Neighbourhood (mathematics)

In topology and related areas of mathematics, a neighbourhood (or neighborhood) is one of the basic concepts in a topological space. It is closely related to the concepts of open set and interior. Intuitively speaking, a neighbourhood of a point is a set of points containing that point where one can move some amount in any direction away from that point without leaving the set.

A closed rectangle does not have a neighbourhood on any of its corners or its boundary.

A set that is a neighbourhood of each of its points is open since it can be expressed as the union of open sets containing each of its points. A rectangle, as illustrated in the figure, is not a neighbourhood of all its points; points on the edges or corners of the rectangle are not contained in any open set that is contained within the rectangle.

The collection of all neighbourhoods of a point is called the neighbourhood system at the point.

The set M is a neighbourhood of the number a, because there is an ε-neighbourhood of a which is a subset of M.

The above definition is useful if the notion of open set is already defined. There is an alternative way to define a topology, by first defining the neighbourhood system, and then open sets as those sets containing a neighbourhood of each of their points.

One can show that both definitions are compatible, i.e. the topology obtained from the neighbourhood system defined using open sets is the original one, and vice versa when starting out from a neighbourhood system.