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Problem: Let f : lR + IR have the property (zr) iff they satisfy the equation

f ( " * f ( t ) )- t * f ( ' ) '


$ *for all real s and t. Determine the family of functions with the property (zr).

SoJa*ien:A tittfu experimentati''on with functions wl.rich satiS (n) will likely convince the reader that these functions are not unlike the identity mapping. (For example: powers of the arguments, multiplication by non-trivial constants, and the addition of constants, as functions, all fail the criterion.) In fact, we prove that the property (z-) uniquely characterizes Id(r). The proof will depend on the following lemma; the proof of the lemma is tedious, but I don't know any way around it. Lemma: If / has the property (zr), then /(0) : 0. Proof : Put y - /(0). Take s :0,f :0 in / to show

f@)-a'
0 Takings:U,t-0shows

(1)

f (y' + u) : f @)'
and so substitution from (1) gives f @'-ty)-ya.
However, Ietting s : 0, t : U shows (by (t) again)

(2)

(B)

f(y')-a+az.
If we substitute the RHS of ( ) in the LHS of (3), we obtain

(4)

f u@\) : y4
but letting s : A,t: y2 directly showsthat

(5)

f(f(y')) - 2u'.

(6)

ft

,q or \/r.
So we discover that we must have A4 : 2y2,, which requires U : -1/i,0,

Now supposethat y were ,/2. Then letting t - f (A2),s: U shows

f @ ' + f U @ \ ) ) - f Q a 2 ) : f @ 2 ) +f ( y ) 2
(wherethe far left and midclieare equalUV(6)); but ffiffi$'i y says

(T)
I 1ft,y,t -

2 f ( s a 2-) f ( r t i l ' + y - f ( y 2 )+ y

(8)

Equating (7) and (8), and recalling that f (y2) - A I A2, we then find

f ( y ' ) + f ( i l 2 - f ( a 2 ) 2 + a+

y*a2+a4 -u2+zy3+a4+a +

2 y s- 0 : U in (7)

which is absurd. AssumingA - -rn and settirg s - -{2y,t similarly shows that y + -\/r. We concludethat U : 0. I

With the lemma in hand, we can finish the proof in a more reasonable(and interesting) way. Consider any function / with the property (zr). If we fix s - 0 and let t take any real value, we find that /(/(t)) - t. The reader may recall that this says that f is an 'inuolut'ioz;as such, it constitutes its own inverse. (Clearly, it maps the range of / into its domain.) Because/ is invertible, it must be one-to-one;so / cannot take the value of zero for more than one axgument. Since /(0) - 0, we have that for ,r IR : r + 0,,f (*) 1 0. We can use this fact to show that f is increasing. Proof: Pick r,a lR,r ( y, andsetd - A-r.Bychoosing t - f(r), t : J6, we have

/ ( d + f ( f ( " ) ) ) : f ( 6 r r ) - f ( " ) +f ( 1 6 , +

f ( " + 6 ) - f ( " )- f b f q ,

Since\fr 10, we havef (t/6) f A, andso /(\/5)' > 0; so f (r+ d) - f (*) f (a) - f (") > 0. This showsthat / is increasingon its domain. The reader may prove for himself (it isn't hard!) that f (r) - r is the only increasinginvolution; he is advised to supposef(") > r or f(r) < r for arbitrary r, and derive a contradiction. Since we proved that any function with the property (zr) is an increasing involution, we have thus proved that

e,

f (*) : r is the only function which satisfies (r). I It is quite fortunate that functions satisfying (zr) are increasing; Remark were they not, there would be infinitely many possibilities, the simplest being linear and piecewise linear. In general, the strongest condition one can impose on a continuous involutiorr is that it meet the graph of Id(r) at some pcint; of course, w-ehad no glrarantee that functions with the property (zr) were even continuous!

e,

0,