In the area of mathematics known as functional analysis, a **reflexive space** is a locally convex topological vector space for which the canonical evaluation map from into its bidual (which is the strong dual of the strong dual of ) is a homeomorphism (or equivalently, a TVS isomorphism).
A normed space is reflexive if and only if this canonical evaluation map is surjective, in which case this (always linear) evaluation map is an isometric isomorphism and the normed space is a Banach space. Those space for which the canonical evaluation map is surjective are called semi-reflexive spaces.

In 1951, R. C. James discovered a Banach space, now known as James' space, that is *not* reflexive (meaning that the canonical evaluation map is not an isomorphism) but is nevertheless isometrically isomorphic to its bidual (any such isometric isomorphism is necessarily *not* the canonical evaluation map). So importantly, for a Banach space to be reflexive, it is not enough for it to be isometrically isomorphic to its bidual; it is the canonical evaluation map in particular that has to be a homeomorphism.

Reflexive spaces play an important role in the general theory of locally convex TVSs and in the theory of Banach spaces in particular. Hilbert spaces are prominent examples of reflexive Banach spaces. Reflexive Banach spaces are often characterized by their geometric properties.

- Definition of the bidual

Main article: Bidual |

Suppose that is a topological vector space (TVS) over the field (which is either the real or complex numbers) whose continuous dual space, **separates points** on (that is, for any there exists some such that ).
Let (some texts write ) denote the strong dual of which is the vector space of continuous linear functionals on endowed with the topology of uniform convergence on bounded subsets of ;
this topology is also called the **strong dual topology** and it is the "default" topology placed on a continuous dual space (unless another topology is specified).
If is a normed space, then the strong dual of is the continuous dual space with its usual norm topology.
The **bidual** of denoted by is the strong dual of ; that is, it is the space ^{[1]}
If is a normed space, then is the continuous dual space of the Banach space with its usual norm topology.

- Definitions of the evaluation map and reflexive spaces

For any let be defined by where is a linear map called the **evaluation map at **;
since is necessarily continuous, it follows that
Since separates points on the linear map defined by is injective where this map is called the **evaluation map** or the **canonical map**.
Call **semi-reflexive** if is bijective (or equivalently, surjective) and we call **reflexive** if in addition is an isomorphism of TVSs.^{[1]}
A normable space is reflexive if and only if it is semi-reflexive or equivalently, if and only if the evaluation map is surjective.

Suppose is a normed vector space over the number field or (the real numbers or the complex numbers), with a norm Consider its dual normed space that consists of all continuous linear functionals and is equipped with the dual norm defined by

The dual is a normed space (a Banach space to be precise), and its dual normed space is called **bidual space** for The bidual consists of all continuous linear functionals and is equipped with the norm dual to Each vector generates a scalar function by the formula:

and is a continuous linear functional on that is, One obtains in this way a map

called

that is, maps isometrically onto its image in Furthermore, the image is closed in but it need not be equal to

A normed space is called **reflexive** if it satisfies the following equivalent conditions:

- the evaluation map is surjective,
- the evaluation map is an isometric isomorphism of normed spaces,
- the evaluation map is an isomorphism of normed spaces.

A reflexive space is a Banach space, since is then isometric to the Banach space

A Banach space is reflexive if it is linearly isometric to its bidual under this canonical embedding James' space is an example of a non-reflexive space which is linearly isometric to its bidual. Furthermore, the image of James' space under the canonical embedding has codimension one in its bidual.
^{[2]}
A Banach space is called **quasi-reflexive** (of order ) if the quotient has finite dimension

- Every finite-dimensional normed space is reflexive, simply because in this case, the space, its dual and bidual all have the same linear dimension, hence the linear injection from the definition is bijective, by the rank–nullity theorem.
- The Banach space of scalar sequences tending to 0 at infinity, equipped with the supremum norm, is not reflexive. It follows from the general properties below that and are not reflexive, because is isomorphic to the dual of and is isomorphic to the dual of
- All Hilbert spaces are reflexive, as are the Lp spaces for More generally: all uniformly convex Banach spaces are reflexive according to the Milman–Pettis theorem. The and spaces are not reflexive (unless they are finite dimensional, which happens for example when is a measure on a finite set). Likewise, the Banach space of continuous functions on is not reflexive.
- The spaces of operators in the Schatten class on a Hilbert space are uniformly convex, hence reflexive, when When the dimension of is infinite, then (the trace class) is not reflexive, because it contains a subspace isomorphic to and (the bounded linear operators on ) is not reflexive, because it contains a subspace isomorphic to In both cases, the subspace can be chosen to be the operators diagonal with respect to a given orthonormal basis of

Since every finite-dimensional normed space is a reflexive Banach space, only infinite-dimensional spaces can be non-reflexive.

If a Banach space is isomorphic to a reflexive Banach space then is reflexive.^{[3]}

Every closed linear subspace of a reflexive space is reflexive. The continuous dual of a reflexive space is reflexive. Every quotient of a reflexive space by a closed subspace is reflexive.^{[4]}

Let be a Banach space. The following are equivalent.

- The space is reflexive.
- The continuous dual of is reflexive.
^{[5]} - The closed unit ball of is compact in the weak topology. (This is known as Kakutani's Theorem.)
^{[6]} - Every bounded sequence in has a weakly convergent subsequence.
^{[7]} - The statement of Riesz's lemma holds when the real number
^{[note 1]}is exactly^{[8]}Explicitly, for every closed proper vector subspace of there exists some vector of unit norm such that for all- Using to denote the distance between the vector and the set this can be restated in simpler language as: is reflexive if and only if for every closed proper vector subspace there is some vector on the unit sphere of that is always at least a distance of away from the subspace.
- For example, if the reflexive Banach space is endowed with the usual Euclidean norm and is the plane then the points satisfy the conclusion If is instead the -axis then every point belonging to the unit circle in the plane satisfies the conclusion.

- Every continuous linear functional on attains its supremum on the closed unit ball in
^{[9]}(James' theorem)

Since norm-closed convex subsets in a Banach space are weakly closed,^{[10]}
it follows from the third property that closed bounded convex subsets of a reflexive space are weakly compact. Thus, for every decreasing sequence of non-empty closed bounded convex subsets of the intersection is non-empty. As a consequence, every continuous convex function on a closed convex subset of such that the set

is non-empty and bounded for some real number attains its minimum value on

The promised geometric property of reflexive Banach spaces is the following: if is a closed non-empty convex subset of the reflexive space then for every there exists a such that minimizes the distance between and points of This follows from the preceding result for convex functions, applied to Note that while the minimal distance between and is uniquely defined by the point is not. The closest point is unique when is uniformly convex.

A reflexive Banach space is separable if and only if its continuous dual is separable. This follows from the fact that for every normed space separability of the continuous dual implies separability of ^{[11]}

Informally, a super-reflexive Banach space has the following property: given an arbitrary Banach space if all finite-dimensional subspaces of have a very similar copy sitting somewhere in then must be reflexive. By this definition, the space itself must be reflexive. As an elementary example, every Banach space whose two dimensional subspaces are isometric to subspaces of satisfies the parallelogram law, hence^{[12]}
is a Hilbert space, therefore is reflexive. So is super-reflexive.

The formal definition does not use isometries, but almost isometries. A Banach space is **finitely representable**^{[13]}
in a Banach space if for every finite-dimensional subspace of and every there is a subspace of such that the multiplicative Banach–Mazur distance between and satisfies

A Banach space finitely representable in is a Hilbert space. Every Banach space is finitely representable in The Lp space is finitely representable in

A Banach space is **super-reflexive** if all Banach spaces finitely representable in are reflexive, or, in other words, if no non-reflexive space is finitely representable in The notion of ultraproduct of a family of Banach spaces^{[14]}
allows for a concise definition: the Banach space is super-reflexive when its ultrapowers are reflexive.

James proved that a space is super-reflexive if and only if its dual is super-reflexive.^{[13]}

One of James' characterizations of super-reflexivity uses the growth of separated trees.^{[15]}
The description of a vectorial binary tree begins with a rooted binary tree labeled by vectors: a tree of height in a Banach space is a family of vectors of that can be organized in successive levels, starting with level 0 that consists of a single vector the root of the tree, followed, for by a family of 2 vectors forming level

that are the children of vertices of level In addition to the tree structure, it is required here that each vector that is an internal vertex of the tree be the midpoint between its two children:

Given a positive real number the tree is said to be **-separated** if for every internal vertex, the two children are -separated in the given space norm:

Theorem.^{[15]}The Banach space is super-reflexive if and only if for every there is a number such that every -separated tree contained in the unit ball of has height less than

Uniformly convex spaces are super-reflexive.^{[15]}
Let be uniformly convex, with modulus of convexity and let be a real number in By the properties of the modulus of convexity, a -separated tree of height contained in the unit ball, must have all points of level contained in the ball of radius By induction, it follows that all points of level are contained in the ball of radius

If the height was so large that

then the two points of the first level could not be -separated, contrary to the assumption. This gives the required bound function of only.

Using the tree-characterization, Enflo proved^{[16]}
that super-reflexive Banach spaces admit an equivalent uniformly convex norm. Trees in a Banach space are a special instance of vector-valued martingales. Adding techniques from scalar martingale theory, Pisier improved Enflo's result by showing^{[17]} that a super-reflexive space admits an equivalent uniformly convex norm for which the modulus of convexity satisfies, for some constant and some real number

The notion of reflexive Banach space can be generalized to topological vector spaces in the following way.

Let be a topological vector space over a number field (of real numbers or complex numbers ). Consider its strong dual space which consists of all continuous linear functionals and is equipped with the strong topology that is,, the topology of uniform convergence on bounded subsets in The space is a topological vector space (to be more precise, a locally convex space), so one can consider its strong dual space which is called the **strong bidual space** for It consists of all continuous linear functionals and is equipped with the strong topology Each vector generates a map by the following formula:

This is a continuous linear functional on that is,, This induces a map called the

This map is linear. If is locally convex, from the Hahn–Banach theorem it follows that is injective and open (that is, for each neighbourhood of zero in there is a neighbourhood of zero in such that ). But it can be non-surjective and/or discontinuous.

A locally convex space is called

**semi-reflexive**if the evaluation map is surjective (hence bijective),**reflexive**if the evaluation map is surjective and continuous (in this case is an isomorphism of topological vector spaces^{[18]}).

**Theorem ^{[19]}** — A locally convex Hausdorff space is semi-reflexive if and only if with the -topology has the Heine–Borel property (i.e. weakly closed and bounded subsets of are weakly compact).

**Theorem ^{[20]}^{[21]}** — A locally convex space is reflexive if and only if it is semi-reflexive and barreled.

**Theorem ^{[22]}** — The strong dual of a semireflexive space is barrelled.

**Theorem ^{[23]}** — If is a Hausdorff locally convex space then the canonical injection from into its bidual is a topological embedding if and only if is infrabarreled.

Main article: Semi-reflexive space |

If is a Hausdorff locally convex space then the following are equivalent:

- is semireflexive;
- The weak topology on had the Heine-Borel property (that is, for the weak topology every closed and bounded subset of is weakly compact).
^{[1]} - If linear form on that continuous when has the strong dual topology, then it is continuous when has the weak topology;
^{[24]} - is barreled;
^{[24]} - with the weak topology is quasi-complete.
^{[24]}

If is a Hausdorff locally convex space then the following are equivalent:

- is reflexive;
- is semireflexive and infrabarreled;
^{[23]} - is semireflexive and barreled;
- is barreled and the weak topology on had the Heine-Borel property (that is, for the weak topology every closed and bounded subset of is weakly compact).
^{[1]} - is semireflexive and quasibarrelled.
^{[25]}

If is a normed space then the following are equivalent:

- is reflexive;
- The closed unit ball is compact when has the weak topology
^{[26]} - is a Banach space and is reflexive.
^{[27]} - Every sequence with for all of nonempty closed bounded convex subsets of has nonempty intersection.
^{[28]}

**Theorem ^{[29]}** — A real Banach space is reflexive if and only if every pair of non-empty disjoint closed convex subsets, one of which is bounded, can be strictly separated by a hyperplane.

**James' theorem** — A Banach space is reflexive if and only if every continuous linear functional on attains its supremum on the closed unit ball in

- Normed spaces

A normed space that is semireflexive is a reflexive Banach space.^{[30]}
A closed vector subspace of a reflexive Banach space is reflexive.^{[23]}

Let be a Banach space and a closed vector subspace of If two of and are reflexive then they all are.^{[23]} This is why reflexivity is referred to as a *three-space property*.^{[23]}

- Topological vector spaces

If a barreled locally convex Hausdorff space is semireflexive then it is reflexive.^{[1]}

The strong dual of a reflexive space is reflexive.^{[31]}Every Montel space is reflexive.^{[26]} And the strong dual of a Montel space is a Montel space (and thus is reflexive).^{[26]}

A locally convex Hausdorff reflexive space is barrelled.
If is a normed space then is an isometry onto a closed subspace of ^{[30]} This isometry can be expressed by:

Suppose that is a normed space and is its bidual equipped with the bidual norm. Then the unit ball of
is dense in the unit ball
of for the weak topology ^{[30]}

- Every finite-dimensional Hausdorff topological vector space is reflexive, because is bijective by linear algebra, and because there is a unique Hausdorff vector space topology on a finite dimensional vector space.
- A normed space is reflexive as a normed space if and only if it is reflexive as a locally convex space. This follows from the fact that for a normed space its dual normed space coincides as a topological vector space with the strong dual space As a corollary, the evaluation map coincides with the evaluation map and the following conditions become equivalent:
- is a reflexive normed space (that is, is an isomorphism of normed spaces),
- is a reflexive locally convex space (that is, is an isomorphism of topological vector spaces
^{[18]}), - is a semi-reflexive locally convex space (that is, is surjective).

- A (somewhat artificial) example of a semi-reflexive space that is not reflexive is obtained as follows: let be an infinite dimensional reflexive Banach space, and let be the topological vector space that is, the vector space equipped with the weak topology. Then the continuous dual of and are the same set of functionals, and bounded subsets of (that is, weakly bounded subsets of ) are norm-bounded, hence the Banach space is the strong dual of Since is reflexive, the continuous dual of is equal to the image of under the canonical embedding but the topology on (the weak topology of ) is not the strong topology that is equal to the norm topology of
- Montel spaces are reflexive locally convex topological vector spaces. In particular, the following functional spaces frequently used in functional analysis are reflexive locally convex spaces:
^{[32]}- the space of smooth functions on arbitrary (real) smooth manifold and its strong dual space of distributions with compact support on
- the space of smooth functions with compact support on arbitrary (real) smooth manifold and its strong dual space of distributions on
- the space of holomorphic functions on arbitrary complex manifold and its strong dual space of analytic functionals on
- the Schwartz space on and its strong dual space of tempered distributions on

- There exists a non-reflexive locally convex TVS whose strong dual is reflexive.
^{[33]}

A stereotype space, or polar reflexive space, is defined as a topological vector space (TVS) satisfying a similar condition of reflexivity, but with the topology of uniform convergence on totally bounded subsets (instead of bounded subsets) in the definition of dual space More precisely, a TVS is called polar reflexive^{[34]} or stereotype if the evaluation map into the second dual space

is an isomorphism of topological vector spaces.

In contrast to the classical reflexive spaces the class **Ste** of stereotype spaces is very wide (it contains, in particular, all Fréchet spaces and thus, all Banach spaces), it forms a closed monoidal category, and it admits standard operations (defined inside of **Ste**) of constructing new spaces, like taking closed subspaces, quotient spaces, projective and injective limits, the space of operators, tensor products, etc. The category **Ste** have applications in duality theory for non-commutative groups.

Similarly, one can replace the class of bounded (and totally bounded) subsets in in the definition of dual space by other classes of subsets, for example, by the class of compact subsets in – the spaces defined by the corresponding reflexivity condition are called *reflective*,^{[35]}^{[36]} and they form an even wider class than **Ste**, but it is not clear (2012), whether this class forms a category with properties similar to those of **Ste**.