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

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99
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0answers
3k 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 ...
96
votes
7answers
4k 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 ...
46
votes
5answers
7k views

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

How to 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 ...
44
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 ...
39
votes
4answers
3k 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 ...
38
votes
2answers
720 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: ...
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 ...
34
votes
11answers
4k 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 ...
32
votes
8answers
5k 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] & ...
32
votes
4answers
704 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 ...
31
votes
4answers
3k views

What is the “fastest” increasing function that's useful in some area of math?

Context: I just completed the first quarter of an Intro to Real Analysis class, and while I was thinking about how some functions (like $x^2$) aren't uniformly continuous because they, roughly ...
30
votes
5answers
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 ...
30
votes
7answers
1k views

How to obtain $f(x)$, if it is known that $f(f(x))=x^2+x$?

How to get $f(x)$, if we know that $f(f(x))=x^2+x$? Is there an elementary function $f(x)$ that satisfies the equation?
29
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 ...
29
votes
9answers
2k views

What is a function?

I have been quite confused by the definition of functions and their uses.. First of all can one define functions in a clear understandable way, with a clear explanation of their uses, how they work ...
26
votes
16answers
3k 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 ...
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
2answers
2k 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 $f(n+1)=f(n)+m$, ...
23
votes
6answers
698 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
7answers
1k 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 ...
22
votes
3answers
1k 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.
22
votes
3answers
1k 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} ...
22
votes
6answers
878 views

IMO 1987 - function

Show that there is no function $f: \mathbb{N} \to \mathbb{N}$ such that $f(f(n))=n+1987, \ \forall n \in \mathbb{N}$.
22
votes
3answers
3k 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 ...
22
votes
2answers
541 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
6answers
3k views

Is there a name for the function $\max(x, 0)$?

Is there a name for the function $ \max(x, 0) $? For comparison, the function $ \max(x, -x) $ is known as the absolute value (or modulus) of x, and has its own notation $ |x| $
21
votes
5answers
4k views

Why can a circle be described by an equation but not by a function?

In high-school math functions always looked to me just like glorified equations. The only time I saw a meaningful difference was when we covered the equation of a circle and I realized that an ...
20
votes
7answers
2k views

How to make a “function”?

I dropped out of school early when I was still a teenager and now I'm trying to take my GED. I'm really close to passing but I'm still having trouble understanding some concepts. In the pre-test, ...
20
votes
5answers
1k views

Prove that function is constant

Prove that a function $f:\mathbb{R}\to\mathbb{R}$ which satisfies $$f\left({\frac{x+y}3}\right)=\frac{f(x)+f(y)}2$$ is a constant function. This is my solution: constant function have derivative $0$ ...
20
votes
7answers
8k 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 ...
19
votes
12answers
5k 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 ...
19
votes
4answers
422 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
722 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 ...
19
votes
1answer
395 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.
19
votes
2answers
500 views

Maximizing curious symmetric function from simple combinatorics

A curious symmetric function crossed my way in some quantum mechanics calculations, and I'm interested its maximum value (for which I do have a conjecture). (This question has been posted at ...
18
votes
9answers
3k views

Why is an ellipse, hyperbola, and circle not a function?

I am aware of the vertical line test. If you place a vertical line over a shape, and if it crosses more than once, it fails the vertical line test and is no longer a function. But I don't understand ...
18
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?
18
votes
4answers
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 ...
18
votes
4answers
3k views

Why is an image called an “image”?

Given a function $f : A \to B$, the image, denoted by $\operatorname{Im}f$ is the set of all $f(x)$ where $x \in A$. Why do we call this set the image? When was it first used, and what motivated its ...
18
votes
4answers
898 views

Can a function be applied to itself?

There are some functions f that can be composed with themselves. But is there a function which can be applied to itself? In other words, is there a function f such that f is an element of Domain(f)?
18
votes
2answers
724 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
325 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
14answers
15k 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?
17
votes
3answers
747 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
2answers
685 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
3answers
419 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 : ...
17
votes
6answers
6k views

Operator vs function

Could someone please explain the MATHEMATICAL difference between an operator and a function? I am not talking about these in terms of coding but rather the mathematical difference. Is operator also a ...
17
votes
1answer
237 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
356 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 ...