In mathematics, particularly in functional analysis, a seminorm is a vector space norm that need not be positive definite. Seminorms are intimately connected with convex sets: every seminorm the Minkowski functional of some absorbing disk and, conversely, the Minkowski functional of any such set is a seminorm.

A topological vector space is locally convex if and only if its topology is induced by a family of seminorms.


Let X be a vector space over either the real numbers or the complex numbers . A map p : X → ℝ is called a seminorm if it satisfies the following two conditions:

  1. Subadditivity/Triangle inequality: p(x + y) ≤ p(x) + p(y) for all x, yX;
  2. Homogeneity: p(sx) = |s| p(x) for all xX and all scalars s;

A consequence of these two properties is nonnegativity: p(x) ≥ 0 for all xX.

Note that a seminorm is also a norm if (and only if) it also separates points: p(x) = 0 implies x = 0.

Pseudometrics and the induced topologyEdit

A seminorm p on X induces a topology via the translation-invariant pseudometric dp : X × X → ℝ; dp(x, y) = p(x - y). This topology is Hausdorff if and only if dp is a metric, which occurs if and only if p is a norm.[1]

Equivalently, every vector space V with seminorm p induces a vector space quotient V/W, where W is the subspace of V consisting of all vectors vV with p(v) = 0. V/W carries a norm defined by p(v+W) = p(v). The resulting topology, pulled back to V, is precisely the topology induced by p.

Any seminorm-induced topology makes X locally convex, as follows. If p is a seminorm on X and r is a real number, call the set { xX : p(x) < r } the open ball of radius r about the origin; likewise the closed ball of radius r is { xX : p(x) ≤ r }. The set of all open (resp. closed) p-balls at the origin forms a neighborhood basis of convex balanced sets that are open (resp. closed) in the p-topology on X.

Stronger, weaker, and equivalent seminormsEdit

The notions of stronger and weaker seminorms are akin to the notions of stronger and weaker norms. If p and q are seminorms on X, then we say that q is stronger than p and that p is weaker than q if any of the following equivalent conditions holds:

  1. The topology on X induced by q is finer than the topology induced by p.
  2. If (xi)
    is a sequence in X, then q(xi) → 0 implies p(xi) → 0.[1]
  3. If (xi)iI is a net in X, then q(xi) → 0 implies p(xi) → 0.
  4. p is bounded on { xX : q(x) < 1 }.[1]
  5. If inf { q(x) : p(x) = 1, xX} = 0, then p(x) = 0 for all x.[1]
  6. There exists a real K > 0 such that pKq on X.[1]

p and q are equivalent if they are both weaker (or both stronger) than each other.

Hom spaceEdit

If F : (X, p) → (Y, q) is a linear map between seminormed spaces then the following are equivalent:

  1. F is continuous;
  2. ||F||pq = sup { q(F(x)) : p(x) ≤ 1} < ∞.[2]

||F||pq is itself a seminorm on the space of all continuous linear maps F : (X, p) → (Y, q), and a full norm if and only if q is.[2]

Examples and elementary propertiesEdit

  • The trivial seminorm on X (p(x) = 0 for all xX) induces the indiscrete topology on X.
  • Every linear form f on a vector space defines a seminorm by x → |f(x)|.
  • Every real-valued sublinear function f on X defines a seminorm p(x) = max { f(x), f(-x)}.[3]
  • Any finite sum of seminorms is a seminorm.
  • If p and q are seminorms on X then so is (pq)(x) = max { p(x), q(x)}.[4]
  • If p and q are seminorms on X then so is (pq)(x) := inf { p(y) + q(z) : x = y + z with y, zX}.
  • pqp and pqq.[1]
  • Moreover, the space of seminorms on X is a distributive lattice with respect to the above operations.

Convexity and boundednessEdit

  • Seminorms satisfy the reverse triangle inequality: |p(x) − p(y)| ≤ p(xy) for all x, yX.[5][6]
  • For any xX and r > 0,[7] x + { yX : p(y) < r } = { yX : p(x - y) < r}.
  • Since every seminorm is a sublinear function, every seminorm p on X is a convex function. Moreover, for all r > 0, {xX : p(x) < r} is an absorbing disk in X.[4]
  • If f is a linear functional on X, then fp on X if and only if f-1(1) ∩ { xX : p(x) < 1 } = ∅.[6][8] More generally, if a > 0 and b > 0 are such that p(x) < a implies f(x) ≠ b, then a|f(x)| ≤ bp(x) for all xX. [9]
  • Seminorms offer a particularly clean formulation of the Hahn-Banach theorem: If M is a vector subspace of a seminormed space (X, p) and if f is a continuous linear functional on M, then f may be extended to a continuous linear functional F on X that has the same norm as f.[2]
    • A similar extension property also holds for seminorms: if q is a seminorm on X such that pq|M, then there exists a seminorm P on X such that P|M = p and Pq. To see this, let S be the convex hull of { mM : p(x) ≤ 1 } ∪ { xX : q(x) ≤ 1 }. S is an absorbing disk; its Minkowski functional is the desired extension.[10][9]

Seminormed spacesEdit

  • The closure of { 0 } in a locally convex space X whose topology is defined by a family of continuous seminorms 𝒫 is equal to p ∈ 𝒫 p-1(0).[11]
  • A subset S in a seminormed space (X, p) is (von Neumann) bounded if and only if p(S) is bounded.[12]
  • The product of infinitely many seminormable spaces is again seminormable if and only if all but finitely many of these spaces trivial (i.e. 0-dimensional).[13]

Minkowski functionals and seminormsEdit

Seminorms on a vector space X are intimately tied, via Minkowski functionals, to subsets of X that are convex, balanced, and absorbing. Given such a subset D of X, the Minkowski functional of D is a seminorm. Conversely, given a seminorm p on X, the sets { xX : p(x) < 1 } and { xX : p(x) ≤ 1 } are convex, balanced, and absorbing and furthermore, the Minkowski functional of these two sets (as well as of any set lying "in between them") is p.[14]

Relationship to other norm-like conceptsEdit

A topological vector space is seminormable if and only if it has a convex bounded neighborhood of the origin.[15] Thus a locally convex TVS is seminormable if and only if it has a non-empty bounded open set.[16]

Let p : X → ℝ be a non-negative function. The following are equivalent:

  1. p is a seminorm.
  2. p is a convex F-seminorm.
  3. p is a convex balanced G-seminorm.[17]

If any of the above conditions hold, then the following are equivalent:

  1. p is a norm;
  2. {xX : p(x) < 1 } does not contain a non-trivial vector subspace.[18]
  3. There exists a normed on X, with respect to which, {xX : p(x) < 1 } is bounded.

An ultraseminorm or a non-Archimedean seminorm is a seminorm p : X → ℝ that also satisfies p(x + y) ≤ max {p(x), p(y)} for all x, yX.


The concept of norm in composition algebras does not share the usual properties of a norm.

A composition algebra (A, *, N) consists of an algebra over a field A, an involution *, and a quadratic form N, which is called the "norm". In several cases N is an isotropic quadratic form so that A has at least one null vector, contrary to the separation of points required for the usual norm discussed in this article.

Weakening subadditivity: Quasi-seminormsEdit

A map p : X → ℝ is called a quasi-seminorm if it is (absolutely) homogeneous and there exists some b ≤ 1 such that

p(x + y) ≤ b(p(x) + p(y)) for all x, yX.

The smallest value of b for which this holds is called the multiplier of p.

A quasi-seminorm that separates points is called a quasi-norm on X.

Weakening homogeneity: k-seminormsEdit

A map p : X → ℝ is called a k-seminorm if it is subadditive and there exists a k such that 0 < k ≤ 1 and for all xX and scalars s,

p(sx) = |s|k p(x)

A k-seminorm that separates points is called a k-norm on X.

We have the following relationship between quasi-seminorms and k-seminorms:

Suppose that q is a quasi-seminorm on a vector space X with multiplier b. If 0 < k < log2 b then there exists k-seminorm p on X equivalent to q.

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ a b c d e f Wilansky 2013, pp. 15-21.
  2. ^ a b c Wilansky 2013, pp. 21-26.
  3. ^ Narici & Beckenstein 2011, pp. 120–121.
  4. ^ a b Narici & Beckenstein 2011, pp. 116–128.
  5. ^ Narici & Beckenstein 2011, pp. 120-121.
  6. ^ a b Narici & Beckenstein 2011, pp. 177-220.
  7. ^ Narici & Beckenstein 2011, pp. 116−128.
  8. ^ Narici & Beckenstein 2011, pp. 149–153.
  9. ^ a b Wilansky 2013, pp. 18-21.
  10. ^ Narici & Beckenstein 2011, pp. 150.
  11. ^ Narici & Beckenstein 2011, pp. 149-153.
  12. ^ Wilansky 2013, pp. 49-50.
  13. ^ Narici & Beckenstein 2011, pp. 156–175.
  14. ^ Schaefer & Wolff 1999, p. 40.
  15. ^ Wilansky 2013, pp. 50-51.
  16. ^ Narici & Beckenstein 2011, pp. 156-175.
  17. ^ Schechter 1996, p. 691.
  18. ^ Narici & Beckenstein 2011, p. 149.
  • Adasch, Norbert; Ernst, Bruno; Keim, Dieter (1978). Topological Vector Spaces: The Theory Without Convexity Conditions. Lecture Notes in Mathematics. {3834. Berlin New York: Springer-Verlag. ISBN 978-3-540-08662-8. OCLC 297140003.
  • Jarchow, Hans (1981). Locally convex spaces. Stuttgart: B.G. Teubner. ISBN 978-3-519-02224-4. OCLC 8210342.
  • Bourbaki, Nicolas (1987) [1981]. Topological Vector Spaces: Chapters 1–5 [Sur certains espaces vectoriels topologiques]. Annales de l'Institut Fourier. Éléments de mathématique. 2. Translated by Eggleston, H.G.; Madan, S. Berlin New York: Springer-Verlag. ISBN 978-3-540-42338-6. OCLC 17499190.
  • Conway, John (1990). A course in functional analysis. Graduate Texts in Mathematics. 96 (2nd ed.). New York: Springer-Verlag. ISBN 978-0-387-97245-9. OCLC 21195908.
  • Edwards, Robert E. (1995). Functional Analysis: Theory and Applications. New York: Dover Publications. ISBN 978-0-486-68143-6. OCLC 30593138.
  • Grothendieck, Alexander (1973). Topological Vector Spaces. Translated by Chaljub, Orlando. New York: Gordon and Breach Science Publishers. ISBN 978-0-677-30020-7. OCLC 886098.
  • Jarchow, Hans (1981). Locally convex spaces. Stuttgart: B.G. Teubner. ISBN 978-3-519-02224-4. OCLC 8210342.
  • Khaleelulla, S. M. (1982). Written at Berlin Heidelberg. Counterexamples in Topological Vector Spaces. Lecture Notes in Mathematics. 936. Berlin New York: Springer-Verlag. ISBN 978-3-540-11565-6. OCLC 8588370.
  • Köthe, Gottfried (1969). Topological Vector Spaces I. Grundlehren der mathematischen Wissenschaften. 159. Translated by Garling, D.J.H. New York: Springer Science & Business Media. ISBN 978-3-642-64988-2. MR 0248498. OCLC 840293704.
  • Narici, Lawrence; Beckenstein, Edward (2011). Topological Vector Spaces. Pure and applied mathematics (Second ed.). Boca Raton, FL: CRC Press. ISBN 978-1584888666. OCLC 144216834.
  • Prugovečki, Eduard (1981). Quantum mechanics in Hilbert space (2nd ed.). Academic Press. p. 20. ISBN 0-12-566060-X.
  • Schaefer, Helmut H.; Wolff, Manfred P. (1999). Topological Vector Spaces. GTM. 8 (Second ed.). New York, NY: Springer New York Imprint Springer. ISBN 978-1-4612-7155-0. OCLC 840278135.
  • Schechter, Eric (1996). Handbook of Analysis and Its Foundations. San Diego, CA: Academic Press. ISBN 978-0-12-622760-4. OCLC 175294365.
  • Swartz, Charles (1992). An introduction to Functional Analysis. New York: M. Dekker. ISBN 978-0-8247-8643-4. OCLC 24909067.
  • Trèves, François (2006) [1967]. Topological Vector Spaces, Distributions and Kernels. Mineola, N.Y.: Dover Publications. ISBN 978-0-486-45352-1. OCLC 853623322.
  • Wilansky, Albert (2013). Modern Methods in Topological Vector Spaces. Mineola, New York: Dover Publications, Inc. ISBN 978-0-486-49353-4. OCLC 849801114.

External linksEdit