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In mathematics, especially functional analysis, a **hypercyclic operator** on a Banach space *X* is a bounded linear operator *T*: *X* → *X* such that there is a vector *x* ∈ *X* such that the sequence {*T*^{n} *x*: *n* = 0, 1, 2, …} is dense in the whole space *X*. In other words, the smallest closed invariant subset containing *x* is the whole space. Such an *x* is then called *hypercyclic vector*.
There is no hypercyclic operator in finite-dimensional spaces, but the property of hypercyclicity in spaces of infinite dimension is not a rare phenomenon: many operators are hypercyclic.

The hypercyclicity is a special case of broader notions of *topological transitivity* (see topological mixing), and *universality*. *Universality* in general involves a set of mappings from one topological space to another (instead of a sequence of powers of a single operator mapping from *X* to *X*), but has a similar meaning to hypercyclicity. Examples of universal objects were discovered already in 1914 by Julius Pál, in 1935 by Józef Marcinkiewicz, or MacLane in 1952. However, it was not until the 1980s when hypercyclic operators started to be more intensively studied.

An example of a hypercyclic operator is two times the backward shift operator on the ℓ^{2} sequence space, that is the operator, which takes a sequence

- (
*a*_{1},*a*_{2},*a*_{3}, …) ∈ ℓ^{2}

to a sequence

- (2
*a*_{2}, 2*a*_{3}, 2*a*_{4}, …) ∈ ℓ^{2}.

This was proved in 1969 by Rolewicz.

- On every infinite-dimensional separable Banach space there is a hypercyclic operator. On the other hand, there is no hypercyclic operator on a finite-dimensional space, nor on a non-separable Banach space.
- If
*x*is a hypercyclic vector, then*T*^{n}*x*is hypercyclic as well, so there is always a dense set of hypercyclic vectors. - Moreover, the set of hypercyclic vectors is a connected
*G*_{δ}set, and always contains a dense vector space, up to {0}. - Charles Read (1988) constructed an operator on ℓ
^{1}, such that all the non-zero vectors are hypercyclic, providing a counterexample to the invariant subspace problem (and even*invariant subset problem*) in the class of Banach spaces. The problem, whether such an operator (sometimes called*hypertransitive*, or*orbit transitive*) exists on a separable Hilbert space, is still open (as of 2014).

- Bayart, Fréderic; Matheron, Étienne (2009),
*Dynamics of linear operators*, Cambridge Tracts in Mathematics, vol. 179, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, ISBN 978-0-521-51496-5, MR 2533318 - Beauzamy, Bernard (1988),
*Introduction to operator theory and invariant subspaces*, North-Holland Mathematical Library, vol. 42, Amsterdam: North-Holland, ISBN 978-0-444-70521-1, MR 0967989 - Read, C. J. (1988), "The invariant subspace problem for a class of Banach spaces, 2: hypercyclic operators",
*Israel Journal of Mathematics*,**63**(1): 1–40, doi:10.1007/BF02765019, ISSN 0021-2172, MR 0959046, S2CID 123651876 - Grosse-Erdmann, Karl-Goswin (1999), "Universal families and hypercyclic operators",
*Bulletin of the American Mathematical Society*, New Series,**36**(3): 345–381, doi:10.1090/S0273-0979-99-00788-0, ISSN 1088-9485, MR 1685272