Algebraic and Geometric Topology 3 (2003), paper no. 40, pages 1119-1138.

Global structure of the mod two symmetric algebra, H^*(BO;F_2), over the Steenrod Algebra

David J. Pengelley, Frank Williams

Abstract. The algebra S of symmetric invariants over the field with two elements is an unstable algebra over the Steenrod algebra A, and is isomorphic to the mod two cohomology of BO, the classifying space for vector bundles. We provide a minimal presentation for S in the category of unstable A-algebras, i.e., minimal generators and minimal relations.
From this we produce minimal presentations for various unstable A-algebras associated with the cohomology of related spaces, such as the BO(2^m-1) that classify finite dimensional vector bundles, and the connected covers of BO. The presentations then show that certain of these unstable A-algebras coalesce to produce the Dickson algebras of general linear group invariants, and we speculate about possible related topological realizability.
Our methods also produce a related simple minimal A-module presentation of the cohomology of infinite dimensional real projective space, with filtered quotients the unstable modules F(2^p-1)/A bar{A}_{p-2}, as described in an independent appendix.

Keywords. Symmetric algebra, Steenrod algebra, unstable algebra, classifying space, Dickson algebra, BO, real projective space.

AMS subject classification. Primary: 55R45. Secondary: 13A50, 16W22, 16W50, 55R40, 55S05, 55S10.

DOI: 10.2140/agt.2003.3.1119

E-print: arXiv:math.AT/0312220

Submitted: 24 October 2003. Accepted: 5 November2003. Published: 10 November 2003.

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David J. Pengelley, Frank Williams
New Mexico State University
Las Cruces, NM 88003, USA

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