Proximity space

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In topology, a proximity space, also called a nearness space, is an axiomatization of the intuitive notion of "nearness" that hold set-to-set, as opposed to the better known point-to-set notion that characterize topological spaces.


The concept was described by FrigyesRiesz  ( 1909 ) but ignored at the time. [1] It was rediscovered and axiomatized by V. A. Efremovič in 1934 under the name of infinitesimal space, but not published until 1951. In the interim, A. D.Wallace  ( 1941 ) discovered a version of the same concept under the name of separation space.


A proximity space is a set with a relation between subsets of satisfying the following properties:

For all subsets

  1. implies
  2. implies
  3. implies
  4. implies ( or )
  5. (For all or ) implies

Proximity without the first axiom is called quasi-proximity (but then Axioms 2 and 4 must be stated in a two-sided fashion).

If we say is near or and are proximal; otherwise we say and are apart. We say is a proximal- or -neighborhood of written if and only if and are apart.

The main properties of this set neighborhood relation, listed below, provide an alternative axiomatic characterization of proximity spaces.

For all subsets

  1. implies
  2. implies
  3. ( and ) implies
  4. implies
  5. implies that there exists some such that

A proximity space is called separated if implies

A proximity or proximal map is one that preserves nearness, that is, given if in then in Equivalently, a map is proximal if the inverse map preserves proximal neighborhoodness. In the same notation, this means if holds in then holds in


Given a proximity space, one can define a topology by letting be a Kuratowski closure operator. If the proximity space is separated, the resulting topology is Hausdorff. Proximity maps will be continuous between the induced topologies.

The resulting topology is always completely regular. This can be proven by imitating the usual proofs of Urysohn's lemma, using the last property of proximal neighborhoods to create the infinite increasing chain used in proving the lemma.

Given a compact Hausdorff space, there is a unique proximity whose corresponding topology is the given topology: is near if and only if their closures intersect. More generally, proximities classify the compactifications of a completely regular Hausdorff space.

A uniform space induces a proximity relation by declaring is near if and only if has nonempty intersection with every entourage. Uniformly continuous maps will then be proximally continuous.

See also

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  1. W. J. Thron, Frederic Riesz' contributions to the foundations of general topology, in C.E. Aull and R. Lowen (eds.), Handbook of the History of General Topology, Volume 1, 21-29, Kluwer 1997.