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Problem 1:

(i) For every a, b R, |ab| = |a||b|. Prove this identity by checking all the

possible cases for the signs of a and b.

(ii) For every a, b R, with b 6= 0, ab = |a|

|b| . Prove this identity.

Solution to Part (i).

Well directly check the 4 possible cases for the signs of a and b.

Case 1: a 0, b 0. In this case |a| = a, |b| = b, and, because ab 0,

|ab| = ab. Thus:

LHS = |ab| = ab = |a||b| = RHS.

Case 2: a 0, b 0. In this case |a| = a, |b| = b, and, because ab 0,

|ab| = ab. Thus:

LHS = |ab| = ab = (a) (b) = |a||b| = RHS.

Case 3: a 0, b 0. In this case |a| = a, |b| = b, and, because ab 0,

|ab| = ab. Thus:

LHS = |ab| = ab = (a) (b) = |a||b| = RHS.

Case 4: a 0, b 0. In this case |a| = a, |b| = b, and, because ab 0,

|ab| = ab. Thus:

LHS = |ab| = ab = (a) (b) = |a||b| = RHS.

Solution to Part (ii).

Using Part (i) we deduce:

a

= a

b

1

1

=

|a|

b

b

1

(?).

Next, well understand the quantity 1b . We can understand this via:

1

1

1 = |1| = b = |b| .

b

b

Thus:

1

=

b

Substituting this into equation (?), we

a

=

b

1

.

|b|

deduce:

|a|

.

|b|

Problem 2:

with a few examples. Then use this identity to give another proof of the

identity in Problem 1 part (i).

Solution to Part (i).

The first thing tounderstand is why the equation you might want to use

(by which I mean p

a2 = a) is wrong. Well, just substitute a negative a, like

3. Then LHS = (3)2 = 3 while RHS = 3.

To think about the correct equation carefully, keep clear what the square

root function actually is: If x 0, then x is the unique number y 0

solving the equation y 2 = x.

Now to explain the equation a2 = |a| well consider the two possible cases.

as required. Here is an example:

p

(7)2 = 7 = |7|.

a = |a|, as required. Here is an example illustrating this case:

p

(7)2 = 7 = | 7|.

Solution to Part (ii).

Assuming Part (i), we deduce:

p

|ab| = (ab)2 = a2 b2 = a2 b2 = |a||b|.

2

Problem 3:

Prove that for every x R the following inequality is true:

|x| x |x|.

Solution

Well just check this for the two possible signs of x.

If x 0, then x = |x|, and the inequality that must be true is

|x| |x| |x|,

which is obviously true.

On the other hand, if x 0, then x = |x|, and the inequality that must

be true is

|x| |x| |x|.

Again, this is obviously true.

Problem 4:

If a > 0 then we have the following two facts:

(i) |x| = a if and only if x = a.

(ii) |x| < a if and only if a < x < a.

Explain these facts using a graph of the absolute value function. Then prove

them (probably by laboriously checking all the possible cases).

Solution

We can read these facts directly from a graph of the absolute value function.

Here is such a graph:

Fact (i) concerns the set of x with the property that |x| = a. Looking at

the graph of the function |x| we observe that there are exactly two such x,

namely a.

Fact (ii) concerns the set of x such that |x| < a. Thinking in terms of the

graph, we want the set of x with the property that the graph over those

points lies (strictly) under the line y = a. Looking at the graph we can just

read off that this is the set of x such that a < x < a.

Now lets think about how we would actually prove these facts formally.

Proof of (i). The clearest way, logically speaking, to prove a statement

like A if and only if B is to prove that A implies B, and separately prove

4

that B implies A. (Sometimes you can do both directions at the same time,

but you have to be very careful when you do this.) So we have two questions

to answer.

If |x| = a, why is x = a? Well, take some x such that |x| = a. If x 0,

then |x| = x, so x = |x| = a. On the other hand, if x 0, then |x| = x, so

x = |x| = a.

If x = a, why is |x| = a? We are assuming that a > 0, so this is obviously

true. (Details are: |a| = a, while | a| = (a) = a because a < 0.)

Proof of (ii). Again, well split this if and only if proof into two questions.

If |x| < a, then why is a < x < a? Well just check this for the two cases

that x 0 and x 0. If x 0, then one side of the required inequality is

obtained from the deduction x = |x| < a, and the other is obtained from

a < 0 x. On the other hand, if x 0 then one side of the required

inequality is obtained from the deduction x = |x| > a and the other is

obtained by x 0 < a.

If a < x < a, then why is |x| < a? If x 0 then |x| = x < a. And if x 0

then |x| = x < (a) = a.

Problem 5:

Let d > 0, and a R. Determine the following sets. (You can give your

answer using interval notation, e.g. (r, s).)

(i) {x R | |x a| < d}.

(ii) {x R | 0 < |x a| < d}.

Explain using a graph of the absolute value function, and also using your

answers to problem 3.

Solution to (i).

The answer is (a d, a + d). This can be read straight off the graph of the

|x a| < d d < x a < d

a d < x < a + d.

Solution to (ii).

Again, we can read this straight off the graph above to deduce that

{x R|0 < |x a| < d} = (a d, a) (a, a + d).

Another way to deduce this answer is to argue that {x R|0 < |x a| < d}

is the set of points you get by removing from the set {x R||x a| < d} the

points x where |x a| = 0. The only point satisfying |x a| = 0 is x a = 0

i.e. x = a. So you get this answer by removing {a} from the answer to part

(i).

In this problem we will investigate the limit:

lim (2x + 3) = 5.

x1

To begin we are asked to graph the function y = 2x + 3, and add lines at

y = 5 + 2 and 5 2. We get:

Looking at the graph, we observe that we can choose any such that 0 <

1. For such a delta, if 0 < |x 1| < , then 0 < x < 2 and we can

observe directly that every point of the graph above such an x lies between

the horizontal lines.

Solution to Part (iii).

In the case = 1.5 the graph looks like:

7

In the case = 1 the graph looks like:

Solution to Part (v).

In the case = 0.5 the graph looks like:

We express |f (x) 5| as a function of |x 1| via:

|f (x) 5| = |(2x + 3) 5| = |2x 2| = |2 (x 1)| = |2||x 1| = 2|x 1|.

Solution to Part (vii).

If we choose an x such that 0 < |x 1| < (), then the equation we found

in part (vi) tells us that for this x:

|f (x) 5| = 2|x 1| < 2().

So the question we have to ask is: if we want this quantity to be less than

, what do we set () to? If we choose () = 2 then we get:

|f (x) 5| = 2|x 1| < 2() = 2 = .

2

Thus |f (x) 5| < for every x such that 0 < |x 1| < 2 , as required.

Solution to Part (viii).

Proof that limx1 (2x + 3) = 5:

Let be an arbitrary positive real.

Set () = 2 . (?).

Let x be a number such that 0 < |x 1| < . (??)

Then:

|f (x) L| =

=

=

<

=

=

|(2x + 3) 5|

|2x 2|

2|x 1|

2

(By assumption (??).)

2 2

(By assumption (?).)

.

Prove that: limx2

1

2x

+ 3 = 2.

Proof.

Let be an arbitrary positive real.

Set = 2 (?).

Let x be an arbitrary number such that 0 < |x (2)| < (??).

Then:

|f (x) L| = 21 x + 3 2

= 12 x + 1

= 12 |x (2)|

< 21

(By assumption (??).)

= 12 (2)

(By assumption (?).)

= .

Thus, when 0 < |x (2)| < 2, |f (x) 2| < , as required.

Problem 8:

Prove that limx4 (7 3x) = 5.

Proof

Let be an arbitrary positive real number.

Set = 3 . (?)

Let x be an arbitrary number such that 0 < |x 4| < . (??).

Then:

|f (x) L| =

=

=

=

<

=

=

|12 3x|

3 |4 x|

3 |x 4|

3

(By assumption (??).)

3 3

(By assumption (?).)

.

10

Problem 9:

Prove that

x

3

= .

x3 5

5

lim

Proof

Let be an arbitrary positive real.

Set = 5. (?).

Let x be an arbitrary real number such that 0 < |x 3| < . (??).

Then:

x 3

= (x3)

5

5

5

= 15 |x 3|

< 15

(By assumption (??).)

1

= 5 (5 ) (By assumption (?).)

= .

Problem 10: (#1.8.25 from [Stewart])

Prove that

lim x2 = 0.

x0

Solution

Let be an arbitrary positive real.

Set = . (?).

Let x be an arbitrary real number such that 0 < |x 0| < .

Then:

|x2 0| = |x2 |

< 2

(By assumption (??).)

=

(By assumption (?).)

11

Prove that

lim |x| = 0.

x0

Proof

Let be an arbitrary positive real number.

Set = . (?).

Let x be an arbitrary real number such that 0 < |x| < . (??).

Then:

|f (x) 0| = ||x| 0|

= |(|x|)|

= |x|

<

(By assumption (??).)

=

(By assumption (?).)

Problem 12? : (#1.8.29 from [Stewart])

Prove that

lim (x2 4x + 5) = 1.

x2

Solution Proof

Let be an arbitrary positive real number.

Set = . (?).

Let x be an arbitrary real number such that 0 < |x 2| < . (??).

Then:

|f (x) 1| = (x2 4x + 5)

1

= x2 4x + 4

= (x 2)2

= |x 2|2

< 2

= .

12

Give examples to illustrate why the following are not correct definitions of

limxa f (x) = L:

(i) For every > 0, there exists an > 0 such that if 0 < |x a| < ,

then |f (x) L| < .

(ii) For every > 0, there exists an > 0 such that if |f (x) L| < , then

0 < |x a| < .

Solution

One way to answer this is to think of an example (i.e. a function f and

numbers a and L) where the actual limit limxa f (x) (using the usual definition) doesnt exist, but such that the given statement is satisfied. There

will be countless possible examples.

One example for (i) could be

f (x) =

1 if x > 0

1 if x < 0

(i) because no matter what is, you could choose = 5, and |f (x) L| <

for every 0 < |x a| < . (This is because |f (x) 1| < 5 is true for every x,

which you can see by just thinking about a graph for f (x).) But limx0 f (x)

certainly does not exist, as you can easily check.

For statement (ii) you could use the example

1 + x if x > 0

f (x) =

1 + x if x < 0.

with L = 0 and a = 0. In this case the given statement is true (you could

set = ) but, again, the limit certainly doesnt exist.

Another way to see that (ii) is different to the usual definition would be

to consider the example f (x) = sin x, a = 0, and L = 0. It is certainly true

that limxa f (x) = L in this case, but you definitely wont be able to find a

with the required property, for any > 0.

13

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