Convergence, Cauchy Sequence, Completeness

The set $\mathbb{Q}$ of rational numbers is not complete (or not a continuum) since it has gaps or holes. For instance, $\sqrt{2}$ is not in $\mathbb{Q}$. On the other hand, the set $\mathbb{R}$ of real numbers has no gaps or holes, so it is complete (or is a continuum). Let $(x_n)$ be a sequence of real numbers. Suppose that $(x_n)$ converges to a real number $x$. Then by the triangle inequality, for any $m,n\in\mathbb{N}$, we have
$$|x_m-x_n|\leq |x_m-x|+|x-x_n|.$$
Hence, $\displaystyle\lim_{m,n\to\infty}|x_m-x_n|=0$, i.e. $(x_n)$ is a Cauchy sequence. Conversely, Georg Cantor introduced the completeness axiom that every Cauchy sequence of real numbers converges and defined a real number as the limit of a Cauchy sequence of rational numbers. For instance, consider the Cauchy sequence $(x_n)$ defined by
$$x_1=1,\ x_{n+1}=\frac{x_n}{2}+\frac{1}{x_n},\ \forall n\geq 2.$$
If $(x_n)$ converges to a number $x$, it would satisfy $x^2=2$ i.e. $(x_n)$ converges to $\sqrt{2}$. There is another way to obtain the completeness of $\mathbb{R}$ by a Dedekind cut, though we are not going to delve into that here.

More generally, one can also consider a complete metric space and that is what we are going to study in this lecture.

Definition. A sequence $(x_n)$ is a metric space $(X,d)$ is said to converge or to be convergent to $x\in X$ if
$x$ is called the limit if $(x_n)$ and we write
$$\lim_{n\to\infty}x_n=x\ \mbox{or}\ x_n\rightarrow x.$$
If $(x_n)$ is not convergent, it is sad to be divergent. We can generalize the definiton of the convergence of a sequence we learned in calculus in terms of a metric as:

Definition. $\displaystyle\lim_{n\to\infty}d(x_n,x)=0$ if and only if given $\epsilon>0$ $\exists$ a positive integer $N$ s.t. $x_n\in B(x,\epsilon)$ $\forall n\geq N$.

A nonempty subset $M\subset X$ is said to be bounded if
$$\delta(M)=\sup_{x,y\in M}d(x,y)<\infty.$$

Lemma. Let $(X,d)$ be a metric space.

(a) A convergent sequence in $X$ is bounded and its limit is unique.

(b) If $x_n\rightarrow x$ and $y_n\rightarrow y$, then $d(x_n,y_n)\rightarrow d(x,y)$.

Proof. (a) Suppose that $x_n\rightarrow x$. Then one can find a positive integer $N$ such that $d(x_n,x)<1$ $\forall n\geq N$. Let $M=2\max\{d(x_1,x),\cdots,d(x_{N-1},x),1\}$. Then for all $m,n\in\mathbb{N}$,
d(x_m,x_n)&\leq d(x_m,x)+d(x,x_n)\ (\mbox{ (M3) triangle inequality)}\\
&\leq M.
This means that $\delta((x_n))\leq M<\infty$ i.e. $(x_n)$ is bounded.

Suppose that $x_n\rightarrow x$ and $x_n\rightarrow y$. Then
0\leq d(x,y)&\leq d(x,x_n)+d(x_ny)\\
&\rightarrow 0
as $n\to\infty$. So, $d(x,y)=0\Rightarrow x=y$ by (M1).

(b) By (M3),
$$d(x_n,y_n)\leq d(x_n,x)+d(x,y)+d(y,y_n)$$
and so we obtain
$$d(x_n,y_n)-d(x,y)\leq d(x_n,x)+d(y,y_n).$$
Similarly, we also obtain the inequality
$$d(x,y)-d(x_n,y_n)\leq d(x,x_n)+d(y_n,y).$$
$$0\leq |d(x_n,y_n)-d(x,y)|\leq d(x_n,x)+d(y_n,y)\rightarrow 0$$
as $n\to\infty$.

Definition. A sequence $(x_n)\subset (X,d)$ is said to be Cauchy if given $\epsilon>0$ $\exists$ a positive integer $N$ such that
$$d(x_m,x_n)<\epsilon\ \forall m,n\geq N.$$
The space $X$ is said to be complete if every Cauchy sequence in $X$ converges.

Examples. The real line $\mathbb{R}$ and the complex plane $\mathbb{C}$ are complete.

Theorem. Every convergent sequence is Cauchy.

Proof. Suppose that $x_n\rightarrow x$. Then given $\epsilon>0$ $\exists$ a poksitive integer $N$ s.t. $d(x_n,x)<\frac{\epsilon}{2}$ for all $n\geq N$. Now, $\forall m,n\geq N$
$$d(x_m,x_n)\leq d(x_m,x)+d(x,x_n)<\frac{\epsilon}{2}+\frac{\epsilon}{2}=\epsilon.$$
Therefore, $(x_n)$ is Cauchy.

Theorem. Let $M$ be a nonempty subset of a metric space $(X,d)$. Then

(a) $x\in\bar M\Longleftrightarrow \exists$ a seqence $(x_n)\subset M$ such that $x_n\rightarrow x$.

(b) $M$ is closed $\Longleftrightarrow$ given a sequence $(x_n)\subset M$, $x_n\rightarrow x$ implies $x\in M$.

Proof. (a) ($\Longrightarrow$) Since $x\in\bar M$, $\forall n\in\mathbb{N}$ $\exists x_n\in B\left(x,\frac{1}{n}\right)\cap M\ne\emptyset$. Let $\epsilon>0$ be given. Then by the Archimedean property, $\exists$ a positive integer $N$ s.t. $N\geq\frac{1}{\epsilon}$. Now,
$$n\geq N\Longrightarrow d(x_n,x)<\frac{1}{n}\leq\frac{1}{N}<\epsilon.$$

($\Longleftarrow$) Suppose that $\exists$ a sequence $(x_n)\subset M$ s.t. $x_n\rightarrow x$. Then given $\epsilon>0$ $\exists$ a positive integer $N$ s.t. $x_n\in B(x,\epsilon)$ $\forall n\geq N$. This means that $\forall\epsilon>0$, $B(x,\epsilon)\cap M\ne\emptyset$. So, $x\in\bar M$.

(b) ($\Longrightarrow$) Clear

($\Longleftarrow$) It suffices to show that $\bar M\subset M$. Let $x\in\bar M$. Then $\exists$ a sequence $(x_n)\subset M$ such that $x_n\rightarrow x$. By assumption, $x\in M$.
Theorem. A subspace $M$ of a complete metric space $X$ itself is complete if and only if $M$ is closed in $X$.

Proof. ($\Longrightarrow$) Let $M\subset X$ be complete. Let $(x_n)$ be a sequence in $M$ such that $x_n\rightarrow x$. Then $(x_n)$ is Cauchy. Since $M$ is complete, every Cauchy sequence must converge and hence $x\in M$. This means that $M$ is closed.

($\Longleftarrow$) Suppose that $M\subset X$ is closed. Let $(x_n)$ be a Cauchy sequence in $M\subset X$. Since $X$ is complete, $\exists x\in X$ such that $x_n\rightarrow x$. Since $M$ is closed, $x\in M$. Therefore, $M$ is complete.

Example. In $\mathbb{R}$ with Euclidean metric, the closed intervals $[a,b]$ are complete. $\mathbb{Z}$, the set of integers is also complete by the above theorem since it is closed in $\mathbb{R}$. One can directly see why $\mathbb{Z}$ is complete without quoting the theorem though. Let $(x_n)$ be a Cauchy sequence in $\mathbb{Z}$. Then we see that there exists a positive integer $N$ such that $x_N=x_{N+1}=x_{N+2}=\cdots$. Hence any Cauchy sequence in $\mathbb{Z}$ is a convergent sequence in $\mathbb{Z}$. Therefore, $\mathbb{Z}$ is complete.

Theorem. A mapping $T: X\longrightarrow Y$ is continuous at $x_0\in X$ if and only if $x_n\rightarrow x$ implies $Tx_n\rightarrow Tx_0$.

Proof. ($\Longrightarrow$) Suppose that $T$ is continuous and $x_n\rightarrow x$ in $X$. Let $\epsilon>0$ be given. Then $\exists\delta>0$ s.t. whenever $d(x,x_0)<\delta$, $d(Tx,Tx_0)<\epsilon$. Since $x_n\rightarrow x$, $\exists$ a positive integer $N$ s.t. $d(x_n,x_0)<\delta$ $\forall n\geq N$. So, $\forall n\geq N$, $d(Tx_n,Tx_0)<\epsilon$. Hence, $Tx_n\rightarrow Tx_0$.

($\Longleftarrow$) Suppose that $T$ is not continuous. Then $\exists\epsilon>0$ s.t. $\forall\delta>0$, $\exists x\ne x_0$ satisfying $d(x,x_0)<\delta$ but $d(Tx,tx_0)\geq\epsilon$. So, $\forall n=1,2,\cdots$, $\exists x_n\ne x_0$ satisfying $d(x_n,x_0)<\frac{1}{n}$ but $d(Tx_n,Tx_0)\geq\epsilon$. This means that $x_n\rightarrow x_0$ but $Tx_n\not\rightarrow Tx_0$.

4 thoughts on “Convergence, Cauchy Sequence, Completeness

  1. John

    Hi lee,

    I am getting confused in this step,

    By (M3),

    and so we obtain


    Why does the d(y,yn) change to d(yn,y)?
    This is what the books shows for this section.



    1. John Lee Post author

      By symmetry, $d(y,y_n)=d(y_n,y)$ so it wouldn’t really matter. But looking at the notes I posted, I did not swapped them. Maybe you are referring to the next line? If so, it didn’t come from the inequality $d(x_n,y_n)\leq d(x_n,x)+d(x,y)+d(y,y_n)$ and I didn’t say it did. For that by applying (M3) we also have
      $$d(x,y)\leq d(x,x_n)+d(x_n,y_n)+d(y_n,y).$$ The inequality in the second line comes from this inequality.

  2. lee Post author


    I am glad to hear that you found this site useful. An easy way to download lecture notes for reading off-line is printing to a (pdf) file.

  3. Lusungu Julius

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    I have been trying to download the lecture notes without success, so I was wondering if there is any way forward for easy access to this lecture notes. Thanks in advance for your support.


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