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In most basic courses on general topology, one studies mainly Hausdorff spaces and finds that they fit quite well with our geometric intuition and generally, things work "as they should" (sequences/nets have unique limits, compact sets are closed, etc.). Most topological spaces encountered in undergraduate studies are indeed Hausdorff, often even normed or metrizable. However, at some point one finds that non-Hausdorff spaces do come up in practice, e.g. the Zariski topology in algebraic geometry, the Fell topology in representation theory, the hull-kernel topology in the theory of C*-algebras, etc.

My question is: how should one think about (and work with) these topologies? I find it very difficult to think of such topological spaces as geometric objects, due to the lack of the intuitive Hausdorff axiom (and its natural consequences). With Hausdorff spaces, I often have some clear, geometric picture in my head of what I'm trying to prove and this picture gives good intuition to the problem at hand. With non-Hausdorff spaces, this geometric picture is not always helpful and in fact relying on it may lead to false results. This makes it difficult (for me, at least) to work with such topologies.

As this question is somewhat ambiguous, I guess I should make it a community wiki.

EDIT: Thanks for the replies! I got many good answers. It is unfortunate that I can accept just one.

1 [made Community Wiki]

# How should one think about non-Hausdorff topologies?

In most basic courses on general topology, one studies mainly Hausdorff spaces and finds that they fit quite well with our geometric intuition and generally, things work "as they should" (sequences/nets have unique limits, compact sets are closed, etc.). Most topological spaces encountered in undergraduate studies are indeed Hausdorff, often even normed or metrizable. However, at some point one finds that non-Hausdorff spaces do come up in practice, e.g. the Zariski topology in algebraic geometry, the Fell topology in representation theory, the hull-kernel topology in the theory of C*-algebras, etc.

My question is: how should one think about (and work with) these topologies? I find it very difficult to think of such topological spaces as geometric objects, due to the lack of the intuitive Hausdorff axiom (and its natural consequences). With Hausdorff spaces, I often have some clear, geometric picture in my head of what I'm trying to prove and this picture gives good intuition to the problem at hand. With non-Hausdorff spaces, this geometric picture is not always helpful and in fact relying on it may lead to false results. This makes it difficult (for me, at least) to work with such topologies.

As this question is somewhat ambiguous, I guess I should make it a community wiki.