Mon, Jul 23, 2018

This is the webpage for MAST30026: Metric and Hilbert spaces. The subject consists of lectures, a weekly tutorial and office hours. The complete course notes are available below, and the 2018 recordings are on YouTube. There is a public Discord where you can join other people studying the material. Office hours are 10-11:30am and 12-1:30pm on Tuesdays (same Zoom meeting ID as the lectures).

There will be three assignments due at regular intervals during semester amounting to a total of 20%, and a 3-hour written examination in the examination period worth 80%. There are no tutorials in week one.


The ground truth of this subject is to be found in the lecture notes. There are two performances of this ground truth available in the current semester: one via live Zoom lectures (see Canvas for the link) and one via the 2018 YouTube recordings. The mathematical differences between the two are minor, and it is explicitly intended that you will not be disadvantaged if you choose the YouTube videos over live lectures (or vice versa). In fact I expect most of you will choose a mix of the two.

The tutorials:

  • Tutorial 1: Products and disjoint unions (sheet)
  • Tutorial 2: Quotients and saturated sets (sheet)
  • Tutorial 3: The circle as a group (sheet)
  • Tutorial 4: One-point compactification (sheet)
  • Tutorial 5: Spaces of paths (sheet)
  • Tutorial 6: Homotopy (sheet)
  • Tutorial 7: Dual spaces (sheet)
  • Tutorial 8: Higher-order ODEs (sheet)
  • Tutorial 9: Integration (sheet)
  • Tutorial 10: Incomplete function spaces (rough notes)
  • Tutorial 11: Integrable functions live in L2 (rough notes)

Assignment 1 due by 4pm on 1-9:

  • Exercise L6-2 (two circles), L6-3 (Sierpinski), L6-11 (fake interval)
  • Exercise L7-2 (product), L7-4 (romega), L7-7 (quotients)

The solutions are generously provided by Brett Eskrigge.

Assignment 2 due by 4pm on 1-10:

  • Exercise L9-7 (witness)
  • Exercise L11-9 (compact Hausdorff implies normal)
  • Exercise L12-3 (sub-bases), L12-12 (graphs at infinity) [for the notation see Theorem L12-7]
  • Exercise L13-10 (Lipschitz to function spaces)

The solutions are generously provided by Jacob Cumming.

Assignment 3 due by 4pm on 30-10 (last day of semester):

  • Exercise L16-3.5 (A bar is a subalgebra)
  • Exercise L16-14 (Stone-Weierstrass for locally compact spaces)
  • Exercise L17-2 (exp cos theta)
  • Exercise L19-4 (bounded dual)

The solutions are generously provided by Brae Vaughan-Hankinson.


The bulk of the exam will be questions that are either exactly the same as exercises assigned in lectures, or which are very similar. The questions will be at a level of difficulty below the one-star exercises (there will be one part of one question at the level of the easiest one-star problem). To be clear, exercises which appear on the exam may not have appeared on any homework assignment, and may not have solutions provided in the lecture notes. Questions that appear only in tutorials will not appear on the exam. The exam from 2018 is available here with solutions.

The Exam will be Zoom invigilated and will not be open book. You should carefully read the exam advice prepared by the School of Mathematics and Statistics and I recommend watching the video here. Our exam will be a “variable length Gradescope exam”. This means that you will, at the beginning of the exam, be able to access the exam paper as a PDF on Canvas (which you either print or view on a device which is subsequently disconnected from the Internet). You write your solutions on blank pieces of paper, which you then scan and upload at the end of the exam. You should download and practice with a dedicated scanning app such as Camscanner, Scannable or OfficeLens. Do not plan to rely on the phone camera app. There will be announcement of times to practice the upload procedure during the week before the exam. The cover sheet is now available.

In addition to these “exercise style” questions, there will be at least one proof from the lectures that you will be asked to give in the exam. The following results are explicitly excluded:

  • Theorem on p.8 of L5 (Lorentz group)
  • Theorem L8-2 (Bolzano-Weierstrass)
  • Theorem L9-2 (sequentially compact iff. compact)
  • Theorem L11-4 (finite CW-complexes are compact Hausdorff)
  • Theorem L12-4 (adjunction property)
  • Theorem L12-7 (compact-open topology vs. closed graphs)
  • Exercise L14-2 (Bellman equation)
  • Theorem L15-1 (Picard’s theorem)
  • Theorem L16-0 (Weierstrass approximation)
  • Lemma L16-0.5 (Bernstein polynomials)
  • Theorem L16-3 (Stone-Weierstrass)
  • Theorem L18-1 (L^p-norm and Holder inequality)
  • Lemma L19-1 (characterisation of finite dimension)
  • Lemma L20-11 (conspiracy avoidance)

For the exam you may also ignore Exercise L12-7, Lemma L12-6, L12-8.

Lectures 2019

From Lecture 4 you can ignore everything except for Lemma L4-1 and Exercise L4-0. We will skip Lecture 5 entirely. The proof of Theorem L11-4 (finite CW-complexes are Hausdorff) will be skipped. The Bellman equation (part of Lecture 15) will not be covered in lectures. Theorem L12-7 will be skipped. These cuts are to make time for material on operators on Hilbert space and quantum mechanics at the end of semester. The projected schedule is indicated in {-} brackets.

Note that you may need to manually change the quality setting on YouTube to HD in order to be able to read the board.

Extension lectures (not examinable):

  • Lecture 21: Coordinates in Hilbert space (notes | video1 | video2)
  • Lecture 22: Urysohn’s lemma (notes | video)
  • Lecture 23: Examples from quantum mechanics

The lecture notes contain many exercises, some of which have solutions provided at the end of the lecture. For the rest, you may find *solutions provided for assignments from previous semesters (scroll down).

The course contains the following major theorems:

There is no set text, but the following books may be useful:

  • J. R. Munkres “Topology” (for topological spaces)
  • K. Wysocki, H. Rubinstein “Metric and topological spaces
  • N. Bourbaki, “General topology” Chapters 1-4 (topological groups)
  • T. Tao “Analysis” Vol. II (for metric spaces, integrals)
  • W. Cheney “Analysis for applied mathematics” (for Hilbert spaces)
  • W. A. Sutherland “Introduction to metric and topological spaces”
  • E. Hewitt, K. Stromberg, “Real and abstract analysis” (Banach spaces)
  • E. M. Stein, R. Shakarchi “Real analysis” and “Functional analysis” (Hilbert and Banach spaces)

Various references:


For those wanting to read ahead, here are the tutorials from 2019, the tutorials for 2020 will probably be largely similar:

Assignments from 2019

These are the old assignments, which I am leaving online since they should be useful.

Assignment 1 due by 4pm on 27-8:

  • Exercise L6-7 (germs)
  • Exercise L6-8, L6-9, L6-10 (Lipschitz equivalence)
  • Exercise L7-1 (bases)
  • Exercise L7-6 (disjoint union topology)

The solutions are generously provided by a student (who prefers to remain anonymous).

Assignment 2 due by 4pm on 26-9:

  • Exercise L7-20 (projective space is CW)
  • Exercise L10-3 (projective space is compact)
  • Exercise L12-2 (products of continuous maps are continuous), L12-5 (trivial case of compact-open topology), L12-11 (compact-open and inclusions)
  • Exercise L13-2 (compact-open and quotients)

The solutions are generously provided by a student.

Assignment 3 due by 4pm on 25-10:

  • Exercise L14-1 (implicit function theorem), L14-2 (fixed points vary continuously)
  • Exercise L16-6 (second-countability)
  • Exercise L17-7 (finite-dimensional implies finite)
  • Exercise L18-7 (convergence but not pointwise)
  • Exercise L18-12 (completion commutes with products)

The solutions are generously provided by a student.

Assignments from 2018

These are the old assignments, which I am leaving online since they should be useful.

Assignment 1 due by 4pm on 17-8:

  • Exercise L2-3 (by hand proof of arc length metric)
  • Exercise L3-3 (relations in the isometry group of S^1), L3-4 (rotations, translations, reflections), L3-5 (orientations)
  • Exercise L4-0 (d-1 and d-infinity metrics), L4-4 (isometries from similar matrices)

The solutions are generously provided by a student (who prefers to remain anonymous).

Assignment 2 due by 4pm on 7-9:

  • Exercise L5-7 (hyperbolic angles and Lorentz boosts)
  • Exercise L6-3 (Sierpinski is not metrisable)
  • Exercise L7-2 (the product topology), L7-10 (circle as a pushout), L7-12 (homeomorphism warmup), L7-19 (spheres are quotients of disks)
  • Exercise L8-5 (unbounded functions exist if they can)
  • Exercise L9-5 (closed in compact implies compact)

The solutions are again, generously provided by a student.

Assignment 3 due by 4pm on 5-10:

  • Exercise L11-8 (metrisable spaces are normal), L11-11 (closed diagonal vs Hausdorff)
  • Exercise L12-1 (graphs and continuity), L12-6 (rotating loops), L12-10 (homotopy), L12-13 (adjunction property)
  • Exercise L13-3 (continuity of metric), L13-8 (metric products and completeness)

The solutions are generously provided by a student. For an alternative solution of L12-13 using the adjunction property, see the end of the lecture notes.

Tutorials from 2018:

  • Tutorial 1: Permutations and orientations (sheet | solutions)
  • Tutorial 2: Sylvester’s law of inertia (sheet | solutions)
  • Tutorial 3: Products, disjoint unions and Lipschitz (sheet)
  • Tutorial 4: Topological groups (sheet)
  • Tutorial 5: Constructing the real numbers (sheet) (Note: Q4, Q6 are optional).
  • Tutorial 6: Towards Fourier theory (sheet) (Note: Q4 is optional).
  • Tutorial 7: Duality and adjoints (sheet | solutions)
  • Tutorial 8: Integration (sheet | solutions)
  • Tutorial 9: Around Stone-Weierstrass (sheet)
  • Tutorial 10: Zorn’s lemma and vector spaces (sheet)
  • Tutorial 11: Examples of vectors in L^2 spaces


The focus of the class will be on important examples of spaces and proving theorems, but this material is widely used outside of pure mathematics and I want to do justice to that fact. To that end, in the last lecture of the first week I asked you all to write down your areas of interest. As I fill in the material of the course, I’ll try to keep a running list here of topics (that we have either covered already, or that we plan to cover in future lectures) relevant to each of the areas of interest that you’ve elected:

Unfortunately I do not know any specific applications in biology or chemistry, although there is obviously plenty of quantum mechanics in chemistry and applied math in biology (please let me know if you know more domain-specific applications). You might also find spaces of programs interesting, although this is outside the scope of this course.

Index of topics covered

The following topics appear in the lecture notes. Those topics in the lecture notes or exercises but not discussed out loud during lectures are given in italics:

  • Lecture 1: SO(2) acting on R2
  • Lecture 2: metric space, arc length metric on S1
  • Lecture 3: isometries, classification of isometries of S1, orientation
  • Lecture 4: Rn as metric space, metrics from positive-definite matrices, Cauchy-Schwartz inequality (baby version)
  • Lecture 5: postulates of special relativity, derivation of Lorentz group, Minkowski space
  • Lecture 6: topological spaces, continuous maps, Sierpinski space, topology associated to a metric, abstract continuity matches with epsilon-delta continuity
  • Lecture 7: bases, product spaces, quotient spaces, disjoint unions, homeomorphisms, pushouts, torus, Mobius strip, graphs as topological spaces, finite CW complexes, projective space
  • Lecture 8: closed and bounded sets, Bolzano-Weierstrass theorem, sequences and convergence in metric spaces, continuity as preservation of limits, sequential compactness in metric spaces
  • Lecture 9: cover compactness, sequential compactness equals compactness for metric spaces, extreme value theorem for compact spaces, Cauchy sequences in metric spaces
  • Lecture 10: preservation of compactness under quotients and finite products, Heine-Borel theorem, finite CW complexes are compact
  • Lecture 11: metrisable spaces are Hausdorff, products of Hausdorff spaces are Hausdorff, real line with double point, compact subspaces of Hausdorff spaces are closed, continuous bijections from compact to Hausdorff spaces are homeomorphisms, finite CW complexes are Hausdorff, normal and regular spaces
  • Lecture 12: function space as configuration space, compact-open topology, evaluation and composition are continuous, path space, loop space, space of graphs
  • Lecture 13: for X compact and Y metrisable the compact-open topology on Cts(X,Y) is metrisable, closure, interior, density, pointwise and uniform convergence, continuity of uniform limits of continuous functions, complete metric spaces, completeness of Cts(X,Y) for X compact and Y a complete metric space, distance from a point to a set in a metric space, continuity of the metric.
  • Lecture 14: Banach fixed point theorem, contraction mappings, Bellman equation in reinforcement learning.
  • Lecture 15: Picard’s theorem on existence and uniqueness of solutions to ordinary differential equations
  • Lecture 16: Weierstrass approximation theorem, continuous functions on compact spaces are uniformly continuous, Stone-Weierstrass theorem, algebras of functions, topological algebras, Bernstein polynomials, trigonometric polynomials are dense, separable spaces, one-point compactification.
  • Lecture 17: integrals as positive linear functionals (called here integral pairs), topological vector spaces, products, disjoint unions and quotients of integral pairs, Fubini’s theorem via Stone-Weierstrass.
  • Lecture 18: normed spaces, L^p norm, Holder inequality, non-completeness of R-valued functions with the L^p norm, Banach spaces, completion of a metric space, completion of a normed space to a Banach space, definition of the L^p Banach space.
  • Lecture 19: finite-dimensionality of vector spaces characterised by the isomorphism with the double dual, continuous linear duals of topological vector spaces and normed spaces, bounded operators between normed spaces, bounded and linear equals continuous and linear, duality for L^p-spaces (statement only) and the self-duality of L^2-spaces.
  • Lecture 20: inner product spaces, Cauchy-Schwartz inequality, inner product spaces are normed spaces, Hilbert spaces, conjugate vector spaces, orthogonal complement of a subset, decomposition of Hilbert space by a closed vector subspace, Riesz representation theorem, L^2 spaces are Hilbert spaces, self-duality of L^2-spaces, constructing vectors in L^2-spaces from integrable functions.
  • Lecture 21: complex exponentials give an orthonormal (dense) basis for L^2 of the circle, Bessel’s inequality, equivalent conditions for an orthonormal system to be a dense basis, complete description of the function space of the circle via Fourier coefficients, and more generally for any integral pair embedded in Euclidean space.

And in the tutorials:

  • Tutorial 3: Lipschitz equivalence
  • Tutorial 4: Topological abelian groups
  • Tutorial 5: Real numbers as Cauchy sequences
  • Tutorial 6: Cyclic groups, Q/Z and R/Z, direct limits
  • Tutorial 7: Dual of a linear transformation, adjoints
  • Tutorial 8: Riemann integrals, compactly supported functions

The later tutorials were primarily extracts from lectures. I have written up some brief notes about my experience with video recording these lectures.