# Notation for a constant vs a variable?

I have a straight line $y=f(x)$, i.e. $$y=kx+m$$ $k, m$ are constants. $x$ is a variable. But is it correct to write $$k,m\in\mathbb R$$ and $$x\in \mathbb R \qquad?$$

Is this notation correct for both constants and variables? Or does the notation differ between constants and variables?

## 2 Answers

You need to indicate which are fixed and which are not. So, it is correct to write $k,m,x\in\mathbb{R}$, but $k$ and $m$ are fixed while $x$ is not.

Alternatively (and more commonly), you would write $f:\mathbb{R}\rightarrow\mathbb{R}$ and $f(x)=kx+m$. Here, you are indicating that $x$ is the variable because of the $x$ appearing in $f(x)$ and you are indicating that $x$ is coming from $\mathbb{R}$ by $f:\mathbb{R}$.

In this second way, you are making a distinction between the function $f$ and the formula for $f(x)$. $f$ is a function whose input is in $\mathbb{R}$ and whose output is also in $\mathbb{R}$. Whereas $f(x)=kx+m$ gives the formula for calculating the values of $f$.

Your notation says true things, but maybe what you want is to emphasize that the $x$ can vary, like in the notation \begin{align*} f:\mathbb R&\to\mathbb R\\ x&\mapsto f(x)=xk+m,& k,m\in\mathbb R. \end{align*}