A function $f : \mathbb{C} \rightarrow \mathbb{C}$ is said to be holomorphic in an open set $A \subset \mathbb{C}$ if it is differentiable at each point of the set $A$.

The function $f : \mathbb{C} \rightarrow \mathbb{C}$ is said to be analytic if it has power series representation.

We can prove that the two concepts are same for a single variable complex functions. So why these two different terms? Is there any difference between these two concepts in general, please give example.

Thank you for your help.

  • 14
    $\begingroup$ Your definitions should be the other way around. You have two concepts each one has its own name, (historically ) it just turn out they define the same functions on the complex numbers. $\endgroup$
    – azarel
    Commented Nov 20, 2013 at 0:53
  • 6
    $\begingroup$ I've always understood it to be the other way around: "analytic" means it is equal to it power series within some non-zero radius of convergence, and "holomorphic" means it's differentiable. $\endgroup$ Commented Nov 20, 2013 at 0:54
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ As already said, you switched the definitions. The introduction of this link will probably clarify a little more. $\endgroup$ Commented Nov 20, 2013 at 0:56

1 Answer 1


So why these two different terms?

Because the history of mathematical terms is long and complicated. At least we stopped talking about monogenic functions and regular functions, which are two more terms for the same concept (as far as complex analysis is concerned). Quoting HOMT site:

In modern analysis the term ANALYTIC FUNCTION is used in two ways: (of a complex function) having a complex derivative at every point of its domain, and in consequence possessing derivatives of all orders and agreeing with its Taylor series locally; (of a real function) possessing derivatives of all orders and agreeing with its Taylor series locally.

Since the first usage is so popular (due to the ubiquity of power series in complex analysis, where they exist for every differentiable function), one will often say real-analytic when referring to the usage of the second kind.

Also from HOMT, an explanation of what analytic meant in the less rigorous age of analysis:

[In Lagrange's] Théorie des Fonctions Analytiques (1797) [...] an analytic function simply signified a function of the kind treated in analysis. The connection between the usage of Lagrange and modern usage is explained by Judith V. Grabiner in her The Origins of Cauchy’s Rigorous Calculus: "For Lagrange, all the applications of calculus ... rested on those properties of functions which could be learned by studying their Taylor series developments ... Weierstrass later exploited this idea in his theory of functions of a complex variable, retaining Lagrange’s term "analytic function" to designate, for Weierstrass, a function of a complex variable with a convergent Taylor series."

As for "holomorphic": in complex analysis we often encounter both Taylor series and Laurent series. For the latter, it matters very much whether the number of negative powers is finite or infinite. To enunciate these distinctions, the words holomorphic and meromorphic were introduced. Meromorphic allows poles (i.e., finitely many negative powers in the Laurent series), while holomorphic does not. From a certain viewpoint (the Riemann sphere), meromorphic functions are no worse than holomorphic ones; while at other times, the presence of poles changes the situation.

  • 2
    $\begingroup$ and all. Thank you for your information. $\endgroup$
    – Supriyo
    Commented Nov 21, 2013 at 0:43
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ Lovely explanation. $\endgroup$
    – Amey Joshi
    Commented Mar 7, 2017 at 15:22
  • 2
    $\begingroup$ What is the address of the site HOMT ? $\endgroup$ Commented Apr 21, 2019 at 6:44

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .