Metric space aimed at its subspace

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In mathematics, a metric space aimed at its subspace is a categorical construction that has a direct geometric meaning. It is also a useful step toward the construction of the metric envelope, or tight span, which are basic (injective) objects of the category of metric spaces.

Following Template:Harv, a notion of a metric space Y aimed at its subspace X is defined.

Informally, imagine terrain Y, and its part X, such that wherever in Y you place a sharpshooter, and an apple at another place in Y, and then let the sharpshooter fire, the bullet will go through the apple and will always hit a point of X, or at least it will fly arbitrarily close to points of X – then we say that Y is aimed at X.

A priori, it may seem plausible that for a given X the superspaces Y that aim at X can be arbitrarily large or at least huge. We will see that this is not the case. Among the spaces, which aim at a subspace isometric to X there is a unique (up to isometry) universal one, Aim(X), which in a sense of canonical isometric embeddings contains any other space aimed at (an isometric image of) X. And in the special case of an arbitrary compact metric space X every bounded subspace of an arbitrary metric space Y aimed at X is totally bounded (i.e. its metric completion is compact).


Let be a metric space. Let be a subset of , so that (the set with the metric from restricted to ) is a metric subspace of . Then

Definition.  Space aims at if and only if, for all points of , and for every real , there exists a point of such that

Let be the space of all real valued metric maps (non-contractive) of . Define


for every is a metric on . Furthermore, , where , is an isometric embedding of into ; this is essentially a generalisation of the Kuratowski-Wojdysławski embedding of bounded metric spaces into , where we here consider arbitrary metric spaces (bounded or unbounded). It is clear that the space is aimed at .


Let be an isometric embedding. Then there exists a natural metric map such that :

for every and .

Theorem The space Y above is aimed at subspace X if and only if the natural mapping is an isometric embedding.

Thus it follows that every space aimed at X can be isometrically mapped into Aim(X), with some additional (essential) categorical requirements satisfied.

The space Aim(X) is injective (hyperconvex in the sense of Aronszajn-Panitchpakdi) – given a metric space M, which contains Aim(X) as a metric subspace, there is a canonical (and explicit) metric retraction of M onto Aim(X) Template:Harv.


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