In the theory of vector bundles, one often wishes to simplify computations, say of Chern classes. Often computations are well understood for line bundles and for direct sums of line bundles. In this case the splitting principle can be quite useful.
The theorem above holds for complex vector bundles and integer coefficients or for real vector bundles with coefficients. In the complex case, the line bundles or their first characteristic classes are called Chern roots.
The fact that is injective means that any equation which holds in (say between various Chern classes) also holds in .
The point is that these equations are easier to understand for direct sums of line bundles than for arbitrary vector bundles, so equations should be understood in and then pushed down to .
- Grothendieck splitting principle for holomorphic vector bundles on the complex projective line
- Hatcher, Allen (2003), Vector Bundles & K-Theory (2.0 ed.) section 3.1
- Bott and Tu. Differential Forms in Algebraic Topology, section 21.