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

learn more… | top users | synonyms (1)

89
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 ...
63
votes
0answers
2k 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 ...
43
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
5answers
5k 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 ...
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
679 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: ...
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 ...
32
votes
4answers
651 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
8answers
4k 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 ...
27
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
7answers
1k views

how to get $ f(x) $ if we know $ f(f(x))=x^2+x $

how to get $ f(x) $ if we know $ f(f(x))=x^2+x $ Is there elementary function of $f(x)$ satisfy the equation?
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
10answers
5k 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.
23
votes
15answers
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 ...
23
votes
6answers
689 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
522 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
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 ...
20
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| $
20
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.
20
votes
3answers
966 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} ...
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 $f(n+1)=f(n)+m$, ...
20
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 ...
19
votes
12answers
4k 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
401 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
5answers
679 views

IMO 1987 - function

Show that there is no function $f: \mathbb{N} \to \mathbb{N}$ such that $f(f(n))=n+1987, \ \forall n \in \mathbb{N}$.
19
votes
1answer
383 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
7answers
6k 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 ...
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
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
823 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
682 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
1answer
663 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 ...
18
votes
2answers
296 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
3answers
679 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
663 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
370 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
1answer
223 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
349 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
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)?
16
votes
3answers
257 views

Is$\frac{\sqrt{a}}{\sqrt{b}}$ the same as $\sqrt{\frac{a}{b}}$?

My idea is that the two functions are not the same since for the first function, the domain of the function is only non negative reals for the numerator and positive reals for the denominator. ...
16
votes
4answers
945 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
1answer
256 views

Generalization of $\lfloor \sqrt n+\sqrt {n+1}+\sqrt{n+2}+\sqrt{n+3}+\sqrt{n+4}\rfloor=\lfloor\sqrt {25n+49}\rfloor$

I have been asking the following question at MSE with an answer: $\lfloor \sqrt n+\sqrt {n+1}+\sqrt{n+2}+\sqrt{n+3}+\sqrt{n+4}\rfloor=\lfloor\sqrt {25n+49}\rfloor$ is true? I found this relational ...
16
votes
1answer
476 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
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
5answers
4k 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 ...