Michael Line Basics

Like the Sorgenfrey line, the Michael line is a classic counterexample that is covered in standard topology textbooks and in first year topology courses. This easily accessible example helps transition students from the familiar setting of the Euclidean topology on the real line to more abstract topological spaces. One of the most famous results regarding the Michael line is that the product of the Michael line with the space of the irrational numbers is not normal. Thus it is an important example in demonstrating the pathology in products of paracompact spaces. The product of two paracompact spaces does not even have be to be normal, even when one of the factors is a complete metric space. In this post, we discuss this classical result and various other basic results of the Michael line.

Let \mathbb{R} be the real number line. Let \mathbb{P} be the set of all irrational numbers. Let \mathbb{Q}=\mathbb{R}-\mathbb{P}, the set of all rational numbers. Let \tau be the usual topology of the real line \mathbb{R}. The following is a base that defines a topology on \mathbb{R}.

    \mathcal{B}=\tau \cup \left\{\left\{ x \right\}: x \in \mathbb{P}\right\}

The real line with the topology generated by \mathcal{B} is called the Michael line and is denoted by \mathbb{M}. In essense, in \mathbb{M}, points in \mathbb{P} are made isolated and points in \mathbb{Q} retain the usual Euclidean open sets.

The Euclidean topology \tau is coarser (weaker) than the Michael line topology (i.e. \tau being a subset of the Michael line topology). Thus the Michael line is Hausdorff. Since the Michael line topology contains a metrizable topology, \mathbb{M} is submetrizable (submetrized by the Euclidean topology). It is clear that \mathbb{M} is first countable. Having uncountably many isolated points, the Michael line does not have the countable chain condition (thus is not separable). The following points are discussed in more details.

  1. The space \mathbb{M} is paracompact.
  2. The space \mathbb{M} is not Lindelof.
  3. The extent of the space \mathbb{M} is c where c is the cardinality of the real line.
  4. The space \mathbb{M} is not locally compact.
  5. The space \mathbb{M} is not perfectly normal, thus not metrizable.
  6. The space \mathbb{M} is not a Moore space, but has a G_\delta-diagonal.
  7. The product \mathbb{M} \times \mathbb{P} is not normal where \mathbb{P} has the usual topology.
  8. The product \mathbb{M} \times \mathbb{P} is metacompact.
  9. The space \mathbb{M} has a point-countable base.
  10. For each n=1,2,3,\cdots, the product \mathbb{M}^n is paracompact.
  11. The product \mathbb{M}^\omega is not normal.
  12. There exist a Lindelof space L and a separable metric space W such that L \times W is not normal.

Results 10, 11 and 12 are shown in some subsequent posts.

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Baire Category Theorem

Before discussing the Michael line in greater details, we point out one connection between the Michael line topology and the Euclidean topology on the real line. The Michael line topology on \mathbb{Q} coincides with the Euclidean topology on \mathbb{Q}. A set is said to be a G_\delta-set if it is the intersection of countably many open sets. By the Baire category theorem, the set \mathbb{Q} is not a G_\delta-set in the Euclidean real line (see the section called “Discussion of the Above Question” in the post A Question About The Rational Numbers). Thus the set \mathbb{Q} is not a G_\delta-set in the Michael line. This fact is used in Result 5.

The fact that \mathbb{Q} is not a G_\delta-set in the Euclidean real line implies that \mathbb{P} is not an F_\sigma-set in the Euclidean real line. This fact is used in Result 7.

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Result 1

Let \mathcal{U} be an open cover of \mathbb{M}. We proceed to derive a locally finite open refinement \mathcal{V} of \mathcal{U}. Recall that \tau is the usual topology on \mathbb{R}. Assume that \mathcal{U} consists of open sets in the base \mathcal{B}. Let \mathcal{U}_\tau=\mathcal{U} \cap \tau. Let Y=\cup \mathcal{U}_\tau. Note that Y is a Euclidean open subspace of the real line (hence it is paracompact). Then there is \mathcal{V}_\tau \subset \tau such that \mathcal{V}_\tau is a locally finite open refinement \mathcal{V}_\tau of \mathcal{U}_\tau and such that \mathcal{V}_\tau covers Y (locally finite in the Euclidean sense). Then add to \mathcal{V}_\tau all singleton sets \left\{ x \right\} where x \in \mathbb{M}-Y and let \mathcal{V} denote the resulting open collection.

The resulting \mathcal{V} is a locally finite open collection in the Michael line \mathbb{M}. Furthermore, \mathcal{V} is also a refinement of the original open cover \mathcal{U}. \blacksquare

A similar argument shows that \mathbb{M} is hereditarily paracompact.

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Result 2

To see that \mathbb{M} is not Lindelof, observe that there exist Euclidean uncountable closed sets consisting entirely of irrational numbers (i.e. points in \mathbb{P}). For example, it is possible to construct a Cantor set entirely within \mathbb{P}.

Let C be an uncountable Euclidean closed set consisting entirely of irrational numbers. Then this set C is an uncountable closed and discrete set in \mathbb{M}. In any Lindelof space, there exists no uncountable closed and discrete subset. Thus the Michael line \mathbb{M} cannot be Lindelof. \blacksquare

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Result 3

The argument in Result 2 indicates a more general result. First, a brief discussion of the cardinal function extent. The extent of a space X is the smallest infinite cardinal number \mathcal{K} such that every closed and discrete set in X has cardinality \le \mathcal{K}. The extent of the space X is denoted by e(X). When the cardinal number e(X) is e(X)=\aleph_0 (the first infinite cardinal number), the space X is said to have countable extent, meaning that in this space any closed and discrete set must be countably infinite or finite. When e(X)>\aleph_0, there are uncountable closed and discrete subsets in the space.

It is straightforward to see that if a space X is Lindelof, the extent is e(X)=\aleph_0. However, the converse is not true.

The argument in Result 2 exhibits a closed and discrete subset of \mathbb{M} of cardinality c. Thus we have e(\mathbb{M})=c. \blacksquare

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Result 4

The Michael line \mathbb{M} is not locally compact at all rational numbers. Observe that the Michael line closure of any Euclidean open interval is not compact in \mathbb{M}. \blacksquare

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Result 5

A set is said to be a G_\delta-set if it is the intersection of countably many open sets. A space is perfectly normal if it is a normal space with the additional property that every closed set is a G_\delta-set. In the Michael line \mathbb{M}, the set \mathbb{Q} of rational numbers is a closed set. Yet, \mathbb{Q} is not a G_\delta-set in the Michael line (see the discussion above on the Baire category theorem). Thus \mathbb{M} is not perfectly normal and hence not a metrizable space. \blacksquare

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Result 6

The diagonal of a space X is the subset of its square X \times X that is defined by \Delta=\left\{(x,x): x \in X \right\}. If the space is Hausdorff, the diagonal is always a closed set in the square. If \Delta is a G_\delta-set in X \times X, the space X is said to have a G_\delta-diagonal. It is well known that any metric space has G_\delta-diagonal. Since \mathbb{M} is submetrizable (submetrized by the usual topology of the real line), it has a G_\delta-diagonal too.

Any Moore space has a G_\delta-diagonal. However, the Michael line is an example of a space with G_\delta-diagonal but is not a Moore space. Paracompact Moore spaces are metrizable. Thus \mathbb{M} is not a Moore space. For a more detailed discussion about Moore spaces, see Sorgenfrey Line is not a Moore Space. \blacksquare

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Result 7

We now show that \mathbb{M} \times \mathbb{P} is not normal where \mathbb{P} has the usual topology. In this proof, the following two facts are crucial:

  • The set \mathbb{P} is not an F_\sigma-set in the real line.
  • The set \mathbb{P} is dense in the real line.

Let H and K be defined by the following:

    H=\left\{(x,x): x \in \mathbb{P} \right\}
    K=\mathbb{Q} \times \mathbb{P}.

The sets H and K are disjoint closed sets in \mathbb{M} \times \mathbb{P}. We show that they cannot be separated by disjoint open sets. To this end, let H \subset U and K \subset V where U and V are open sets in \mathbb{M} \times \mathbb{P}.

To make the notation easier, for the remainder of the proof of Result 7, by an open interval (a,b), we mean the set of all real numbers t with a<t<b. By (a,b)^*, we mean (a,b) \cap \mathbb{P}. For each x \in \mathbb{P}, choose an open interval U_x=(a,b)^* such that \left\{x \right\} \times U_x \subset U. We also assume that x is the midpoint of the open interval U_x. For each positive integer k, let P_k be defined by:

    P_k=\left\{x \in \mathbb{P}: \text{ length of } U_x > \frac{1}{k} \right\}

Note that \mathbb{P}=\bigcup \limits_{k=1}^\infty P_k. For each k, let T_k=\overline{P_k} (Euclidean closure in the real line). It is clear that \bigcup \limits_{k=1}^\infty P_k \subset \bigcup \limits_{k=1}^\infty T_k. On the other hand, \bigcup \limits_{k=1}^\infty T_k \not\subset \bigcup \limits_{k=1}^\infty P_k=\mathbb{P} (otherwise \mathbb{P} would be an F_\sigma-set in the real line). So there exists T_n=\overline{P_n} such that \overline{P_n} \not\subset \mathbb{P}. So choose a rational number r such that r \in \overline{P_n}.

Choose a positive integer j such that \frac{2}{j}<\frac{1}{n}. Since \mathbb{P} is dense in the real line, choose y \in \mathbb{P} such that r-\frac{1}{j}<y<r+\frac{1}{j}. Now we have (r,y) \in K \subset V. Choose another integer m such that \frac{1}{m}<\frac{1}{j} and (r-\frac{1}{m},r+\frac{1}{m}) \times (y-\frac{1}{m},y+\frac{1}{m})^* \subset V.

Since r \in \overline{P_n}, choose x \in \mathbb{P} such that r-\frac{1}{m}<x<r+\frac{1}{m}. Now it is clear that (x,y) \in V. The following inequalities show that (x,y) \in U.

    \lvert x-y \lvert \le \lvert x-r \lvert + \lvert r-y \lvert < \frac{1}{m}+\frac{1}{j} \le \frac{2}{j} < \frac{1}{n}

The open interval U_x is chosen to have length > \frac{1}{n}. Since \lvert x-y \lvert < \frac{1}{n}, y \in U_x. Thus (x,y) \in \left\{ x \right\} \times U_x \subset U. We have shown that U \cap V \ne \varnothing. Thus \mathbb{M} \times \mathbb{P} is not normal. \blacksquare

Remark
As indicated above, the proof of Result 7 hinges on two facts about \mathbb{P}, namely that it is not an F_\sigma-set in the real line and it is dense in the real line. We can modify the construction of the Michael line by using other partition of the real line (where one set is isolated and its complement retains the usual topology). As long as the set D that is isolated is not an F_\sigma-set in the real line and is dense in the real line, the same proof will show that the product of the modified Michael line and the space D (with the usual topology) is not normal. This will be how Result 12 is derived.

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Result 8

The product \mathbb{M} \times \mathbb{P} is not paracompact since it is not normal. However, \mathbb{M} \times \mathbb{P} is metacompact.

A collection of subsets of a space X is said to be point-finite if every point of X belongs to only finitely many sets in the collection. A space X is said to be metacompact if each open cover of X has an open refinement that is a point-finite collection.

Note that \mathbb{M} \times \mathbb{P}=(\mathbb{P} \times \mathbb{P}) \cup (\mathbb{Q} \times \mathbb{P}). The first \mathbb{P} in \mathbb{P} \times \mathbb{P} is discrete (a subspace of the Michael line) and the second \mathbb{P} has the Euclidean topology.

Let \mathcal{U} be an open cover of \mathbb{M} \times \mathbb{P}. For each a=(x,y) \in \mathbb{Q} \times \mathbb{P}, choose U_a \in \mathcal{U} such that a \in U_a. We can assume that U_a=A \times B where A is a usual open interval in \mathbb{R} and B is a usual open interval in \mathbb{P}. Let \mathcal{G}=\lbrace{U_a:a \in \mathbb{Q} \times \mathbb{P}}\rbrace.

Fix x \in \mathbb{P}. For each b=(x,y) \in \lbrace{x}\rbrace \times \mathbb{P}, choose some U_b \in \mathcal{U} such that b \in U_b. We can assume that U_b=\lbrace{x}\rbrace \times B where B is a usual open interval in \mathbb{P}. Let \mathcal{H}_x=\lbrace{U_b:b \in \lbrace{x}\rbrace \times \mathbb{P}}\rbrace.

As a subspace of the Euclidean plane, \bigcup \mathcal{G} is metacompact. So there is a point-finite open refinement \mathcal{W} of \mathcal{G}. For each x \in \mathbb{P}, \mathcal{H}_x has a point-finite open refinement \mathcal{I}_x. Let \mathcal{V} be the union of \mathcal{W} and all the \mathcal{I}_x where x \in \mathbb{P}. Then \mathcal{V} is a point-finite open refinement of \mathcal{U}.

Note that the point-finite open refinement \mathcal{V} may not be locally finite. The vertical open intervals in \lbrace{x}\rbrace \times \mathbb{P}, x \in \mathbb{P} can “converge” to a point in \mathbb{Q} \times \mathbb{P}. Thus, metacompactness is the best we can hope for. \blacksquare

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Result 9

A collection of sets is said to be point-countable if every point in the space belongs to at most countably many sets in the collection. A base \mathcal{G} for a space X is said to be a point-countable base if \mathcal{G}, in addition to being a base for the space X, is also a point-countable collection of sets. The Michael line is an example of a space that has a point-countable base and that is not metrizable. The following is a point-countable base for \mathbb{M}:

    \mathcal{G}=\mathcal{H} \cup \left\{\left\{ x \right\}: x \in \mathbb{P}\right\}

where \mathcal{H} is the set of all Euclidean open intervals with rational endpoints. One reason for the interest in point-countable base is that any countable compact space (hence any compact space) with a point-countable base is metrizable (see Metrization Theorems for Compact Spaces).

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Reference

  1. Engelking, R., General Topology, Revised and Completed edition, Heldermann Verlag, Berlin, 1989.
  2. Willard, S., General Topology, Addison-Wesley Publishing Company, 1970.

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\copyright \ \ 2012

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3 thoughts on “Michael Line Basics

  1. Pingback: The product of a normal countably compact space and a metric space is normal | Dan Ma's Topology Blog

  2. Pingback: The product of a perfectly normal space and a metric space is perfectly normal | Dan Ma's Topology Blog

  3. Pingback: The product of locally compact paracompact spaces | Dan Ma's Topology Blog

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