Real-valued functions of real variable, analytic properties of functions and sequences, limits, continuity, smoothness of these.

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153
votes
11answers
45k views

Have any long-suspected irrational numbers turned out to be rational?

The history of proving numbers irrational is full of interesting stories, from the ancient proofs for $\sqrt{2}$, to Lambert's irrationality proof for $\pi$, to Roger Apéry's surprise demonstration ...
119
votes
8answers
13k views

If $f$ is infinitely differentiable then $f$ coincides with a polynomial

Let $f$ be an infinitely differentiable function on $[0,1]$ and suppose that for each $x \in [0,1]$ there is an integer $n \in \mathbb{N}$ such that $f^{(n)}(x)=0$. Then does $f$ coincide on $[0,1]$ ...
87
votes
17answers
19k views

Why is differentiating mechanics and integration art?

It is often said that "Differentiation is mechanics, integration is art." We have more or less simple rules in one direction but not in the other (e.g. product rule/simple <-> integration by ...
74
votes
9answers
21k views

solving $f(f(x))=g(x)$

This question is of course inspired by the question How to solve f(f(x))=cosx and Joel David Hamkins' answer, which somehow gives a formal trick for solving equations of the form $f(f(x))=g(x)$ on a ...
69
votes
32answers
47k views

Why do we teach calculus students the derivative as a limit?

I'm not teaching calculus right now, but I talk to someone who does, and the question that came up is why emphasize the $h \to 0$ definition of a derivative to calculus students? Something a teacher ...
60
votes
5answers
4k views

Does pointwise convergence imply uniform convergence on a large subset?

Suppose $f_n$ is a sequence of real valued functions on $[0,1]$ which converges pointwise to zero. Is there an uncountable subset $A$ of $[0,1]$ so that $f_n$ converges uniformly on $A$? Is there a ...
56
votes
16answers
11k views

f(f(x))=exp(x)-1 and other functions “just in the middle” between linear and exponential

The question is about the function f(x) so that f(f(x))=exp (x)-1. The question is open ended and it was discussed quite recently in the comment thread in Aaronson's blog here ...
55
votes
18answers
7k views

Proofs of the uncountability of the reals.

Recently, I learnt in my analysis class the proof of the uncountability of the reals via the Nested Interval Theorem. At first, I was excited to see a variant proof (as it did not use the diagonal ...
54
votes
9answers
3k views

Taking “Zooming in on a point of a graph” seriously

In calculus classes it is sometimes said that the tangent line to a curve at a point is the line that we get by "zooming in" on that point with an infinitely powerful microscope. This explanation ...
54
votes
8answers
8k views

Why is Lebesgue integration taught using positive and negative parts of functions?

Background: When I first took measure theory/integration, I was bothered by the idea that the integral of a real-valued function w.r.t. a measure was defined first for nonnegative functions and only ...
53
votes
6answers
2k views

Why does $d^n \exp(-x-x^{-1})/(dx)^n$ only have $n$ positive real zeroes?

Set $f(x) = \exp(-x-x^{-1})$. An easy induction shows that $$\frac{d^n}{(dx)^n} f(x) = \phi_n(x^{-1}) f(x)$$ for $\phi_n$ a polynomial of degree $2n$. Clearly, the roots of $\phi_n(x^{-1})$ are the ...
52
votes
9answers
9k views

Why do functions in complex analysis behave so well? (as opposed to functions in real analysis)

Complex analytic functions show rigid behavior while real-valued smooth functions are flexible. Why is this the case?
51
votes
2answers
845 views

Continuous maps which send intervals of $\mathbb{R}$ to convex subsets of $\mathbb{R}^2$

Let $f : \mathbb{R} \longrightarrow \mathbb{R}^2$ be a continuous map which sends any interval $I \subseteq \mathbb{R}$ to a convex subset $f(I)$ of $\mathbb{R}^2$. Is it true that there must be a ...
49
votes
4answers
2k views

When has the Borel-Cantelli heuristic been wrong?

The Borel-Cantelli lemma is very frequently used to give a heuristic for whether or not certain statements in number theory are true. For example, it gives some evidence that there are finitely many ...
48
votes
1answer
2k views

Square root of dirac delta function

Is there a measurable function $ f:\mathbb{R}\to \mathbb{R}^+ $ so that $ f*f(x)=1 $ for all $ x\in \mathbb{R} $, i.e $$\int\limits_{-\infty}^{\infty} f(t)f(x-t) dt=1 $$ for all $ x\in \mathbb{R} $.
45
votes
2answers
2k views

Is a function with nowhere vanishing derivatives analytic?

My question is the following: Let $f\in C^\infty(a,b)$, such that $f^{(n)}(x)\ne 0$, for every $n\in\mathbb N$, and every $x\in (a,b)$. Does that imply that $f$ is real analytic? EDIT. According to a ...
38
votes
4answers
2k views

Smooth functions for which $f(x)$ is rational if and only if $x$ is rational

A friend of mine introduced me to the following question: Does there exist a smooth function $f: \mathbb{R} \to \mathbb{R}$, ($f \in C^\infty$), such that $f$ maps rationals to rationals and ...
38
votes
1answer
944 views

Does there exist a bijection of $\mathbb{R}^n$ with itself such that the forward map is connected but the inverse is not?

Let $(X,\tau), (Y,\sigma)$ be two topological spaces. We say that a map $f: \mathcal{P}(X)\to \mathcal{P}(Y)$ between their power sets is connected if for every $S\subset X$ connected, $f(S)\subset Y$ ...
37
votes
1answer
1k views

Every real function has a dense set on which its restriction is continuous

The title says it all: if $f\colon \mathbb{R} \to \mathbb{R}$ is any real function, there exists a dense subset $D$ of $\mathbb{R}$ such that $f|_D$ is continuous. Or so I'm told, but this leaves me ...
34
votes
7answers
6k views

Are some numbers more irrational than others?

Some irrational numbers are transcendental, which makes them in some sense "more irrational" than algebraic numbers. There are also numbers, such as the golden ratio $\varphi$, which are poorly ...
34
votes
6answers
2k views

On an example of an eventually oscillating function

For $x\in(0,1)$, put $$f(x):=\sum_{n=0}^{\infty}(-1)^{n}x^{2^{n}}.$$ This function possesses interesting properties. It grows monotonically from $0$ up to certain point. Then it starts to oscillate ...
34
votes
2answers
4k views

“Closed-form” functions with half-exponential growth

Let's call a function f:N→N half-exponential if there exist constants 1<c<d such that for all sufficiently large n, cn < f(f(n)) < dn. Then my question is this: can we prove that no ...
32
votes
19answers
7k views

Interesting applications (in pure mathematics) of first-year calculus

What interesting applications are there for theorems or other results studied in first-year calculus courses? A good example for such an application would be using a calculus theorem to prove a ...
32
votes
3answers
3k views

The Hardy Z-function and failure of the Riemann hypothesis

David Feldman asked whether it would be reasonable for the Riemann hypothesis to be false, but for the Riemann zeta function to only have finitely many zeros off the critical line. I very rashly ...
31
votes
1answer
1k views

Is $π$ definable in $(\Bbb R,0,1,+,×,<,\exp)$?

(This question is originally from Math.SE, where it didn't receive any answers.) Is there a first-order formula $\phi(x) $ with exactly one free variable $ x $ in the language of ordered fields ...
31
votes
1answer
810 views

For which maps $S^1\to S^1$ is the winding number defined?

There are two classes of maps $S^1\to S^1$ for which I know how to define the winding number: • Continuous maps: Using the unique path lifting property of the universal covering map $\mathbb R\to ...
31
votes
1answer
1k views

Prove that there exists $n\in\mathbb{N}$ such that $f^{(n)}$ has at least n+1 zeros on $(-1,1)$

Let $f\in C^{\infty}(\mathbb{R},\mathbb{R})$ such that $f(x)=0$ on $\mathbb{R}\setminus (-1,1)$. Prove that there exists $n\in\mathbb{N}$ such that $f^{(n)}$ has at least $n+1$ zeros on $(-1,1)$ ...
30
votes
9answers
19k views

Is square of Delta function defined somewhere?

Hello, every one. I am wondering whether any one knows that whether the square of Dirac Delta function is defined some where? In the beginning, this question might look strange. But by restricting ...
30
votes
2answers
1k views

Square root of a positive $C^\infty$ function.

Suppose $f$ is a $C^\infty$ function from the reals to the reals that is never negative. Does it have a $C^\infty$ square root? Clearly the only problem points are those at which $f$ vanishes.
30
votes
1answer
2k views

What did Rolle prove when he proved Rolle's theorem?

Rolle published what we today call Rolle's theorem about 150 years before the arithmetization of the reals. Unfortunately this proof seems to have been buried in a long book [Rolle 1691] that I can't ...
30
votes
2answers
2k views

An Entropy Inequality

Let $X,Y$ be probability measures on $\{1,2,\dots,n\}$, and set $K=\sum_i\sqrt{X(i)Y(i)}$ so that $Z:=\frac{1}{K}\sqrt{XY}$ is also a probability measure on $\{1,2,\dots,n\}$. How can we prove the ...
29
votes
2answers
3k views

Everywhere differentiable function that is nowhere monotonic

It is well known that there are functions $f \colon \mathbb{R} \to \mathbb{R}$ that are everywhere continuous but nowhere monotonic (i.e. the restriction of $f$ to any non-trivial interval $[a,b]$ is ...
29
votes
4answers
7k views

Integrability of derivatives

Is there a (preferably simple) example of a function $f:(a,b)\to \mathbb{R}$ which is everywhere differentiable, such that $f'$ is not Riemann integrable? I ask for pedagogical reasons. Results in ...
29
votes
5answers
4k views

Differentiable functions with discontinuous derivatives

For years I've taught my honors calculus students about functions like (the continuous extension of) $x^2 \sin 1/x$, and for just as many years I've told them that they won't encounter functions like ...
27
votes
2answers
1k views

Continuous functions $f$ with $f(A)$ linearly independent when $A$ is independent

Is there any characterization of continuous functions $f : \Bbb{R}\longrightarrow \Bbb{R}$ such that for any linearly independent set $A$ (over the rationals) $f(A)$ is also linearly independent ?
26
votes
2answers
2k views

Is $\sum_{k=1}^{n} \sin(k^2)$ bounded by a constant $M$?

I know $\sum_{k=1}^{n} \sin(k)$ is bounded by a constant. How about $\sum_{k=1}^{n} \sin(k^2)$?
25
votes
9answers
2k views

Continuous relations?

What might it mean for a relation $R\subset X\times Y$ to be continuous? In topology, category theory or in analysis? Is it possible, canonical, useful? I have a vague idea of the possibility of ...
25
votes
1answer
1k views

Is pi = log_a(b) for some integers a, b > 1?

Are there integers $a, b > 1$ such that $\pi = \log_a(b)$? Or equivalently: are there integers $a,b > 1$ such that $a^\pi = b$? Note that the transcendence of $\pi$ makes this a problem - ...
23
votes
4answers
1k views

is f a polynomial provided that it is “partially” smooth?

Let $f$ be a $C^\infty$ function on $(c,d)$ ,and let $O=\cup_{n\in \mathbb{Z}^+} (a_n,b_n)$ where $(a_n,b_n)$ are disjoint open interval in $(c,d)$ and $O$ is dense in $(c,d)$. Suppose for each $n\in ...
23
votes
2answers
764 views

Codimension of Measurable Sets

I am currently teaching an advanced undergraduate analysis class, and the following question came up. Intuition suggests that "most" subsets of $[0,1]$ are not Lebesgue measurable. However, the ...
22
votes
8answers
6k views

Can Cantor set be the zero set of a continuous function?

More generally, can the zero set $V(f)$ of a continuous function $f : \mathbb{R} \to \mathbb{R}$ be nowhere dense and uncountable? What if $f$ is smooth? About two days ago I discovered that in this ...
22
votes
7answers
2k views

Rolle's theorem in n dimensions

This looks like a statement from a calculus textbook, which perhaps it should be. "Rolle's theorem". Let $F\colon [a,b]\to\mathbb R^n$ be a continuous function such that F(a)=F(b) and F'(t) exists ...
22
votes
2answers
1k views

Analogues of Luzin's theorem

If $X$ is a compact metric space and $\mu$ is a Borel probability measure on $X$, then the space $C(X)$ of continuous real-valued functions on $X$ is a closed nowhere dense subset of ...
22
votes
1answer
433 views

Which ordered fields are homeomorphic to their power?

It is well known that $\mathbb{R}^2\ncong \mathbb{R}$. It is also known that $\mathbb{Q}^2\cong \mathbb{Q}$. It is a corollary to Sierpiński's theorem which states that every countable metric space ...
21
votes
24answers
26k views

Text for an introductory Real Analysis course.

Any suggestions on a good text to use for teaching an introductory Real Analysis course? Specifically what have you found to be useful about the approach taken in specific texts?
21
votes
9answers
3k views

Function with range equal to whole reals on every open set

There is an example of a function that is unbounded on every open set. Just take $f(n/m) = m$ for coprime $n$ and $m$ and $f(irrational) = 0$. I want to generalize this in a way to get a function ...
21
votes
2answers
2k views

Does Arzelà-Ascoli require choice?

Inspired by a recent Math.SE question entitled Where do we need the axiom of choice in Riemannian geometry?, I was thinking of the Arzelà--Ascoli theorem. Let's state a very simple version: ...
21
votes
0answers
546 views

Relative null-ness

Here, "measure" always means Lebesgue measure on $\mathbb{R}$. This question is partly motivated by my answer ...
20
votes
11answers
5k views

The role of the mean value theorem (MVT) in first-year calculus.

Should the mean value theorem be taught in first-year calculus? Most calculus textbooks present the MVT just before the section that says that if $f'>0$ on an interval then $f$ increases on that ...
20
votes
3answers
3k views

Dual of bounded uniformly continuous functions

Let $(X,d)$ be a metric space, and let $C_u(X)$ be the Banach space of bounded uniformly continuous functions on $X$ (with the uniform norm). How can I characterize its dual space $C_u(X)^*$? I ...