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In the part of mathematics referred to as topology, a surface is a two-dimensional manifold. Some surfaces arise as the boundaries of three-dimensional solids; for example, the sphere is the boundary of the solid ball. Other surfaces arise as graphs of functions of two variables; see the figure at right. However, surfaces can also be defined abstractly, without reference to any ambient space. For example, the Klein bottle is a surface that cannot be embedded in three-dimensional Euclidean space.

An open surface with x-, y-, and z-contours shown.

Topological surfaces are sometimes equipped with additional information, such as a Riemannian metric or a complex structure, that connects them to other disciplines within mathematics, such as differential geometry and complex analysis. The various mathematical notions of surface can be used to model surfaces in the physical world.

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