Skip to main content

# Section1.2Functions¶ permalink

You have probably encountered functions before. In introductory calculus, for instance, you typically deal with functions from $\R$ to $\R$ (e.g., the function $f(x)=x^2$). More generally, functions “send” elements of one set to elements of another set; these sets may or may not be sets of real numbers. We provide below a “good enough for government work” definition of a function.

##### Definition1.2.1

A function $f$ from a set $S$ to a set $T$ is a “rule” that assigns to each element $s$ in $S$ a unique element $f(s)$ in $T\text{;}$ the element $f(s)$ is called the image of $s$ under $f$. If $f$ is a function from $S$ to $T\text{,}$ we write $f: S \to T\text{,}$ and call $S$ the domain of $f$ and $T$ the codomain of $f\text{.}$ The range of $f$ is

\begin{equation*} f(S)=\{f(s) \in T : s \in S\} \subseteq T. \end{equation*}

More generally, if $U \subseteq S\text{,}$ the image of $U$ in $T$ under $f$ is

\begin{equation*} f(U)=\{f(u)\in T : u\in U\}. \end{equation*}

If $V\subseteq T\text{,}$ the preimage of $V$ in $S$ under $f$ is the set

\begin{equation*} f^{\leftarrow}(V)=\{s\in S: f(s)\in V\}. \end{equation*}
##### Example1.2.2

Consider the function $f: \Z \to \R$ defined by $f(x)=x^2\text{.}$ The domain of $f$ is $\Z$ and the codomain of $f$ is $\R\text{;}$ the range of $f$ is $\{x^2\,:\,x\in \Z\}=\{0,1,4,9,\ldots\}\text{.}$ The image of $\{-2,-1,1,2\}$ under $f$ is the two-element set $\{1,4\} \subseteq \R\text{,}$ and the preimage of $\{4,25,\pi\}$ under $f$ is the set $\{\pm 2, \pm 5\}\text{.}$ (Do you see why $\pm \sqrt{\pi}$ are not in this preimage?) What is the preimage of just $\{\pi\}$ under $f\text{?}$

The following definitions will be very important in our future work.

##### Definition1.2.3

Let $S$ and $T$ be sets, and $f:S\to T\text{.}$

1. Function $f$ is one-to-one (1-1) if whenever $s_1, s_2\in S$ with $f(s_1)=f(s_2)\text{,}$ we have $s_1=s_2\text{.}$ Equivalently, $f$ is one-to-one if whenever $s_1\neq s_2 \in S\text{,}$ then $f(s_1)\neq f(s_2) \in T\text{.}$

2. Function $f$ is onto if for every $t\in T\text{,}$ there exists an element $s\in S$ such that $f(s)=t\text{.}$ Equivalently, $f$ is onto if $f(S)=T\text{.}$

3. Function $f$ is a bijection if it is both one-to-one and onto.

##### Remark1.2.4

We will often have to show functions are one-to-one or onto. Given a function $f:S\to T\text{,}$ the following methods are recommended.

• To prove that $f$ is one-to-one: Let $s_1,s_2 \in S$ with $f(s_1)=f(s_2)$ and prove that then $s_1=s_2\text{.}$

Note: It is not sufficient to prove that if $s_1=s_2$ in $S$ then $f(s_1)=f(s_2)\text{;}$ that holds true for ANY function from $S$ to $T\text{!}$ Be careful to assume and prove the correct facts.

• To prove that $f$ is not one-to-one: Identify two elements $s_1 \neq s_2$ of $S$ such that $f(s_1)=f(s_2)\text{.}$

• To prove that $f$ is onto: Let $t\in T$ and prove that there exists an element $s\in S$ with $f(s)=t\text{.}$

Note: It is not sufficient to prove that if $s\in S$ then $f(s)$ is in $T\text{;}$ that holds true for ANY function from $S$ to $T\text{!}$ Again, be careful to assume and prove the correct facts.

• To prove that $f$ is not onto: Identify an element $t\in T$ for which there is no $s\in S$ with $f(s)=t\text{.}$

##### Example1.2.5

Consider the function $f: \R^* \to \R^+$ defined by $f(x)=x^2\text{.}$ Function $f$ is not one-to-one: indeed, $-1$ and $1$ are in $\R^*$ with $f(-1)=1=f(1)$ in $\R^+\text{.}$ However, $f$ is onto: indeed, let $t\in \R^+\text{.}$ Then $\sqrt{t} \in \R^*$ with $t=f(\sqrt{t})\text{,}$ so we're done.

##### Example1.2.6

Consider the function $f: \Z^+ \to \R$ defined by $f(x)=x/2\text{.}$ Function $f$ is one-to-one: indeed, let $s_1, s_2 \in \Z^+$ with $f(s_1)=f(s_2)\text{.}$ Then $s_1/2=f(s_1)=f(s_2)=s_2/2\text{;}$ multiplying both sides of the equation $s_1/2=s_2/2$ by 2, we obtain $s_1=s_2\text{.}$ However, $f$ is not onto: for example, $\pi\in \R$ but there is no positive integer $s$ for which $f(s)=s/2=\pi\text{.}$

Recall that we can combine certain functions using composition:

##### Definition1.2.7

If $f:S\to T$ and $g:T\to U\text{,}$ then the composition of $f$ and $g$ is the function $g\circ f: S\to U$ defined by

\begin{equation*} (g\circ f)(s)=g(f(s)) \end{equation*}

for all $s\in S\text{.}$ (More generally, you can compose functions $f:S\to T$ and $g:R\to U$ to form $g\circ f:S\to U\text{,}$ as long as $f(S)\subseteq R\text{.}$) Also recall that given any set $S\text{,}$ the identity function on $S$ is the function $1_S: S\to S$ defined by $1_S(s)=s$ for every $s\in S\text{.}$

##### Definition1.2.8

Let $f$ be a function from $S$ to $T\text{.}$ A function $g$ from $T$ to $S$ is an inverse of $f$ if $g\circ f$ and $f\circ g$ are the identity functions on $S$ and $T\text{,}$ respectively; that is, if for all $s\in S$ and $t\in T\text{,}$ $g(f(s))=s$ and $f(g(t))=t\text{.}$

We say a function is invertible if it has an inverse.

We have the following useful theorems.