In mathematics, an n-group, or n-dimensional higher group, is a special kind of n-category that generalises the concept of group to higher-dimensional algebra. Here, ${\displaystyle n}$ may be any natural number or infinity. The thesis of Alexander Grothendieck's student Hoàng Xuân Sính was an in-depth study of 2-groups under the moniker 'gr-category'.

The general definition of ${\displaystyle n}$-group is a matter of ongoing research. However, it is expected that every topological space will have a homotopy ${\displaystyle n}$-group at every point, which will encapsulate the Postnikov tower of the space up to the homotopy group ${\displaystyle \pi _{n))$, or the entire Postnikov tower for ${\displaystyle n=\infty }$.

## Examples

### Eilenberg-Maclane spaces

One of the principal examples of higher groups come from the homotopy types of Eilenberg–MacLane spaces ${\displaystyle K(A,n)}$ since they are the fundamental building blocks for constructing higher groups, and homotopy types in general. For instance, every group ${\displaystyle G}$ can be turned into an Eilenberg-Maclane space ${\displaystyle K(G,1)}$ through a simplicial construction,[1] and it behaves functorially. This construction gives an equivalence between groups and 1-groups. Note that some authors write ${\displaystyle K(G,1)}$ as ${\displaystyle BG}$, and for an abelian group ${\displaystyle A}$, ${\displaystyle K(A,n)}$ is written as ${\displaystyle B^{n}A}$.

### 2-groups

 Main articles: Double groupoid and 2-group

The definition and many properties of 2-groups are already known. 2-groups can be described using crossed modules and their classifying spaces. Essentially, these are given by a quadruple ${\displaystyle (\pi _{1},\pi _{2},t,\omega )}$ where ${\displaystyle \pi _{1},\pi _{2))$ are groups with ${\displaystyle \pi _{2))$ abelian,

${\displaystyle t:\pi _{1}\to \operatorname {Aut} \pi _{2))$

a group homomorphism, and ${\displaystyle \omega \in H^{3}(B\pi _{1},\pi _{2})}$ a cohomology class. These groups can be encoded as homotopy ${\displaystyle 2}$-types ${\displaystyle X}$ with ${\displaystyle \pi _{1}X=\pi _{1))$ and ${\displaystyle \pi _{2}X=\pi _{2))$, with the action coming from the action of ${\displaystyle \pi _{1}X}$ on higher homotopy groups, and ${\displaystyle \omega }$ coming from the Postnikov tower since there is a fibration

${\displaystyle B^{2}\pi _{2}\to X\to B\pi _{1))$

coming from a map ${\displaystyle B\pi _{1}\to B^{3}\pi _{2))$. Note that this idea can be used to construct other higher groups with group data having trivial middle groups ${\displaystyle \pi _{1},e,\ldots ,e,\pi _{n))$, where the fibration sequence is now

${\displaystyle B^{n}\pi _{n}\to X\to B\pi _{1))$

coming from a map ${\displaystyle B\pi _{1}\to B^{n+1}\pi _{n))$ whose homotopy class is an element of ${\displaystyle H^{n+1}(B\pi _{1},\pi _{n})}$.

### 3-groups

Another interesting and accessible class of examples which requires homotopy theoretic methods, not accessible to strict groupoids, comes from looking at homotopy 3-types of groups.[2] Essentially, these are given by a triple of groups ${\displaystyle (\pi _{1},\pi _{2},\pi _{3})}$ with only the first group being non-abelian, and some additional homotopy theoretic data from the Postnikov tower. If we take this 3-group as a homotopy 3-type ${\displaystyle X}$, the existence of universal covers gives us a homotopy type ${\displaystyle {\hat {X))\to X}$ which fits into a fibration sequence

${\displaystyle {\hat {X))\to X\to B\pi _{1))$

giving a homotopy ${\displaystyle {\hat {X))}$ type with ${\displaystyle \pi _{1))$ trivial on which ${\displaystyle \pi _{1))$ acts on. These can be understood explicitly using the previous model of 2-groups, shifted up by degree (called delooping). Explicitly, ${\displaystyle {\hat {X))}$ fits into a Postnikov tower with associated Serre fibration

${\displaystyle B^{3}\pi _{3}\to {\hat {X))\to B^{2}\pi _{2))$

giving where the ${\displaystyle B^{3}\pi _{3))$-bundle ${\displaystyle {\hat {X))\to B^{2}\pi _{2))$ comes from a map ${\displaystyle B^{2}\pi _{2}\to B^{4}\pi _{3))$, giving a cohomology class in ${\displaystyle H^{4}(B^{2}\pi _{2},\pi _{3})}$. Then, ${\displaystyle X}$ can be reconstructed using a homotopy quotient ${\displaystyle {\hat {X))//\pi _{1}\simeq X}$.

### n-groups

The previous construction gives the general idea of how to consider higher groups in general. For an n-group with groups ${\displaystyle \pi _{1},\pi _{2},\ldots ,\pi _{n))$ with the latter bunch being abelian, we can consider the associated homotopy type ${\displaystyle X}$ and first consider the universal cover ${\displaystyle {\hat {X))\to X}$. Then, this is a space with trivial ${\displaystyle \pi _{1}({\hat {X)))=0}$, making it easier to construct the rest of the homotopy type using the Postnikov tower. Then, the homotopy quotient ${\displaystyle {\hat {X))//\pi _{1))$ gives a reconstruction of ${\displaystyle X}$, showing the data of an ${\displaystyle n}$-group is a higher group, or simple space, with trivial ${\displaystyle \pi _{1))$ such that a group ${\displaystyle G}$ acts on it homotopy theoretically. This observation is reflected in the fact that homotopy types are not realized by simplicial groups, but simplicial groupoids[3]pg 295 since the groupoid structure models the homotopy quotient ${\displaystyle -//\pi _{1))$.

Going through the construction of a 4-group ${\displaystyle X}$ is instructive because it gives the general idea for how to construct the groups in general. For simplicity, let's assume ${\displaystyle \pi _{1}=e}$ is trivial, so the non-trivial groups are ${\displaystyle \pi _{2},\pi _{3},\pi _{4))$. This gives a Postnikov tower

${\displaystyle X\to X_{3}\to B^{2}\pi _{2}\to *}$

where the first non-trivial map ${\displaystyle X_{3}\to B^{2}\pi _{2))$ is a fibration with fiber ${\displaystyle B^{3}\pi _{3))$. Again, this is classified by a cohomology class in ${\displaystyle H^{4}(B^{2}\pi _{2},\pi _{3})}$. Now, to construct ${\displaystyle X}$ from ${\displaystyle X_{3))$, there is an associated fibration

${\displaystyle B^{4}\pi _{4}\to X\to X_{3))$

given by a homotopy class ${\displaystyle [X_{3},B^{5}\pi _{4}]\cong H^{5}(X_{3},\pi _{4})}$. In principle[4] this cohomology group should be computable using the previous fibration ${\displaystyle B^{3}\pi _{3}\to X_{3}\to B^{2}\pi _{2))$ with the Serre spectral sequence with the correct coefficients, namely ${\displaystyle \pi _{4))$. Doing this recursively, say for a ${\displaystyle 5}$-group, would require several spectral sequence computations, at worst ${\displaystyle n!}$ many spectral sequence computations for an ${\displaystyle n}$-group.

#### n-groups from sheaf cohomology

For a complex manifold ${\displaystyle X}$ with universal cover ${\displaystyle \pi :{\tilde {X))\to X}$, and a sheaf of abelian groups ${\displaystyle {\mathcal {F))}$ on ${\displaystyle X}$, for every ${\displaystyle n\geq 0}$ there exists[5] canonical homomorphisms

${\displaystyle \phi _{n}:H^{n}(\pi _{1}X,H^{0}({\tilde {X)),\pi ^{*}{\mathcal {F))))\to H^{n}(X,{\mathcal {F)))}$

giving a technique for relating n-groups constructed from a complex manifold ${\displaystyle X}$ and sheaf cohomology on ${\displaystyle X}$. This is particularly applicable for complex tori.

## References

1. ^ "On Eilenberg-Maclane Spaces" (PDF). Archived (PDF) from the original on 28 Oct 2020.
2. ^ Conduché, Daniel (1984-12-01). "Modules croisés généralisés de longueur 2". Journal of Pure and Applied Algebra. 34 (2): 155–178. doi:10.1016/0022-4049(84)90034-3. ISSN 0022-4049.
3. ^ Goerss, Paul Gregory. (2009). Simplicial homotopy theory. Jardine, J. F., 1951-. Basel: Birkhäuser Verlag. ISBN 978-3-0346-0189-4. OCLC 534951159.
4. ^ "Integral cohomology of finite Postnikov towers" (PDF). Archived (PDF) from the original on 25 Aug 2020.
5. ^ Birkenhake, Christina (2004). Complex Abelian Varieties. Herbert Lange (Second, augmented ed.). Berlin, Heidelberg: Springer Berlin Heidelberg. pp. 573–574. ISBN 978-3-662-06307-1. OCLC 851380558.

### Cohomology of higher groups over a site

Note this is (slightly) distinct from the previous section, because it is about taking cohomology over a space ${\displaystyle X}$ with values in a higher group ${\displaystyle \mathbb {G} _{\bullet ))$, giving higher cohomology groups ${\displaystyle \mathbb {H} ^{*}(X,\mathbb {G} _{\bullet })}$. If we are considering ${\displaystyle X}$ as a homotopy type and assuming the homotopy hypothesis, then these are the same cohomology groups.

• Jibladze, Mamuka; Pirashvili, Teimuraz (2011). "Cohomology with coefficients in stacks of Picard categories". arXiv:1101.2918 [math.AT].
• Debremaeker, Raymond (2017). "Cohomology with values in a sheaf of crossed groups over a site". arXiv:1702.02128 [math.AG].