# Structure of Measurable Sets

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1 Structure of Measurable Sets In these notes we discuss the structure of Lebesgue measurable subsets of R from several different points of view. Along the way, we will see several alternative characterizations of measurability which might help to make the concept seem more intuitive. We begin by discussing the measures of open sets. First, recall the following definition. Definition: Open Set A subset U R is said to be open if there exists a collection C of open intervals whose union is U. Note that R is itself open, being the union of the intervals (n 1, n + 1) for n Z. The empty set is also open, being the union of the empty collection of intervals. The following proposition highlights the important role that open sets play in analysis. Proposition 1 Continuity Using Open Sets Let f : R R. Then f is continuous if and only if f 1 (U) is open for every open set U R. PROOF Suppose first that f 1 (U) is open for every open set U R. Let x R, and let ɛ > 0. Then U = ( f(x) ɛ, f(x) + ɛ ) is open, so f 1 (U) is open. Since x f 1 (U), there must be an open interval that contains x and is contained in f 1 (U). Indeed, there must exist a δ > 0 so that (x δ, x + δ) f 1 (U). Then y x < δ f(x) f(y) < ɛ for all y R, which proves that f is continuous at x.

2 Structure of Measurable Sets 2 For the converse, suppose that f is continuous. Let U R be any open set, and let x f 1 (U). Since U is open, there is an open interval containing f(x) that is contained in U. In particular, there exists an ɛ > 0 so that ( f(x) ɛ, f(x) + ɛ ) U. But since f is continuous at x, there exists a δ > 0 so that x y < δ f(x) f(y) < ɛ for all y R. It follows that f(y) ( f(x) ɛ, f(x) + ɛ ) for all y (x δ, x + δ). Then (x δ, x + δ) f 1 (U), which proves that f 1 (U) is open. A priori, there is no reason to think that every open set must be measurable, since by the definition an open set might involve an uncountable union of open intervals. However, the following structure theorem shows that every open set is a countable union of open intervals. Theorem 2 Structure of Open Sets Every proper open subset of R is a countable, disjoint union of open intervals and open rays. PROOF Let U be a proper open subset of R. Put an equivalence relation on U by x y if U contains every point between x and y. The equivalence classes under this relation are called the components of U. We claim that each component of U is either an open interval or an open ray. Let C be a component of U, and let a = inf(u) and b = sup(u), with a = if U has no lower bound and b = if U has no upper bound. If x (a, b), then there must exist points c 1, c 2 C so that a < c 1 < x and x < c 2 < b. Since c 1 c 2 and x lies between c 1 and c 2, it follows that x C. This proves that (a, b) C, and we know that C [a, b]. But if b C, then since b U and U is open there exists an open interval (d, e) U that contains b. Then it is easy to see that all of (a, b) (d, e) must lie in C, a contradiction since e > b. Thus b / C, and similar reasoning shows that a / C, so C = (a, b). Clearly C R since U is a proper subset of R, so C is either an open interval or an open ray. Finally, observe that each component of U must contain at least one rational number, and therefore U has only countably many components. Thus U is the countable, disjoint union of its components.

3 Structure of Measurable Sets 3 Corollary 3 Every open subset of R is Lebesgue measurable. Based on the structure of open sets described in Theorem 2, the measure m(u) of an open set U can be interpreted as simply the sum of the lengths of the components of U. Note, however, that an open set may have infinitely many components, and these may form a fairly complicated structure on the real line. Indeed, the following example illustrates that open sets can behave in very counterintuitive ways. Proposition 4 Small Open Sets Containing Q For every ɛ > 0, there exists an open set U R such that m(u) ɛ and U contains the set Q of rational numbers. PROOF Let ɛ > 0, let q 1, q 2,... be an enumeration of the rational numbers, and let U = ( q n ɛ 2, q n+1 n + ɛ ). 2 n+1 n N Then U is open, and m(u) (( m q n ɛ 2, q n+1 n + ɛ )) 2 n+1 n N = n N ɛ = ɛ. 2n Closed Sets Recall the following definition. Definition: Closed Set A subset F R is closed if, for every convergent sequence {x n } of points in F, the point x R that {x n } converges to also lies in F. That is, a closed set is a set that it closed under the operation of taking limits of sequences. For example, any closed interval [a, b] is closed, since any convergent sequence in [a, b] must converge to a point in [a, b]. The entire real line R is also closed, and technically the empty set is closed as well, since the condition is vacuously satisfied.

4 Structure of Measurable Sets 4 The following description of closed sets is fundamental. Proposition 5 Complements of Closed Sets Let F R. Then F is closed if and only if F c is open. PROOF Suppose first that F is not closed. Then there exists a sequence {x n } of points in F that converges to a point x F c. Then every open interval (a, b) that contains x must contain a point of the sequence, and therefore no open interval (a, b) that contains x is contained in F c. It follows that F c is not open. Conversely, suppose that F c is not open. Then there must exist a point x F c that does not lie an any open interval contained in F c. In particular, each of the open intervals (x 1/n, x + 1/n) must contain a point x n F. Then the sequence {x n } n N in F converges to the point x F c, so F is not closed. Corollary 6 Every closed subset of R is Lebesgue measurable. We now turn to unions and intersections of open and closed sets. Students of point-set topology will recognize parts (1) and (2) of the following proposition as essentially the definition of a topological space. Proposition 7 Unions and Intersections of Open and Closed Sets 1. The union of any collection of open sets in R is open. 2. The intersection of finitely many open sets in R is open. 3. The intersection of any collection of closed sets in R is closed. 4. The union of finitely many closed sets in R is closed. PROOF For (1), let C be a collection of open sets. For each U C, let I U be a collection of open intervals whose union is U. Then I = U C I U is a collection of open intervals whose union is C, and therefore C is open.

5 Structure of Measurable Sets 5 For (2), it suffices to prove that U V is open if U and V are open. Given such a U and V, let I and J be collections of open intervals whose unions are U and V respectively. Then {I J I I, J J, and I J } is a collection of open intervals whose union is U V, and therefore U V is open. Parts (3) and (4) follow immediately from parts (1) and (2) by taking complements. Though every open set in R is a disjoint union of countably many open intervals, it is not true that every closed set is a disjoint union of closed intervals. Indeed, there exists a very famous closed set called the Cantor set whose structure is much more interesting. To construct the Cantor set, we start with the unit interval: C 0 = [0, 1]. Next we remove the middle third of this interval, leaving a union of two closed intervals: [ C 1 = 0, 1 ] [ 2 ] 3 3, 1. Next we remove the middle third of each of these intervals, leaving a union of four closed intervals: [ C 2 = 0, 1 ] [ 2 9 9, 1 ] [ 2 3 3, 7 ] [ 8 ] 9 9, 1. Proceeding in this fashion, we obtain a nested sequence C 0 C 1 C 2 of closed sets, where C n is the union of 2 n closed intervals, as illustrated in Figure 1. Then the intersection C = n N C n is the aforementioned Cantor set. Figure 1: The first six stages in the construction of the Cantor set.

6 Structure of Measurable Sets 6 Proposition 8 Properties of the Cantor Set The Cantor set C has the following properties: 1. C is closed. 2. C is uncountable. Indeed, C = R. 3. m(c) = 0. PROOF Since C is the intersection of the closed sets C n, it follows from Proposition 7 that C is closed. Furthermore, since C n is the disjoint union of 2 n closed intervals of length 3 n, we know that m(c n ) = 2 n 3 n = (2/3) n, and it follows that m(c) = inf n N m(c n) = inf n N (2/3)n = 0. Finally, to show that C is uncountable, let {0, 1} be the (uncountable) set of all infinite binary sequences, and define a function f : {0, 1} R by f(b 1, b 2, b 3,...) = n N 2b n 3 n. It is easy to check that f is injective and the image of f lies in the Cantor set (in fact, f is a bijection from {0, 1} to C), and therefore C is uncountable. Indeed, we have R = {0, 1} C R and hence C = R. Corollary 9 Let M be the collection of all Lebesgue measurable subsets of R. Then M = P(R). PROOF Clearly M P(R). But since the Cantor set C has Lebesgue measure zero, every subset of the Cantor set is Lebesgue measurable, i.e. P(C) M. But since C = R, it follows that P(C) = P(R), and hence P(R) M. Incidentally, there is some sense in which the structure of the Cantor set is fairly typical for closed sets. In particular, Theorem 2 tells us that any open set can be

7 Structure of Measurable Sets 7 described as the union of a nested sequence U 1 U 2 U 3 where each U n is a finite disjoint union of open intervals and open rays. Taking complements, we find that any closed set can be described as the intersection of a nested sequence F 1 F 2 F 3 where each F n is a finite disjoint union of closed intervals and closed rays. Open Sets and Measurability We are now ready to use open sets and closed sets to give a few alternative descriptions of Lebesgue outer measure and Lebesgue measurability. We begin by describing the Lebesgue outer measure in terms of open sets. Proposition 10 Open Sets and Outer Measure If S R, then m (S) = inf{m(u) U is open and S U}. PROOF Let x be the value of the infimum. Clearly m (S) m(u) for every open set U that contains S, and therefore m (S) x. For the opposite inequality, let ɛ > 0, and let C be a cover of S by open intervals so that l(i) m (S) + ɛ. I C Then U = C is an open set that contains S, so x m(u) I C m(i) = I C l(i) m (S) + ɛ. Since ɛ was arbitrary, it follows that x m (S). We shall now use open sets to give a nice characterization of measurability.

8 Structure of Measurable Sets 8 Proposition 11 Measurability Using Open Sets Let S R. Then S is Lebesgue measurable if and only if for every ɛ > 0 there exists an open set U containing S so that m (U S) < ɛ. PROOF Suppose first that S is measurable, and let ɛ > 0. For each n N, let S n = S [ n, n], and let U n be an open set containing S n so that m(u n ) < m(s n ) + ɛ 2 n. Let U = n N U n. Then U is an open set containing S and U S n N (U n S n ), so m(u S) m(u n S n ) ɛ 2 = ɛ. n n N n N For the converse, let S R, and suppose that for every n N there exists an open set U n containing S so that m (U n S) < 1/n. Let E = n N U n, and note that E is a measurable set containing S. But E S U n S for each n, so m (E S) m (U n S) 1 n for each n. We conclude that m (E S) = 0, and therefore E S is Lebesgue measurable. Then S = E (E S) is Lebesgue measurable as well. Corollary 12 Measurability Using Closed Sets Let S R. Then S is Lebesgue measurable if and only if for every ɛ > 0 there exists a closed set F S containing S so that m (S F ) < ɛ. PROOF Observe that F is a closed set contained in S if and only if U = F c is an open set containing S c. Moreover, S F = U S c, so m (S F ) < ɛ if and only if m (U S c ) < ɛ, and hence this statement follows directly from applying the previous proposition to S c. Combining this corollary with the previous proposition yields the following nice result.

9 Structure of Measurable Sets 9 Corollary 13 Let S R. Then S is Lebesgue measurable if and only if there exists a closed set F and an open set U so that F S U and m(u F ) < ɛ. Incidentally, there is another function similar to Lebesgue outer measure that is more closely related to closed sets. Definition: Inner Measure If S R, the Lebesgue inner measure of S is defined by m (S) = sup{m(f ) F is closed and F S}. It follows immediately from Corollary 12 that m (E) = m(e) for any measurable set E. It is also apparent that m (S) m (S) for any set S R. The following proposition gives a nice characterization of measurability for sets of finite measure. Proposition 14 Measurability Using Inner and Outer Measures Let S R, and suppose that m (S) <. Then S is measurable if and only if m (S) = m (S). PROOF If S is measurable, then m (S) = m(s) = m (S). Conversely, suppose that m (S) < and m (S) = m (S). Let ɛ > 0, and let F S be a closed set and U R and open set containing S so that Then m (S) m(f ) + ɛ 2 m(u F ) = m(u) m(f ) and m(u) m (S) + ɛ 2. ( m (S) + ɛ ) ( m (S) ɛ ) 2 2 = ɛ. Since ɛ was arbitrary, it follows from Corollary 13 that S is measurable.

10 Structure of Measurable Sets 10 F σ and G δ Sets As we have seen, every open or closed subset of R is Lebesgue measurable. following definition provides many more examples of measurable sets. The Definition: F σ and G δ Sets 1. A subset of R is F σ if it is a countable union of closed sets. 2. A subset of R is G δ if it is a countable intersection of open sets. Here F stands for fermé, which is French for closed, and σ stands for somme, which is the French word for a union of sets. Similarly, G stands for Gebiet, which is the German word for an open set, and δ stands for Durchschnitt, which is the German word for an intersection of sets. The following proposition lists some of the basic properties of F σ or G δ sets. The proofs are left to the exercises. Proposition 15 Properties of F σ and G δ Sets 1. An F σ or G δ set is measurable. 2. If S R, then S has type F σ if and only if S c has type G δ. 3. Every countable set is F σ. In particular, the set Q of rational numbers is F σ, and the set R Q of irrational numbers is G δ. 4. Every open or closed set is both F σ and G δ. The rational numbers provide an example of an F σ set that is neither open nor closed. Incidentally, it is possible to prove that the rational numbers are not a G δ set using the Baire category theorem (see 48 of Munkres Topology). Of course, most F σ sets are not countable. The following example describes an uncountable F σ set that is neither open nor closed, whose structure is more typical for sets of this type. EXAMPLE 1 Let C [0, 1] be the Cantor set. Note that any closed interval [a, b] contains a scaled copy of C whose left endpoint is a and whose right endpoint is B. We now define a sequence F 0 F 1 F 2 of sets as follows: We start with F 0 = C.

11 Structure of Measurable Sets 11 Let F 1 be the set obtained from C by pasting a scaled copy of C into each interval of [0, 1] C. For each n 2, let F n be the set obtained from F n 1 by pasting a scaled copy of C into each interval of [0, 1] F n 1. Note that each F n is a closed set, since the complement Fn c is a union of open intervals. The union F = n N F n is thus an F σ set. It is not hard to see that neither F nor F c contains any open intervals, so F is neither open nor closed. Note also that each F n has measure zero, and therefore F has measure zero. This set F has a nice description in ternary (base 3). First, observe that the Cantor set C consists of all points x [0, 1] that have a ternary expansion consisting only of 0 s and 2 s, with no 1 s. Then for each n, the set F n consists of all points x [0, 1] that have a ternary expansion with at most n digits that are 1. For example, the number = lies in F 4 but not F 3. Then the F σ set F consists of all points x [0, 1] that have a ternary expansion with at most finitely many 1 s. We can reinterpret some of our criteria for measurability involving open and closed sets in terms of F σ and G δ sets. Proposition 16 Measurability Using F σ and G δ Sets Let E R. Then the following are equivalent: 1. E is Lebesgue measurable. 2. E = F Z for some F σ set F and some set Z R of measure zero. 3. E = G Z for some G δ set G and some set Z G of measure zero. PROOF Clearly (2) and (3) both imply (1). For the converse, suppose that E is Lebesgue measurable. For every n N, let F n be a closed set and U n be an open set so that F n E U n and m(u n F n ) 1/n. Then F = n N F n is an F σ set and G = n N U n is a G δ set such that F E G. Moreover, since G F G n F n for all n, we know that m(g F ) = 0. Then E = F (E F ) = G (G E), where m(e F ) = m(g E) = 0.

12 Structure of Measurable Sets 12 Borel Sets If X is a set, recall that a σ-algebra on X is any nonempty collection of subsets of X that is closed under taking complements and countable unions. For example, the Lebesgue measurable subsets of R form a σ-algebra on R. Proposition 17 Intersection of σ-algebras Let X be a set, and let C be any collection of σ-algebras on X. Then the intersection C is also a σ-algebra on X. PROOF Since M for every M C, it follows that C. Next, if S C, then S M for every M C. Then S c M for every M C, and hence S c C. Finally, if {S n } is a sequence in C, then each M C must contain the entire sequence {S n }. It follows that n N S n M for each M C, and hence n N S n C. You have probably seen propositions similar to this one in other fields of mathematics. For example, a similar fact from group theory is that the intersection of any collection of subgroups of a group G is again a subgroup of G. Similarly, in topology the intersection of any collection of topologies on a set X is again a topology on X. Definition: Generators for a σ-algebra Let X be a set, and let C be any collection of subsets of X. The σ-algebra generated by C is the intersection of all σ-algebras on X that contain C. It is important for this definition that there is always at least one σ-algebra that contains C, namely the collection P(X) of all subsets of X. EXAMPLE 2 Let X be a set, and let C be the collection of singleton sets in X, i.e. C = { {x} x X }. Then it is not hard to check that the σ-algebra generated by C consists of all sets S X for which either S or S c is countable. Definition: Borel Sets The Borel algebra B is the σ-algebra on R generated by the collection of all open sets. A set B R is called a Borel set if B B.

13 Structure of Measurable Sets 13 By definition every open set is a Borel set. Moreover, since the Borel sets are a σ-algebra, the complement of any Borel set is a Borel set, and any countable union of Borel sets is a Borel set. Proposition 18 Properties of Borel Sets 1. Every Borel set is measurable. 2. Every open set, closed set, F σ set, or G δ set is a Borel set. 3. The Borel algebra is generated by the collection of all open intervals. PROOF For (1), observe that the collection M of all Lebesgue measurable sets is a σ-algebra that contains the open sets. Since B is the intersection of all such σ-algebras, it follows that B M. For (2), every open set lies in B by definition. Since B is a σ-algebra, it follows immediately that closed sets, F σ sets, and G δ sets lie in B as well. For (3), let A be the σ-algebra generated by the open intervals. Since B contains the open intervals, we know that A B. But since every open set is a countable union of open intervals, A contains every open set, and hence B A. As we will see, open sets, closed sets, F σ sets, and G δ sets are among the simplest of the Borel sets. In the rest of this section, we describe the overall structure of the Borel algebra. We will not prove any of the theorems below, and indeed any of the proofs would be beyond the scope of this course. Definition: Finite Borel Hierarchy The finite Borel hierarchy consists of two sequences {Σ n } and {Π n } of subsets of B defined as follows: Σ 1 is the collection of all open sets in R, and Π 1 is the collection of all closed sets in R. For each n 1, the collection Σ n+1 consists of all countable unions of sets from Π n, and the collection Π n+1 consists of all countable intersections of sets from Σ n. For example, Σ 2 is the collection of all F σ sets, and Π 2 is the collection of all G δ sets. Similarly, Σ 3 is the collection of all countable unions of G δ sets, and Π 3 is the collection of all countable intersections of F σ sets. Thus every set in Σ 3 can be written

14 Structure of Measurable Sets 14 as m N n N U m,n for some open sets U m,n and every set in Π 3 can be written as m N n N F m,n for some closed sets F m,n. As mentioned in the previous section, every open or closed set is both F σ and G δ. Thus we have Σ 1 Σ 2, Σ 1 Π 2, Π 1 Σ 2, and Π 1 Π 2. Moreover, all four of these inclusions are proper. In particular, Q is in both Σ 2 Σ 1 and Σ 2 Π 1, and R Q is in both Π 2 Σ 1 and Π 2 Π 1. The following theorem generalizes all of this. Theorem 19 Properties of Σ n and Π n For each n N, the following statements hold. 1. For all S R, we have S Σ n if and only if S c Π n. 2. We have Σ n Σ n+1, Σ n Π n+1, Π n Σ n+1, and Π n Π n+1. Moreover, all four of these inclusions are proper. If B R is a Borel set, the Borel rank of B is the minimum n such that B lies in Σ n Π n. Thus sets that are open or closed have Borel rank 1, sets that are F σ or G δ have Borel rank 2, and so forth. Amazingly, it is not true that every Borel set has finite rank. For example if {S n } is a sequence of Borel sets such that each S n is contained in (n, n+1) and has rank n, then the union S = S 1 S 2 S 3 cannot have any finite rank. Such a set S is said to have rank ω, and the collection of all such sets is known as Σ ω. The complement of any set in Σ ω is also said to have rank ω, and the collection of all such sets is known as Π ω. The Borel hierarchy continues even beyond ω. For example, Σ ω+1 consists of all countable unions of sets from Π ω, and Π ω+1 consists of all countable intersections of

15 Structure of Measurable Sets 15 sets from Σ ω. Indeed, we have a sequence of sets Σ 1 Σ 2 Σ 3 Σ ω Σ ω+1 Σ ω2 Σ 2ω Σ 2ω+1 and similarly for the Π s. The result is that the sets Σ α and Π α can be defined for each countable ordinal α (i.e. for each element of a minimal uncountable well-ordered set S Ω ). The resulting families {Σ α } α SΩ and {Π α } α SΩ constitute the full Borel hierarchy, and the Borel algebra B is the union of these: B = Σ α = Π α. α S Ω α S Ω Incidentally, it is not too hard to prove that each of the sets Σ α and Π α has the same cardinality as R. Since S Ω R, it follows that the full Borel algebra B has cardinality R as well. Theorem 20 Cardinality of the Borel Algebra Let B be the Borel σ-algebra in R. Then B = R. By Corollary 9, the cardinality of the collection of measurable sets is equal to P(R), which is greater than the cardinality of the Borel algebra. This yields the following corollary. Corollary 21 There exists a Lebesgue measurable set that is not a Borel set. Since the Borel algebra is a σ-algebra, we could of course restrict Lebesgue measure to the Borel algebra, yielding a measure m B : B R. However, this measure is not complete, since there exist Borel sets of measure zero (such as the Cantor set) whose subsets are not all Borel. Indeed, by Proposition 16, Lebesgue measure is precisely the completion of the measure m B. Exercises 1. Prove that every nonempty open set has positive measure.

16 Structure of Measurable Sets a) Let S R, and let C be a collection of open sets that covers S. Prove that C has a countable subcollection that covers S. b) A set S R is locally measurable if for every point x S there exists an open set U containing x so that S U is measurable. Prove that every locally measurable set is measurable. 3. A subset of R is totally disconnected if it does not contain any open intervals (e.g. the Cantor set). Give an example of a closed, totally disconnected subset of [0, 1] that has positive measure. 4. a) If S R, prove that m (S) = inf{m(e) E is measurable and S E}. b) If S R, prove that m (S) = sup{m(e) E is measurable and E S}. 5. Let E R be a measurable set with m(e) <, and let S E. Prove that m (S) = m(e) m (E S). 6. If {S n } is a sequence of pairwise disjoint subsets of R, prove that ( ) m S n m (S n ). n N n N 7. Prove that a set S R is F σ if and only if its complement is G δ. 8. Prove that every countable subset of R is F σ. 9. Prove that the intersection of two F σ sets is F σ. 10. Prove that every open set is both F σ and G δ. Deduce that the same holds true for closed sets. 11. Give an example of a set which is both F σ and G δ but is neither open nor closed. 12. Let C be the collection of all uncountable subsets of R. Prove that the σ-algebra generated by C is the power set of R. 13. Prove that the σ-algebra generated by the collection {(a, ) a R} is the Borel sets. 14. Let M be the collection of Lebesgue measurable sets in R. Prove that M is the σ-algebra generated by the open intervals together with all sets of measure zero.

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