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It is not necessarily true that the closure of an open ball $B_{r}(x)$ is equal to the closed ball of the same radius $r$ centered at the same point $x$. For a quick example, take $X$ to be any set and define a metric $$ d(x,y)= \begin{cases} 0\qquad&\text{if and only if $x=y$}\\ 1&\text{otherwise} \end{cases} $$ The open unit ball of radius $1$ around any point $x$ is the singleton set $\{x\}$. Its closure is also the singleton set. However, the closed unit ball of radius $1$ is everything.

I like this example (even though it is quite artificial) because it can show that this often-assumed falsehood can fail in catastrophic ways. My question is: are there necessary and sufficient conditions that can be placed on the metric space $(X,d)$ which would force the balls to be equal?

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In the Euclidean metric space $R^n$ it is necessarily true. –  Shahab Feb 11 '12 at 2:26
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Right, but Euclidean space is known for, among other things, being perfect in almost every way. What about spaces like $L^{p}$ or $H^{p}$? I'm looking to see how far our intuition of Euclidean spaces and the standard metric extends. –  Alex Lapanowski Feb 11 '12 at 2:28
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Regarding your question about $L^p$ or $H^p$, it is true in every normed space. If $\|x-y\|=r$, then for $0<t<1$, $\|x-(tx+(1-t)y)\|=(1-t)\|x-y\|<r$, and $y=\lim\limits_{t\searrow 0}tx+(1-t)y$. –  Jonas Meyer Feb 11 '12 at 3:37
    
The property may fail for subspaces of Euclidean space. See here: link link –  Dejan Govc Feb 11 '12 at 11:53

2 Answers 2

up vote 10 down vote accepted

Here is a characterization that is straight from the definitions, but which it seems may be useful when verifying that a particular space has the property.

For any metric space $(X,d)$, the following are equivalent:

  • For any $x\in X$ and radius $r$, the closure of the open ball of radius $r$ around $x$ is the closed ball of radius $r$.
  • For any two distinct points $x,y$ in the space and any positive $\epsilon$, there is a point $z$ within $\epsilon$ of $y$, and closer to $x$ than $y$ is. That is, for every $x\neq y$ and $\epsilon\gt 0$, there is $z$ with $d(z,y)<\epsilon$ and $d(x,z)<d(x,y)$.

Proof. If the closed ball property holds, then fix any $x,y$ with $r=d(x,y)$. Since the closure of $B_r(x)$ includes $y$, the second property follows. Conversely, if the second property holds, then if $r=d(x,y)$, then the property ensures that $y$ is in the closure of $B_r(x)$, and so the closure of the open ball includes the closed ball (and it is easy to see it does not include anything more than this. QED

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Thanks for the response! Your proof makes sense. –  Alex Lapanowski Feb 11 '12 at 3:10

Let $(X,||\cdot ||)$ be a normed linear space. Then $\overline{B_1(0)}=\bar{B}_1(0)$.

Proof. Observe that $\overline{B_1(0)}$ is the smallest closed set containing $B_1(0)$ and $B_1(0)\subset \bar{B}_1(0)$, so trivially $\overline{B_1(0)}\subset\bar{B}_1(0)$. Now to show $\bar{B}_1(0)\subset \overline{B_1(0)}$. Observe that, $\bar{B}_1(0)=B_1(0)\cup \partial B_1(0)$, i.e., for all $x\in \partial B_1(0), \, \exists x_n\in B_1(0)$ such that $||x_n-x||\to 0$: for any given $x\in \partial B_1(0),$ let $x_n=(1-\frac{1}{n})x, \, n\in \mathbb{N}.$ Then show $x_n\in B_1(0)$ and $||x_n-x||\to 0$.

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