Multiplicative sequence

In mathematics, a multiplicative sequence or m-sequence is a sequence of polynomials associated with a formal group structure. They have application in the cobordism ring in algebraic topology.


Let Kn be polynomials over a ring A in indeterminates p1,... weighted so that pi has weight i (with p0 = 1) and all the terms in Kn have weight n (so that Kn is a polynomial in p1, ..., pn). The sequence Kn is multiplicative if an identity




In other words,   is required to be an endomomorphism of the multiplicative monoid  .

The power series


is the characteristic power series of the Kn. A multiplicative sequence is determined by its characteristic power series Q(z), and every power series with constant term 1 gives rise to a multiplicative sequence.

To recover a multiplicative sequence from a characteristic power series Q(z) we consider the coefficient of zj in the product


for any m > j. This is symmetric in the βi and homogeneous of weight j: so can be expressed as a polynomial Kj(p1, ..., pj) in the elementary symmetric functions p of the β. Then Kj defines a multiplicative sequence.


As an example, the sequence Kn = pn is multiplicative and has characteristic power series 1 + z.

Consider the power series


where Bk is the k-th Bernoulli number. The multiplicative sequence with Q as characteristic power series is denoted Lj(p1, ..., pj).

The multiplicative sequence with characteristic power series


is denoted Aj(p1,...,pj).

The multiplicative sequence with characteristic power series


is denoted Tj(p1,...,pj): these are the Todd polynomials.


The genus of a multiplicative sequence is a ring homomorphism, from the cobordism ring of smooth oriented compact manifolds to another ring, usually the ring of rational numbers.

For example, the Todd genus is associated to the Todd polynomials with characteristic power series  .


  • Hirzebruch, Friedrich (1995) [1978]. Topological methods in algebraic geometry. Classics in Mathematics. Translation from the German and appendix one by R. L. E. Schwarzenberger. Appendix two by A. Borel (Reprint of the 2nd, corr. print. of the 3rd ed.). Berlin: Springer-Verlag. ISBN 3-540-58663-6. Zbl 0843.14009.