A ringed space is a broad concept in which we can fit most of the interesting geometrical objects. It consists of a topological space together with a sheaf of functions on it.

Let M be a differentiable manifold, whose topological space is Hausdorff and second countable. For each open set U ⊂ M , let C^{∞}(U) be the R-algebra of smooth functions on U .

The assignment

U ↦ C^{∞}(U)

satisfies the following two properties:

(1) If U ⊂ V are two open sets in M, we can define the restriction map, which is an algebra morphism:

r_{V, U} : C^{∞}(V) → C^{∞}(U), ƒ ↦ ƒ|_{U}

which is such that

i) r_{U, U} = id

ii) r_{W, U} = r_{V, U} ○ r_{W, V}

(2) Let {U_{i}}_{i∈I} be an open covering of U and let {ƒ_{i}}_{i∈I}, ƒ_{i} ∈ C^{∞}(U_{i}) be a family such that ƒ_{i}|_{Ui ∩ Uj} = ƒ_{j}| _{Ui ∩ Uj} ∀ i, j ∈ I. In other words the elements of the family {ƒ_{i}}_{i∈I} agree on the intersection of any two open sets U_{i} ∩ U_{j}. Then there exists a unique ƒ ∈ C^{∞}(U) such that ƒ|_{Ui} = ƒ_{i}.

Such an assignment is called a sheaf. The pair (M, C^{∞}), consisting of the topological space M, underlying the differentiable manifold, and the sheaf of the C^{∞} functions on M is an example of locally ringed space (the word “locally” refers to a local property of the sheaf of C^{∞} functions.

Given two manifolds M and N, and the respective sheaves of smooth functions C_{M}^{∞} and C_{N}^{∞}, a morphism ƒ from M to N, viewed as ringed spaces, is a morphism |ƒ|: M → N of the underlying topological spaces together with a morphism of algebras,

ƒ^{*}: C_{N}^{∞}(V) → C_{M}^{∞}(ƒ^{-1}(V)), ƒ^{*}(φ)(x) = φ(|ƒ|(x))

compatible with the restriction morphisms.

Notice that, as soon as we give the continuous map |ƒ| between the topological spaces, the morphism ƒ^{*} is automatically assigned. This is a peculiarity of the sheaf of smooth functions on a manifold. Such a property is no longer true for a generic ringed space and, in particular, it is not true for supermanifolds.

A morphism of differentiable manifolds gives rise to a unique (locally) ringed space morphism and vice versa.

Moreover, given two manifolds, they are isomorphic as manifolds iff they are isomorphic as (locally) ringed spaces. In the language of categories, we say we have a fully faithful functor from the category of manifolds to the category of locally ringed spaces.

The generalization of algebraic geometry to the super-setting comes somehow more naturally than the similar generalization of differentiable geometry. This is because the machinery of algebraic geometry was developed to take already into account the presence of (even) nilpotents and consequently, the language is more suitable to supergeometry.

Let X be an affine algebraic variety in the affine space A^{n} over an algebraically closed field k and let O(X) = k[x_{1},…., x_{n}]/I be its coordinate ring, where the ideal I is prime. This corresponds topologically to the irreducibility of the variety X. We can think of the points of X as the zeros of the polynomials in the ideal I in A^{n}. X is a topological space with respect to the Zariski topology, whose closed sets are the zeros of the polynomials in the ideals of O(X). For each open U in X, consider the assignment

U ↦ O_{X}(U)

where O_{X}(U) is the k-algebra of regular functions on U. By definition, these are the functions ƒ X → k that can be expressed as a quotient of two polynomials at each point of U ⊂ X. The assignment U ↦ O_{X}(U) is another example of a sheaf is called the structure sheaf of the variety X or the sheaf of regular functions. (X, O_{X}) is another example of a (locally) ringed space.