The term "functional equation" is used for problems where the goal is to find all functions satisfying the given equation and possibly other conditions. Solving the equation means finding all functions satisfying the equation. For basic questions about functions use more suitable tags like (functions) or (elementary-set-theory).

The term "functional equation" is used for problems where the goal is to find all functions satisfying the given equation(s) and possibly other conditions; e.g., the goal can be to find all continuous solutions. Solving the equation means finding all functions satisfying the given equation(s) and any additional conditions.This is different from the more common use of the word "equation", where the solutions are numbers. It is also different from the more common use of the word "functional", referring to a mapping from a space into the reals or complexes. For basic questions about functions use more suitable tags like or .

A common technique used in solving functional equations is finding some properties of satisfying functions by substituting variables for certain values in the equation. Proving properties of satisfying functions is also helpful - finding that a function is injective, surjective, involutive, and so on, is often a key step in finding all possible solutions. Other techniques such as exploiting symmetry, considering fixed points, and even using certain properties of domains (e.g. well-ordering) sometimes help.

Some well-known functional equations are:

More information can be found at Wikipedia.

history | excerpt history