In topology, a second-countable space, also called a completely separable space, is a topological space whose topology has a countable base. More explicitly, a topological space is second-countable if there exists some countable collection of open subsets of such that any open subset of can be written as a union of elements of some subfamily of . A second-countable space is said to satisfy the second axiom of countability. Like other countability axioms, the property of being second-countable restricts the number of open sets that a space can have.
Many "well-behaved" spaces in mathematics are second-countable. For example, Euclidean space (Rn) with its usual topology is second-countable. Although the usual base of open balls is uncountable, one can restrict to the collection of all open balls with rational radii and whose centers have rational coordinates. This restricted set is countable and still forms a basis.
Second-countability is a stronger notion than first-countability. A space is first-countable if each point has a countable local base. Given a base for a topology and a point x, the set of all basis sets containing x forms a local base at x. Thus, if one has a countable base for a topology then one has a countable local base at every point, and hence every second-countable space is also a first-countable space. However any uncountable discrete space is first-countable but not second-countable.
Second-countability implies certain other topological properties. Specifically, every second-countable space is separable (has a countable dense subset) and Lindelöf (every open cover has a countable subcover). The reverse implications do not hold. For example, the lower limit topology on the real line is first-countable, separable, and Lindelöf, but not second-countable. For metric spaces, however, the properties of being second-countable, separable, and Lindelöf are all equivalent. Therefore, the lower limit topology on the real line is not metrizable.
In second-countable spaces—as in metric spaces—compactness, sequential compactness, and countable compactness are all equivalent properties.
Urysohn's metrization theorem states that every second-countable, Hausdorff regular space is metrizable. It follows that every such space is completely normal as well as paracompact. Second-countability is therefore a rather restrictive property on a topological space, requiring only a separation axiom to imply metrizability.