This should be a trivial question for mathematicians but not for typical physicists.

I know that the spectrum of a linear operator on a Banach space splits into the so-called "point," "continuous" and "residual" parts [I gather that no boundedness assumption is needed but I could be wrong]. I further know that the point spectrum coincides with the set of eigenvalues of the operator. It seems from the terminology that the point spectrum is a discrete set of isolated point and that the eigenvalues cannot form a continuum. But I haven't been able to find a clear statement in a math reference about this.

Actually, I'm mostly interested in self-adjoint operators on a Hilbert space; so a simpler version of my question would be: Can a self-adjoint operator have a continuous set of eigenvalues? And if yes, under what conditions do the eigenvalues have to be discrete?

I appreciate any help.

lotsof eigenvalues -- namely the whole open unit disc. – Yemon Choi Sep 25 '10 at 1:54