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Questions tagged [general-topology]

Everything involving general topological spaces: generation and description of topologies; open and closed sets, neighborhoods; interior, closure; connectedness; compactness; separation axioms; bases; convergence: sequences, nets and filters; continuous functions; compactifications; function spaces; etc. Please use the more specific tags, (algebraic-topology), (differential-topology), (metric-spaces), (functional-analysis) whenever appropriate.

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554
votes
6answers
79k views

Why can you turn clothing right-side-out?

My nephew was folding laundry, and turning the occasional shirt right-side-out. I showed him a "trick" where I turned it right-side-out by pulling the whole thing through a sleeve instead of the ...
337
votes
0answers
10k views

Does there exist a bijection of $\mathbb{R}^n$ with itself such that the forward map is connected but the inverse is not?

Let $(X,\tau), (Y,\sigma)$ be two topological spaces. We say that a map $f: \mathcal{P}(X)\to \mathcal{P}(Y)$ between their power sets is connected if for every $S\subset X$ connected, $f(S)\subset Y$ ...
197
votes
25answers
25k views

Your favourite application of the Baire Category Theorem

I think I remember reading somewhere that the Baire Category Theorem is supposedly quite powerful. Whether that is true or not, it's my favourite theorem (so far) and I'd love to see some applications ...
170
votes
3answers
5k views

A Topology such that the continuous functions are exactly the polynomials

I was wondering which fields $K$ can be equipped with a topology such that a function $f:K \to K$ is continuous if and only if it is a polynomial function $f(x)=a_nx^n+\cdots+a_0$. Obviously, the ...
166
votes
16answers
63k views

Any open subset of $\Bbb R$ is a at most countable union of disjoint open intervals. [Collecting Proofs]

This question has probably been asked. However, I am not interested in just getting the answer to it. Rather, I am interested in collecting as many different proofs of it which are as diverse as ...
162
votes
5answers
6k views

Why can't differentiability be generalized as nicely as continuity?

The question: Can we define differentiable functions between (some class of) sets, "without $\Bbb R$"* so that it Reduces to the traditional definition when desired? Has the same use in at least some ...
155
votes
13answers
17k views

Why is compactness so important?

I've read many times that 'compactness' is such an extremely important and useful concept, though it's still not very apparent why. The only theorems I've seen concerning it are the Heine-Borel ...
153
votes
1answer
5k views

Is there a homology theory that counts connected components of a space?

It is well-known that the generators of the zeroth singular homology group $H_0(X)$ of a space $X$ correspond to the path components of $X$. I have recently learned that for Čech homology the ...
148
votes
1answer
2k views

What functions can be made continuous by “mixing up their domain”?

Definition. A function $f:\Bbb R\to\Bbb R$ will be called potentially continuous if there is a bijection $\phi:\Bbb R\to\Bbb R$ such that $f\circ \phi$ is continuous. So one could say a potentially ...
119
votes
8answers
19k views

Intuition of the meaning of homology groups

I am studying homology groups and I am looking to try and develop, if possible, a little more intuition about what they actually mean. I've only been studying homology for a short while, so if ...
108
votes
7answers
19k views

Elementary proof that $\mathbb{R}^n$ is not homeomorphic to $\mathbb{R}^m$

It is very elementary to show that $\mathbb{R}$ isn't homeomorphic to $\mathbb{R}^m$ for $m>1$: subtract a point and use the fact that connectedness is a homeomorphism invariant. Along similar ...
107
votes
20answers
66k views

Real life applications of Topology

The other day I and my friend were having an argument. He was saying that there is no real life application of Topology at all whatsoever. I want to disprove him, so posting the question here. What ...
106
votes
14answers
12k views

What should be the intuition when working with compactness?

I have a question that may be regarded by many as duplicate since there's a similar one at MathOverflow. The point is that I think I'm not really getting the idea on compactness. I mean, in $\mathbb{R}...
102
votes
3answers
10k views

Topology: The Board Game

Edit: I've drawn up some different rules, a map and some cards for playing an actual version of the game. They're available at my personal website with a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 license. ...
98
votes
16answers
85k views

Best book for topology?

I am a graduate student of math right now but I was not able to get a topology subject in my undergrad... I just would like to know if you guys know the best one..
95
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3answers
4k views

Does this property characterize a space as Hausdorff?

As a result of this question, I've been thinking about the following condition on a topological space $Y$: For every topological space $X$, $E\subseteq X$, and continuous maps $f,g\colon X\to Y$, ...
94
votes
8answers
14k views

Is $[0,1]$ a countable disjoint union of closed sets?

Can you express $[0,1]$ as a countable disjoint union of closed sets, other than the trivial way of doing this?
86
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5answers
4k views

Defining a manifold without reference to the reals

The standard definition I've seen for a manifold is basically that it's something that's locally the same as $\mathbb{R}^n$, without the metric structure normally associated with $\mathbb{R}^n$. ...
85
votes
10answers
7k views

Explain “homotopy” to me [closed]

I have been struggling with general topology and now, algebraic topology is simply murder. Some people seem to get on alright, but I am not one of them unfortunately. Please, the answer I need is ...
83
votes
5answers
15k views

Continuous bijection from $(0,1)$ to $[0,1]$

Does there exist a continuous bijection from $(0,1)$ to $[0,1]$? Of course the map should not be a proper map.
81
votes
1answer
2k views

Does $X\times S^1\cong Y\times S^1$ imply that $X\times\mathbb R\cong Y\times\mathbb R$?

This question came up in a recent video series of lectures by Mike Freedman available through Max Planck Institut's website. He proves the "difficult" converse direction, that $X\times \mathbb R\cong ...
75
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1answer
2k views

In $n>5$, topology = algebra

During the study of the surgery theory I faced following sentence: Surgery theory works best for $n > 5$, when "topology = algebra". I don't know what is the meaning of topology=algebra. Can ...
74
votes
5answers
6k views

What concept does an open set axiomatise?

In the context of metric (and in general first-countable) topologies, it's reasonably clear what a closed set is: a set $F$ is closed if and only if every convergent sequence of points in $F$ ...
69
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7answers
5k views

Why is compactness in logic called compactness?

In logic, a semantics is said to be compact iff if every finite subset of a set of sentences has a model, then so to does the entire set. Most logic texts either don't explain the terminology, or ...
69
votes
2answers
2k views

Let, $A\subset\mathbb{R}^2$. Show that $A$ can contain at most one point $p$ such that $A$ is isometric to $A \setminus \{p\}$.

A challenge problem from Sally's Fundamentals of Mathematical Analysis. Problem reads: Suppose $A$ is a subset of $\mathbb{R}^2$. Show that $A$ can contain at most one point $p$ such that $A$ is ...
68
votes
3answers
5k views

Why did mathematicians introduce the concept of uniform continuity?

I have solved many problems regarding uniform continuity, but still I can't understand the following: Is there any practical application of this concept, or it is just a theoretical concept? Is there ...
65
votes
6answers
9k views

Why Zariski topology?

Why in algebraic geometry we usually consider the Zariski topology on $\mathbb A^n_k$? Ultimately it seems a not very interesting topology, infact the open sets are very large and it doesn't satisfy ...
64
votes
5answers
21k views

What's going on with “compact implies sequentially compact”?

I've seen both counterexamples and proofs to "compact implies sequentially compact", and I'm not sure what's going on. Apparently there are compact spaces which are not sequentially compact; quick ...
64
votes
3answers
21k views

When is the closure of an open ball equal to the closed ball?

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 ...
64
votes
2answers
2k views

Differential forms on fuzzy manifolds

This post will take a bit to set up properly, but it is an easy read (and most likely easy to answer); in any event, please bear with me. Question In the usual setting of open subsets of $\mathbb{R}^...
63
votes
3answers
8k views

Set of continuity points of a real function

I have a question about subsets $$ A \subseteq \mathbb R $$ for which there exists a function $$f : \mathbb R \to \mathbb R$$ such that the set of continuity points of $f$ is $A$. Can I characterize ...
62
votes
8answers
11k views

How many connected components does $\mathrm{GL}_n(\mathbb R)$ have?

I've noticed that $\mathrm{GL}_n(\mathbb R)$ is not a connected space, because if it were $\det(\mathrm{GL}_n(\mathbb R))$ (where $\det$ is the function ascribing to each $n\times n$ matrix its ...
62
votes
4answers
22k views

$X$ is Hausdorff if and only if the diagonal of $X\times X$ is closed

Let $X$ be a topological space. The diagonal of $X \times X$ is the subset $$D = \{(x,x)\in X\times X\mid x \in X\}.$$ Show that $X$ is Hausdorff if and only if $D$ is closed in $X \times X$. First,...
62
votes
3answers
11k views

Why is the Möbius strip not orientable?

I am trying to understand the notion of an orientable manifold. Let M be a smooth n-manifold. We say that M is orientable if and only if there exists an atlas $A = \{(U_{\alpha}, \phi_{\alpha})\}$ ...
61
votes
5answers
3k views

Is the box topology good for anything?

In point-set topology, one always learns about the box topology: the topology on an infinite product $X = \prod_{i \in I} X_i$ generated by sets of the form $U = \prod_{i \in I} U_i$, where $U_i \...
60
votes
7answers
26k views

A map is continuous if and only if for every set, the image of closure is contained in the closure of image

As a part of self study, I am trying to prove the following statement: Suppose $X$ and $Y$ are topological spaces and $f: X \rightarrow Y$ is a map. Then $f$ is continuous if and only if $f(\overline{...
60
votes
2answers
37k views

Continuous mapping on a compact metric space is uniformly continuous

I am struggling with this question: Prove or give a counterexample: If $f : X \to Y$ is a continuous mapping from a compact metric space $X$, then $f$ is uniformly continuous on $X$. Thanks for ...
59
votes
2answers
22k views

A and B disjoint, A compact, and B closed implies there is positive distance between both sets

Claim: Let $X$ be a metric space. If $A,B\in X$ are disjoint, if A is compact, and if B is closed, then $\exists \delta>0: |\alpha-\beta|\geq\delta\;\;\;\forall\alpha\in A,\beta\in B$. Proof. ...
58
votes
14answers
5k views

Unexpected use of topology in proofs

One day I was reading an article on the infinitude of prime numbers in the Proof Wiki. The article introduced a proof that used only topology to prove the infinitude of primes, and I found it very ...
58
votes
18answers
9k views

Is it possible to determine if you were on a Möbius strip?

I understand that if you were to walk on the surface of a Möbius strip you would have the same perspective as if you walked on the outer surface of a cylinder. However, would it be possible for ...
58
votes
7answers
6k views

What's the point of studying topological (as opposed to smooth, PL, or PDiff) manifolds?

Part of the reason I think algebraic topology has acquired something of a fearsome reputation is that the terrible properties of the topological category (e.g. the existence of space-filling curves) ...
57
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3answers
27k views

Difference between complete and closed set

What is the difference between a complete metric space and a closed set? Can a set be closed but not complete?
56
votes
5answers
41k views

Compact sets are closed?

I feel really ignorant in asking this question but I am really just don't understand how a compact set can be considered closed. By definition of a compact set it means that given an open cover we ...
55
votes
11answers
26k views

Why is empty set an open set?

I thought about it for a long time, but I can't come up some good ideas. I think that empty set has no elements,how to use the definition of an open set to prove the proposition. The definition of an ...
55
votes
3answers
2k views

Trying to define $\mathbb{R}^{0.5}$ topologically [duplicate]

A few days ago, I was trying to generalize the defintion of Euclidean spaces by trying to define $\mathbb{R}^{0.5}$. Question: Is there a metric space $A$ such that $A\times A$ is homeomorphic to $\...
53
votes
15answers
15k views

Why can't you flatten a sphere?

It's a well-known fact that you can't flatten a sphere without tearing or deforming it. How can I explain why this is so to a 10 year old? As soon as an explanation starts using terms like "Gaussian ...
53
votes
3answers
4k views

Is there a name for this type of polygon?

Is there a name for a polygon in which you could place a light bulb that would light up all of its area? (for which there exists a point so that for all points inside it the line connecting those two ...
53
votes
8answers
3k views

Why is one “$\infty$” number enough for complex numbers?

Can anyone give me a rigorous explanation, why one needs only one number "$\infty$", when dealing with complex numbers, instead of $2$ numbers $+\infty, \ -\infty$ like in the case, when dealing with ...
53
votes
2answers
14k views

Explain this mathematical meme (Geometers bird interrupting Topologists bird)

My knowledge of geometry is just a little bit above high school level and I know absolutely nothing about topology. So, what is the point of this meme? (Original unedited webcomic: “Juncrow” by False ...
52
votes
5answers
3k views

Why is it that $\mathbb{Q}$ cannot be homeomorphic to _any_ complete metric space?

Why is it that $\mathbb{Q}$ cannot be homeomorphic to any complete metric space? Certainly $\mathbb{Q}$ is not a complete metric space. But completeness is not a topological invariant, so why is the ...