For every completely regular space , there exists a unique compact space containing such that (1) has a dense subspace that is a topological copy of and that (2) if is considered as a subspace of , any continuous function from into a compact space can be extended to all of . The compact space is said to be the StoneCech compactification of . We indicate how is constructed. The construction is done by embedding a completely regular space into a cube. To provide a glimpse of what might look like, we also take a brief look at .
The links for other posts on StoneCech compactification can be found toward the end of this post.
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Construction
According to a theorem by Tychonoff from 1930, every completely regular space can be embedded in a cube. Embedding into a cube is one way StoneCech compactification is constructed. Let be a completely regular space. Let be the unit interval in the real line . Let be the set of all continuous realvalued functions defined on the space . The cube for which is embedded is , the product of copies of where is the cardinality of . We can also view as the product space where each . We can represent each point in the cube as a function or as a sequence such that each term (or coordinate) .
The embedding from into the cube is the evaluation map which is defined as: for each , is the point in the cube such that for each , . This map is shown to be a homeomorphism from into . What makes a homeomorphism stems from the fact that in a completely regular space, there are enough bounded realvalued continuous functions to separate points from closed sets (see Embedding Completely Regular Spaces into a Cube). We have the following definition.

Definition
Under the map , is the topological copy of within the cube . The StoneCech compactification of is defined to be the closure of in the cube , i.e., set .
According to the Tychonoff theorem, the cube , being a product of compact spaces, is a compact space. Thus , being a closed subspace of the cube, is a compact space. Furthermore, contains a topological copy of as a dense subspace.
When there is no ambiguity as to what the space is, the embedding is written as and the compactification is written as .
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Characterization
Let be a completely regular space. A compactification of is a compact space that has a dense subspace that is a topological copy of . For a given , there can be many compactifications of . The StoneCech compactification has characteristics that are not shared by other compactifications of . One such characteristic is stated at the beginning of the post and is repeated in the following two theorems.

Theorem C1
Let be a completely regular space. Let be a continuous function from into a compact Hausdorff space . Then there is a continuous such that . See Figure 1 below.

Theorem U1
If is any compactification of that satisfies condition in Theorem C1, then must be equivalent to .
Figure 1
When the continuous function in Theorem C1 is restricted to to , it is identical to the function . If we think of as a subset of , extends . Thus Theorem U1 essentially says that any continuous function from into any compact space can be extended to all of . Theorem U1 says that the property stated in Theorem C1 uniquely characterizes . This means that any compactification of that satisfies Theorem C1 must be equivalent to .
The proofs of Theorem C1 and Theorem U1 are found in the next post (Two Characterizations of StoneCech Compactification).
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Examples
We now look at . We rely on Theorem C1 to provide some insight about .
Note that and are also compactifications of , where is the unit circle . First, we show the extension property described in Theorem C1 does not hold for both and . Thus these two compactifications of cannot be .
Consider the function defined by:
Note that is the cumulative distribution function (CDF) of the standard normal distribution. The following figure is the graph.
Figure 2
Note that is the onepoint compactification of . Since and , we cannot extend the function to a continuous function defined on . Thus, as a compactification of cannot satisfy Theorem C1. It is clear that cannot be .
The closed unit interval is the twopoint compactification of . Now consider the function defined on the open interval , which is a topological copy of . It is impossible to extend to a continuous function defined on . So to construct , it take more than adding two additional points. In fact, the following discussion shows that has uncountably many points in the remainder .
Consider the function the sine function , which maps onto . Based on Theorem C1, can be extended to a function .
For each , let . For example, is the set . Furthermore, for each , let , which is a compact set in .
Consider as a subset of . We have for each . Each is a discrete set in . However, each is not discrete in ( is an infinite subset of a compact set in ). Thus for each .
If we think of constructing a compactification as the process of adding points to to form a compact space, the nonempty sets show that at minimum we are adding continuum many points to form (adding as many points as there are points in but in reality more than continuum many points are added). Note that for , and are disjoint (they are separated by disjoint open sets in through inverse images of the function ).
In fact, the cardinality of is larger than continuum. Specifically, , where is the cardinality of and is the cardinality of the set of all subsets of . For this fact, see Corollary 3.6.12 in [1] or Exercise 19.H in [2].
The large size of also tells us something about it topologically. It is a well known theorem in general topology that the cardinality of every first countable compact Hausdorff space is at most continuum (see Corollary 3.1.30 in [1] or see The cardinality of compact first countable spaces, I). Thus cannot be first countable. The points at which it is not first countable are the points in the remainder . Not being a first countable, is not metrizable.
Much more can be said about and other StoneCech compactification . This brief walk in shows that the StoneCech compactification can be quite large and quite different topologically even when the starting space is the familiar Euclidean space. In subsequent discussions, we will see that nice properties such as first countability, second countability and metrizability do not carry over from to .
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Blog Posts on StoneCech Compactification

Post #0: Embedding Completely Regular Spaces into a Cube
Post #1 (this post): A Beginning Look at StoneCech Compactification
Post #2: Two Characterizations of StoneCech Compactification
Post #3: C*Embedding Property and StoneCech Compactification
Post #4: StoneCech Compactification is Maximal
Post #5: StoneCech Compactification of the Integers – Basic Facts
Post #6: StoneCech Compactifications – Another Two Characterizations
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Reference
 Engelking, R., General Topology, Revised and Completed edition, Heldermann Verlag, Berlin, 1989.
 Willard, S., General Topology, AddisonWesley Publishing Company, 1970.
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