I'm trying to find the right vocab word to describe a concept:
In computational geometry, there's a concept of a polygon "monotone" with respect to a line. Which means that the polygon intersects the line and all lines parallel to it in at most two places. I want to find the equivalent concept for real valued functions. That is, I want a property that describes a function that intersects a given line and lines parallel to it (in this case I'm interested in lines of the form $f(x) = c$, for all values of $c$, ie: horizontal lines) in at most two places.
The obvious analog, monotone functions, isn't what I want at all, since it limits the first derivative to always have the same sign, and even allows it to go flat for a bit.
The most sophisticated example I can think of: $\sin(x)$ over the interval $[0, 2\pi)$. If the interval was increased at all in either direction, there'd exist a horizontal line that intersects the function in 3 places. But if it's limited to just $[0, 2\pi)$, $\sin(x)$ only ever crosses any given horizontal line twice or less. From this example, there doesn't seem to be any rules you can impose on the first or second (or higher) derivatives, which was my initial thought.
Motivation: I'm thinking it's possible to decompose an oscillating (but not necessarily periodic) function in to chunks like this to help numerical root finders. eg: $f(x)=\sin(x)+c$ (for all $c$) evaluated over all possible intervals exactly $2 \pi$ wide will have this property. So if you break $\sin(x)+c$ in to $2\pi$ sized chunks, you know each chunk has at most two roots. Smaller intervals (no matter how small) can still have up to two roots, so $2\pi$ is the largest interval that still guarantees this property.