Hilbert Spaces

Students will examine the notion of a norm, which introduces a generalised notion of ‘distance’ to the purely algebraic setting of vector spaces. They will learn several quite natural ways to do this, both for vectors of any dimension and for functions. Focus will then be on the more special notion of an inner product which generalises angles at the same time as distances.

Once these concepts have been established, students will have the opportunity to study geometrical ideas like orthogonality, which can be seen to apply to much more general spaces than Euclidean spaces of three (or even n) dimensions, notably to infinite dimensional spaces of functions. For example, Hilbert space theory shows how Fourier series are really another case of expressing an element in terms of a basis, and how people can use orthogonality to find best approximations to a given function by functions of a prescribed type. Finally, students will look at some of the main results of linear algebra, which generalise very nicely to linear operators between Hilbert spaces.