A beautifully told story with colorful characters out of epic tradition, a tight and complex plot, and solid pacing. -- Booklist, starred review of On the Razor's Edge

Great writing, vivid scenarios, and thoughtful commentary ... the stories will linger after the last page is turned. -- Publisher's Weekly, on Captive Dreams

Monday, October 10, 2016

A Blast from the Past, continued


Putting on My Top Hat

I warned you. Nostalgia is a terrible force. Could we but harness it, our energy problems would be solved. Ah, the good old days...


Topology is a branch of mathematics concerned with whether or not two points are close together, and how this closeness is affected by mappings from one space to another. On what basis can we say that two point a and b are "close"?

A topology on X is a family of subsets that constitute the "open" subsets of X. The familiar open sets of the real number line (a,b) constitute such a topology on E^1. The difference between the set of all real numbers and Euclidian 1-space is the open set structure, or topology. This is the difference between a set and a space.

Now it's nice to know that the family of all open sets consists of open sets. What topology does is build this up from beneath. IOW, we start with no preconception of what constitutes an "open" set and a set of rules for what a topology is. Basically, a topology is a family of sets that is closed under union (each union of members of the family is a member of the family) and closed under finite intersection (each finite intersection etc.) And, oh yeah, Ø and X are members, too.  It turns out (fortunately) that open sets are open sets under these rules. Phew.

A set can have more than one topology. The coarsest (smallest) topology is just that consisting of {Ø,X}, that is: the null set and the space itself. In such a topology, there are no small neighborhoods. If you want to say where a point is, it's in X. Sorry, can't pin it down any closer. This is called the indiscrete topology. The finest (largest) topology is P(X), the Power Set, which consists of the set of all subsets of X. This is the discrete topology.

Consider the set X={0,1} consisting of exactly two points with the discrete topology. 
T = P(X) = {Ø, 0, 1, X} This space is called 2. 
(Nice to know where 2 comes from when you start out with only 0 and 1.....)
The same set with the topology T = {Ø, 0, X} is called Sierpinski Space or S. Notice that {1} has no small neighborhoods in Sierpinski space, since the only open set containing {1} is X itself.

That's enough of that.


A function is a continuous map from one topological space to another. Notation is f:Y→Z. For example, the square maps E^1 into E^1 (actually into the non-negative part of E^1) by mapping 0 to 0, 1 to 1, 2 to 4 and so on and in between. This is illustrated below for a few points in Y.

This illo shows how a few open sets in Y are mapped into open sets in Z. For example:
f:(-2.8284271etc, +2.8284271etc) → (0,8)
f:(1,2) → (1,4)
f:(-2,-1) → (1,4)

f:(-1,+1) → (0,1)

Lastly, consider other functions mapping the same interval (0, 1.5 etc.) into Z.
-4 maps it into (-4) a "constant" map
Y^2 maps it into (0, 2.25)
-Y maps it into (-1.5, 0)
Y+2 maps it into (2,3.5)
4Y maps it into (0,6)

Function Spaces

It is natural to ask: what sort of topological space can we make of the set of all continuous functions from Y->Z.
In what sense can we say two functions f and g are "near" each other?
Who cares?

Tune in again next time for the next exciting installment in this mesmerizing topic. 


No third installment was posted. It began to seem all too esoteric a topic of an internet post.


  1. Iä! Iä! Ph'nglui mglw'nafh Topology R'lyeh wgah'nagl fhtagn!

  2. Alternativ könnte man sagen ...

    Habe nun, ach! Philosophie,
    Juristerei und Medizin,
    Und leider auch Topologie
    Durchaus studiert, mit heißem Bemühn.

    und so weiter ...

  3. Is it too late to offer you that sum of money?

    When do we get back to the Crusades?

    1. The next installment of Deus Vult! is under prep.

  4. I was with you all the way through the first paragraph, and was completely lost at "A topology on X is a family of subsets that constitute the "open" subsets of X" and everything that came after. So yes, it may be a bit too esoteric for the internet.

  5. "The Auld Blogge on LiveJournal, now virtually inaccessible to me. (And one presumes to others.)"

    To others?

    Look here, whether you have been frozen out from logging in to Live Journal or all have (I haven't tried logging in lately), the blogs are accessible for view.

    hanslundahl : Neglected Angelology in the Angelic Doctor