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Simply connected space is a geometrical object.

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In topology, a geometrical object or space is called simply connected if it is path-connected and every path between two points can be continuously transformed into every other. Informally, an object is simply connected if it consists of one piece and doesn't have any "holes" that pass all the way through it. For example, neither a doughnut nor a coffee cup (with handle) is simply connected, but a hollow rubber ball is simply connected. In two dimensions, a circle is not simply connected, but a disk and a line are. Spaces that are connected but not simply connected are called non-simply connected or, in a somewhat old-fashioned term, multiply connected.

space simply connected.
space is called simply connected if it is path-connected and every path between two points.

Informally, suppose we are considering an object in three dimensions. Think of the object as a strangely shaped Aquarium full of water, with rigid sides. Now think of a diver who takes a long piece of string and trails it through the water inside the aquarium, in whatever way he pleases, and then joins the two ends of the string to form a closed loop. Now the loop begins to contract on itself, getting smaller and smaller. (Assume that the loop magically knows the best way to contract, and won't get snagged on jagged edges if it can possibly avoid them.) If the loop can always shrink all the way to a point, then the aquarium's interior is simply connected. If sometimes the loop gets caught - for example, around the central hole in the doughnut - then the object is not simply connected.

Notice that the definition only rules out "handle-shaped" holes. A sphere (or, equivalently, a rubber ball with a hollow center) is simply connected, because any loop on the surface of a sphere can contract to a point, even though it has a "hole" in the hollow center. The stronger condition, that the object have no holes of any dimension, is called contractibility.

Formal definition and equivalent formulations

A topological space X is called simply connected if it is path-connected and any continuous map f : S1 ? X (where S1 denotes the unit circle in Euclidean 2-space) can be contracted to a point in the following sense: there exists a continuous map F : D2 ? X (where D2 denotes the unit disk in Euclidean 2-space) such that F restricted to S1 is f.

An equivalent formulation is this: X is simply connected if and only if it is path-connected, and whenever p : [0,1] ? X and q : [0,1] ? X are two paths (i.e.: continuous maps) with the same start and endpoint (p(0) = q(0) and p(1) = q(1)), then p and q are homotopic relative {0,1}. Intuitively, this means that p can be "continuously deformed" to get q while keeping the endpoints fixed. Hence the term simply connected: for any two given points in X, there is one and "essentially" only one path connecting them.

A third way to express the same: X is simply connected if and only if X is path-connected and the fundamental group of X is trivial, i.e. consists only of the identity element.

Yet another formulation is often used in complex analysis: an open subset X of C is simply connected if and only if both X and its complement in the Riemann sphere are connected.

Examples of simply connected space.

  • The Euclidean plane R2 is simply connected, but R2 minus the origin (0,0) is not. If n > 2, then both Rn and Rn minus the origin are simply connected.
  • Analogously: the n-dimensional sphere Sn is simply connected if and only if n = 2.
  • A torus, the (elliptic) cylinder, the Möbius strip and the Klein bottle are not simply connected.
  • Every topological vector space is simply connected; this includes Banach spaces and Hilbert spaces.
  • The special orthogonal group SO(n,R) is not simply connected for n = 2; the special unitary group SU(n) is simply connected.
  • The long line L is simply connected, but its compactification, the extended long line L* is not (since it is not even path connected).

Properties of simply connected space.

A surface (two-dimensional topological manifold) is simply connected if and only if it is connected and its genus is 0. Intuitively, the genus is the number of "handles" of the surface.

If a space X is not simply connected, one can often rectify this defect by using its universal cover, a simply connected space which maps to X in a particularly nice way.

If X and Y are homotopy equivalent and X is simply connected, then so is Y.

Note that the image of a simply connected set under a continuous function need not to be simply connected. Take for example the complex plane under the exponential map, the image is C - {0}, which clearly is not simply connected.

The notion of simply connectedness is important in complex analysis because of the following facts:

  • If U is a simply connected open subset of the complex plane C, and f : U ? C is a holomorphic function, then f has an antiderivative F on U, and the value of every line integral in U with integrand f depends only on the end points u and v of the path, and can be computed as F(v) - F(u). The integral thus does not depend on the particular path connecting u and v.
  • The Riemann mapping theorem states that any non-empty open simply connected subset of C (except for C itself) can be conformally and bijectively mapped to the unit disk.

References to simply connected space.

  • Spanier, Edwin (December 1994). Algebraic Topology. Springer. ISBN 0-38-794426-5.
  • Conway, John (1986). Functions of One Complex Variable I. Springer. ISBN 0-38-790328-3.
  • Bourbaki, Nicolas (2005). Lie Groups and Lie Algebras. Springer. ISBN 3-54-043405-4.
  • Gamelin, Theodore (January 2001). Complex Analysis. Springer. ISBN 0-38-795069-9.
  • Joshi, Kapli (August 1983). Introduction to General Topology. New Age Publishers. ISBN 0-85-226444-5.

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