For various constructions in stable homotopy theory – such as notably that of the symmetric monoidal smash product of spectra – it is necessary to use a model for objects in the stable (∞,1)-category of spectra and the stable homotopy category more refined than that given by $\Omega$-spectra. The notion of coordinate-free spectrum is such a refinement.
Where an $\Omega$-spectrum is a collection of topological spaces indexed by the integers $\mathbb{Z}$, a coordinate free spectrum is a collection of topological spaces index by all finite dimensional subspaces of a real inner product vector space $U$ isomorphic to $\mathbb{R}^\infty$.
Let $U$ be a real inner product vector space isomorphic to the direct sum $\mathbb{R}^\infty$ of countably many copies of the real line $\mathbb{R}$.
For $V \subset U$ a finite-dimensional subspace, write $S^V$ for its one-point compactification (an $n$-dimensional sphere if $V$ is $n$-dimensional) and for $X$ any based topological space write $\Omega^V X := Maps(S^V,X)$ for the topological space of basepoint-preserving continuous maps.
For $V \subset W$ an inclusion of finite dimensional subspaces $V,W \subset U$ write $W-V$ for the orthogonal complement of $V$ in $W$.
A coordinate-free spectrum $E$ modeled on the “universe” $U$ is
for each finite-dimensional subspace $V \subset U$ a pointed topological space $E_V$;
for each inclusion $V \subset W$ of finite dimensional subspaces $V,W \subset U$ a homeomorphism of pointed topological spaces