cover image


Generalized sphere of dimension n (mathematics) / From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

In mathematics, an n-sphere or a hypersphere is a topological space that is homeomorphic to a standard n-sphere, which is the set of points in (n + 1)-dimensional Euclidean space that are situated at a constant distance r from a fixed point, called the center. It is the generalization of an ordinary sphere in the ordinary three-dimensional space. The "radius" of a sphere is the constant distance of its points to the center. When the sphere has unit radius, it is usual to call it the unit n-sphere or simply the n-sphere for brevity. In terms of the standard norm, the n-sphere is defined as

2-sphere wireframe as an orthogonal projection
Just as a stereographic projection can project a sphere's surface to a plane, it can also project a 3-sphere into 3-space. This image shows three coordinate directions projected to 3-space: parallels (red), meridians (blue) and hypermeridians (green). Due to the conformal property of the stereographic projection, the curves intersect each other orthogonally (in the yellow points) as in 4D. All of the curves are circles: the curves that intersect 0,0,0,1 have an infinite radius (= straight line).

and an n-sphere of radius r can be defined as

The dimension of n-sphere is n, and must not be confused with the dimension (n + 1) of the Euclidean space in which it is naturally embedded. An n-sphere is the surface or boundary of an (n + 1)-dimensional ball.

In particular:

  • the pair of points at the ends of a (one-dimensional) line segment is a 0-sphere,
  • a circle, which is the one-dimensional circumference of a (two-dimensional) disk, is a 1-sphere,
  • the two-dimensional surface of a three-dimensional ball is a 2-sphere, often simply called a sphere,
  • the three-dimensional boundary of a (four-dimensional) 4-ball is a 3-sphere,
  • the (n – 1)-dimensional boundary of a (n-dimensional) n-ball is an (n – 1)-sphere.

For n ≥ 2, the n-spheres that are differential manifolds can be characterized (up to a diffeomorphism) as the simply connected n-dimensional manifolds of constant, positive curvature. The n-spheres admit several other topological descriptions: for example, they can be constructed by gluing two n-dimensional Euclidean spaces together, by identifying the boundary of an n-cube with a point, or (inductively) by forming the suspension of an (n − 1)-sphere. The 1-sphere is the 1-manifold that is a circle, which is not simply connected. The 0-sphere is the 0-manifold, which is not even connected, consisting of two points.