accumulation point

Limit point

In mathematics, informally speaking, a limit point of a set S in a topological space X is a point x in X that can be "approximated" by points of S other than x itself. This concept profitably generalizes the notion of a limit and is the underpinning of concepts such as closed set and topological closure. Indeed, a set is closed if and only if it contains all of its limit points, and the topological closure operation can be thought of as an operation that enriches a set by adding its limit points.

A prototypical example of a limit point is an accumulation point, which is a limit point of the set of points in a sequence.

Definition

Let S be a subset of a topological space X. We say that a point x in X is a limit point of S if every open set containing x also contains a point of S other than x itself. This is equivalent to requiring that every neighbourhood of x contains a point of S other than x itself. (It is often convenient to use the "open neighbourhood" form of the definition to show that a point is a limit point and to use the "general neighbourhood" form of the definition to derive facts from a known limit point.)

Types of limit points

If every open set containing x contains infinitely many points of S then x is a specific type of limit point called a ω-accumulation point of S.

If every open set containing x contains uncountably many points of S then x is a specific type of limit point called a condensation point of S.

If X is a metric space with distance d, then a point xin X is a cluster point of a sequence {x_n} if for every epsilon>0, there are infinitely many points x_n such that d(x,x_n).

The concept of a net generalizes the idea of a sequence. Cluster points in nets encompass the idea of both condensation points and ω-accumulation points. Clustering and limit points are also defined for the related topic of filters.

The set of all cluster points of a sequence is sometimes called a limit set.

Some facts

  • We have the following characterisation of limit points: x is a limit point of S if and only if it is in the closure of S {x}.
    • Proof: We use the fact that a point is in the closure of a set if and only if every neighbourhood of the point meets the set. Now, x is a limit point of S, if and only if every neighbourhood of x contains a point of S other than x, if and only if every neighbourhood of x contains a point of S {x}, if and only if x is in the closure of S {x}.
  • If we use L(S) to denote the set of limit points of S, then we have the following characterisation of the closure of S: The closure of S is equal to the union of S and L(S).
    • Proof: ("Left subset") Suppose x is in the closure of S. If x is in S, we are done. If x is not in S, then every neighbourhood of x contains a point of S, and this point cannot be x. In other words, x is a limit point of S and x is in L(S). ("Right subset") If x is in S, then every neighbourhood of x clearly meets S, so x is in the closure of S. If x is in L(S), then every neighbourhood of x contains a point of S (other than x), so x is again in the closure of S. This completes the proof.
  • A corollary of this result gives us a characterisation of closed sets: A set S is closed if and only if it contains all of its limit points.
    • Proof: S is closed if and only if S is equal to its closure if and only if S = S ∪ L(S) if and only if L(S) is contained in S.
    • Another proof: Let S be a closed set and x a limit point of S. Then x must be in S, for otherwise the complement of S would be an open neighborhood of x that does not intersect S. Conversely, assume S contains all its limit points. We shall show that the complement of S is an open set. Let x be a point in the complement of S. By assumption, x is not a limit point, and hence there exists an open neighborhood U of x that does not intersect S, and so U lies entirely in the complement of S. Hence the complement of S is open.
  • No isolated point is a limit point of any set.
    • Proof: If x is an isolated point, then {x} is a neighbourhood of x that contains no points other than x.
  • A space X is discrete if and only if no subset of X has a limit point.
    • Proof: If X is discrete, then every point is isolated and cannot be a limit point of any set. Conversely, if X is not discrete, then there is a singleton {x} that is not open. Hence, every open neighbourhood of {x} contains a point yx, and so x is a limit point of X.
  • If a space X has the trivial topology and S is a subset of X with more than one element, then all elements of X are limit points of S. If S is a singleton, then every point of X S is still a limit point of S.
    • Proof: As long as S {x} is nonempty, its closure will be X. It's only empty when S is empty or x is the unique element of S.

See also

References

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