arrow grid linear view icon
The College of Arts Sciences


Topology is the qualitative study of shapes and spaces by identifying and analyzing features that are unchanged when the object is continuously deformed — a “search for adjectives,” as Bill Thurston put it.

Topology took off at Cornell thanks to Paul Olum who joined the faculty in 1949 and built up a group including Israel Berstein, William Browder, Peter Hilton, and Roger Livesay. Together they founded the Cornell Topology Festival in 1962, which continues to be an annual event.

In the 1960s Cornell's topologists focused on algebraic topology, geometric topology, and connections with differential geometry. More recently, the interests of the group have also included low-dimensional topology, symplectic geometry, the geometric and combinatorial study of discrete groups, and dynamical systems.

Field Members

Daniel Halpern-Leistner Algebraic geometry, homological algebra, mathematical physics, and representation theory
Tara Holm Symplectic geometry
Martin Kassabov Combinatorial group theory
Jason Manning Geometric group theory, geometric topology
Timothy Riley Geometric group theory
James E. West Geometric topology, infinite-dimensional topology
Inna Zakharevich Algebraic topology and algebraic K-theory

Emeritus and Other Faculty

Julie Bergner Homotopy theory, algebraic topology
Kenneth S. Brown Algebra, topology, group theory
Marshall M. Cohen Topology, geometric (combinatorial) group theory
Allen Hatcher Geometric topology
Peter J. Kahn Algebra, number theory, algebraic and differential topology
G. Roger Livesay Differential topology, group actions
Xiudi Tang Differential Geometry, Symplectic Geometry, Integrable Systems  
Karen Vogtmann Topology, geometric group theory