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.

Faculty Members

Daniel Halpern-Leistner Algebraic geometry, homological algebra, mathematical physics, and representation theory
Tara Holm Symplectic geometry
Martin Kassabov Combinatorial group theory
Kathryn Mann Geometric topology
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

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
J.D. Quigley Algebraic topology and K-theory
Karen Vogtmann Topology, geometric group theory

Activities and Resources:

Related people

Image of David Freund
David Freund


  • Mathematics
Image of Jason Manning
Jason Manning


  • Mathematics
Image of Martin Kassabov
Martin Kassabov


  • Mathematics
Image of Tara Holm
Tara Holm


  • CDER
  • Mathematics
Image of Kelly Delp
Kelly Delp

Senior Lecturer

  • Mathematics
Image of Kathryn Mann
Kathryn Mann

Associate Professor, Joyce A. Yelencsics '65 & Frederick M. Rosevear '64 Faculty Leadership Fellow

  • Mathematics
Image of Karen Vogtmann, FRS
Karen Vogtmann, FRS

Goldwin Smith Professor Emerita of Mathematics; Professor, University of Warwick

  • Mathematics
Image of Allen Hatcher
Allen Hatcher

Professor Emeritus

  • Mathematics
Image of Peter J. Kahn
Peter J. Kahn

Professor Emeritus

  • Mathematics
Image of Kenneth Brown
Kenneth Brown

Professor Emeritus

  • Mathematics
Image of Marshall Cohen
Marshall Cohen

Professor Emeritus

  • Mathematics
Image of Daniel Halpern-Leistner
Daniel Halpern-Leistner

Goenka Family Assistant Professor

  • Mathematics
Image of Inna Zakharevich
Inna Zakharevich

Associate Professor

  • Mathematics
Image of James E. West
James E. West


  • Mathematics

All research areas