Product topology

In topology and related areas of mathematics, a product space is the cartesian product of a family of topological spaces equipped with a natural topology called the product topology.



Let I be a (possibly infinite) index set and suppose Xi is a topological space for every i in I. Set X = Π Xi, the cartesian product of the sets Xi. For every i in I, we have a canonical projection pi : XXi. The product topology on X is defined to be the coarsest topology (i.e. the topology with the fewest open sets) for which all the projections pi are continuous.

Explicitly, the product topology on X can be described as the topology generated by sets of the form pi−1(U), where i in I and U is an open subset of Xi. In other words, the sets {pi−1(U)} form a subbase for the topology on X. A subset of X is open if and only if it is a union of (possibly infinitely many) intersections of finitely many sets of the form pi−1(U).

We can describe a basis for the product topology using bases of the constituting spaces Xi. Suppose that for each i in I we choose a set Yi which is either the whole space Xi or a basis set of that space, in such a way that Xi = Yi for all but finitely many i in I. Let B be the cartesian product of the sets Yi. The collection of all sets B that can be constructed in this fashion is a basis of the product space. In particular, this means that a product of finitely many spaces has a basis given by the products of base elements of the Xi.

If the index set is finite (in particular, for a product of two topological spaces) then the product topology admits a simpler description. In this case product of the topologies of each Xi forms a basis for the topology on X. In general, the product of the topologies of each Xi forms a basis for what is called the box topology on X. In general, the box topology is finer than the product topology, but for finite products they coincide.


If one starts with the standard topology on the real line R and defines a topology on the product of n copies of R in this fashion, one obtains the ordinary Euclidean topology on Rn.

The Cantor set is homeomorphic to the product of countably many copies of the discrete space {0,1} and the space of irrational numbers is homeomorphic to the product of countably many copies of the natural numbers, where again each copy carries the discrete topology.


The product space X, together with the canonical projections, can be characterized by the following universal property: If Y is a topological space, and for every i in I, fi : YXi is a continuous map, then there exists precisely one continuous map f : YX such that the following diagram commutes:

Missing image
Characteristic property of product spaces

This shows that the product space is a product in the category of topological spaces. If follows from the above universal property that a map f : YX is continuous iff fi = pi o f is continuous for all i in I. In many cases it is often easier to check that the component functions fi are continuous. Checking whether a map g : XZ is continuous is usually more difficult; one tries to use the fact that the pi are continuous in some way.

In addition to being continuous, the canonical projections pi : XXi are open maps. This means that any open subset of the product space remains open when projected down to the Xi. The converse is not true: if W is a subspace of the product space whose projections down to all the Xi are open, then W need not be open in X. (Consider for instance W = R2 \ (0,1)2.) The canonical projections are not generally closed maps.

The product topology is also called the topology of pointwise convergence because of the following fact: a sequence (or net) in X converges if and only if all its projections to the spaces Xi converge. In particular, if one considers the space X = RI of all real valued functions on I, convergence in the product topology is the same as pointwise convergence of functions.

An important theorem about the product topology is Tychonoff's theorem: any product of compact spaces is compact. This is easy to show for finite products, while the general statement is equivalent to the axiom of choice.

Relation to other topological notions

A map that "locally looks like" a canonical projection F × UU is called a fiber bundle.

See also


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