoids/orbispaces.

In the context of stable homotopy theory the stabilization of GG-spaces is given by spectra with G-action; these lead to equivariant stable homotopy theory. See there for more details. (But beware that in this context one considers the richer concept of G-spectra, which have a forgetful functor to spectra with G-action but better homotopy theoretic properties. ) The union of this as GG is allowed to vary is the global equivariant stable homotopy theory.


Change of equivariance groups

In the following TopSpTopSp is a cartesian closed convenient category of topological spaces, such as that of compactly generated topological spaces.

We discuss how any homomorphism of topological groups induces an adjoint triple of functors between the corresponding TopologicalGSpacesTopological G Spaces (e.g. May 96, Sec. I.1, DHLPS 19, p.8, see also at induced representation for a formulation in homotopy type theory)

Throughout, let G 1,G 2G_1, G_2 \in TopologicalGroups and consider a continuous homomorphism of topological groups

(1)ϕ:G 1G 2. \phi \;\colon\; G_1 \longrightarrow G_2 \,.

Pullback action


(pullback action)
Given a topological group homomorphism ϕ\phi (1), write

TopologicalG 1Spacesϕ *TopologicalG 2Spaces Topological G_1 Spaces \overset{ \;\;\; \phi^\ast \;\;\; }{\longleftarrow} Topological G_2 Spaces

for the functor which takes a topological G2-space (X,ρ)(X,\rho) to the same underlying topological space ρ\rho, equipped with the G 1G_1-action ρ(ϕ()) \rho(\phi(-)).


(restricted action)

For ϕi:HG\phi \coloneqq i \colon H \hookrightarrow G a subgroup-inclusion, the pullback action in Def. is obtained by restricting the GG-action to that of its subgroup HH.

Induced action


(induced action)
Given a topological group homomorphism ϕ\phi (1), the induced action functor

TopologicalG 1ActionsG 2× G 1()TopologicalG 2Actions Topological G_1 Actions \overset{ G_2 \times_{G_1} (-) }{\longrightarrow} Topological G_2 Actions

sends XTopologicalG 1SpacesX \in Topological G_1 Spaces to the quotient space of its Cartesian product with G 2G_2 by the diagonal action of G 1G_1 (which on G 2G_2 is by inverse right multiplication through ϕ\phi):

G 2× G 1X(G 2×X)/((g 2,x)(g 2ϕ(g 1) 1,g 1x)|g 1G 1) G_2 \times_{G_1} X \;\coloneqq\; \big( G_2 \times X \big) \big/ \big( (g_2, x) \sim (g_2 \cdot \phi(g_1)^{-1}, g_1 \cdot x) \,\vert\, g_1 \in G_1 \big)

and equipped with the G 2G_2-action given by left multiplication on the G 2G_2-factor.


(Quotients as induced actions)

If ϕG1\phi \coloneqq G \longrightarrow 1 is the terminal morphims to the trivial group, then its induced action (Def. ) is the operation of forming GG-quotient spaces (the GG-orbit-space):

TopologicalGActions Topological1Actions=TopologicalSpaces X 1× GX=X/G. \array{ Topological G Actions &\longrightarrow& Topological 1 Actions \mathrlap{ \; = TopologicalSpaces } \\ X &\mapsto & 1 \times_G X \mathrlap{ \; = X/G } \,. }


(induced action is left adjoint to pullback action)
Given a topological group homomorphism ϕ\phi (1), the induced action functor (Def. ) is left adjoint to the pullback action functor (Def. ):

G 1Spacesϕ *G 2× G 1()G 2Spaces. G_1 Spaces \underoverset {\underset{\phi^\ast}{\longleftarrow}} {\overset{G_2 \times_{G_1} (-)}{\longrightarrow}} {\;\;\; \bot \;\;\; } G_2 Spaces \,.


For XX a G 1G_1-space and YY a G 2G_2-space, consider a G 2G_2-equivariant function out of the induced action

G 2× G 1XfY. G_2 \times_{G_1} X \overset{\;\;\; f \;\;\;}{\longrightarrow} Y \,.

Since the G 2G_2-orbit of

X=G 1× G 1XG 2× G 1X X = G_1 \times_{G_1} X \hookrightarrow G_2 \times_{G_1} X

is the entire domain space on the left, by G 2G_2 equivariance, this function is completely determined by its restriction along this inclusion to a G 1G_1-equivariant function f˜:XY\tilde f \;\colon\; X \to Y, hence to a homomorphism f˜:Xϕ *Y\tilde f \;\colon\; X \to \phi^\ast Y. This correspondence

ff˜ f \leftrightarrow \tilde f

is clearly a natural bijection and hence establishes the hom-isomorphisms characterizing the adjunction.

Coinduced action


(coinduced action)

Given a topological group homomorphism ϕ\phi (1), the coinduced action functor

TopologicalG 1ActionsMaps(G 2,) G 1TopologicalG 2Actions Topological G_1 Actions \overset{ Maps(G_2,-)^{G_1} }{\longrightarrow} Topological G_2 Actions

sends XTopologicalG 1SpacesX \in Topological G_1 Spaces to the G 1G_1-fixed locus in the mapping space between topological spaces equipped with G 1G_1-actions (on G 2G_2 the ϕ\phi-induced left multiplication action) and itself equipped with the G 2G_2-action given by

(2)G 2×Maps(G 2,X) G 1 Maps(G 2,X) G 1 (g 2,h) h(()g 2). \array{ G_2 \times Maps(G_2,X)^{G_1} & \overset{}{\longrightarrow} & Maps(G_2,X)^{G_1} \\ (g_2, h) &\mapsto& h\big( (-) \cdot g_2 \big) \,. }


(Fixed loci as coinduced actions)

Let HGH \subset G be a topological subgroup and consider the group homomorphism (1) to be the HH-quotient group coprojection from the normal subgroup N(H)GN(H) \subset G:

ϕq:N(H)N(H)/H. \phi \coloneqq q \;\colon\; N(H) \longrightarrow N(H)/H \,.

Then for any N(H)N(H)-space XX (which in practice will usually be a GG-space after restriction of its action along N(H)GN(H) \hookrightarrow G, Example ) we have that its coinduced action (Def. ) is its HH-fixed locus X HX^H equipped with its residual N(H)N(H)-action:

Maps(N(H)/H,X) N(H)X H. Maps \big( N(H)/H, X \big)^{N(H)} \;\; \simeq \;\; X^H \,.


(coinduced action is right adjoint to pullback action)

Given a topological group homomorphism ϕ\phi (1), the pullback action functor (Def. ) is the left adjoint and the coinduced action functor (Def. ) is the right adjoint in a pair of adjoint functors

G 1SpacesMaps(G 2,) G 1ϕ *G 2Spaces G_1 Spaces \underoverset { \underset{ Maps \big( G_2, - \big)^{G_1} }{\longrightarrow} } { \overset{ \phi^\ast }{ \longleftarrow } } {\bot} G_2 Spaces


To see the defining hom-isomorphism, consider a G 1G_1-equivariant continuous function

ϕ *XfY. \phi^\ast X \overset{ \;\;\; f \;\;\; }{ \longrightarrow } Y \,.

From this we obtain the following function

X f˜ Maps(G 2,Y) G 1 x (g 2f(g 2x)), \array{ X & \overset{ \tilde f }{ \longrightarrow } & Maps \big( G_2, Y \big)^{G_1} \\ x &\mapsto& \big( g_2 \mapsto f( g_2 \cdot x ) \big) \,, }

where eG 2e \in G_2 denotes the neutral element.

This is manifestly:

  • well-defined, due to the G 1G_1-equivariance of ff;

  • continuous, being built from composition of continuous map;

  • G 2G_2-equivariant with respect to the action (2).

Conversely, given a G 2G_2-equivariant continuous function Xf˜Maps(G 2,Y) G 1X \overset{\tilde f}{\longrightarrow} Maps\big(G_2, Y\big)^{G_1}, we obtain the following function

ϕ *X Y x f˜(x)(e). \array{ \phi^\ast X &\overset{}{\longrightarrow}& Y \\ x &\mapsto& \tilde f(x)(e) \,. }

This is:

  • continuous, being the composition of continuous functions;

  • G 1G_1-equivariant due to the equivariance properties of f˜\tilde f:

    ϕ(g 1)x f˜(ϕ(g 1)x)(e) =f˜(x)(eϕ(g 1)) =f˜(x)(ϕ(g 1)e) =g 1(f˜(x)(e)) \begin{aligned} \phi(g_1) \cdot x & \mapsto \tilde f \big( \phi(g_1)\cdot x \big) (e) \\ & = \tilde f ( x ) \big( e \cdot \phi(g_1) \big) \\ & = \tilde f ( x ) \big( \phi(g_1) \cdot e \big) \\ & = g_1 \cdot \big( \tilde f ( x ) ( e ) \big) \end{aligned}

Finally, it is clear that these transformations ff˜f \leftrightarrow \tilde f are natural, hence it only remains to see that they are bijective:

Plugging in the above constructions we find indeed:

f˜˜:xf(ex)=f(x) \widetilde {\tilde f} \;\colon\; x \mapsto f(e \cdot x) = f(x)


f˜˜˜:x(g 2f˜(g 2x)(e)=f˜(x)(eg 2)=f˜(x)(g 2)). \widetilde {\widetilde {\tilde f}} \;\colon\; x \mapsto \big( g_2 \mapsto \underset{ {= \tilde f(x)(e \cdot g_2)} \atop {= \tilde f(x)(g_2)} }{ \underbrace{ \tilde f(g_2\cdot x)(e) } } \big) \,.


For the analogous statement of cofree-actions of simplicial groups on simplicial sets see at Borel model structure this Prop..

Fixed loci with residual Weyl group action

Combining these change-of-equivariance grouo adjunctions (from above) to “pull-push” through the correspondence

we obtain the fixed locus-functor in the form in which it appears in Elmendorf's theorem, namely with the residual Weyl group-action on the fixed loci:


(Fixed loci with residual Weyl-group action as coinduced action)

Let HGH \subset G be a subgroup-inclusion. Write

Then the composite of

  1. forming the pullback action (Def. ) along N(H)GN(H) \hookrightarrow G (the restricted action, Example )

  2. forming the coinduced action (Def. ) along N(H)N(H)/HN(H) \twoheadrightarrow N(H)/H (the passage to fixed loci, Example )

is the passage to the HH-fixed locus () H(-)^H equipped with its residual Weyl group-action, and Prop. with Prop. shows that this construction is a right adjoint:

Limits and colimits

Recalling that the ambient category is assumed to be a cartesian closed convenient category of topological spaces, such as that of compactly generated topological spaces:


(forgetful functor to spaces creates all limits and colimits)
The forgetful functor from GG-spaces to underlying spaces creates all limits and colimits.

(e.g. Schwede 2018, p. 736-737)

Topological GG-spaces are equivalently the algebras over the monad G×()G \times (-), which is the composite of the two left adjoints in the change-of-group adjoint triple above along 1G1 \to G. Since left adjoints preserve colimits, so does this monad.

Now the forgetful functor in question is the respective monadic functor and a general theorem (this Prop.) says that monadic functors create all limits that exist in their codomain and those colimits which exist there and are preserved by the monad.


(compactly generated topological GG-spaces form a regular category)
For TopSpTopSp denoting the category of compactly generated weakly Hausdorff spaces or compactly generated Hausdorff spaces, and for GGrp(TopSp)G \,\in\, Grp(TopSp) a topological group, the category GAct(TopSp)G Act(TopSp) of topological GG-spaces is a regular category.


By this Prop. the given convenient category of topological spaces is regular. Since regularity is purely a condition on limits and colimits (this Def.) it transfers along any forgetful functor which creates limits and colimits. Therefore the statement follows by Prop. .


(recognition of cartesian quotient projections) Let GG be a compact topological group and let f:XYf \colon X \longrightarrow Y be morphism of Hausdorff GG-spaces.

Then its quotient naturality square

(3)X f Y X/G f/G Y/G \array{ X &\overset{f}{\longrightarrow}& Y \\ \big\downarrow && \big\downarrow \\ X/G &\overset{f/G}{\longrightarrow}& Y/G }

is a pullback square if and only if ff preserves isotropy groups, i.e. if and only if for each xXx \in X we have

G xG f(x) G_x \,\simeq\, G_{f(x)}

as an isomorphism of stabilizer subgroups of GG.

(Bykov-Flores 15, Prop. 4.1)


The assumption in Lemma is met in particular when the action on both sides is free, whence all isotropy groups are trivial.

This is the case in which XX and YY are GG-principal bundles without, however, necessarily needing to be locally trivial for Lemma to apply (“Cartan principal bundles”).

On the other hand, even if GG is not compact but XX/GX \to X/G and YY/GY \to Y/G are GG-principal bundles which are locally trivial, then it follows again that (3) is a pullback (since then the universal comparison morphism XY× X/GY/GX \to Y \times_{X/G} Y/G is a morphism of locally trivial principal bundles over the common base space X/GX/G, which is an isomorphism since it is so on any open cover over which both XX and Y× X/GY/GY \times_{X/G} Y/G trivialize).

Equivariant Tietze extension theorem

See at equivariant Tietze extension theorem

Model structure and homotopy theory

The standard homotopy theory on GG-spaces used in equivariant homotopy theory considers weak equivalences which are weak homotopy equivalence on all (ordinary) fixed loci for all suitable subgroups. This is presented by the fine model structure on topological G-spaces, which, by Elmendorf's theorem, is equivalent to (∞,1)-presheaves over the orbit category of GG.

On the other hand there is also the standard homotopy theory of infinity-actions, presented by the Borel model structure, in this context also called the “coarse” or “naive” equivariant model structure (Guillou).


We discuss some classes of examples of G-spaces.

Euclidean GG-spaces

Let VRO(G)V \in RO(G) be an orthogonal linear representation of a finite group GG on a real vector space VV. Then the underlying Euclidean space V\mathbb{R}^V inherits the structure of a G-space

We may call this the Euclidean G-space associated with the linear representation VV.

Representation spheres

Let VRO(G)V \in RO(G) be an orthogonal linear representation of a finite group GG on a real vector space VV. Then the one-point compactification of the underlying Euclidean space V\mathbb{R}^V inherits the structure of a G-space with the point at infinity a fixed point. This is called the VV-representation sphere

Representation tori

Let VRO(G)V \in RO(G) be an orthogonal linear representation of a finite group GG on a real vector space VV.

If GG is the point group of a crystallographic group inside the Euclidean group

NGIso( V) N \rtimes G \hookrightarrow Iso(\mathbb{R}^V)

then the GG-action on the Euclidean space V\mathbb{R}^V descends to the quotient by the action of the translational normal subgroup lattice NN (this Prop.). The resulting GG-space is an n-torus with GG-action, which might be called the representation torus of VV

graphics grabbed from SS 19

Projective GG-space

Let GG be a finite group (or maybe a compact Lie group) and let VV be a GG-linear representation over some topological ground field kk.

Then the corresponding projective G-space is the quotient space of the complement of the origin in (the Euclidean space underlying) VV by the given action of the group of units of kk (from the kk-vector space-structure on VV):

kP(V):=(V{0})/k × k P(V) \;:=\; \big( V \setminus \{0\} \big) / k^\times

and equipped with the residual GG-action on VV (which passes to the quotient space since it commutes with the kk-action, by linearity).

G-CW complexes

See at G-CW complex.

Rezk-global equivariant homotopy theory:

cohesive (∞,1)-toposits (∞,1)-sitebase (∞,1)-toposits (∞,1)-site
global equivariant homotopy theory PSh (Glo)PSh_\infty(Glo)global equivariant indexing category GloGlo∞Grpd PSh (*) \simeq PSh_\infty(\ast)point
sliced over terminal orbispace: PSh (Glo) /𝒩PSh_\infty(Glo)_{/\mathcal{N}}Glo /𝒩Glo_{/\mathcal{N}}orbispaces PSh (Orb)PSh_\infty(Orb)global orbit category
sliced over BG\mathbf{B}G: PSh (Glo) /BGPSh_\infty(Glo)_{/\mathbf{B}G}Glo /BGGlo_{/\mathbf{B}G}GG-equivariant homotopy theory of G-spaces L weGTopPSh (Orb G)L_{we} G Top \simeq PSh_\infty(Orb_G)GG-orbit category Orb /BG=Orb GOrb_{/\mathbf{B}G} = Orb_G

See also


(For basics see also the references at group actions.)

Early appearance of the notion (as “transformation groups”):

See also:

Textbook accounts:

More discussion in the context of equivariant homotopy theory:

Specifically in the context of proper equivariant homotopy theory:

See also the references at equivariant homotopy theory.

The special case of smooth Lie group-actions on smooth manifolds:

Lecture notes:

Last revised on February 1, 2024 at 17:17:21. See the history of this page for a list of all contributions to it.