MathOverflow is a question and answer site for professional mathematicians. It's 100% free, no registration required.

Sign up
Here's how it works:
  1. Anybody can ask a question
  2. Anybody can answer
  3. The best answers are voted up and rise to the top

Does anyone know a reference for the 2-dimensional version of the Schoenflies theorem? To be precise, I'd like a reference for the fact that every continuous, 1-1 map $S^1\rightarrow \mathbb{R}^2$ extends to a homeomorphism $\mathbb{R}^2 \rightarrow \mathbb{R}^2$. The discussions of the Jordan Curve Theorem that I can remember don't prove this stronger statement.

This statement is mentioned on the Wikipedia page for the Schoenflies problem . I looked through several papers on the generalized Schoenflies problem (which requires extra hypotheses in higher dimensions to rule out things like the Alexander Horned Sphere), but no luck...

share|cite|improve this question
Check out Moise's book: – Ian Agol May 24 '12 at 23:01
See Berenstein-Gay "complex variables". Krantz and Bell have several papers on this as well. – Andrés Caicedo May 24 '12 at 23:04
Another possible source is Kai-Uwe Bux's "Notes on Geometric Topology" which has a section on the Schoenflies theorem. This can be found on his webpage at Bielefeld. – Allen Hatcher May 25 '12 at 3:12
I thought it was in Bing's book. – Scott Carter May 25 '12 at 6:42
up vote 2 down vote accepted

Thomassen's paper on triangulating surfaces addresses this as well. See: Triangulating surfaces

share|cite|improve this answer
Thanks! This seems like a very nice and elementary proof. Hales' formal proof of the Jordan Curve theorem is based on Thomassen's ideas. I'll accept this answer since Thomassen states the theorem in exactly the form I was asking about. – Dan Ramras May 25 '12 at 20:20

In the smooth case the idea is to take a linear height function on the plane, which is generically Morse on the curve. Apply the Jordan curve theorem + basic Morse theory, this tells you the compact region bounded by the curve is a union of discs, glued together along common arcs, and the "gluing pattern" is that of a tree. An induction argument finishes it.

If you really need it for the topological category that's a fair bit more work. Larry Siebenmann has a recent article on this

L C Siebenmann 2005 Russ. Math. Surv. 60 645

His article seems to have pretty much all the historic references.

share|cite|improve this answer

Your Answer


By posting your answer, you agree to the privacy policy and terms of service.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.