An introduction to chromatic homotopy theory part 2

We will watch the second hour of a 4-hour mini-course given by Agnès Beaudry for the electronic Computational Homotopy Theory Seminar (eCHT). We might pause to discuss or discuss afterwards.

If you missed the previous week you can watch here:

Abstract:  At the center of homotopy theory is the classical problem of understanding the stable homotopy groups of spheres. Despite its simple definition, this object is extremely intricate; there is no hope of computing it completely. It hides beauty and pattern behind a veil of complexity.

Chromatic homotopy theory gives us a way to see through this veil by using the algebraic geometry of formal groups to organize theory and computations. The simplest case is via K-theory: Bott periodicity gives rise to a repeating family of elements in the stable homotopy groups of spheres via the image of the J homomorphism. It is an insight of Morava that there are higher analogues of K-theory and that they should give rise to higher periodicity in the stable homotopy groups of spheres.

In the 1980s, Ravenel and Hopkins made a series of conjectures describing this connection, most of which were proved in the 1980s and 1990s by Devinatz, Hopkins, Smith and Ravenel. Two of these problems remain open: the chromatic splitting conjecture and the telescope conjecture. The ultimate goal of the course will be to motivate and state these two famous problems.

The course will include a quick reminder of spectra and a brief introduction to complex orientations and localizations. We will discuss periodicity and the chromatic filtration, leading to a statement of the two conjectures. We will also discuss the higher K-theories and the role they play in modern computations. Many topics will only be touched briefly, as my intention is to provide a roadmap of the field to non-experts.

I will assume the knowledge of an advanced course in algebraic topology, and some familiarity with the category of spectra, K-theory, the Adams operations and cobordism.


The videos and slides from this min-course are available here: