Inverse image functor

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In mathematics, the inverse image functor is a covariant construction of sheaves. The direct image functor is the primary operation on sheaves, with the simplest definition. The inverse image exhibits some relatively subtle features.

Definition

Suppose given a sheaf on and that we want to transport to using a continuous map . We will call the result the inverse image or pullback sheaf . If we try to imitate the direct image by setting for each open set of , we immediately run into a problem: () is not necessarily open. The best we can do is to approximate it by open sets, and even then we will get a presheaf, not a sheaf. Consequently we define to be the sheaf associated to the presheaf:

( is an open subset of and the colimit runs over all open subsets of containing ).

For example, if is just the inclusion of a point of , then is just the stalk of at this point.

The restriction maps, as well as the functoriality of the inverse image follows from the universal property of direct limits.

When dealing with morphisms of locally ringed spaces, for example schemes in algebraic geometry, one often works with sheaves of -modules, where is the structure sheaf of . Then the functor is inappropriate, because (in general) it does not even give sheaves of -modules. In order to remedy this, one defines in this situation for a sheaf of -modules its inverse image by

.

Properties

.

However, these morphisms are almost never isomorphisms. For example, if denotes the inclusion of a closed subset, the stalks of at a point is canonically isomorphic to if is in and otherwise. A similar adjunction holds for the case of sheaves of modules, replacing by .

References

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