The Earring Space

\mathbb{E}=\bigcup_{n\in\mathbb{N}}\left\{(x,y)\in\mathbb{R}^2\mid (x-1/n)^2+y^2=1/n^2\right\}

The infinite earring

Other Names: infinite earring, 1-dimensional earring, shrinking wedge of circles, shrinking bouquet of circles, clamshell. This space has often been referred to as the “Hawaiian earring” in the literature; however, there is substantial movement by experts to stop using this term.

Topological Properties:  Planar, 1-dimensional, path-connected, locally path-connected, compact metric space.

Other constructions:

  • Reduced suspension of 0-dimensional earring, i.e. the convergent sequence space \{0,\dots,1/3,1/2,1\}
  • infinite wedge \bigvee_{\mathbb{N}}S^1 viewed as subspace of infinite dimensional torus \prod_{\mathbb{N}}S^1 with the product topology.
  • one-point compactification of a countable disjoint union of open arcs.

Universal Property: given any sequence \{\alpha_n\}_{n\in\mathbb{N}}\to c_{x_0} of loops based at x_0 converging (in the compact-open topology) to the constant loop at x_0, there exists a unique map f:\mathbb{E}\to X such that f\circ\ell_n=\alpha_n where \ell_n:S^1\to\mathbb{E} is the canonical counterclockwise loop traversing the n-th circle. This universal property is a special case of the loop space-suspension adjuction.

Fundamental Group: \pi_1(\mathbb{E}) embeds as the subgroup of the natural inverse limit \varprojlim_{n}F_n of finitely generated free groups consisting of locally eventually constant elements. This group is \pi_1(\mathbb{E}) is sometimes called the free-\sigma-product and denoted \#_{\mathbb{N}}\mathbb{Z}. See this post and others for more details.

Fundamental Group Properties: Uncountable, Residually free, torsion free, locally free, locally finite.

Higher homotopy groups: \pi_n(\mathbb{E})=0 for n\geq 2, i.e. \mathbb{E} is aspherical.

Homology groups: \widetilde{H}_n(\mathbb{E})=\begin{cases} \prod_{\mathbb{N}}\mathbb{Z}\oplus\prod_{\mathbb{N}}\mathbb{Z}/\bigoplus_{\mathbb{N}}\mathbb{Z}, & n=1 \\ 0, & n \neq 1   \end{cases}

Cech homotopy groups: \check{\pi}_n(\mathbb{E})=\begin{cases}  \varprojlim_{n}F_{n}, & n=1 \\ 0, & n\neq 1   \end{cases}

Cech homology groups: \check{H}_n(\mathbb{E})=\begin{cases} \mathbb{Z}, & n=0 \\ \prod_{\mathbb{N}}\mathbb{Z}, & n=1 \\ 0, & n \geq 2   \end{cases}

Cech cohomology groups: \check{H}_n(\mathbb{E})=\begin{cases} \mathbb{Z}, & n=0 \\ \bigoplus_{\mathbb{N}}\mathbb{Z}, & n=1 \\ 0, & n \geq 2   \end{cases}

Wild Set/Homotopy Type: The wild set is the single-point set \mathbf{w}(\mathbb{E})=\{(0,0)\}. The infinite earring represents the unique homotopy type of 1-dimensional Peano continua with a single wild point.

Other Properties:

  • Semi-locally simply connected: No, not at (0,0).
  • Traditional Universal Covering Space: No
  • Generalized Universal Covering Space: Yes
  • Homotopically Hausdorff: Yes
  • Strongly (freely) homotopically Hausdorff: Yes
  • Homotopically Path-Hausdorff: Yes
  • 1UV_0: Yes
  • \pi_1-shape injective: Yes


There are a couple hundred papers involving the 1-dimensional earring. Here are a couple key ones:

[1] J.W. Cannon, G.R. Conner, The combinatorial structure of the Hawaiian earring group, Topol. Appl. 106 (2000) 225–271.

[2] K. Eda, Free σ-products and noncommutatively slender groups, J. Algebra 148 (1992) 243–263.

[3] K. Eda, K. Kawamura, The singular homology of the Hawaiian Earring, J. Lond. Math. Soc. (2) 62 (2000) 305–310.

[4] J.W. Morgan, I. Morrison, A van Kampen theorem for weak joins, Proc. Lond. Math. Soc. (3) 53 (1986) 562–576.