twisting cochain

Twisting cochains


Let (C,d C) be a dg-coalgebra with comultiplication Δ and (A,d A) a dg-algebra with multiplication μ. A twisting cochain is a morphism τ:CA[1] such that the following Maurer-Cartan equation holds:

d Aτ+τd C+μ(ττ)Δ=0.d_A\circ\tau+\tau\circ d_C+\mu\circ(\tau\otimes\tau)\circ\Delta = 0.

Notice that the last, perturbation term describes the square ττ in the convolution algebra of homogeneous maps in Hom(C,A).

Relation to the adjunction bar-cobar

Let Cogc be the category of cocomplete dg-co(al)gebras and Alg the category of dg-algebras. There is a bar-construction functor B:AlgCogc which is a right adjoint to the cobar-construction functor Ω:CogcAlg. Starting from a map fCogc(C,BA), one constructs a twisting cochain τ f by postcomposing f:CBA by the natural projection BAA[1]; the Maurer-Cartan equation for τ f translates to saying that f is a chain map, d BAf=fd C. One then replaces τ f by the composition of the evident canonical map τ 0:ΩCC[1] (called the canonical twisting cochain) and τ f[1]:C[1]A to obtain a morphism f:ΩCA. The Maurer–Cartan equation for τ is equivalent also to saying that f is a chain map, i.e. d Af=fd ΩC.

Some usages of twisting cochains

A twisting cochain is a datum used to define the twisted tensor product L τM for any right C-comodule L and any left A-module M, as well as the twisted module of homomorphisms Hom τ(N,P) where N is a left C-dg-comodule and P a left A-dg-module.

B. Keller and his student Kenji Lefèvre-Hasegawa have shown that Koszul duality is closely related to twisting cochains. Given a twisting cochain τ, one always has a pair of adjoint functors τA and τC between the derived category of modules over A and the coderived category of comodules over C (where C is in Cogc and the coderived category is just the localization of the category of complexes of comodules at the class of weak equivalences, which are by definition those morphisms which became quasi-isomorphisms after applying τ 0ΩC where τ 0:ΩCC[1] is the canonical twisting cochain). This pair of adjoint functors is an adjoint equivalence iff the composition ΩCC[1] by τ[1]:C[1]A (compare reasoning above) is a quasi-isomorphism. This can also be expressed by saying that the canonical map

A τC τAAA\otimes_\tau C\otimes_\tau A\to A

is a quasiisomorphism. In that case, Keller calls the triple (C,A,τ) the Koszul–Moore triple. Lefevre-Hasegawa’s thesis (pdf) asserts that in that case A determines C up to a weak equivalence (defined above) and C determines A up to a quasi-isomorphism. Moreover,

H *C=Tor * A(k,k)andH *A=Ext C(k,k)H_* C = \mathrm{Tor}^A_*(k,k)\quad \text{and}\quad H^* A = \mathrm{Ext}_C(k,k)

where k is the ground field. Notice that such a formulation of Koszul duality using coalgebras and coderived categories avoids various finiteness conditions present when Koszul duality is phrased as relating algebras to algebras.


Moore was one of the people who studied the subject of ‘differential coalgebra’, including twisting cochains, in the 1960s and 1970s and gave a survey of the area during his ICM address.

There are variants of the notion of twisting cochain in a variety of other contexts.

A twisting function is an analogue of a twisting cochain in the context of simplicial sets.

Apart from original usage for the algebraic models for fibrations, twisting cochains and variants are used in homological perturbation theory (sometimes abbreviated HPT), rational homotopy theory, deformation theory, study of A -categories, Grothendieck duality on complex manifolds (Toledo-Tong) and so on.

An old query archived here.


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Revised on December 19, 2011 23:43:31 by Zoran Škoda (