Derived set

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The collection $M'$ of all limit points of a set $M$ in a topological space (cf. Limit point of a set). A set $M$ that is contained in its derived set is called dense-in-itself; if in addition $M$ is closed, it is termed a perfect set.


This process can be iterated.

In general one defines, for an ordinal number $\alpha$, the $\alpha$-th derived set of $X$, $X^{(\alpha)}$, as follows: $X^{(0)} = X$, $X^{(\alpha+1)}$ is the derived set of $X^{(\alpha)}$, and if $\lambda$ is a limit ordinal then $X^{(\lambda)} = \bigcap_{\alpha < \lambda} X^{(\alpha)}$.

One then shows that there is a first ordinal number $\alpha = \alpha_X$ such that $X^{(\alpha+1)} = X^{(\alpha)}$. If $X^{(\alpha)} = \emptyset$, then $X$ is called scattered; if $X^{(\alpha)} \neq \emptyset$, then $X^{(\alpha)}$ is called the perfect kernel of $X$.

In this way one can prove the Cantor–Bendixson theorem: If $X$ is a subspace of the real line, then $X = C \cup P$, with $C$ a countable set, $P$ a perfect set and $C \cap P = \emptyset$.

For this reason $\alpha_X$ is sometimes called the Cantor–Bendixson height of $X$.

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Derived set. Encyclopedia of Mathematics. URL:
This article was adapted from an original article by M.I. Voitsekhovskii (originator), which appeared in Encyclopedia of Mathematics - ISBN 1402006098. See original article