# Dual of a dual cone

Any hint on how to prove the following please:

Let $K$ be a convex cone, and $K^*$ its dual cone. Prove that $K^{**}$ is the closure of $K$.

Thanks!

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Disclaimer. If you're only interested in the case $X = \mathbb{R}^n$ then ignore all the comments concerning weak topologies, as they will coincide with the usual Euclidean topology on $\mathbb{R}^n$. [The topology on $X$ will always be the weak topology $\sigma(X,X^{\ast})$ and the topology on $X^{\ast}$ will always be the weak* topology $\sigma(X^{\ast},X)$.]

Suppose that $K$ is a convex cone in a locally convex real vector space $X$. Recall that this simply means that $K$ is non-empty and that for $k,k' \in K$ we have $k+k' \in K$ and for $k \in K$ and $\alpha \gt 0$ we have $\alpha k \in K$.

1. The dual cone of a non-empty subset $K \subset X$ is $$K^{\circ} = \{f \in X^{\ast}\,:\,f(k) \geq 0 \text{ for all }k \in K\} \subset X^{\ast}.$$ Note that $K^{\circ}$ is a convex cone as $0 \in K^{\circ}$ and that it is closed [in the weak* topology $\sigma(X^{\ast},X)$].

2. If $C \subset X^{\ast}$ is non-empty, its predual cone $C_{\circ}$ is the convex cone $$C_{\circ} = \{x \in X\,:\,f(x) \geq 0 \text{ for all } f \in C\} \subset X,$$ and it is closed [in the weak topology $\sigma(X,X^{\ast})$].

3. It is a tautology that $K \subset (K^{\circ})_{\circ}$: if $k \in K$ then $f(k) \geq 0$ for all $f \in K^{\circ}$, hence $k \in (K^{\circ})_{\circ}$.

If $K \subset X^\ast$ is a convex cone then its closure $\overline{K}$ is a closed and convex cone, hence $\overline{K} \subset (K^{\circ})_\circ$. Our goal is to prove that $\overline{K} = (K^{\circ})_\circ$.

Recall the following form of the Hahn-Banach separation theorem:

Let $X$ be a Hausdorff locally convex real vector space. Let $A,B \subset X$ be disjoint, closed and convex sets. If $A$ is compact then there exist a continuous linear functional $f \in X^\ast$ and constants $r \lt s$ such that $f(a) \lt r \lt s \lt f(b)$ for all $a \in A$ and $b \in B$.

Suppose that $x \notin \overline{K}$. We want to show that $x \notin (K^\circ)_\circ$. The separation theorem applied to $A = \{x\}$ and $B = \overline{K}$ gives us a continuous linear functional $f$ such that $f(x) \lt M = \inf{\{f(k)\,:\,k \in \overline{K}\}}$.

Since $0 \in \overline{K}$ we have $M \leq 0 = f(0)$, and in particular $f(x) \lt 0$. If we had $M \lt 0$ there would be $k \in \overline{K}$ such that $f(k) \lt 0$. But then, taking $\alpha = \frac{2f(x)}{f(k)} \gt 0$, we have $\alpha k \in \overline{K}$ and at the same time we would have $f(\alpha k) = 2f(x) \lt f(x) \lt 0$ contrary to the assumption on $f$. Therefore $M = 0$ and thus $f(k) \geq 0$ for all $k \in \overline{K}$. In particular $f \in K^{\circ}$. But as $f(x) \lt 0$ we have that $x \notin (K^{\circ})_\circ$.

Thus $x \notin \overline{K}$ implies $x \notin (K^{\circ})_{\circ}$, so $(K^\circ)_\circ \subset \overline{K}$.

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 I don't know if this is what you're looking for, David, but maybe this helps others find the argument you want. I can also add the complex case if it's of any interest. I think it should be in any book on topological vector spaces, such as Kelley-Namioka or Schaefer. – t.b. Sep 29 '11 at 13:35 I checked in Ewald's book, and there only polyhedral cones seem to be considered. The result that the dual cone of a dual cone is the cone itself is said to "follow from the definition of dual cones" (Ch. V, Lemma 2.2 (f), page 149f). – t.b. Oct 2 '11 at 13:43 An anon user proposed to change "weak" to "weak*". Just want to double check that is indeed what you meant. – Willie Wong♦ Oct 2 '12 at 12:05 @Willie: thanks, yes it's what I meant, although I'm not sure whether one should really call it weak*-topology rather than weak topology when the duality is explicitly indicated. But I'm rather agnostic on this. – t.b. Nov 29 '12 at 14:25

First, it is clear that $K \subset K^{**}$. Second, clearly $K^{**}$ is a convex cone. Third, show that if $C \supset K$ is a convex cone then $C \supset K^{**}$ (hint: use the separating hyperplane theorem). Conclude that $K^{**}$ is the intersection of all convex cones containing $K$, so in your case it's the closure of $K$.

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 if the separating hyperplane theorem returns a hyperplane $(\lambda, 0)$ such that for all $x\in C$, $\lambda^T x\geq 0$, then I agree straightforwardly that $K^{**}\subseteq C$. However, generally the separating hyperplane might be $(\lambda, b)$, for $b$ not necessarily $0$ or non-negative, correct? Not sure how to deal with this case. – BoB Apr 4 '11 at 19:37