Elementary questions about functions, notation, properties, and operations such as function composition.

learn more… | top users | synonyms (1)

83
votes
6answers
3k views

Continuous function $f:\mathbb{R}\to\mathbb{R}$ such that $f(f(x)) = -x$?

I've been perusing the internet looking for interesting problems to solve. I found the following problem and have been going at it for the past 30 minutes with no success: Find a continuous ...
47
votes
0answers
1k views

Identification of a curious function

During computation of some Shapley values (details below), I encountered the following function: $$ f\left(\sum_{k \geq 0} 2^{-p_k}\right) = \sum_{k \geq 0} \frac{1}{(p_k+1)\binom{p_k}{k}}, $$ where ...
42
votes
1answer
1k views

What is the algebraic structure of functions with fixed points?

So I just noticed that the set of functions with a fixed point $$f(x_0)=x_0,$$ are closed under composition $$(f\circ g)(x):=g(f(x)),$$ and with $e(x)=x$, the inverible functions even seem to form ...
38
votes
4answers
2k views

Nice expression for minimum of three variables?

As we saw here, the minimum of two quantities can be written using elementary functions and the absolute value function. $\min(a,b)=\frac{a+b}{2} - \frac{|a-b|}{2}$ There's even a nice intuitive ...
37
votes
2answers
662 views

Looking for a function such that…

There was this question on one of the whiteboards at my company, and I found it intriguing. Maybe it's a dumb thing to ask. Maybe there is a simple answer that I couldn't see. Anyway, here it is: ...
36
votes
5answers
4k views

How do I define a bijection between $(0,1)$ and $(0,1]$?

How do I define a bijection between $(0,1)$ and $(0,1]$? Or any other open and closed intervals? If the intervals are both open like $(-1,2)\text{ and }(-5,4)$ I do a cheap trick (don't know if ...
35
votes
11answers
3k views

How is $e^x$ read aloud?

My current research colleague from New Castle told me that I was reading it wrong. I usually read it as e power x. How do you read aloud $e ^ x$? Is it: e raised to x e power x e powered x or e ...
34
votes
7answers
3k views

Why is $\log(\sqrt{x^2+1}+x)$ odd?

$$f(x) = \log(\sqrt{x^2+1}+x)$$ I can't figure out, why this function is odd. I mean, of course, its graph shows, it's odd, but when I investigated $f(-x)$, I couldn't find way to ...
31
votes
8answers
3k views

When to Stop Using L'Hôpital's Rule

I don't understand something about L'Hôpital's rule. In this case: $$ \begin{align} & {{}\phantom{=}}\lim_{x\to0}\frac{e^x-1-x^2}{x^4+x^3+x^2} \\[8pt] & ...
30
votes
4answers
1k views

When $f(x+1)-f(x)=f'(x)$, what are the solutions for $f(x)$?

The question is: When $f(x+1)-f(x)=f'(x)$, what are the solutions for $f(x)$? The most obvious solution is a linear function of the form $f(x)=ax+b$. Is this the only solution? Edit I should ...
26
votes
11answers
4k views

How do you define functions for non-mathematicians?

I'm teaching a College Algebra class in the upcoming semester, and only a small portion of the students will be moving on to further mathematics. The class is built around functions, so I need to ...
26
votes
4answers
528 views

$\lfloor \sqrt n+\sqrt {n+1}+\sqrt{n+2}+\sqrt{n+3}+\sqrt{n+4}\rfloor=\lfloor\sqrt {25n+49}\rfloor$ is true?

I found the following relational expression by using computer: For any natural number $n$, $$\lfloor \sqrt n+\sqrt {n+1}+\sqrt{n+2}+\sqrt{n+3}+\sqrt{n+4}\rfloor=\lfloor\sqrt {25n+49}\rfloor.$$ Note ...
26
votes
3answers
2k views

Why isn't the inverse of the function $x\mapsto x+\sin(x)$ expressible in terms of “the functions one finds on a calculator”?

The function $f(x)=x+\sin(x)$ is easily checked to be a bijection from the reals to itself, and so it has a unique inverse $y\mapsto g(y)$ such that $f\circ g=g\circ f$ are both the identity map. ...
23
votes
6answers
684 views

Is there a function with this property?

Is there a real function over the real numbers with this property $\ \sqrt{|x-y|} \leq |f(x)-f(y)|$ ? My guess is no but can anyone tell me why? This came up as a question of one of my collegues and ...
22
votes
2answers
512 views

How to show that a root of the equation $x (x+1)(x+2) … (x+2009) = c $ can have multiplicity at most 2?

How to show that a root of the equation $$x (x+1)(x+2) ....... (x+2009) = c $$ can have multiplicity at most 2 , and to find the value of $ c $ for which this is possible. I proceeded by using the ...
21
votes
10answers
4k views

How to solve $x^{1/2}-x^{1/3} = 0$

How can I solve the following equation? I really can't figure out how to solve it: $x^{1/2}-x^{1/3} = 0$ Thank you.
21
votes
7answers
948 views

Notation for repeated application of function

If I have the function $f(x)$ and I want to apply it $n$ times, what is the notation to use? For example, would $f(f(x))$ be $f_2(x)$, $f^2(x)$, or anything less cumbersome than $f(f(x))$? This is ...
20
votes
2answers
1k views

Is there a natural way to extend repeated exponentiation beyond integers?

This question has been in my mind since high school. We can get multiplication of natural numbers by repeated addition; equivalently, if we define $f$ recursively by $f(1)=m$ and $f(n+1)=f(n)+m$, ...
19
votes
3answers
952 views

Given $f(f(x))$ can we find $f(x)$?

Given $f(f(x))=x+2$ does it necessarily follow that $f(x)=x+1$? This question comes from a precalculus algebra student.
19
votes
3answers
911 views

No continuous function switches $\mathbb{Q}$ and the irrationals

Is there a way to prove the following result using connectedness? Result: Let $J=\mathbb{R} \setminus \mathbb{Q}$ denote the set of irrational numbers. There is no continuous map $f: \mathbb{R} ...
19
votes
4answers
399 views

“$f$ is a function from $A$ to $B$” vs. “$f $is a function from $A$ into $B$”?

When we say that $f$ is a function from $A$ to $B$ is this different from saying $f$ is a function from $A$ into $B$ I know what injective ("1-1"), surjective ("onto"), and bijective ...
19
votes
1answer
380 views

Existence of two real numbers satisfying $f(x-f(y))>yf(x)+x$

Let $f:\mathbb{R} \longrightarrow \mathbb{R}$ be a function. Is it always the case that for some $x,y \in \mathbb R$, the inequality $f(x-f(y))>yf(x)+x$ holds? Thanks in advance.
18
votes
3answers
2k views

Do harmonic numbers have a “closed-form” expression?

One of the joys of high-school mathematics is summing a complicated series to get a “closed-form” expression. And of course many of us have tried summing the harmonic series $H_n =\sum \limits_{k \leq ...
18
votes
5answers
643 views

IMO 1987 - function

Show that there is no function $f: \mathbb{N} \to \mathbb{N}$ such that $f(f(n))=n+1987, \ \forall n \in \mathbb{N}$.
18
votes
2answers
660 views

Prove that there exists $n\in\mathbb{N}$ such that $f^{(n)}$ has at least n+1 zeros on $(-1,1)$

Let $f\in C^{\infty}(\mathbb{R},\mathbb{R})$ such that $f(x)=0$ on $\mathbb{R}$\ $(-1,1)$. Prove that there exists $n\in\mathbb{N}$ such that $f^{(n)}$ has at least n+1 zeros on $(-1,1)$ My attempt : ...
18
votes
2answers
283 views

Covering $\mathbb R^2$ with function graphs

Suppose we have a countable family of function graphs (each function is $\mathbb R\to\mathbb R$, not necessary continuous). Obviously, they cannot cover the whole plane $\mathbb R^2$, because they ...
17
votes
12answers
3k views

How to represent the floor function using mathematical notation?

I'm curious as to how the floor function can be defined using mathematical notation. What I mean by this, is, instead of a word-based explanation (i.e. "The closest integer that is not greater than ...
17
votes
3answers
664 views

What kind of “mathematical object” are limits?

When learning mathematics I tend to try to reduce all the concepts I come across to some matter of interaction between sets and functions (or if necessary the more general Relation) on them. Possibly ...
17
votes
7answers
5k views

Why does “convex function” mean “concave *up*”?

A function $f : \mathbb{R} \to \mathbb{R}$ is convex (or "concave up") provided that for all $x,y \in \mathbb{R}$ and $t \in [0,1]$, $$f(tx + (1-t)y) \le tf(x) + (1-t)f(y).$$ Equivalently, a line ...
17
votes
3answers
1k views

I am searching for an unusual real-valued function.

It needs to fulfill following condition for all positive $x,y ∈ ℝ$: $$f(x)+f(y)+2xyf(xy)=\frac{f(xy)}{f(x+y)}$$ any ideas?
17
votes
2answers
656 views

Largest circle between $y=x^n$ and $y=\sqrt[n]{x}$

Something I have been wondering about for a while. Let us look at the area between $x^n$ and $\sqrt[n]{x}$ when $x\in [0,1]$. Where $n$ is a positive integer. Below is an image. With a given n, how ...
17
votes
3answers
3k views

How do you handle the floor and ceiling function in an equation?

I tried to do some math in a blog post of mine and came to one with a floor function. I wasn't sure how to deal with it so I just ignored it, and then added the ceiling function in my final equation ...
17
votes
1answer
646 views

Characterising functions $f$ that can be written as $f = g \circ g$?

I'd like to characterise the functions that ‘have square roots’ in the function composition sense. That is, can a given function $f$ be written as $f = g \circ g$ (where $\circ$ is function ...
17
votes
1answer
215 views

Show that $\lim\limits_{n\to\infty}\frac{a_1+a_2+\dots+a_n}{n^2}$ exists and is independent of the choice of $a$

Suppose $f:\mathbb{R}\to\mathbb{R}$ has period 1, and for some $q\in(0,1)$: $$|f(x)-f(y)|\leq q|x-y|\quad \forall x,y$$ Let $g(x)=x+f(x)$, for any $a\in\mathbb{R}$,define the following sequence: ...
17
votes
1answer
348 views

Addition formula for $f_n(x+y)$ in closed form.

$n$ is a positive integer. $$f_n(x)^n+\left(\frac{df_n(x)}{dx}\right)^n=1$$ $f_n(0)=0$, $f_n'(0)=1$ then I am looking for the addition formula for $f_n(x+y)$ in closed form. if $n=1$ then ...
16
votes
4answers
913 views

About the addition formula $f(x+y) = f(x)g(y)+f(y)g(x)$

Consider the functional equation $$f(x+y) = f(x)g(y)+f(y)g(x)$$ valid for all complex $x,y$. The only solutions I know for this equation are $f(x)=0$, $f(x)=Cx$, $f(x)=C\sin(x)$ and $f(x)=C\sinh(x)$. ...
16
votes
3answers
353 views

The function $f'+f'''$ has at least $3$ zeros on $[0,2\pi]$.

Show that if $f\in \mathcal{C}^3$ and $2\cdot\pi$ periodic then the function $f'+f'''$ has at least $3$ zeros on $[0,2\pi]$. My attempt : f is $2\pi$ periodic and $\mathcal{C}^3$, we have : ...
16
votes
1answer
461 views

“Converse” of Taylor's theorem

Let $f:(a,b)\to\mathbb R$. We know that for every $c\in(a,b)$ we can write $f(t)=\sum_{i=0}^k a_i(c)(t-c)^i+o\left((t-c)^k\right)$ and $\forall i$ $a_i(c)$ is continuous (with respect to $c$). Can we ...
15
votes
8answers
4k views

A function f(x) that increases from 0 to 1 when x increases from 0 to infinity.

I am looking for a function f(x) with a value range of [0,1]. f(x) should increase from 0 to 1 while its parameter x increases from 0 to +infinity. f(x) increases very fast when x is small, and then ...
15
votes
6answers
2k views

can any continuous function be represented as a sum of convex and concave function?

I read that any continuous function can be represented as a sum of convex and concave function, meaning for all $f(x)$, $f(x) = g(x) + h(x)$ where $g$ is convex and $h$ is concave. There could be ...
15
votes
4answers
5k views

Domain, Co-Domain & Range of a Function

I'm a little confused between the difference between the range & co-domain of a function. Are they not the same thing (i.e. all possible outputs of the function)?
15
votes
3answers
4k views

Is there a bijection between $(0,1)$ and $\mathbb{R}$ that preserves rationality?

While reading about cardinality, I've seen a few examples of bijections from the open unit interval $(0,1)$ to $\mathbb{R}$, one example being the function defined by $f(x)=\tan\pi(2x-1)/2$. Another ...
15
votes
1answer
268 views

A bijection from the plane to itself that takes a circle to a circle must take a straight line to a straight line.

Let $ f: \mathbb{R}^{2} \rightarrow \mathbb{R}^{2} $ be a bijective function. If the image of any circle under $ f $ is a circle, prove that the image of any straight line under $ f $ is a straight ...
14
votes
12answers
9k views

Piecewise functions: Got an example of a real world piecewise function?

Looking for something beyond a contrived textbook problem concerning jelly beans or equations that do not represent anything concrete. Not just a piecewise function for its own sake. Anyone?
14
votes
12answers
2k views

Produce unique number given two integers

Given two integers, $a$ and $b$, I need an operation to produce a third number $c$. This number does not have to be an integer. The restrictions are as follows: $c$ must be unique for the inputs ...
14
votes
12answers
2k views

How to explain the perpendicularity of two lines to a High School student?

Today I was teaching my friend from High School about linear functions. One of the exercises we had to do was finding equations of perpendicular and parallel lines. Explaining parallel equations was ...
14
votes
5answers
604 views

How to solve this equation:$\sqrt{x-\sqrt{x-\sqrt{x-\sqrt{x-5}}}}=5$

Please, help me to solve this equation: $$\sqrt{x-\sqrt{x-\sqrt{x-\sqrt{x-5}}}}=5$$ I think if we continue to square, it would have to face a high-order equation. I guess $x = 30$, but do not know ...
14
votes
1answer
383 views

Functions for which $\int f(g(x))\, \mathrm dx = f\left(\int g(x) \, dx\right)$

I was playing around with some integrals, and this question popped into my head: What functions exist such that the following is true? $$\int f(g(x))\;\mathrm dx = f\left(\int g(x)\;\mathrm ...
14
votes
1answer
436 views

On Vanishing Riemann Sums and Odd Functions

Let $ f: [-1,1] \to \mathbb{R} $ be a continuous function. Suppose that the $ n $-th midpoint Riemann sum of $ f $ vanishes for all $ n \in \mathbb{N} $. In other words, $$ \forall n \in ...
14
votes
2answers
376 views

Increasing orthogonal functions

What is the maximal $n$ such that there exist functions $f_1, \dots, f_n:[0,1] \to \mathbb{R}$ that are all bounded, non-decreasing, and mutually orthogonal in $L^2([0,1])$?