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Mathematics  2014 

Cheeger-Chern-Simons theory and differential String classes

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We introduce certain relative differential characters which we call Cheeger-Chern-Simons characters. These combine the well-known Cheeger-Simons characters with Chern-Simons forms. In the same way as the Cheeger-Simons characters generalize Chern-Simons invariants of oriented closed manifolds, the Cheeger-Chern-Simons characters generalize Chern-Simons invariants of oriented manifolds with boundary. Using Cheeger-Chern-Simons characters, we introduce the notion of differential trivializations of universal characteristic classes. Specializing to the class 1/2 $p_1 \in H^4(B\mathrm{Spin}_n;\mathbb Z)$ this yields a notion of differential String classes. Differential String classes turn out to be stable isomorphism classes of geometric String structures.


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