# Topology/Lesson 5

## Directed Sets

Directed sets are very useful in topology. We will explore a couple of their uses in this lesson.

### Definition

A directed set is a set $D$ with a partial order denoted by $\leq$ which satisfies the additional requirement that given $a,b\in D$ there is $c\in D$ such that $a\leq c$ and $b\leq c$ .

### Examples (directed set)

1. Let $X$ be a set. Then its power set $2^{X}$ is a directed set, ordered by set inclusion. Indeed, if $A,B\subset X$ then $A\subset A\cup B$ and $B\subset A\cup B$ .
2. Suppose that $X$ is a topological space and $x\in X$ . Then the set $D$ of all neighborhoods of $x$ is a directed set, ordered by reverse set inclusion (that is, $A\leq B$ if $A\supset B$ ). The proof is left as an exercise.

### Cofinal set

Let $D$ be a directed set. A subset $D^{\prime }\subset D$ is cofinal if for every $d\in D$ there is $d^{\prime }\in D^{\prime }$ such that $d\leq d^{\prime }$ .

### Examples (cofinal set)

1. Let $X$ be an infinite set. Then, as above, its power set $2^{X}$ is a directed set. The subset consisting of only infinite subsets of $X$ is a cofinal set.
2. As in Example 2 above, let $D$ be the set of neighborhoods of the point $x\in X$ . Then the set of open neighborhoods of $x$ is a cofinal set. If $X$ is Hausdorff and locally compact, then the set of compact neighborhoods of $x$ is also cofinal.

### Nets

One of the main applications of directed sets is that of nets. A net is kind of like a sequence, but the indexing set is a directed set rather than an ordinal set (or, specifically the set $\mathbb {N}$ ). That is, a net in a space $X$ is a function $f:D\to X$ , where $D$ is a directed set.

### Subnet

Let $f:D\to X$ be a net. A subnet of $f$ is the restriction of $f$ to a subset $D^{\prime }\subset D$ that is also directed and is cofinal in $D$ .

Nets are like sequences. Just as you can picture a sequence being a bunch of points in a space, and you usually think of that sequences limiting on some particular point, you can think of nets as a bunch of points in a space. And, just like sequences, nets are useful when they accumulate at a specific point (or multiple points).

### Limits

Let $f:D\to X$ be a net. The net converges to a point $x\in X$ if for every neighborhood $N\ni x$ , there is $a\in D$ such that $f(\alpha )\in N$ for all $\alpha \geq a$ .

This definition looks surprisingly similar to the definition of the limit of a sequence, and it is very similar. However, note one significant difference. In $D$ , not all points are assumed to be comparable (that is, there might be $a,b\in D$ for which neither $a\leq b$ nor $b\leq a$ is true). Therefore, the quantifier "for all $\alpha \geq a$ " excludes any point in $D$ that is not comparable to $a$ .

What's all the hype about? Why did topologists even invent the concept of a net? Consider the following results, prior to nets.

1. If a set $C$ is compact, then every sequence in it has a convergent subsequence.
2. If a function $f:X\to Y$ is continuous and $x_{n}\to x$ then $f(x_{n})\to f(x)$ .
3. Let $\{x_{n}\}$ be a sequence in a set $A\subset X$ . If $x_{n}\to x$ in $X$ then $x\in {\bar {A}}$ (the closure of $A$ ).

Each of these is a very good result. However, for each one the converse is false. Consider the following examples.

1. The space $\omega _{1}$ (the ordinal space, which consists of all finite/countable ordinals) is not compact but every sequence in it has a convergent subsequence (in particular, every monotone sequence in $\omega _{1}$ is convergent).
2. Let $f:[0,\omega _{1}]\to \{0,1\}$ be defined by $f(\alpha )=0$ for $\alpha <\omega _{1}>$ and $f(\omega _{1})=1$ . $[0,\omega _{1}]$ has the order topology, since it is an ordinal, and $\{0,1\}$ has the discrete topology. Then $f$ is not continuous but every sequence in $[0,\omega _{1}]$ is preserved (that is, if $x_{n}\to x$ in $[0,\omega _{1}]$ then $f(x_{n})\to f(x)$ ).
3. The point $\omega _{1}$ in the space $[0,\omega _{1}]$ (as in the previous example) is in the closure of $[0,\omega _{1})$ but is not the limit of any sequence in that set.

However, if we use nets instead of sequences, each of these results becomes a biconditional. The proof of each will be left as an exercise to the student. A suggestion for each would be to follow a proof of the case where only sequences are considered.

### Exercises

Prove each of the following.

1. A set $C$ is compact if and only if every net in $C$ has a convergent subnet.
2. A function $f:X\to Y$ is continuous if and only if $f(\nu (\alpha ))\to f(x_{0})$ whenever $\nu :D\to X$ is a net converging to $x_{0}\in X$ .
3. Let $A\subset X$ . Then $a\in {\bar {A}}$ if and only if there is a net in $A$ that converges to $a$ .