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Concept# Separation axiom

Summary

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 not fundamental axioms like those of set theory, but rather defining properties which may be specified to distinguish certain types of topological spaces. The separation axioms are denoted with the letter "T" after the German Trennungsaxiom ("separation axiom"), and increasing numerical subscripts denote stronger and stronger properties.
The precise definitions of the separation axioms have varied over time. Especially in older literature, different authors might have different definitions of each condition.
Before we define the separation axioms themselves, we give concrete meaning to the concept of separated sets (and points) in topological spaces. (Separated sets are not the same as separated spaces, defined in the next section.)
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 (that is, unequal); 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 distinguishable or separated in some stronger sense.
Let X be a topological space. Then two points x and y in X are topologically distinguishable if they do not have exactly the same neighbourhoods (or equivalently the same open neighbourhoods); that is, at least one of them has a neighbourhood that is not a neighbourhood of the other (or equivalently there is an open set that one point belongs to but the other point does not).

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History of the separation axioms

The history of the separation axioms in general topology has been convoluted, with many meanings competing for the same terms and many terms competing for the same concept. Before the current general definition of topological space, there were many definitions offered, some of which assumed (what we now think of as) some separation axioms. For example, the definition given by Felix Hausdorff in 1914 is equivalent to the modern definition plus the Hausdorff separation axiom.

Cofiniteness

In mathematics, a cofinite subset of a set is a subset whose complement in is a finite set. In other words, contains all but finitely many elements of If the complement is not finite, but is countable, then one says the set is cocountable. These arise naturally when generalizing structures on finite sets to infinite sets, particularly on infinite products, as in the product topology or direct sum. This use of the prefix "" to describe a property possessed by a set's mplement is consistent with its use in other terms such as "meagre set".

Urysohn's lemma

In topology, Urysohn's lemma is a lemma that states that a topological space is normal if and only if any two disjoint closed subsets can be separated by a continuous function. Urysohn's lemma is commonly used to construct continuous functions with various properties on normal spaces. It is widely applicable since all metric spaces and all compact Hausdorff spaces are normal. The lemma is generalised by (and usually used in the proof of) the Tietze extension theorem. The lemma is named after the mathematician Pavel Samuilovich Urysohn.

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