In my ongoing love affair with compactness I am constantly revisiting a particular proof of the Heine-Borel theorem, a characterization of compactness in . There are two proofs that I know of: the standard “subdivision” proof and the “creeping along” proof. I am going to focus on the creeping along proof.
Heine-Borel Theorem. A subset is compact if and only if it is closed and bounded.
To do some creeping we need to collect some useful facts.
Fact 1. A subset is bounded if and only if is contained in some closed interval
Fact 2. The set is complete (as a linear order) because every non-empty set with an upper bound has a least upper bound, called .
Fact 3. Closed subsets of compact subsets of are in fact themselves compact. With fact 1 this means that it is enough to show that closed and bounded intervals in are compact. (In general closed subsets of compact spaces are compact.)
So now let us creep: