The space of continuous functions (say, on ) is usually given the uniform metric: . In other words, this is the smallest number such that from every point of the graph of one function we can jump to the graph of another function by moving at distance in vertical direction.

Now that I put it this way, why don’t we drop “in vertical direction”? It’ll still be a metric, namely the Hausdorff metric between the graphs of and . It’s natural to call it the graphical metric, denoted ; from the definition it’s clear that .

Some interesting things happen when the space of continuous functions is equipped with . For one thing, it’s no longer a complete space: the sequence is Cauchy in but has no limit.

On the other hand, the bounded subsets of are totally bounded. Indeed, given and we can cover the rectangle with a rectangular mesh of diameter at most . For each function with , consider the set of rectangles that its graph visits. There are finitely many possibilities for the sets of visited rectangles. And two functions that share the same set of visited rectangles are at graphical distance at most from each other.

Thus, the completion of in the graphical metric should be a nice space: bounded closed subsets will be compact in it. What is this completion, concretely?

Here is a partial answer: if is a graphically Cauchy sequence, its limit is the compact set where

(the infimum taken over all sequences converging to ), and

It’s not hard to see that is upper semicontinuous and is lower semicontinuous. Of course, . It seems that the set of such pairs indeed describes the graphical completion of continuous functions.

For example, the limit of is described by the pair , . Geometrically, it’s a broken line with horizontal and vertical segments

For another example, the limit of is described by the pair , . Geometrically, it’s a square.