The notion of twisting functions is an explicit simplicial formula for a cocycle with values in a simplicial group. The twisted product induced from the twisting function is an explicit simplicial formula for a simplicial principal bundle, a model for a discrete principal ∞-bundle classified by this cocycle.
In a fibre bundle or more generally in a fibration, the fibre ‘twists’ as one goes around a loop in the base space, (the standard simple example is the Möbius band?). Such fibre bundles are usually restricted to being ‘locally trivial’, that is locally a product of an open set in the base with the fibre.
In the setting of simplicial homotopy theory, one can attempt to construct analogues of fibre bundles by starting with a base simplicial set and a fibre and trying to ‘deform’ the simplicial product to get some non-trivial fibred object. In the Cartan seminars of the period 1956–57 (numdam), (about pages 1–10), a neat solution was described: by leaving all but one of the face maps of the product alone, and deforming the last. The result is a “twisted cartesian product” (see below). The deformation required a simplicial automorphism of the fibre of course, and the resulting twisting function went from the base to the automorphisms of , completely mirroring the topological example. The simplicial identities force the twisting function to obey certain equations.
Thus the only difference from the usual Cartesian product of simplicial sets is in .
By the adjunction between -bar and the Dwyer-Kan loop groupoid functor, a twisting function also corresponds to a morphism of simplicial groupoids .
A twisting function is an analogue of a twisting cochain in the context of simplicial sets although historically the development went the other way, it seems as the basic theory of twisting cochains was introduced by Ed Brown in his paper
Edgar H. Brown Jr. Twisted tensor products. I. Ann. of Math. (2) 69 (1959) 223–246.
The link between Kan fibrations and simplicial fibre bundles, and thus TCPs is neatly summarised in
For one of the foundational papers:
Detailed exposition is also in the book