In mathematics, a genus of a multiplicative sequence is a ring homomorphism, from the ring of smooth compact manifolds up to the equivalence of bounding a smooth manifold with boundary (i.e. up to suitable cobordism) to another ring, usually the rational numbers, having the property that they are constructed from a sequence of polynomials in characteristic classes that arise as coefficients in formal power series with good multiplicative properties.
A genus φ assigns a number φ(X) to each manifold X such that
φ(X∪Y) = φ(X) + φ(Y) (where ∪ is the disjoint union)
φ(X×Y) = φ(X)φ(Y)
φ(X) = 0 if X is the boundary of a manifold with boundary.
The manifolds and manifolds with boundary may be required to have additional structure; for example, they might be oriented, spin, stably complex, and so on (see list of cobordism theories for many more examples). The value φ(X) is in some ring, often the ring of rational numbers, though it can be other rings such as or the ring of modular forms.
The conditions on φ can be rephrased as saying that φ is a ring homomorphism from the cobordism ring of manifolds (with additional structure) to another ring.
Example: If φ(X) is the signature of the oriented manifold X, then φ is a genus from oriented manifolds to the ring of integers.
The genus associated to a formal power series
The genus φ of oriented manifolds corresponding to Q is given by
where the pk are the Pontryagin classes of X. The power series Q is called the characteristic power series of the genus φ. Thom's theorem, which states that the rationals tensored with the cobordism ring is a polynomial algebra in generators of degree 4k for positive integers k, implies that this gives a bijection between formal power series Q with rational coefficients and leading coefficient 1, and genera from oriented manifolds to the rational numbers.
The fact that L2 is always integral for a smooth manifold was used by John Milnor to give an example of an 8-dimensional PL manifold with no smooth structure. Pontryagin numbers can also be defined for PL manifolds, and Milnor showed that his PL manifold had a non-integral value of p2, and so was not smoothable.
The Todd genus is the genus of the formal power series
with as before, Bernoulli numbers. The first few values are
The Todd genus has the particular property that it assigns the value 1 to all complex projective spaces (i.e. ), and this suffices to show that the Todd genus agrees with the arithmetic genus for algebraic varieties as the arithmetic genus is also 1 for complex projective spaces. This observation is a consequence of the Hirzebruch–Riemann–Roch theorem, and in fact is one of the key developments that led to the formulation of that theorem.
By combining this index result with a Weitzenbock formula for the Dirac Laplacian, André Lichnerowicz deduced that if a compact spin manifold admits a metric with positive scalar curvature, its Â genus must vanish. This only gives an obstruction to positive scalar curvature when the dimension is a multiple of 4, but Nigel Hitchin later discovered an analogous -valued obstruction in dimensions 1 or 2 mod 8. These results are essentially sharp. Indeed, Mikhail Gromov, H. Blaine Lawson, and Stephan Stolz later proved that the Â genus and Hitchin's -valued analog are the only obstructions to the existence of positive-scalar-curvature metrics on simply-connected spin manifolds of dimension greater than or equal to 5.