Topology studie s th e propertie s o f geometrica l object s tha t remai n un -
changed under transformations calle d homeomorphisms an d deformations.
The initial aquaintance with this field is hindered by the fact that rigorous
definitions o f eve n th e simples t notion s o f topolog y ar e rather abstrac t o r
very technical. Fo r this reason the first really meaningful (an d in fact readily
understandable) topological theorems appear only after tedious preliminaries
have been overcome. Thi s preliminary work is mostly devoted to the detailed
and accurate proofs of intuitively obvious statements: admittedl y not a very
exciting activity.
This boo k i s a n introductor y cours e i n topolog y o f rathe r untraditiona l
structure. W e begin by defining the main notions in a tangible and perceptible
way, o n an everyday level, an d as we go along we progressively mak e them
more precise and rigorous, reaching the level o f fairly sophisticate d proofs .
This allows us to tackle meaningful problems from the very outset with some
Another unusual trait of this book is that it deals mainly with constructions
and maps (of surfaces, knots, and links in space), rather than with proofs of
general theorems implyin g tha t certai n map s and constructions don' t exist .
Such proofs, usuall y based on complicated invariant s (e.g. , so-called homo-
topy and homology functors), are in fact a more traditional activity for topol-
ogists, but are not the main subject matter of this book. W e do consider some
invariants, but only simple and effective ones.
The (numerous) illustrations are essential. I n many parts of the book they
are more important than the text, which is then little more than a commentary
to the pictures.
In the study of mathematics, problem solving plays a crucial role. Readin g
ready-made proofs of theorems is a poor substitute for trying to prove them
on your own. Man y statement s tha t th e reade r ca n profitabl y thin k abou t
himself appea r i n th e for m o f problems . Thes e problem s ar e an inheren t
part of our exposition, and therefore their solutions are presented at the end
of each section.
A bibliography, mainl y consistin g o f book s tha t w e recommen d fo r th e
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