# Guarantee that a function is differentiable in R2 at a certain point

I just read a theorem on my class notes that states:

Let $$f:\mathbb R^2\rightarrow \mathbb R$$ be a function and $$(x_0, y_0) \in \mathbb R²$$ a point such that the partial derivates exist on a ball of center $$(x_0,y_0)$$ and both are continuous on $$(x_0,y_0)$$. This implies $$f$$ differentiable on $$(x_0,y_0)$$.

This raised some questions in me.

Consider the function $$f(x,y) = \begin{cases} 1 & \text{if x=0 or y=0} \\ 0 & \text{elsewere} \end{cases}$$

I know differentiability on a point implies continuity on that point. But here I have that partial derivates exist and are continuous on a ball around $$(0,0)$$, and by theorem that would implied differentiability, but that would implied continuity and this function is not continuous on $$(0,0)$$.

Then consider the function $$g(x,y) = \begin{cases} |x| & \text{if y=0} \\ |y| & \text{if x=0} \\ 0 & \text{elsewere} \end{cases}$$

This function is continuous on $$(0,0)$$, but partial derivates does not exist (because of the absolute value over the axis) so I can not use the above theorem. Now imagine the function $$h$$ results from rotating $$g$$ 45 degrees (so the absolute values would be on the lines of the domain $$y=x$$ and $$y=-x$$. The partial derivates of $$h$$ does exist, and are continuous on a ball around $$(0,0)$$. This implies by above theorem that $$h$$ is differentiable on $$(0,0)$$.

On the other hand, $$h$$ and $$g$$ are practically the same function. Why do I need partial derivates instead of just 2 different arbitrary directional derivates to ensure differentiability?

Now consider the function $$i(x,y) = \begin{cases} x² & \text{if y=0} \\ y² & \text{if x=0} \\ 1 & \text{elsewere} \end{cases}$$

This function does have partial derivates and they are continuous around $$(0,0)$$, so that would implied differentiability but, again this function is not continuous on $$(0,0$$).

I absolutely convinced I'm reasoning something wrong (maybe a lot of things) but I can't see my own misconceptions, so I would appreciate some help. What I'm doing wrong? Or in the unlikely case that the theorem is wrong, why?

• I think your main misunderstanding relates to the existence & continuity of the partial derivatives on a ball, rather than at the point. For your first function, what is $\frac{\partial f}{\partial x}\rvert_{(0, \epsilon)}$? – Sten Nov 15 '19 at 11:51
• $\frac{\partial f}{\partial x}\rvert_{(0, \epsilon)}$would be 0? Since $f$ is constant over the axis, it does not matter how close I am the directional derivate always gives 0 since fixing $y$ let us with a single variable function that is constant. Is this wrong? – xtreymer Nov 15 '19 at 12:00
• I think I got it. I was thinking about fixing the $y$ variable like forcing it to be zero, while instead i must treating it like a constant but it can be whatever value I want. Understood after your answer and a gif, so thanks. – xtreymer Nov 15 '19 at 12:16

Let's evaluate the derivative $$\frac{\partial f}{\partial x}$$ at some point just off the origin, but on the $$y$$-axis. From the definition of the partial derivative, we have
$$\left.\frac{\partial f}{\partial x}\right\rvert_{(0, \varepsilon)} = \lim_{h \to 0} \frac{f(h, \varepsilon) - f(0, \varepsilon)}{h} = \lim_{h\to 0} \frac{0 - 1}{h} = \lim_{h\to 0} \frac{-1}{h}$$
And this limit does not exist, no matter what non-zero value of epsilon we picked. So the partial derivatives of $$f$$ do not exist on the entirety of any ball around (0, 0).