Separation axiom

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For the axiom of set theory, see axiom schema of separation.

In topology and related fields of mathematics, there are several restrictions that one often makes on the kinds of topological spaces that one wishes to consider. Some of these restrictions are given by the separation axioms. These are sometimes called Tychonoff separation axioms after Andrey Tychonoff.

The separation axioms are axioms only in the sense that, when defining the notion of topological space, you could add these conditions as extra axioms to get a more restricted notion of what a topological space is. The modern approach is to fix once and for all the axiomatization of topological space and then speak of kinds of topological spaces. However, the term "separation axiom" has stuck. The separation axioms are denoted with the letter "T" after the German "Trennung", which means separation.

The precise meanings of the terms associated with the separation axioms has varied over time, as explained in History of the separation axioms. Especially when reading older literature, be sure to get the authors' definition of each condition mentioned to make sure that you know exactly what they mean.

Before we define the spaces described by the separation axioms, we need to define some terminology in order to give concrete meaning to the concept of separation.

Contents

Separated sets and topologically distinguishable points

The separation axioms are about the use of topological means to distinguish disjoint sets and distinct points. It's not enough for elements of a topological space to be distinct; we may want them to be topologically distinguishable. Similarly, it's not enough for subsets of a topological space to be disjoint; we may want them to be separated (in any of various ways). The separation axioms all say, in one way or another, that points or sets that are distinguishable or separated in some weak sense must also be separated in some stronger sense.

Let X be a topological space. Then two subsets A and B of X are separated if each is disjoint from the other's closure. Note that any two separated sets must be disjoint.

There are several stronger forms of separatedness for sets; they are in order: separated by neighbourhoods; separated by closed neighbourhoods, separated by a function, and separated precisely by a function. These are defined and discussed in the article Separated sets.

Don't confuse separated sets with separated spaces, which are defined below.

Note that we sometimes use the terminology of separated sets to refer to points; in that situation, we're really talking about the singleton set {x} rather than the point x. If A and B are open and disjoint, then they must be separated by neighbourhoods; just take U := A and V := B. For this reason, many separation axioms refer specifically to closed sets.

Two points x and y in X are topologically distinguishable if they don't have exactly the same neighbourhoods. Note that if two points are topologically distinguishable, then certainly they are distinct. Furthermore, if the x and y are separated (that is if the singletons {x} and {y} are separated), then they are also topologically distinguishable. For more on topologically distinguishable points, see Topological distinguishability.

Definitions of the axioms

Many of these names have alternative meanings in some of mathematical literature, as explained on History of the separation axioms. Many of the concepts also have several names; the one listed first is preferred in Wikipedia.

Most of these axioms have alternative definitions with the same meaning; the definitions given here are those which fall into a consistent pattern relating the various notions of separation defined in the previous section. Other possible definitions can be found in the individual articles.

In all of the following definitions, X is again a topological space, and all functions are supposed to be continuous.

X is T0, or Kolmogorov, if any two distinct points in X are topologically distinguishable. It will be a common theme among the separation axioms to have one version of an axiom that requires T0 and one version that doesn't.

X is R0, or symmetric, if any two topologically distinguishable points in X are separated.

X is T1, or accessible or Frchet, if any two distinct points in X are separated. Thus, X is T1 if and only if it is both T0 and R0. Although you may say such things as "T1 space", "Frchet topology", and "Suppose that the topological space X is Frchet", avoid saying "Frchet space" in this context, since there is another entirely different notion of Frchet space in functional analysis.

X is preregular, or R1, if any two topologically distinguishable points in X are separated by neighbourhoods. Note that an R1 space must also be R0.

X is Hausdorff, or T2 or separated, if any two distinct points in X are separated by neighbourhoods. Thus, X is Hausdorff if and only if it is both T0 and R1. Note that a Hausdorff space must also be T1.

X is T, or Urysohn, if any two distinct points in X are separated by closed neighbourhoods. Note that a T space must also be Hausdorff.

X is completely Hausdorff, or completely T2, if any two distinct points in X are separated by a function. Note that a completely Hausdorff space must also be T.

X is regular if, given any point x and closed set F in X, if x does not belong to F, then they are separated by neighbourhoods. In fact, in a regular space, any such x and F will also be separated by closed neighbourhoods. Note that a regular space must also be R1.

X is regular Hausdorff, or T3, if it is both T0 and regular. Note that a regular Hausdorff space must also be T.

X is completely regular if, given any point x and closed set F in X, if x does not belong to F, then they are separated by a function. Note that a completely regular space must also be regular.

X is Tychonoff, or T, completely T3, or completely regular Hausdorff, if it is both T0 and completely regular. Note that a Tychonoff space must also be both regular Hausdorff and completely Hausdorff.

X is normal if any two disjoint closed subsets of X are separated by neighbourhoods. In fact, in a normal space, any two disjoint sets will also be separated by a function; this is Urysohn's lemma.

X is normal Hausdorff, or T4, if it is both T1 and normal. Note that a normal Hausdorff space must also be both Tychonoff and normal regular.

X is completely normal if any two separated sets are separated by neighbourhoods. Note that a completely normal space must also be normal.

X is completely normal Hausdorff, or T5 or completely T4, if it is both completely normal and T1. Note that a T5 space must also be T4.

X is perfectly normal if any two disjoint closed sets are precisely separated by a function. A perfectly normal space must also be completely normal.

X is perfectly normal Hausdorff, or perfectly T4, if it is both perfectly normal and T1. A perfectly T4 space must also be T5.

Relationships between the axioms

The T0 axiom is special in that it cannot only be added to a property (so that regular plus T0 is T3) but also subtracted from a property (so that Hausdorff minus T0 is preregular), in a fairly precise sense; see Kolmogorov quotient for more information. When applied to the separation axioms, this leads to the relationships in the table below:

T0 version Non-T0 version
T0 No requirement
T1 R0
Hausdorff Preregular
T No special name
Completely Hausdorff No special name
Regular Hausdorff (T3) Regular
Tychonoff (T) Completely regular
Normal T0 Normal
Normal Hausdorff (T4) Normal regular
Completely normal T0 Completely normal
Completely normal Hausdorff (T5) Completely normal regular
Perfectly normal T0 Perfectly normal
Perfectly normal Hausdorff Perfectly normal regular

In this table, you go from the right side to the left side by adding the requirement of T0, and you go from the left side to the right side by removing that requirement, using the Kolmogorov quotient operation.

Other than the inclusion or exclusion of T0, the relationships between the separation axioms are indicated in the following diagram:

Missing image
Separation_axioms.png
Hasse diagram of the separation axioms.

In this diagram, the non-T0 version of a condition is on the left side of the slash, and the T0 version is on the right side. Letters are used for abbreviation as follows: "P" = "perfectly", "C" = "completely", "N" = "normal", and "R" (without a subscript) = "regular". A bullet indicates that there is no special name for a space at that spot. The dash at the bottom indicates no condition.

You can combine two properties using this diagram by following the diagram upwards until both branches meet. For example, if a space is both completely normal ("CN") and completely Hausdorff ("CT2"), then following both branches up, you find the spot "•/T5". Since completely Hausdorff spaces are T0 (even though completely normal spaces may not be), you take the T0 side of the slash, so a completely normal completely Hausdorff space is the same as a T5 space.

As you can see from the diagram, normal and R0 together imply a host of other properties. Since regularity is the most well known of these, spaces that are both normal and R0 are typically called "normal regular spaces". In a somewhat similar fashion, T4 spaces are often called "normal Hausdorff spaces" by people that wish to avoid the "T" notation. (Wikipedia, in particular, wishes to avoid this notation, because it is less likely to be unambiguously understood.) These conventions can be generalised to other regular and Hausdorff spaces.

Other separation axioms

There are some other conditions on topological spaces that are sometimes classified with the separation axioms, but these don't fit in with the usual separation axioms as completely. Other than their definitions, they won't be discussed here.

X is semiregular if the regular open sets form a base for the open sets of X. Any regular space must also be semiregular.

X is fully normal if every open cover has an open star refinement. Every fully normal space must also be both normal regular and paracompact. In fact, fully normal spaces actually have more to do with paracompactness than with the usual separation axioms.

X is fully T4, or fully normal Hausdorff, if it is both T1 and fully normal. Note that a fully T4 space must also be T4.

Sources

  • Schechter, Eric; 1997; Handbook of Analysis and its Foundations; http://www.math.vanderbilt.edu/~schectex/ccc/
    • has Ri axioms (among others)
  • Willard, Stephen; General Topology; Addison-Wesley
    • has all of the non-Ri axioms mentioned in this article, with these definitions
  • There are several other good books on general topology, but beware that some use slightly different definitions.de:Trennungsaxiom

ja:分離公理 pl:Aksjomaty oddzielania zh:分离公理

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