Is it possible to have a map $f:X\to Y$ from a topological space $X$ to a set $Y$ and some subsets of $Y$ namely $U_i,i\in I$ such that $\bigcup_{i\in I} f^{-1}(U_i)$ is not equal to $f^{-1}\left(\bigcup_{i\in I}U_i\right)$ ?

I can't think of a case that this is true, but of course this doesn't mean anything! Thanks.

  • 3
    $\begingroup$ If $U_i \not \subseteq Y$, we cannot make sense of $f^{-1}(U_i)$. $\endgroup$
    – user21436
    May 5, 2012 at 12:11
  • $\begingroup$ @AsafKaragila: Would it necessarily work if $f$ is continuous? What is $f$ is some general surjective map? $\endgroup$
    – Bumbry
    May 5, 2012 at 12:12
  • 4
    $\begingroup$ What ever sets and functions you consider, you always have that the preimage of a union of subsets of the target set is the union of the preimages, same goes for intersections. The only thing that can fail is that the direct image of an intersection in the domain of the function may be smaller than the intersection of their images (in the target space.) $\endgroup$ May 5, 2012 at 12:14

1 Answer 1


It is a general fact that for any mapping of sets $f: X \rightarrow Y$, $\bigcup f^{-1}(U_i) = f^{-1}\left(\bigcup U_i\right)$ and $\bigcap f^{-1}(U_i)=f^{-1}\left( \bigcap U_i\right)$. Try proving this by elementary set theory, i.e. take an element of $\bigcup f^{-1}(U_i)$ and show that it is an element of $f^{-1}\left(\bigcup U_i\right)$ and conversely.


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