# diagonal embedding

Given a topological space  $X$, the diagonal embedding, or diagonal map of $X$ into $X\times X$ (with the product topology) is the map

 $x\lx@stackrel{{\scriptstyle\Delta}}{{\longmapsto}}(x,x).$

$X$ is homeomorphic  to the image of $\Delta$ (which is why we use the word “embedding”).

We could also imagine a diagonal map into an n-fold product given by

 $x\lx@stackrel{{\scriptstyle\Delta_{n}}}{{\longmapsto}}(x,x,\ldots,x).$

## Why call it the diagonal map?

Picture $\mathbb{R}$. Its diagonal embedding into the Cartesian plane $\mathbb{R}\times\mathbb{R}$ is the diagonal line $y=x$.

## What’s it good for?

Sometimes we can use information about the product space $X\times X$ together with the diagonal embedding to get back information about $X$. For instance, $X$ is Hausdorff  if and only if the image of $\Delta$ is closed in $X\times X$ [proof (http://planetmath.org/ASpaceMathnormalXIsHausdorffIfAndOnlyIfDeltaXIsClosed)]. If we know more about the product space than we do about $X$, it might be easier to check if $\operatorname{Im}\Delta$ is closed than to verify the Hausdorff condition directly.

When studying algebraic topology, the fact that we have a diagonal embedding for any space $X$ lets us define a bit of extra structure in cohomology  , called the cup product  . This makes cohomology into a ring, so that we can bring additional algebraic muscle to bear on topological questions.

Another application from algebraic topology: there is something called an $H$-space, which is essentially a topological space in which you can multiply two points together. The diagonal embedding, together with the multiplication, lets us say that the cohomology of an $H$-space is a Hopf algebra  ; this structure lets us find out lots of things about $H$-spaces by analogy to what we know about compact Lie groups.

Title diagonal embedding DiagonalEmbedding 2013-03-22 14:20:41 2013-03-22 14:20:41 waj (4416) waj (4416) 8 waj (4416) Definition msc 54B10 msc 18A05 diagonal map ASpaceMathnormalXIsHausdorffIfAndOnlyIfDeltaXIsClosed