This is part four in a sort of connected story about operations in mathematics that are associative up to homotopy. It will probably be beneficial to read part 1, part 2 and part 3 in advance of this, but it is not required in theory. These previous posts do however build up some intuition and motivation for the object we are looking at today. To quickly recap what we already seen in these previous posts we recall that we started out by looking at how to transfer a group structure on a topological space through an isomorphism....

The associating homotopy

In the two last posts we have been discussing operations that are associative up to homotopy, and where such operations might arise naturally in topology. One claim I made, which I later realized was maybe a bit unmotivated and in need of some clarification was how some higher arity maps actually defined (or were defined by) homotopies between combinations of the lower arity maps. We also purely looked at this in a topological setting, but in algebraic topology we often translate to algebraic structures, so I also wanted to see clearly that the same constructions hold in that setting....

Spaces with operations

In the most recent blog post we discussed homotopy associativity and how to transfer algebraic structures on topological spaces. There we in particular used topological groups, which are topological spaces with group structures. That said, any group is a topological group by equipping it with the discrete topology. So if we want to study some actual topology, and not just glorified group theory, we need to look at where multiplications and binary operations arise naturally in topology....

Homotopy associativity

Imagine we have a system of two topological spaces $f:T\longrightarrow G$. We are often interested in knowing if a certain property on the space $G$ can be transferred through f such that we have the same property on $T$. If f is a nice enough morphism an example could be a topological invariant of $G$, for example its Euler characteristic. In this post we are more interested in transferring other things than invariants, more specifically structures....