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Is there a finite set $P$ of non-elementary functions $f_n$ such that the derivative of any function $f$ from that set is not elementary, but expressible with functions from the same set $P$ plus elementary functions?

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closed as unclear what you're asking by Misha, Ricardo Andrade, Stefan Kohl, Andrey Rekalo, Chris Godsil Mar 17 '14 at 11:49

Please clarify your specific problem or add additional details to highlight exactly what you need. As it's currently written, it’s hard to tell exactly what you're asking. See the How to Ask page for help clarifying this question.If this question can be reworded to fit the rules in the help center, please edit the question.

What do you mean by "expressible"? Compositions and algebraic operations? Partial inverses of the functions from your class (e.g. radicals)? – Misha Mar 16 '14 at 14:09
@Misha built from finite number of functions from P and elementary functions using arithmetic operations and composition. – Anixx Mar 16 '14 at 14:13
OK, what functions do you regard as "elementary" (there is no consistent terminology here). Functions from where to where? (Real or complex.) For instance, would $P=\{erf\}$ satisfy you? Please, think through what you are really asking and update your question. – Misha Mar 16 '14 at 14:16
If I'm understanding the question right, let $g(x)$ an elementary function such that $f(x) = \int g(x)\ dx$ is not elementary. Then $P = \{f(x)\}$ works. – rghthndsd Mar 16 '14 at 14:20
@Misha This is not my understanding. When asked, Anixx linked to the wikipedia article which states such functions can be complex. Maybe I'm confused. – rghthndsd Mar 16 '14 at 14:26
up vote 4 down vote accepted

Let $g$ be an elementary function whose indefinite integral $f$ is nonelementary, and set $P = \{\cos(t)f(t), \sin(t)f(t)\}$.

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  • The Bessel functions, $\{J_\nu(x), K_\nu(x) | \nu\in\mathbb{Z}\}$
  • Airy functions, $\{Ai(x), Ai^\prime(x)\}$, $\{Bi(x), Bi^\prime(x)\}$
  • Complete elliptic integrals, $\{E(x), K(x)\}$

And also many other solution sets to classes of differential equations. You can also replace $x$ by any elementary function in these classes.

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Are these classes have finite number of functions? It seems the derivatives of Bessel functions give Bessel functions with another index, and the derivative by index is not elementary. Complete elliptic integrals indeed seem to fit. – Anixx Mar 17 '14 at 0:04
@Anixx For the Bessel functions, you can take any two consecutive indices, since they have recurrence identities. I.e., you can express the derivative of $I_\nu$ and $K_\nu$ in terms of $I_{\nu+1},K_{\nu+1}$ or $I_{\nu-1},K_{\nu-1}$ (in addition to $I_\nu,K_\nu$ themselves). That was unclear in my answer, sorry. The other two or three examples are already finite. – Christopher Creutzig Mar 17 '14 at 6:52

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