In functional analysis and related areas of mathematics a dual topology is a locally convex topology on a dual pair, two vector spaces with a bilinear form defined on them, so that one vector space becomes the continuous dual of the other space.
The different dual topologies for a given dual pair are characterized by the Mackey–Arens theorem. All locally convex topologies with their continuous dual are trivially a dual pair and the locally convex topology is a dual topology.
Several topological properties depend only on the dual pair and not on the chosen dual topology and thus it is often possible to substitute a complicated dual topology by a simpler one.
(If a locally convex topology on is not a dual topology, then either is not surjective or it is ill-defined since the linear functional is not continuous on for some .)
Characterization of dual topologies
The theorem shows that the coarsest dual topology is the weak topology, the topology of uniform convergence on all finite subsets of , and the finest topology is the Mackey topology, the topology of uniform convergence on all absolutely convex weakly compact subsets of .