Written in his usual brilliant style, the author makes difficult mathematics look easy. This book is a very accessible source for much of what has been accomplished in the field.
Originally published in 1965.
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Milnor was awarded the Fields Medal (the mathematical equivalent of a Nobel Prize) in 1962 for his work in differential topology. He has since received the National Medal of Science (1967) and the Steele Prize from the American Mathematical Society twice (1982 and 2004) in recognition of his explanations of mathematical concepts across a wide range of scienti.c disciplines. The citation reads, "The phrase sublime elegance is rarely associated with mathematical exposition, but it applies to all of Milnor's writings. Reading his books, one is struck with the ease with which the subject is unfolding and it only becomes apparent after re.ection that this ease is the mark of a master."
Milnor has published five books with Princeton University Press.
In this volume, the authors provide a thorough introduction to characteristic classes, with detailed studies of Stiefel-Whitney classes, Chern classes, Pontrjagin classes, and the Euler class. Three appendices cover the basics of cohomology theory and the differential forms approach to characteristic classes, and provide an account of Bernoulli numbers.
Based on lecture notes of John Milnor, which first appeared at Princeton University in 1957 and have been widely studied by graduate students of topology ever since, this published version has been completely revised and corrected.