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The theory of characteristic classes provides a meeting ground for the various disciplines of differential topology, differential and algebraic geometry, cohomology, and fiber bundle theory. As such, it is a fundamental and an essential tool in the study of differentiable manifolds. In this volume, the authors provide a thorough introduction to characteristic classes, with detailed studies of Stiefel-Whitney classes, Chern classes, Pontrjagin classes, and the Euler class. Three appendices cover the basics of cohomology theory and the differential forms approach to characteristic classes, and provide an account of Bernoulli numbers. Based on lecture notes of John Milnor, which first appeared at Princeton University in 1957 and have been widely studied by graduate students of topology ever since, this published version has been completely revised and corrected.