## functionA way of expressing the dependence of one quantity on another quantity
or quantities. Traditionally, functions were specified as explicit rules
or formulas that converted some input value (or values) into an output value.
If f is the name of the function and x is a name for an input
value, then f(x) denotes the output value corresponding to
x under the rule f. An input value is also called an argument
of the function, and an output value is called a value of the function.
The graph of the function f is the collection of all pairs (x,
f(x)), where x is an argument of f. For example, the circumference C of a circle depends on its diameter
d according to the formula C = πd; therefore, one
can say that the circumference is a function of the diameter, and the functional
relationship is given by C(d) = πd. Equally well,
the diameter can be considered a function of the circumference, with the
relationship given by d(C) = d/π. Again, if y = ax^{2} + bx + c,
where a, b, and c are constants, and x
and y are variables, then y is said to be a function of
x, since, by assigning to x a series of different values,
a corresponding series of values of y is obtained, showing its
dependence on the value given to x. For this reason, x
is termed the independent variable and y the dependent variable. There may be more than one independent variable – e.g. the area of a triangle depends on its altitude and its base, and is thus a function of two variables. ## Types of functionFunctions are primarily classified as algebraic or transcendental. The former include only those functions which may be expressed in a finite number of terms, involving only the elementary algebraic operations of addition, subtraction, multiplication, division, and root extraction.Functions are also distinguished as continuous or discontinuous.
Any function is said to be continuous when an infinitely small change in
the value of the independent variable produces only an infinitely small
change in the dependent variable; and to be discontinuous when an infinitely
small change in the independent variable makes a change in the dependent
variable either finite or infinitely great. All purely algebraic expressions
are continuous functions, as are also such transcendental functions as e^{x},
log x, and sin x. Harmonic
and periodic functions are those whose values fluctuate
regularly between certain assigned limits, passing through all of their
possible values, while the independent variable changes by a certain amount
known as the period. Such functions are of great importance in many branches
of mathematical physics. Their essential feature is that, if f(x)
be a periodic function whose period is a, then f(x
+ ½a) = f(x - ½a), for all values of
x. ## The modern view of functionsIn modern mathematics, the insistence on specifying an explicit effective rule has been abandoned; all that is required is that a functionf
associate with every element of some set X
a unique element of some set Y. This makes it possible to prove the
existence of a function without necessarily being able to calculate its
values explicitly. Also, it enables general properties of functions to be
proved independently of their form. The set X of all admissible arguments
is called the domain of f; the set Y of all
admissible values is called the codomain of f. We
write f : X Y.
## Related category• FUNCTIONS | |||||

Home • About • Copyright © The Worlds of David Darling • Encyclopedia of Alternative Energy • Contact |