In mathematics, specifically, in topology, a surface is a two-dimensional, topological manifold. The most familiar examples are those that arise as the boundaries of solid objects in ordinary three-dimensional Euclidean space R3 — for example, the surface of a ball. On the other hand, there are surfaces, such as the Klein bottle, that cannot be embedded in three-dimensional Euclidean space without introducing singularities or self-intersections. To say that a surface is "two-dimensional" means that, about each point, there is a coordinate patch on which a two-dimensional coordinate system is defined. For example, the surface of the Earth is (ideally) a two-dimensional sphere, and latitude and longitude provide two-dimensional coordinates on it (except at the poles and along the 180th meridian). The concept of surface finds application in physics, engineering, computer graphics, and many other disciplines, primarily in representing the surfaces of physical objects. For example, in analyzing the aerodynamic properties of an airplane, the central consideration is the flow of air along its surface.
Definitions and first examples
A (topological) surface is a nonempty second countable Hausdorff topological space in which every point has an open neighbourhood homeomorphic to some open subset of the Euclidean plane E2. Such a neighborhood, together with the corresponding homeomorphism, is known as a (coordinate) chart. It is through this chart that the neighborhood inherits the standard coordinates on the Euclidean plane. These coordinates are known as local coordinates and these homeomorphisms lead us to describe surfaces as being locally Euclidean. More generally, a (topological) surface with boundary is a Hausdorff topological space in which every point has an open neighbourhood homeomorphic to some open subset of the closure of the upper half-plane H2 in C. These homeomorphisms are also known as (coordinate) charts. The boundary of the upper half-plane is the x-axis. A point on the surface mapped via a chart to the x-axis is termed a boundary point. The collection of such points is known as the boundary of the surface which is necessarily a one-manifold, that is, the union of closed curves. On the other hand, a point mapped to above the x-axis is an interior point. The collection of interior points is the interior of the surface which is always non-empty. The closed disk is a simple example of a surface with boundary. The boundary of the disc is a circle. The term surface used without qualification refers to surfaces without boundary. In particular, a surface with empty boundary is a surface in the usual sense. A surface with empty boundary which is compact is known as a 'closed' surface. The two-dimensional sphere, the two-dimensional torus, and the real projective plane are examples of closed surfaces. The Möbius strip is a surface with only one "side". In general, a surface is said to be orientable if it does not contain a homeomorphic copy of the Möbius strip; intuitively, it has two distinct "sides". For example, the sphere and torus are orientable, while the real projective plane is not (because deleting a point or disk from the real projective plane produces the Möbius strip). In differential and algebraic geometry, extra structure is added upon the topology of the surface. This added structures detects singularities, such as self-intersections and cusps, that cannot be described solely in terms of the underlying topology.