Closed set

Closed set

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In geometry
Geometry
Geometry arose as the field of knowledge dealing with spatial relationships. Geometry was one of the two fields of pre-modern mathematics, the other being the study of numbers ....

, topology
Topology
Topology is a major area of mathematics concerned with properties that are preserved under continuous deformations of objects, such as deformations that involve stretching, but no tearing or gluing...

, and related branches of mathematics
Mathematics
Mathematics is the study of quantity, space, structure, and change. Mathematicians seek out patterns and formulate new conjectures. Mathematicians resolve the truth or falsity of conjectures by mathematical proofs, which are arguments sufficient to convince other mathematicians of their validity...

, a closed set is a set whose complement
Complement (set theory)
In set theory, a complement of a set A refers to things not in , A. The relative complement of A with respect to a set B, is the set of elements in B but not in A...

 is an open set
Open set
The concept of an open set is fundamental to many areas of mathematics, especially point-set topology and metric topology. Intuitively speaking, a set U is open if any point x in U can be "moved" a small amount in any direction and still be in the set U...

. In a topological space
Topological space
Topological spaces are mathematical structures that allow the formal definition of concepts such as convergence, connectedness, and continuity. They appear in virtually every branch of modern mathematics and are a central unifying notion...

, a closed set can be defined as a set which contains all its limit point
Limit point
In mathematics, a limit point of a set S in a topological space X is a point x in X that can be "approximated" by points of S in the sense that every neighbourhood of x with respect to the topology on X also contains a point of S other than x itself. Note that x does not have to be an element of S...

s. In a metric space
Metric space
In mathematics, a metric space is a set where a notion of distance between elements of the set is defined.The metric space which most closely corresponds to our intuitive understanding of space is the 3-dimensional Euclidean space...

, a closed set is a set which is closed
Closure (mathematics)
In mathematics, a set is said to be closed under some operation if performance of that operation on members of the set always produces a unique member of the same set. For example, the real numbers are closed under subtraction, but the natural numbers are not: 3 and 8 are both natural numbers, but...

 under the limit
Limit of a sequence
The limit of a sequence is, intuitively, the unique number or point L such that the terms of the sequence become arbitrarily close to L for "large" values of n...

 operation.

Equivalent definitions of a closed set


In a topological space
Topological space
Topological spaces are mathematical structures that allow the formal definition of concepts such as convergence, connectedness, and continuity. They appear in virtually every branch of modern mathematics and are a central unifying notion...

, a set is closed if and only if it coincides with its closure
Closure (topology)
In mathematics, the closure of a subset S in a topological space consists of all points in S plus the limit points of S. Intuitively, these are all the points that are "near" S. A point which is in the closure of S is a point of closure of S...

. Equivalently, a set is closed if and only if it contains all of its limit point
Limit point
In mathematics, a limit point of a set S in a topological space X is a point x in X that can be "approximated" by points of S in the sense that every neighbourhood of x with respect to the topology on X also contains a point of S other than x itself. Note that x does not have to be an element of S...

s.

This is not to be confused with a closed manifold
Closed manifold
In mathematics, a closed manifold is a type of topological space, namely a compact manifold without boundary. In contexts where no boundary is possible, any compact manifold is a closed manifold....

.

Properties of closed sets


A closed set contains its own boundary
Boundary (topology)
In topology and mathematics in general, the boundary of a subset S of a topological space X is the set of points which can be approached both from S and from the outside of S. More precisely, it is the set of points in the closure of S, not belonging to the interior of S. An element of the boundary...

. In other words, if you are "outside" a closed set, you may move a small amount in any direction and still stay outside the set. Note that this is also true if the boundary is the empty set, e.g. in the metric space of rational numbers, for the set of numbers of which the square is less than 2.

Any intersection
Intersection (set theory)
In mathematics, the intersection of two sets A and B is the set that contains all elements of A that also belong to B , but no other elements....

 of closed sets is closed (including intersections of infinitely many closed sets), and any union
Union (set theory)
In set theory, the union of a collection of sets is the set of all distinct elements in the collection. The union of a collection of sets S_1, S_2, S_3, \dots , S_n\,\! gives a set S_1 \cup S_2 \cup S_3 \cup \dots \cup S_n.- Definition :...

 of finitely many closed sets is closed.
In particular, the empty set
Empty set
In mathematics, and more specifically set theory, the empty set is the unique set having no elements; its size or cardinality is zero. Some axiomatic set theories assure that the empty set exists by including an axiom of empty set; in other theories, its existence can be deduced...

 and the whole space are closed.
In fact, given a set X and a collection F of subsets of X that has these properties, then F will be the collection of closed sets for a unique topology on X.
The intersection property also allows one to define the closure
Closure (topology)
In mathematics, the closure of a subset S in a topological space consists of all points in S plus the limit points of S. Intuitively, these are all the points that are "near" S. A point which is in the closure of S is a point of closure of S...

 of a set A in a space X, which is defined as the smallest closed subset of X that is a superset
SuperSet
SuperSet Software was a group founded by friends and former Eyring Research Institute co-workers Drew Major, Dale Neibaur, Kyle Powell and later joined by Mark Hurst...

 of A.
Specifically, the closure of A can be constructed as the intersection of all of these closed supersets.

Sets that can be constructed as the union of countably many closed sets are denoted Fσ
F-sigma set
In mathematics, an Fσ set is a countable union of closed sets. The notation originated in France with F for fermé and σ for somme ....

sets. These sets need not be closed.

Examples of closed sets

  • The closed interval
    Interval (mathematics)
    In mathematics, a interval is a set of real numbers with the property that any number that lies between two numbers in the set is also included in the set. For example, the set of all numbers satisfying is an interval which contains and , as well as all numbers between them...

     [a,b] of real number
    Real number
    In mathematics, a real number is a value that represents a quantity along a continuum, such as -5 , 4/3 , 8.6 , √2 and π...

    s is closed. (See Interval (mathematics)
    Interval (mathematics)
    In mathematics, a interval is a set of real numbers with the property that any number that lies between two numbers in the set is also included in the set. For example, the set of all numbers satisfying is an interval which contains and , as well as all numbers between them...

    for an explanation of the bracket and parenthesis set notation.)
  • The unit interval
    Unit interval
    In mathematics, the unit interval is the closed interval , that is, the set of all real numbers that are greater than or equal to 0 and less than or equal to 1...

     [0,1] is closed in the metric space of real numbers, and the set [0,1] ∩ Q of rational number
    Rational number
    In mathematics, a rational number is any number that can be expressed as the quotient or fraction a/b of two integers, with the denominator b not equal to zero. Since b may be equal to 1, every integer is a rational number...

    s between 0 and 1 (inclusive) is closed in the space of rational numbers, but [0,1] ∩ Q is not closed in the real numbers.
  • Some sets are neither open nor closed, for instance the half-open interval
    Interval (mathematics)
    In mathematics, a interval is a set of real numbers with the property that any number that lies between two numbers in the set is also included in the set. For example, the set of all numbers satisfying is an interval which contains and , as well as all numbers between them...

     [0,1) in the real numbers.
  • Some sets are both open and closed and are called clopen sets.
  • Half-interval [1, +∞) is closed.
  • The Cantor set
    Cantor set
    In mathematics, the Cantor set is a set of points lying on a single line segment that has a number of remarkable and deep properties. It was discovered in 1875 by Henry John Stephen Smith and introduced by German mathematician Georg Cantor in 1883....

     is an unusual closed set in the sense that it consists entirely of boundary points and is nowhere dense.
  • Singleton points (and thus finite sets) are closed in Hausdorff spaces.
  • If X and Y are topological spaces, a function f from X into Y is continuous if and only if preimages of closed sets in Y are closed in X.

More about closed sets


In point set topology, a set A is closed if it contains all its boundary
Boundary (topology)
In topology and mathematics in general, the boundary of a subset S of a topological space X is the set of points which can be approached both from S and from the outside of S. More precisely, it is the set of points in the closure of S, not belonging to the interior of S. An element of the boundary...

 points.

The notion of closed set is defined above in terms of open set
Open set
The concept of an open set is fundamental to many areas of mathematics, especially point-set topology and metric topology. Intuitively speaking, a set U is open if any point x in U can be "moved" a small amount in any direction and still be in the set U...

s, a concept that makes sense for topological space
Topological space
Topological spaces are mathematical structures that allow the formal definition of concepts such as convergence, connectedness, and continuity. They appear in virtually every branch of modern mathematics and are a central unifying notion...

s, as well as for other spaces that carry topological structures, such as metric space
Metric space
In mathematics, a metric space is a set where a notion of distance between elements of the set is defined.The metric space which most closely corresponds to our intuitive understanding of space is the 3-dimensional Euclidean space...

s, differentiable manifold
Differentiable manifold
A differentiable manifold is a type of manifold that is locally similar enough to a linear space to allow one to do calculus. Any manifold can be described by a collection of charts, also known as an atlas. One may then apply ideas from calculus while working within the individual charts, since...

s, uniform space
Uniform space
In the mathematical field of topology, a uniform space is a set with a uniform structure. Uniform spaces are topological spaces with additional structure which is used to define uniform properties such as completeness, uniform continuity and uniform convergence.The conceptual difference between...

s, and gauge spaces.

An alternative characterization of closed sets is available via sequence
Sequence
In mathematics, a sequence is an ordered list of objects . Like a set, it contains members , and the number of terms is called the length of the sequence. Unlike a set, order matters, and exactly the same elements can appear multiple times at different positions in the sequence...

s and nets
Net (mathematics)
In mathematics, more specifically in general topology and related branches, a net or Moore–Smith sequence is a generalization of the notion of a sequence. In essence, a sequence is a function with domain the natural numbers, and in the context of topology, the range of this function is...

. A subset A of a topological space X is closed in X if and only if every limit
Limit of a sequence
The limit of a sequence is, intuitively, the unique number or point L such that the terms of the sequence become arbitrarily close to L for "large" values of n...

 of every net of elements of A also belongs to A.
In a first-countable space
First-countable space
In topology, a branch of mathematics, a first-countable space is a topological space satisfying the "first axiom of countability". Specifically, a space X is said to be first-countable if each point has a countable neighbourhood basis...

 (such as a metric space), it is enough to consider only convergent sequence
Sequence
In mathematics, a sequence is an ordered list of objects . Like a set, it contains members , and the number of terms is called the length of the sequence. Unlike a set, order matters, and exactly the same elements can appear multiple times at different positions in the sequence...

s, instead of all nets. One value of this characterisation is that it may be used as a definition in the context of convergence spaces, which are more general than topological spaces.
Notice that this characterisation also depends on the surrounding space X, because whether or not a sequence or net converges in X depends on what points are present in X.

We have seen twice that whether a set is closed is relative depends on the space in which it is embedded. However, the compact
Compact space
In mathematics, specifically general topology and metric topology, a compact space is an abstract mathematical space whose topology has the compactness property, which has many important implications not valid in general spaces...

 Hausdorff space
Hausdorff space
In topology and related branches of mathematics, a Hausdorff space, separated space or T2 space is a topological space in which distinct points have disjoint neighbourhoods. Of the many separation axioms that can be imposed on a topological space, the "Hausdorff condition" is the most frequently...

s are "absolutely closed" in a certain sense. To be precise, if you embed a compact Hausdorff space K in an arbitrary Hausdorff space X, then K will always be a closed subset of X; the "surrounding space" does not matter here. In fact, this property characterizes the compact Hausdorff spaces. Stone-Čech compactification, a process that turns a completely regular Hausdorff space into a compact Hausdorff space, may be described as adjoining limits of certain nonconvergent nets to the space.

Furthermore, every closed subset of a compact space is compact, and every compact subspace of a Hausdorff space is closed.

Closed sets also give a useful characterization of compactness: a topological space X is compact if and only if every collection of nonempty closed subsets of X with empty intersection admits a finite subcollection with empty intersection.

A topological space X is disconnected
Disconnected
Disconnected is an album by the German IDM group Funkstörung. It was released on March 29, 2004, and was the first album of the duo to feature real pop songs with singing vocals. The CD's jewel case was packed in a partly translucent sleeve, with the inlay consisting of 10 loose cards designed by...

 if there exist disjoint, nonempty, closed subsets A and B of X whose union is X. Furthermore, X is totally disconnected if it has an open basis consisting of closed sets.