Topological cyclic homology is a refinement of Connes–Tsygan’s cyclic homology which was introduced by Bökstedt–Hsiang–Madsen in 1993 as an approximation to algebraic K-theory. There is a trace map from algebraic K-theory to topological cyclic homology, and a theorem of Dundas–Goodwillie–McCarthy asserts that this induces an equivalence of relative theories for nilpotent immersions, which gives a way for computing K-theory in various situations. The construction of topological cyclic homology is based on genuine equivariant homotopy theory, the use of explicit point-set models, and the elaborate notion of a cyclotomic spectrum.
The goal of this paper is to revisit this theory using only homotopy-invariant notions. In particular, we give a new construction of topological cyclic homology. This is based on a new definition of the ∞-category of cyclotomic spectra: We define a cyclotomic spectrum to be a spectrum X with S1-action (in the most naive sense) together with S1-equivariant maps φp:X→XtCp for all primes p. Here, XtCp=cofib(Nm:XhCp→XhCp) is the Tate construction. On bounded below spectra, we prove that this agrees with previous definitions. As a consequence, we obtain a new and simple formula for topological cyclic homology.
In order to construct the maps φp:X→XtCp in the example of topological Hochschild homology, we introduce and study Tate-diagonals for spectra and Frobenius homomorphisms of commutative ring spectra. In particular, we prove a version of the Segal conjecture for the Tate-diagonals and relate these Frobenius homomorphisms to power operations.