# Product topology

In topology and related areas of mathematics, a product space is the Cartesian product of a family of topological spaces equipped with a natural topology called the product topology. This topology differs from another, perhaps more obvious, topology called the box topology, which can also be given to a product space and which agrees with the product topology when the product is over only finitely many spaces. However, the product topology is "correct" in that it makes the product space a categorical product of its factors, whereas the box topology is too fine; in that sense the product topology is the natural topology on the Cartesian product.

Several additional examples are given in the article on the initial topology.

Tychonoff's theorem, which is equivalent to the axiom of choice, states any product of compact spaces is a compact space. A specialization of Tychonoff's theorem that requires only the ultrafilter lemma (and not the full strength of the axiom of choice) states that any product of compact Hausdorff spaces is a compact space.

One of many ways to express the axiom of choice is to say that it is equivalent to the statement that the Cartesian product of a collection of non-empty sets is non-empty.[3] The proof that this is equivalent to the statement of the axiom in terms of choice functions is immediate: one needs only to pick an element from each set to find a representative in the product. Conversely, a representative of the product is a set which contains exactly one element from each component.

The axiom of choice occurs again in the study of (topological) product spaces; for example, Tychonoff's theorem on compact sets is a more complex and subtle example of a statement that requires the axiom of choice and is equivalent to it in its most general formulation,[4] and shows why the product topology may be considered the more useful topology to put on a Cartesian product.