In mathematics, weak topology is an alternative term for certain initial topologies, often on topological vector spaces or spaces of linear operators, for instance on a Hilbert space. The term is most commonly used for the initial topology of a topological vector space (such as a normed vector space) with respect to its continuous dual. The remainder of this article will deal with this case, which is one of the concepts of functional analysis.
One may call subsets of a topological vector space weakly closed (respectively, weakly compact, etc.) if they are closed (respectively, compact, etc.) with respect to the weak topology. Likewise, functions are sometimes called weakly continuous (respectively, weakly differentiable, weakly analytic, etc.) if they are continuous (respectively, differentiable, analytic, etc.) with respect to the weak topology.
Starting in the early 1900s, David Hilbert and Marcel Riesz made extensive use of weak convergence. The early pioneers of functional analysis did not elevate norm convergence above weak convergence and oftentimes viewed weak convergence as preferable. In 1929, Banach introduced weak convergence for normed spaces and also introduced the analogous weak-* convergence. The weak topology is also called topologie faible and schwache Topologie.