Hilbert cube

Not to be confused with Hilbert curve.

In mathematics, the Hilbert cube, named after David Hilbert, is a topological space that provides an instructive example of some ideas in topology. Furthermore, many interesting topological spaces can be embedded in the Hilbert cube; that is, can be viewed as subspaces of the Hilbert cube (see below).


The Hilbert cube is best defined as the topological product of the intervals [0, 1/n] for n = 1, 2, 3, 4, ... That is, it is a cuboid of countably infinite dimension, where the lengths of the edges in each orthogonal direction form the sequence .

The Hilbert cube is homeomorphic to the product of countably infinitely many copies of the unit interval [0, 1]. In other words, it is topologically indistinguishable from the unit cube of countably infinite dimension.

If a point in the Hilbert cube is specified by a sequence with , then a homeomorphism to the infinite dimensional unit cube is given by .

The Hilbert cube as a metric space

It is sometimes convenient to think of the Hilbert cube as a metric space, indeed as a specific subset of a separable Hilbert space (i.e. a Hilbert space with a countably infinite Hilbert basis). For these purposes, it is best not to think of it as a product of copies of [0,1], but instead as

[0,1] × [0,1/2] × [0,1/3] × ···;

as stated above, for topological properties, this makes no difference. That is, an element of the Hilbert cube is an infinite sequence


that satisfies

0 ≤ xn ≤ 1/n.

Any such sequence belongs to the Hilbert space 2, so the Hilbert cube inherits a metric from there. One can show that the topology induced by the metric is the same as the product topology in the above definition.


As a product of compact Hausdorff spaces, the Hilbert cube is itself a compact Hausdorff space as a result of the Tychonoff theorem. The compactness of the Hilbert cube can also be proved without the Axiom of Choice by constructing a continuous function from the usual Cantor set onto the Hilbert cube.

In ℓ2, no point has a compact neighbourhood (thus, ℓ2 is not locally compact). One might expect that all of the compact subsets of ℓ2 are finite-dimensional. The Hilbert cube shows that this is not the case. But the Hilbert cube fails to be a neighbourhood of any point p because its side becomes smaller and smaller in each dimension, so that an open ball around p of any fixed radius e > 0 must go outside the cube in some dimension.

Every subset of the Hilbert cube inherits from the Hilbert cube the properties of being both metrizable (and therefore T4) and second countable. It is more interesting that the converse also holds: Every second countable T4 space is homeomorphic to a subset of the Hilbert cube.

Every Gδ-subset of the Hilbert cube is a Polish space, a topological space homeomorphic to a separable and complete metric space. Conversely, every Polish space is homeomorphic to a Gδ-subset of the Hilbert cube.[1]



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