# Open set

## Basic subset of a topological space / From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

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In mathematics, an **open set** is a generalization of an open interval in the real line.

In a metric space (a set along with a distance defined between any two points), an open set is a set that, along with every point P, contains all points that are sufficiently near to P (that is, all points whose distance to P is less than some value depending on P).

More generally, an open set is a member of a given collection of subsets of a given set, a collection that has the property of containing every union of its members, every finite intersection of its members, the empty set, and the whole set itself. A set in which such a collection is given is called a topological space, and the collection is called a topology. These conditions are very loose, and allow enormous flexibility in the choice of open sets. For example, *every* subset can be open (the discrete topology), or *no* subset can be open except the space itself and the empty set (the indiscrete topology).^{[1]}

In practice, however, open sets are usually chosen to provide a notion of nearness that is similar to that of metric spaces, without having a notion of distance defined. In particular, a topology allows defining properties such as continuity, connectedness, and compactness, which were originally defined by means of a distance.

The most common case of a topology without any distance is given by manifolds, which are topological spaces that, *near* each point, resemble an open set of a Euclidean space, but on which no distance is defined in general. Less intuitive topologies are used in other branches of mathematics; for example, the Zariski topology, which is fundamental in algebraic geometry and scheme theory.