TheInfoList In
physics Physics is the that studies , its , its and behavior through , and the related entities of and . "Physical science is that department of knowledge which relates to the order of nature, or, in other words, to the regular succession of eve ... and
mathematics Mathematics (from Greek: ) includes the study of such topics as numbers (arithmetic and number theory), formulas and related structures (algebra), shapes and spaces in which they are contained (geometry), and quantities and their changes (cal ...
, the dimension of a
mathematical space In mathematics Mathematics (from Ancient Greek, Greek: ) includes the study of such topics as quantity (number theory), mathematical structure, structure (algebra), space (geometry), and calculus, change (mathematical analysis, analysis). ...
(or object) is informally defined as the minimum number of
coordinates In geometry Geometry (from the grc, γεωμετρία; ''wikt:γῆ, geo-'' "earth", ''wikt:μέτρον, -metron'' "measurement") is, with arithmetic, one of the oldest branches of mathematics. It is concerned with properties of space t ... needed to specify any
point Point or points may refer to: Places * Point, LewisImage:Point Western Isles NASA World Wind.png, Satellite image of Point Point ( gd, An Rubha), also known as the Eye Peninsula, is a peninsula some 11 km long in the Outer Hebrides (or Western I ...
within it. Thus a
line Line, lines, The Line, or LINE may refer to: Arts, entertainment, and media Films * ''Lines'' (film), a 2016 Greek film * ''The Line'' (2017 film) * ''The Line'' (2009 film) * ''The Line'', a 2009 independent film by Nancy Schwartzman Lite ... has a dimension of one (1D) because only one coordinate is needed to specify a point on itfor example, the point at 5 on a number line. A
surface File:Water droplet lying on a damask.jpg, Water droplet lying on a damask. Surface tension is high enough to prevent floating below the textile. A surface, as the term is most generally used, is the outermost or uppermost layer of a physical obje ...
such as a
plane Plane or planes may refer to: * Airplane An airplane or aeroplane (informally plane) is a fixed-wing aircraft A fixed-wing aircraft is a heavier-than-air flying machine Early flying machines include all forms of aircraft studied ...
or the surface of a
cylinder A cylinder (from ) has traditionally been a Solid geometry, three-dimensional solid, one of the most basic of curvilinear geometric shapes. Geometrically, it can be considered as a Prism (geometry), prism with a circle as its base. This traditi ... or
sphere A sphere (from Greek language, Greek —, "globe, ball") is a Geometry, geometrical object that is a solid geometry, three-dimensional analogue to a circle in two-dimensional space. A sphere is the Locus (mathematics), set of points that are ... has a dimension of two (2D) because two coordinates are needed to specify a point on itfor example, both a
latitude In geography Geography (from Greek: , ''geographia'', literally "earth description") is a field of science devoted to the study of the lands, features, inhabitants, and phenomena of the Earth and planets. The first person to use the ... and
longitude Longitude (, ) is a geographic coordinate A geographic coordinate system (GCS) is a coordinate system associated with position (geometry), positions on Earth (geographic position). A GCS can give positions: *as Geodetic coordinates, ... are required to locate a point on the surface of a sphere. The inside of a
cube In geometry Geometry (from the grc, γεωμετρία; ' "earth", ' "measurement") is, with , one of the oldest branches of . It is concerned with properties of space that are related with distance, shape, size, and relative position ... , a cylinder or a sphere is
three-dimensional Three-dimensional space (also: 3-space or, rarely, tri-dimensional space) is a geometric setting in which three values (called parameter A parameter (from the Ancient Greek language, Ancient Greek wikt:παρά#Ancient Greek, παρά, ''par ...
(3D) because three coordinates are needed to locate a point within these spaces. In classical mechanics,
space Space is the boundless extent in which and events have relative and . In , physical space is often conceived in three s, although modern s usually consider it, with , to be part of a boundless known as . The concept of space is considere ... and
time Time is the continued sequence of existence and event (philosophy), events that occurs in an apparently irreversible process, irreversible succession from the past, through the present, into the future. It is a component quantity of various me ... are different categories and refer to
absolute space and time Absolute space and time is a concept in physics Physics (from grc, φυσική (ἐπιστήμη), physikḗ (epistḗmē), knowledge of nature, from ''phýsis'' 'nature'), , is the natural science that studies matter, its Motion (phy ...
. That conception of the world is a
four-dimensional space A four-dimensional space (4D) is a mathematical extension of the concept of three-dimensional or 3D space. Three-dimensional space Three-dimensional space (also: 3-space or, rarely, tri-dimensional space) is a geometric setting in which thre ...
but not the one that was found necessary to describe
electromagnetism Electromagnetism is a branch of physics involving the study of the electromagnetic force, a type of physical interaction that occurs between electric charge, electrically charged particles. The electromagnetic force is carried by electromagnet ... . The four dimensions (4D) of
spacetime In , spacetime is any which fuses the and the one of into a single . can be used to visualize effects, such as why different observers perceive differently where and when events occur. Until the 20th century, it was assumed that the three ...
consist of
events Event may refer to: Gatherings of people * Ceremony, an event of ritual significance, performed on a special occasion * Convention (meeting), a gathering of individuals engaged in some common interest * Event management, the organization of event ...
that are not absolutely defined spatially and temporally, but rather are known relative to the motion of an
observer An observer is one who engages in observation or in watching an experiment. Observer may also refer to: Computer science and information theory * In information theory Information theory is the scientific study of the quantification, storage ...
.
Minkowski space In mathematical physics, Minkowski space (or Minkowski spacetime) () is a combination of three-dimensional Euclidean space Euclidean space is the fundamental space of classical geometry. Originally it was the three-dimensional space of Euclid ...
first approximates the universe without
gravity Gravity (), or gravitation, is a by which all things with or —including s, s, , and even —are attracted to (or ''gravitate'' toward) one another. , gravity gives to s, and the causes the s of the oceans. The gravitational attracti ... ; the
pseudo-Riemannian manifold In differential geometry Differential geometry is a Mathematics, mathematical discipline that uses the techniques of differential calculus, integral calculus, linear algebra and multilinear algebra to study problems in geometry. The Differenti ...
s of
general relativity General relativity, also known as the general theory of relativity, is the of published by in 1915 and is the current description of gravitation in . General generalizes and refines , providing a unified description of gravity as a geome ...
describe spacetime with matter and gravity. 10 dimensions are used to describe
superstring theory Superstring theory is an attempt to explain all of the particles In the Outline of physical science, physical sciences, a particle (or corpuscule in older texts) is a small wikt:local, localized physical body, object to which can be ascribed ...
(6D
hyperspace Hyperspace is a concept from science fiction File:Imagination 195808.jpg, Space exploration, as predicted in August 1958 in the science fiction magazine ''Imagination (magazine), Imagination.'' Science fiction (sometimes shortened to sci-fi or ...
+ 4D), 11 dimensions can describe
supergravity In theoretical physics, supergravity (supergravity theory; SUGRA for short) is a modern field theory that combines the principles of supersymmetry In particle physics, supersymmetry (SUSY) is a conjectured relationship between two basic c ...
and
M-theory M-theory is a theory in physics Physics is the natural science that studies matter, its Elementary particle, fundamental constituents, its Motion (physics), motion and behavior through Spacetime, space and time, and the related entities ...
(7D hyperspace + 4D), and the state-space of
quantum mechanics Quantum mechanics is a fundamental theory A theory is a reason, rational type of abstraction, abstract thinking about a phenomenon, or the results of such thinking. The process of contemplative and rational thinking is often associated with ...
is an infinite-dimensional
function space In mathematics Mathematics (from Ancient Greek, Greek: ) includes the study of such topics as quantity (number theory), mathematical structure, structure (algebra), space (geometry), and calculus, change (mathematical analysis, analysis). It h ...
. The concept of dimension is not restricted to physical objects. s frequently occur in mathematics and the sciences. They may be
parameter spaceThe parameter space is the Space (mathematics), space of possible parameter values that define a particular mathematical model, often a subset of finite-dimensional Euclidean space. Often the parameters are inputs of a function (mathematics), functio ...
s or configuration spaces such as in Lagrangian or
Hamiltonian mechanics Hamiltonian mechanics is a mathematically sophisticated formulation of classical mechanics. Historically, it contributed to the formulation of statistical mechanics and quantum mechanics. Hamiltonian mechanics was first formulated by William Rowan ...
; these are abstract spaces, independent of the
physical space Space is the boundless three-dimensional extent in which objects and events have relative position and direction. Physical space is often conceived in three linear Linearity is the property of a mathematical relationship ('' function'') t ...
in which we live.

# In mathematics

In mathematics, the dimension of an object is, roughly speaking, the number of
degrees of freedom Degrees of Freedom (often abbreviated df or DOF) refers to the number of independent variables or parameters of a system. In various scientific fields, the word "freedom" is used to describe the limits to which physical movement or other physical ...
of a point that moves on this object. In other words, the dimension is the number of independent
parameter A parameter (), generally, is any characteristic that can help in defining or classifying a particular system A system is a group of Interaction, interacting or interrelated elements that act according to a set of rules to form a unified whol ... s or
coordinates In geometry Geometry (from the grc, γεωμετρία; ''wikt:γῆ, geo-'' "earth", ''wikt:μέτρον, -metron'' "measurement") is, with arithmetic, one of the oldest branches of mathematics. It is concerned with properties of space t ... that are needed for defining the position of a point that is constrained to be on the object. For example, the dimension of a point is zero; the dimension of a
line Line, lines, The Line, or LINE may refer to: Arts, entertainment, and media Films * ''Lines'' (film), a 2016 Greek film * ''The Line'' (2017 film) * ''The Line'' (2009 film) * ''The Line'', a 2009 independent film by Nancy Schwartzman Lite ... is one, as a point can move on a line in only one direction (or its opposite); the dimension of a
plane Plane or planes may refer to: * Airplane An airplane or aeroplane (informally plane) is a fixed-wing aircraft A fixed-wing aircraft is a heavier-than-air flying machine Early flying machines include all forms of aircraft studied ...
is two, etc. The dimension is an intrinsic property of an object, in the sense that it is independent of the dimension of the space in which the object is or can be embedded. For example, a
curve In mathematics, a curve (also called a curved line in older texts) is an object similar to a line (geometry), line, but that does not have to be Linearity, straight. Intuitively, a curve may be thought of as the trace left by a moving point (geo ... , such as a
circle A circle is a shape A shape or figure is the form of an object or its external boundary, outline, or external surface File:Water droplet lying on a damask.jpg, Water droplet lying on a damask. Surface tension is high enough to preven ... , is of dimension one, because the position of a point on a curve is determined by its signed distance along the curve to a fixed point on the curve. This is independent from the fact that a curve cannot be embedded in a
Euclidean space Euclidean space is the fundamental space of classical geometry. Originally, it was the three-dimensional space of Euclidean geometry, but in modern mathematics there are Euclidean spaces of any nonnegative integer dimension (mathematics), dimens ...
of dimension lower than two, unless it is a line. The dimension of Euclidean -space is . When trying to generalize to other types of spaces, one is faced with the question "what makes -dimensional?" One answer is that to cover a fixed
ball A ball is a round object (usually spherical of a sphere A sphere (from Greek language, Greek —, "globe, ball") is a geometrical object in three-dimensional space Three-dimensional space (also: 3-space or, rarely, tri-dimensional s ...
in by small balls of radius , one needs on the order of such small balls. This observation leads to the definition of the
Minkowski dimensionMinkowski, Mińkowski or Minkovski (Slavic feminine: Minkowska, Mińkowska or Minkovskaya; plural: Minkowscy, Mińkowscy; he, מינקובסקי, russian: Минковский) is a surname of Polish origin. It may refer to: * Minkowski or Mińkow ...
and its more sophisticated variant, the
Hausdorff dimension In mathematics, Hausdorff dimension is a measure of ''roughness'', or more specifically, fractal dimension, that was first introduced in 1918 by mathematician Felix Hausdorff. For instance, the Hausdorff dimension of a single point (geometry), ...
, but there are also other answers to that question. For example, the boundary of a ball in looks locally like and this leads to the notion of the
inductive dimension In the mathematical field of topology, the inductive dimension of a topological space ''X'' is either of two values, the small inductive dimension ind(''X'') or the large inductive dimension Ind(''X''). These are based on the observation that, in ' ...
. While these notions agree on , they turn out to be different when one looks at more general spaces. A
tesseract In geometry Geometry (from the grc, γεωμετρία; ''wikt:γῆ, geo-'' "earth", ''wikt:μέτρον, -metron'' "measurement") is, with arithmetic, one of the oldest branches of mathematics. It is concerned with properties of space ... is an example of a four-dimensional object. Whereas outside mathematics the use of the term "dimension" is as in: "A tesseract ''has four dimensions''", mathematicians usually express this as: "The tesseract ''has dimension 4''", or: "The dimension of the tesseract ''is'' 4" or: 4D. Although the notion of higher dimensions goes back to
René Descartes René Descartes ( or ; ; Latinized Latinisation or Latinization can refer to: * Latinisation of names, the practice of rendering a non-Latin name in a Latin style * Latinisation in the Soviet Union, the campaign in the USSR during the 1920s ... , substantial development of a higher-dimensional geometry only began in the 19th century, via the work of
Arthur Cayley Arthur Cayley (; 16 August 1821 – 26 January 1895) was a prolific British mathematician A mathematician is someone who uses an extensive knowledge of mathematics Mathematics (from Ancient Greek, Greek: ) includes the study of such ... ,
William Rowan Hamilton Sir William Rowan Hamilton LL.D, DCL, MRIA (4 August 1805 – 2 September 1865) was an Irish mathematician, Andrews Professor of Astronomy at Trinity College Dublin, Trinity College Dublin, and Dunsink Observatory#Directors, Royal Astronomer ...
,
Ludwig Schläfli and
Bernhard Riemann Georg Friedrich Bernhard Riemann (; 17 September 1826 – 20 July 1866) was a German mathematician A mathematician is someone who uses an extensive knowledge of mathematics Mathematics (from Ancient Greek, Greek: ) includes the study of ...
. Riemann's 1854
Habilitationsschrift Habilitation is a qualification required in order to conduct self-contained university teaching, and to obtain a professorship in many European countries. Despite changes implemented in European higher-education systems consequent to the Bologna P ...
, Schläfli's 1852 ''Theorie der vielfachen Kontinuität'', and Hamilton's discovery of the
quaternion In mathematics Mathematics (from Greek: ) includes the study of such topics as numbers (arithmetic and number theory), formulas and related structures (algebra), shapes and spaces in which they are contained (geometry), and quantities an ... s and John T. Graves' discovery of the
octonion In mathematics Mathematics (from Greek: ) includes the study of such topics as numbers (arithmetic and number theory), formulas and related structures (algebra), shapes and spaces in which they are contained (geometry), and quantities and t ...
s in 1843 marked the beginning of higher-dimensional geometry. The rest of this section examines some of the more important mathematical definitions of dimension.

## Vector spaces

The dimension of a
vector space In mathematics Mathematics (from Ancient Greek, Greek: ) includes the study of such topics as quantity (number theory), mathematical structure, structure (algebra), space (geometry), and calculus, change (mathematical analysis, analysis). ...
is the number of vectors in any
basis Basis may refer to: Finance and accounting *Adjusted basisIn tax accounting, adjusted basis is the net cost of an asset after adjusting for various tax-related items. Adjusted Basis or Adjusted Tax Basis refers to the original cost or other b ...
for the space, i.e. the number of coordinates necessary to specify any vector. This notion of dimension (the
cardinality In mathematics Mathematics (from Ancient Greek, Greek: ) includes the study of such topics as quantity (number theory), mathematical structure, structure (algebra), space (geometry), and calculus, change (mathematical analysis, analysis). It ...
of a basis) is often referred to as the ''Hamel dimension'' or ''algebraic dimension'' to distinguish it from other notions of dimension. For the non-
free Free may refer to: Concept * Freedom, having the ability to act or change without constraint * Emancipate, to procure political rights, as for a disenfranchised group * Free will, control exercised by rational agents over their actions and decis ... case, this generalizes to the notion of the
length of a moduleIn abstract algebra, the length of a module is a generalization of the dimension thumb , 236px , The first four spatial dimensions, represented in a two-dimensional picture. In physics Physics (from grc, φυσική (ἐπισ ...
.

## Manifolds

The uniquely defined dimension of every connected topological
manifold The real projective plane is a two-dimensional manifold that cannot be realized in three dimensions without self-intersection, shown here as Boy's surface. In mathematics Mathematics (from Ancient Greek, Greek: ) includes the study of su ... can be calculated. A connected topological manifold is
locallyIn mathematics, a mathematical object is said to satisfy a property locally, if the property is satisfied on some limited, immediate portions of the object (e.g., on some ''sufficiently small'' or ''arbitrarily small'' neighbourhood (mathematics), ne ...
homeomorphic In the mathematical Mathematics (from Greek Greek may refer to: Greece Anything of, from, or related to Greece Greece ( el, Ελλάδα, , ), officially the Hellenic Republic, is a country located in Southeast Europe. Its populat ...
to Euclidean -space, in which the number is the manifold's dimension. For connected
differentiable manifold In mathematics, a differentiable manifold (also differential manifold) is a type of manifold The real projective plane is a two-dimensional manifold that cannot be realized in three dimensions without self-intersection, shown here as Boy's surfa ...
s, the dimension is also the dimension of the tangent vector space at any point. In
geometric topology In mathematics Mathematics (from Ancient Greek, Greek: ) includes the study of such topics as quantity (number theory), mathematical structure, structure (algebra), space (geometry), and calculus, change (mathematical analysis, analysis). ...
, the theory of manifolds is characterized by the way dimensions 1 and 2 are relatively elementary, the high-dimensional cases are simplified by having extra space in which to "work"; and the cases and are in some senses the most difficult. This state of affairs was highly marked in the various cases of the
Poincaré conjecture In mathematics, the Poincaré conjecture (, , ) is a theorem about the Characterization (mathematics), characterization of the 3-sphere, which is the hypersphere that bounds the unit ball in four-dimensional space. The conjecture states: An eq ...
, in which four different proof methods are applied.

### Complex dimension

The dimension of a manifold depends on the base field with respect to which Euclidean space is defined. While analysis usually assumes a manifold to be over the
real numbers Real may refer to: * Reality, the state of things as they exist, rather than as they may appear or may be thought to be Currencies * Brazilian real (R\$) * Central American Republic real * Mexican real * Portuguese real * Spanish real * Spanish col ... , it is sometimes useful in the study of
complex manifold In differential geometry Differential geometry is a Mathematics, mathematical discipline that uses the techniques of differential calculus, integral calculus, linear algebra and multilinear algebra to study problems in geometry. The Differential ...
s and
algebraic varieties Algebraic varieties are the central objects of study in algebraic geometry Algebraic geometry is a branch of mathematics Mathematics (from Greek: ) includes the study of such topics as numbers ( and ), formulas and related structures ...
to work over the
complex numbers In mathematics Mathematics (from Ancient Greek, Greek: ) includes the study of such topics as quantity (number theory), mathematical structure, structure (algebra), space (geometry), and calculus, change (mathematical analysis, analysis). I ...
instead. A complex number (''x'' + ''iy'') has a
real part In mathematics, a complex number is a number that can be expressed in the form , where and are real numbers, and is a symbol (mathematics), symbol called the imaginary unit, and satisfying the equation . Because no "real" number satisfies this ...
''x'' and an
imaginary part In mathematics, a complex number is a number that can be expressed in the form , where and are real numbers, and is a symbol (mathematics), symbol called the imaginary unit, and satisfying the equation . Because no "real" number satisfies this ...
''y'', in which x and y are both real numbers; hence, the complex dimension is half the real dimension. Conversely, in algebraically unconstrained contexts, a single complex coordinate system may be applied to an object having two real dimensions. For example, an ordinary two-dimensional
spherical surface , when given a complex metric, becomes a
Riemann sphere In mathematics Mathematics (from Ancient Greek, Greek: ) includes the study of such topics as quantity (number theory), mathematical structure, structure (algebra), space (geometry), and calculus, change (mathematical analysis, analysis). It ... of one complex dimension.

## Varieties

The dimension of an
algebraic variety Algebraic varieties are the central objects of study in algebraic geometry Algebraic geometry is a branch of mathematics Mathematics (from Ancient Greek, Greek: ) includes the study of such topics as quantity (number theory), mathematic ...
may be defined in various equivalent ways. The most intuitive way is probably the dimension of the
tangent space In , the tangent space of a generalizes to higher dimensions the notion of tangent planes to surfaces in three dimensions and tangent lines to curves in two dimensions. In the context of physics the tangent space to a manifold at a point can ...
at any
Regular point of an algebraic variety In the mathematical Mathematics (from Greek Greek may refer to: Greece Anything of, from, or related to Greece Greece ( el, Ελλάδα, , ), officially the Hellenic Republic, is a country located in Southeast Europe. Its population i ...
. Another intuitive way is to define the dimension as the number of
hyperplane In geometry Geometry (from the grc, γεωμετρία; ' "earth", ' "measurement") is, with , one of the oldest branches of . It is concerned with properties of space that are related with distance, shape, size, and relative position ...
s that are needed in order to have an intersection with the variety that is reduced to a finite number of points (dimension zero). This definition is based on the fact that the intersection of a variety with a hyperplane reduces the dimension by one unless if the hyperplane contains the variety. An
algebraic set Algebraic may refer to any subject related to algebra Algebra (from ar, الجبر, lit=reunion of broken parts, bonesetting, translit=al-jabr) is one of the areas of mathematics, broad areas of mathematics, together with number theory, geomet ...
being a finite union of algebraic varieties, its dimension is the maximum of the dimensions of its components. It is equal to the maximal length of the chains $V_0\subsetneq V_1\subsetneq \cdots \subsetneq V_d$ of sub-varieties of the given algebraic set (the length of such a chain is the number of "$\subsetneq$"). Each variety can be considered as an
algebraic stack In mathematics, an algebraic stack is a vast generalization of algebraic spaces, or Scheme (mathematics), schemes, which are foundational for studying moduli theory. Many moduli spaces are constructed using techniques specific to algebraic stacks, s ...
, and its dimension as variety agrees with its dimension as stack. There are however many stacks which do not correspond to varieties, and some of these have negative dimension. Specifically, if ''V'' is a variety of dimension ''m'' and ''G'' is an
algebraic group In algebraic geometry, an algebraic group (or group variety) is a Group (mathematics), group that is an algebraic variety, such that the multiplication and inversion operations are given by regular map (algebraic geometry), regular maps on the varie ...
of dimension ''n'' acting on ''V'', then the quotient stack 'V''/''G''has dimension ''m'' − ''n''.

## Krull dimension

The
Krull dimension In commutative algebra, the Krull dimension of a commutative ring ''R'', named after Wolfgang Krull, is the supremum of the lengths of all chains of prime ideals. The Krull dimension need not be finite even for a Noetherian ring. More generally the ...
of a
commutative ring In , a branch of , a commutative ring is a in which the multiplication operation is . The study of commutative rings is called . Complementarily, is the study of s where multiplication is not required to be commutative. Definition and first e ...
is the maximal length of chains of
prime ideal In algebra Algebra (from ar, الجبر, lit=reunion of broken parts, bonesetting, translit=al-jabr) is one of the areas of mathematics, broad areas of mathematics, together with number theory, geometry and mathematical analysis, analysis. ...
s in it, a chain of length ''n'' being a sequence $\mathcal_0\subsetneq \mathcal_1\subsetneq \cdots \subsetneq\mathcal_n$ of prime ideals related by inclusion. It is strongly related to the dimension of an algebraic variety, because of the natural correspondence between sub-varieties and prime ideals of the ring of the polynomials on the variety. For an
algebra over a field In mathematics, an algebra over a field (often simply called an algebra) is a vector space equipped with a bilinear map, bilinear product (mathematics), product. Thus, an algebra is an algebraic structure consisting of a set (mathematics), set to ...
, the dimension as
vector space In mathematics Mathematics (from Ancient Greek, Greek: ) includes the study of such topics as quantity (number theory), mathematical structure, structure (algebra), space (geometry), and calculus, change (mathematical analysis, analysis). ...
is finite if and only if its Krull dimension is 0.

## Topological spaces

For any
normal topological space In topology s, which have only one surface and one edge, are a kind of object studied in topology. In mathematics, topology (from the Greek language, Greek words , and ) is concerned with the properties of a mathematical object, geometric obj ...
, the
Lebesgue covering dimension In mathematics Mathematics (from Ancient Greek, Greek: ) includes the study of such topics as quantity (number theory), mathematical structure, structure (algebra), space (geometry), and calculus, change (mathematical analysis, analysis). It ...
of is defined to be the smallest
integer An integer (from the Latin Latin (, or , ) is a classical language A classical language is a language A language is a structured system of communication Communication (from Latin ''communicare'', meaning "to share" or "to ...
''n'' for which the following holds: any
open cover In mathematics Mathematics (from Ancient Greek, Greek: ) includes the study of such topics as quantity (number theory), mathematical structure, structure (algebra), space (geometry), and calculus, change (mathematical analysis, analysis). It h ...
has an open refinement (a second open cover in which each element is a subset of an element in the first cover) such that no point is included in more than elements. In this case dim . For a manifold, this coincides with the dimension mentioned above. If no such integer exists, then the dimension of is said to be infinite, and one writes dim . Moreover, has dimension −1, i.e. dim if and only if is empty. This definition of covering dimension can be extended from the class of normal spaces to all
Tychonoff space In topology s, which have only one surface and one edge, are a kind of object studied in topology. In mathematics Mathematics (from Ancient Greek, Greek: ) includes the study of such topics as quantity (number theory), mathematical stru ...
s merely by replacing the term "open" in the definition by the term "functionally open". An
inductive dimension In the mathematical field of topology, the inductive dimension of a topological space ''X'' is either of two values, the small inductive dimension ind(''X'') or the large inductive dimension Ind(''X''). These are based on the observation that, in ' ...
may be defined inductively as follows. Consider a
discrete set Discrete in science is the opposite of :wikt:continuous, continuous: something that is separate; distinct; individual. Discrete may refer to: *Discrete particle or quantum in physics, for example in quantum theory *Discrete device, an electronic c ...
of points (such as a finite collection of points) to be 0-dimensional. By dragging a 0-dimensional object in some direction, one obtains a 1-dimensional object. By dragging a 1-dimensional object in a ''new direction'', one obtains a 2-dimensional object. In general one obtains an ()-dimensional object by dragging an -dimensional object in a ''new'' direction. The inductive dimension of a topological space may refer to the ''small inductive dimension'' or the ''large inductive dimension'', and is based on the analogy that, in the case of metric spaces, balls have -dimensional boundaries, permitting an inductive definition based on the dimension of the boundaries of open sets. Moreover, the boundary of a discrete set of points is the empty set, and therefore the empty set can be taken to have dimension -1. Similarly, for the class of CW complexes, the dimension of an object is the largest for which the -skeleton is nontrivial. Intuitively, this can be described as follows: if the original space can be
continuously deformed into a collection of
higher-dimensional triangles joined at their faces with a complicated surface, then the dimension of the object is the dimension of those triangles.

## Hausdorff dimension

The
Hausdorff dimension In mathematics, Hausdorff dimension is a measure of ''roughness'', or more specifically, fractal dimension, that was first introduced in 1918 by mathematician Felix Hausdorff. For instance, the Hausdorff dimension of a single point (geometry), ...
is useful for studying structurally complicated sets, especially
fractal In mathematics Mathematics (from Greek: ) includes the study of such topics as numbers (arithmetic and number theory), formulas and related structures (algebra), shapes and spaces in which they are contained (geometry), and quantities a ... s. The Hausdorff dimension is defined for all
metric space In mathematics Mathematics (from Greek: ) includes the study of such topics as numbers (arithmetic and number theory), formulas and related structures (algebra), shapes and spaces in which they are contained (geometry), and quantities and t ...
s and, unlike the dimensions considered above, can also have non-integer real values.Fractal Dimension
, Boston University Department of Mathematics and Statistics
The box dimension or
Minkowski dimensionMinkowski, Mińkowski or Minkovski (Slavic feminine: Minkowska, Mińkowska or Minkovskaya; plural: Minkowscy, Mińkowscy; he, מינקובסקי, russian: Минковский) is a surname of Polish origin. It may refer to: * Minkowski or Mińkow ...
is a variant of the same idea. In general, there exist more definitions of
fractal dimension In mathematics Mathematics (from Ancient Greek, Greek: ) includes the study of such topics as quantity (number theory), mathematical structure, structure (algebra), space (geometry), and calculus, change (mathematical analysis, analysis). It ... s that work for highly irregular sets and attain non-integer positive real values. Fractals have been found useful to describe many natural objects and phenomena.

## Hilbert spaces

Every
Hilbert space In mathematics Mathematics (from Greek: ) includes the study of such topics as numbers (arithmetic and number theory), formulas and related structures (algebra), shapes and spaces in which they are contained (geometry), and quantities and ...
orthonormal basisIn linear algebra, two vectors in an inner product space are orthonormal if they are orthogonal (or perpendicular along a line) unit vectors. A set of vectors form an orthonormal set if all vectors in the set are mutually orthogonal and all of u ...
, and any two such bases for a particular space have the same
cardinality In mathematics Mathematics (from Ancient Greek, Greek: ) includes the study of such topics as quantity (number theory), mathematical structure, structure (algebra), space (geometry), and calculus, change (mathematical analysis, analysis). It ...
. This cardinality is called the dimension of the Hilbert space. This dimension is finite if and only if the space's
Hamel dimension In mathematics, the dimension of a vector space ''V'' is the cardinality (i.e. the number of vectors) of a basis (linear algebra), basis of ''V'' over its base field (mathematics), field. p. 44, §2.36 It is sometimes called Hamel dimension (after G ...
is finite, and in this case the two dimensions coincide.

# In physics

## Spatial dimensions

Classical physics theories describe three
physical dimension s: from a particular point in
space Space is the boundless extent in which and events have relative and . In , physical space is often conceived in three s, although modern s usually consider it, with , to be part of a boundless known as . The concept of space is considere ... , the basic directions in which we can move are up/down, left/right, and forward/backward. Movement in any other direction can be expressed in terms of just these three. Moving down is the same as moving up a negative distance. Moving diagonally upward and forward is just as the name of the direction implies; ''i.e.'', moving in a
linear combination In mathematics, a linear combination is an Expression (mathematics), expression constructed from a Set (mathematics), set of terms by multiplying each term by a constant and adding the results (e.g. a linear combination of ''x'' and ''y'' would be ...
of up and forward. In its simplest form: a line describes one dimension, a plane describes two dimensions, and a cube describes three dimensions. (See
Space Space is the boundless three-dimensional Three-dimensional space (also: 3-space or, rarely, tri-dimensional space) is a geometric setting in which three values (called parameter A parameter (from the Ancient Greek language, Ancient Gre ... and
Cartesian coordinate system A Cartesian coordinate system (, ) in a plane Plane or planes may refer to: * Airplane An airplane or aeroplane (informally plane) is a fixed-wing aircraft A fixed-wing aircraft is a heavier-than-air flying machine Early fly ...
.)

## Time

A temporal dimension, or time dimension, is a dimension of time. Time is often referred to as the " fourth dimension" for this reason, but that is not to imply that it is a spatial dimension. A temporal dimension is one way to measure physical change. It is perceived differently from the three spatial dimensions in that there is only one of it, and that we cannot move freely in time but subjectively move in one direction. The equations used in physics to model reality do not treat time in the same way that humans commonly perceive it. The equations of classical mechanics are symmetric with respect to time, and equations of quantum mechanics are typically symmetric if both time and other quantities (such as
charge Charge or charged may refer to: Arts, entertainment, and media Films * ''Charge, Zero Emissions/Maximum Speed'', a 2011 documentary Music * Charge (David Ford album), ''Charge'' (David Ford album) * Charge (Machel Montano album), ''Charge'' (Mac ...
and parity) are reversed. In these models, the perception of time flowing in one direction is an artifact of the
laws of thermodynamics The laws of thermodynamics define a group of physical quantities, such as temperature Temperature is a physical quantity that expresses hot and cold. It is the manifestation of thermal energy, present in all matter, which is the source of t ...
(we perceive time as flowing in the direction of increasing
entropy Entropy is a scientific concept as well as a measurable physical property that is most commonly associated with a state of disorder, randomness, or uncertainty. The term and the concept are used in diverse fields, from classical thermodynamic ... ). The best-known treatment of time as a dimension is Poincaré and
Einstein Albert Einstein ( ; ; 14 March 1879 – 18 April 1955) was a German-born theoretical physicist, widely acknowledged to be one of the greatest physicists of all time. Einstein is known for developing the theory of relativity The theory ... 's
special relativity In physics Physics is the natural science that studies matter, its Elementary particle, fundamental constituents, its Motion (physics), motion and behavior through Spacetime, space and time, and the related entities of energy and force ...
(and extended to
general relativity General relativity, also known as the general theory of relativity, is the of published by in 1915 and is the current description of gravitation in . General generalizes and refines , providing a unified description of gravity as a geome ...
), which treats perceived space and time as components of a four-dimensional
manifold The real projective plane is a two-dimensional manifold that cannot be realized in three dimensions without self-intersection, shown here as Boy's surface. In mathematics Mathematics (from Ancient Greek, Greek: ) includes the study of su ... , known as
spacetime In , spacetime is any which fuses the and the one of into a single . can be used to visualize effects, such as why different observers perceive differently where and when events occur. Until the 20th century, it was assumed that the three ...
, and in the special, flat case as
Minkowski space In mathematical physics, Minkowski space (or Minkowski spacetime) () is a combination of three-dimensional Euclidean space Euclidean space is the fundamental space of classical geometry. Originally it was the three-dimensional space of Euclid ...
. Time is different from other spatial dimensions as time operates in all spatial dimensions. Time operates in the first, second and third as well as theoretical spatial dimensions such as a fourth spatial dimension. Time is not however present in a single point of absolute infinite
singularity Singularity or singular point may refer to: Science, technology, and mathematics Mathematics * Mathematical singularity, a point at which a given mathematical object is not defined or not "well-behaved", for example infinite or not differentiabl ...
as defined as a geometric point, as an infinitely small point can have no change and therefore no time. Just as when an object moves through positions in space, it also moves through positions in time. In this sense the
force In physics, a force is an influence that can change the motion (physics), motion of an Physical object, object. A force can cause an object with mass to change its velocity (e.g. moving from a Newton's first law, state of rest), i.e., to acce ... moving any
object Object may refer to: General meanings * Object (philosophy), a thing, being, or concept ** Entity, something that is tangible and within the grasp of the senses ** Object (abstract), an object which does not exist at any particular time or pl ...
to change is ''time''.

In physics, three dimensions of space and one of time is the accepted norm. However, there are theories that attempt to unify the four
fundamental forces In physics Physics (from grc, φυσική (ἐπιστήμη), physikḗ (epistḗmē), knowledge of nature, from ''phýsis'' 'nature'), , is the natural science that studies matter, its Motion (physics), motion and behavior through Sp ...
by introducing
extra dimensionsIn physics Physics (from grc, φυσική (ἐπιστήμη), physikḗ (epistḗmē), knowledge of nature, from ''phýsis'' 'nature'), , is the natural science that studies matter, its Motion (physics), motion and behavior through Spac ...
/
hyperspace Hyperspace is a concept from science fiction File:Imagination 195808.jpg, Space exploration, as predicted in August 1958 in the science fiction magazine ''Imagination (magazine), Imagination.'' Science fiction (sometimes shortened to sci-fi or ...
. Most notably,
superstring theory Superstring theory is an attempt to explain all of the particles In the Outline of physical science, physical sciences, a particle (or corpuscule in older texts) is a small wikt:local, localized physical body, object to which can be ascribed ...
requires 10 spacetime dimensions, and originates from a more fundamental 11-dimensional theory tentatively called
M-theory M-theory is a theory in physics Physics is the natural science that studies matter, its Elementary particle, fundamental constituents, its Motion (physics), motion and behavior through Spacetime, space and time, and the related entities ...
which subsumes five previously distinct superstring theories.
Supergravity theory In theoretical physics, supergravity (supergravity theory; SUGRA for short) is a modern field theory (physics), field theory that combines the principles of supersymmetry and general relativity; this is in contrast to non-gravitational supersymme ...
also promotes 11D spacetime = 7D hyperspace + 4 common dimensions. To date, no direct experimental or observational evidence is available to support the existence of these extra dimensions. If hyperspace exists, it must be hidden from us by some physical mechanism. One well-studied possibility is that the extra dimensions may be "curled up" at such tiny scales as to be effectively invisible to current experiments. Limits on the size and other properties of extra dimensions are set by particle experiments such as those at the
Large Hadron Collider The Large Hadron Collider (LHC) is the world's largest and highest-energy particle collider A collider is a type of particle accelerator , a synchrotron collider type particle accelerator at Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory (Fermilab) ...
. In 1921, Kaluza–Klein theory presented 5D including an extra dimension of space. At the level of
quantum field theory In theoretical physics, quantum field theory (QFT) is a theoretical framework that combines classical field theory, special relativity and quantum mechanics. QFT is used in particle physics to construct physical models of subatomic particles and ...
, Kaluza–Klein theory unifies
gravity Gravity (), or gravitation, is a by which all things with or —including s, s, , and even —are attracted to (or ''gravitate'' toward) one another. , gravity gives to s, and the causes the s of the oceans. The gravitational attracti ... with
gauge Gauge (US: , UK: or ) may refer to: Measurement * Gauge (instrument) A gauge, in science Science (from the Latin word ''scientia'', meaning "knowledge") is a systematic enterprise that Scientific method, builds and Taxonomy (general), o ...
interactions, based on the realization that gravity propagating in small, compact extra dimensions is equivalent to gauge interactions at long distances. In particular when the geometry of the extra dimensions is trivial, it reproduces
electromagnetism Electromagnetism is a branch of physics involving the study of the electromagnetic force, a type of physical interaction that occurs between electric charge, electrically charged particles. The electromagnetic force is carried by electromagnet ... . However at sufficiently high energies or short distances, this setup still suffers from the same pathologies that famously obstruct direct attempts to describe
quantum gravity Quantum gravity (QG) is a field of theoretical physics Theoretical physics is a branch of physics that employs mathematical models and abstractions of physical objects and systems to rationalize, explain and predict List of natural phenomena, ... . Therefore, these models still require a
UV completion In theoretical physics, ultraviolet completion, or UV completion, of a quantum field theory In theoretical physics, quantum field theory (QFT) is a theoretical framework that combines classical field theory, special relativity and quantum mech ...
, of the kind that string theory is intended to provide. In particular, superstring theory requires six compact dimensions (6D hyperspace) forming a Calabi–Yau manifold. Thus Kaluza-Klein theory may be considered either as an incomplete description on its own, or as a subset of string theory model building. In addition to small and curled up extra dimensions, there may be extra dimensions that instead aren't apparent because the matter associated with our visible universe is localized on a subspace. Thus the extra dimensions need not be small and compact but may be large extra dimensions. D-branes are dynamical extended objects of various dimensionalities predicted by string theory that could play this role. They have the property that open string excitations, which are associated with gauge interactions, are confined to the brane by their endpoints, whereas the closed strings that mediate the gravitational interaction are free to propagate into the whole spacetime, or "the bulk". This could be related to why gravity is exponentially weaker than the other forces, as it effectively dilutes itself as it propagates into a higher-dimensional volume. Some aspects of brane physics have been applied to Brane cosmology, cosmology. For example, brane gas cosmology attempts to explain why there are three dimensions of space using topological and thermodynamic considerations. According to this idea it would be since three is the largest number of spatial dimensions in which strings can generically intersect. If initially there are many windings of strings around compact dimensions, space could only expand to macroscopic sizes once these windings are eliminated, which requires oppositely wound strings to find each other and annihilate. But strings can only find each other to annihilate at a meaningful rate in three dimensions, so it follows that only three dimensions of space are allowed to grow large given this kind of initial configuration. Extra dimensions are said to be universal extra dimension, universal if all fields are equally free to propagate within them.

# In computer graphics and spatial data

Several types of digital systems are based on the storage, analysis, and visualization of geometric shapes, including Vector graphics editor, illustration software, Computer-aided design, and Geographic information systems. Different vector systems use a wide variety of data structures to represent shapes, but almost all are fundamentally based on a set of geometric primitives corresponding to the spatial dimensions: * Point (0-dimensional), a single coordinate in a
Cartesian coordinate system A Cartesian coordinate system (, ) in a plane Plane or planes may refer to: * Airplane An airplane or aeroplane (informally plane) is a fixed-wing aircraft A fixed-wing aircraft is a heavier-than-air flying machine Early fly ...
. * Line or Polyline (1-dimensional), usually represented as an ordered list of points sampled from a continuous line, whereupon the software is expected to Interpolation, interpolate the intervening shape of the line as straight or curved line segments. * Polygon (2-dimensional), usually represented as a line that closes at its endpoints, representing the boundary of a two-dimensional region. The software is expected to use this boundary to partition 2-dimensional space into an interior and exterior. * Surface (3-dimensional), represented using a variety of strategies, such as a polyhedron consisting of connected polygon faces. The software is expected to use this surface to partition 3-dimensional space into an interior and exterior. Frequently in these systems, especially GIS and Cartography, a representation of a real-world phenomena may have a different (usually lower) dimension than the phenomenon being represented. For example, a city (a two-dimensional region) may be represented as a point, or a road (a three-dimensional volume of material) may be represented as a line. This ''dimensional generalization'' correlates with tendencies in spatial cognition. For example, asking the distance between two cities presumes a conceptual model of the cities as points, while giving directions involving travel "up," "down," or "along" a road imply a one-dimensional conceptual model. This is frequently done for purposes of data efficiency, visual simplicity, or cognitive efficiency, and is acceptable if the distinction between the representation and the represented is understood, but can cause confusion if information users assume that the digital shape is a perfect representation of reality (i.e., believing that roads really are lines).

# Networks and dimension

Some complex Network science, networks are characterized by
fractal dimension In mathematics Mathematics (from Ancient Greek, Greek: ) includes the study of such topics as quantity (number theory), mathematical structure, structure (algebra), space (geometry), and calculus, change (mathematical analysis, analysis). It ... s. The concept of dimension can be generalized to include networks embedded in space. The dimension characterize their spatial constraints.

# In literature

Science fiction texts often mention the concept of "dimension" when referring to Parallel universes in fiction, parallel or alternate universes or other imagined Plane (esotericism), planes of existence. This usage is derived from the idea that to travel to parallel/alternate universes/planes of existence one must travel in a direction/dimension besides the standard ones. In effect, the other universes/planes are just a small distance away from our own, but the distance is in a fourth (or higher) spatial (or non-spatial) dimension, not the standard ones. One of the most heralded science fiction stories regarding true geometric dimensionality, and often recommended as a starting point for those just starting to investigate such matters, is the 1884 novella ''Flatland'' by Edwin A. Abbott. Isaac Asimov, in his foreword to the Signet Classics 1984 edition, described ''Flatland'' as "The best introduction one can find into the manner of perceiving dimensions." The idea of other dimensions was incorporated into many early science fiction stories, appearing prominently, for example, in Miles J. Breuer's ''The Appendix and the Spectacles'' (1928) and Murray Leinster's ''The Fifth-Dimension Catapult'' (1931); and appeared irregularly in science fiction by the 1940s. Classic stories involving other dimensions include Robert A. Heinlein's ''—And He Built a Crooked House'' (1941), in which a California architect designs a house based on a three-dimensional projection of a tesseract; Alan E. Nourse's ''Tiger by the Tail'' and ''The Universe Between'' (both 1951); and
The Ifth of Oofth
' (1957) by Walter Tevis. Another reference is Madeleine L'Engle's novel ''A Wrinkle In Time'' (1962), which uses the fifth dimension as a way for "tesseracting the universe" or "folding" space in order to move across it quickly. The fourth and fifth dimensions are also a key component of the book ''The Boy Who Reversed Himself'' by William Sleator.

# In philosophy

Immanuel Kant, in 1783, wrote: "That everywhere space (which is not itself the boundary of another space) has three dimensions and that space in general cannot have more dimensions is based on the proposition that not more than three lines can intersect at right angles in one point. This proposition cannot at all be shown from concepts, but rests immediately on intuition and indeed on pure intuition ''a priori'' because it is apodictically (demonstrably) certain." "Space has Four Dimensions" is a short story published in 1846 by German philosopher and Experimental psychology, experimental psychologist Gustav Fechner under the pseudonym "Dr. Mises". The protagonist in the tale is a shadow who is aware of and able to communicate with other shadows, but who is trapped on a two-dimensional surface. According to Fechner, this "shadow-man" would conceive of the third dimension as being one of time. The story bears a strong similarity to the "Allegory of the Cave" presented in Plato's ''The Republic (Plato), The Republic'' ( 380 BC). Simon Newcomb wrote an article for the ''Bulletin of the American Mathematical Society'' in 1898 entitled "The Philosophy of Hyperspace". Linda Dalrymple Henderson coined the term "hyperspace philosophy", used to describe writing that uses higher dimensions to explore Metaphysics, metaphysical themes, in her 1983 thesis about the fourth dimension in early-twentieth-century art. Examples of "hyperspace philosophers" include Charles Howard Hinton, the first writer, in 1888, to use the word "tesseract";. and the Russian Esotericism, esotericist P. D. Ouspensky.