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Topic: Differential Calculus

Limits & Continuity

Contents
1 The limit of a variable

2 The limit of a function


2.1 Finite limits . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
2.2 A function that approaches infinity . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

3
3
6

3 Infinitesimals and their basic properties

4 Basic theorems on limits

5 Calculation of limits

11

sin x

as x 0 . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
x
The number e . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

11

6 Continuity of functions
6.1 Discontinuity and its classification . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

15
17

7 Certain properties of Continuous Functions

18

5.1
5.2

The limit of the function

11

The limit of a variable

The limit of a variable

To begin with, we consider ordered variables that vary in a special way defined as follows: the
variable approaches a limit. The concept of limit plays a fundamental role in the basic concepts
of mathematical analysis, such as derivative, integral etc.
Definition 1 (Limit of a variable). A constant number a is said to be the limit of a variable
x, if for every preassigned real number > 0, no matter how small, it is possible to indicate a
value of the variable x such that all subsequent values of the variable will satisfy the inequality
|x a| <
If the number a is the limit of the variable x, one says that x approaches the limit a; in
symbols
x a
or
lim x = a
In geometric terms, limit may be defined as follows.
The constant number a is the limit of the variable x if for any preassigned arbitrarily small
neighborhood with center at the point a and with radius , there is a value of x such that
all points corresponding to subsequent values of the variable will be within this neighborhood
(Figure 1).
2
x

|x a|

Figure 1: Geometrical definition of limit.


Example 1. Suppose the variable x takes on the successive values
1
x2 = 1 + ,
2

x1 = 1 + 1,

1
x3 = 1 + ,
3

...,

xn = 1 +

1
,
n

...

We shall prove that this variable has unity as its limit. We have

1
1

|xn 1| = 1 +
1 =
n
n
1
1
< or n > , will satisfy the
n

inequality |xn 1| < , and the proof is complete. It will be noted here that the variable quantity decreases
as it approaches its limit.
For any , all subsequent values of the variable beginning with n, where

Example 2. The variable x takes on the successive values


1
x1 = 1 ,
2

x2 = 1 +

1
,
22

x3 = 1

1
,
23

x4 = 1 +

1
,
24

...,

xn = 1 + (1)n

1
2n

This variable has a limit of unity. Indeed,

1
n 1

|xn 1| = 1 + (1) n 1 = n
2
2
For any , beginning with n, which satisfies the relation
2n >

Anant Kumar

1
,

1
< , from which it follows that
2n

n log2 2 > log2

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The limit of a function

From the definition of a limit, it follows that a variable cannot have two limits. Indeed if
lim x = a and lim x = b where a < b, then x must satisfy, at one and the same time, two
inequalities:
|x a| <
and
|x b| <
ba
for an arbitrarily small ; but this is impossible if <
.
2
At the same time, one should not think that every variable has a limit. Take, for instance,
the variable x that takes on the successive values
1
x1 = ,
2

1
x2 = 1 ,
4

1
x3 = ,
8

...,

x2k = 1

1
,
22k

x2k+1 =

1
22k+1

...

For k sufficiently large, the value x2k and all subsequent values with even labels will differ from
unity by as small a number as we please, while the next value x2k+1 and all subsequent values
with odd labels will differ from zero by as small a number as we please. Consequently, the variable
as defined above does not approach a limit.
In the definition of a limit it is stated that if the variable approaches a limit a, then a is
a constant. But the word approaches is used also to describe another type of variation of a
variable, as will be seen from the following definition.
Definition 2. A variable x approaches infinity if for every preassigned positive number M , no
matter how big, it is possible to indicate a value of the variable x such that, beginning with this
value, all subsequent values of the variable satisfy the inequality |x| > M .
If the variable x approaches infinity, it is called an infinitely large variable and we write
x .
Example 3. The variable x takes on the values
x1 = 1,

x2 = 2,

x3 = 3,

...,

xn = (1)n n,

...

This is an infinitely large variable quantity, since for an arbitrary M > 0, all values of the variable,
beginning with a certain one, are greater than M in absolute value.

The variable x approaches plus infinity, x +, if for an arbitrary M > 0 all subsequent
values of the variable, beginning from a certain one, satisfy the inequality M < x. Similarly, the
variable x approaches minus infinity, x , if for an arbitrary M > 0 all subsequent values
of the variable, beginning from a certain one, satisfy the inequality x < M .

The limit of a function

In this section, we consider certain cases of the variation of a function when the argument x
approaches a certain limit a or infinity.

2.1

Finite limits

Definition 3 (Limit of a function). Let the function y = f (x) be defined in a certain


neighborhood of a point x = a or at certain points of this neighborhood. The function y = f (x)
approaches the limit ` as x approaches a, if for every positive real number , no matter how small,
it is possible to indicate a positive number such that for all x dom(f ), different from x = a
and satisfying the inequality
|x a| <
the inequality
|f (x) `| <

(2.1)

is satisfied.
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The limit of a function

If ` is the limit of the function f (x) as x a, we write


lim f (x) = `

(2.2)

xa

If f (x) ` as x a, this is illustrated on the graph of the function y = f (x) as follows


(Figure 2). Since from the inequality |x a| < , there follows the inequality |f (x) `| < , this
means that for all points x that are not more distant from the point a than , the points P of
the graph of the function y = f (x) lie within a band of width 2 bounded by the lines y = `
and y = ` + .
y

y = f (x)

y = f (x)
`+

`
`

`2

`1

a+

Figure 2: The limit of a function.

Figure 3: The left and right hand limits of a function.

Remark 1. If f (x) approaches the limit `1 as approaches a certain number a so that x takes
on only those values that are less than a, we write
lim f (x) = `1

xa

and call `1 the left hand limit of the function as x approaches a. Similarly, if x takes on only
those values that are more than a, we write
lim f (x) = `2

xa+

and call `2 the right hand limit of the function as x approaches a (Fig. 3).
It can be proved that if the left hand limit and the right hand limit of a function exist and are
equal, that is `1 = `2 = `, then ` will be the limit of the function in the sense of the already given
definition. And conversely, if there exists a limit ` of a function as the argument approaches a,
then there exist both the left and the right limits of the function as its argument approaches a.
Thus
lim f (x) = `
lim f (x) = lim f (x) = `
(2.3)
xa

xa

xa+

Example 4. Using method prove that lim (2x + 5) = 11.


Solution: In order to prove,

x3

lim (2x + 5) = 11

x3

we must show that for any > 0, there exists a number > 0 such that for x 6= 3 and satisfying |x3| < ,
the inequality |(2x + 5) 11| < must be true, that is |2x 6| < is true which in turn means that
2|x 3| < must be true.
But for any given > 0, if we choose our such that

=
2
then we have effectively shown the existence of a for any given such that whenever x 6= 3 and |x3| < ,
is true, the inequality |(2x + 5) 11| < is also true. That means that
lim (2x + 5) = 11

x3

Anant Kumar

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Mob. No. 9932347531, 8967881837

The limit of a function

Example 5. Prove by using method that lim x2 = 4.


x2

Solution: Let > 0 be given. We want to make |x2 4| < by making |x 2| < (we haven still to
determine that ) while x 6= 2. To obtain a better understanding of the relationship between the size of
|x2 4| and |x 2|, we write x2 4 in the following way:
x2 4 = (x2 4x + 4) + 4x 8 = (x 2)2 + 4(x 2)
This trick allows us more easily to relate |x2 4| and |x 2|. Indeed,
|x2 4| = |(x 2)2 + 4(x 2)| |x 2|2 + 4|x 2|
We are interested in closeness to 2. Let |x 2| < where still is to be decided. Then the last inequality
gives
|x2 4| |x 2|2 + 4|x 2| < 2 + 4
Here is a final trick. We are looking for a value which measures closeness to x = 2. Once we find a
value that works, then any smaller works too. Therefore, and heres the trick, assume that the we are
looking for satisfies 1. But
1 2
Thus,

|x2 4| < 2 + 4 + 4 = 5

If we want to have |x2 4| < , then it suffices to choose such that 5 = . Thus,
take

Finally, we note that, once we have found , we must take care that our earlier assumption that 1
remains valid. To this end we just set
n o
= min 1,
5

Remark 2. For a function to have a limit as x a, it is not necessary that the function be
defined as the point x = a. When finding the limit we consider the values of the function in the
neighborhood of the point a that are different from a; this is clearly illustrated in the following
case.
x2 4
= 4. Here, the function is not defined for x = 2. (Why??)
x2 x 2
It is necessary to prove that for an arbitrary > 0, there will be a > 0 such that the inequality
2

x 4

<

4
x2

Example 6. We shall prove that lim

will be fulfilled if |x 2| < . But when x 6= 2, the above inequality is equivalent to the inequality

(x 2)(x + 2)
= |(x + 2) 4| < |x 2| <

x2
Thus, for an arbitrary > 0, if we choose = . But that means the given function has the number 4 as
its limit as x 2.

We now consider certain cases of variation of a function as x .


Definition 4. The function f (x) approaches the limit ` as x if for each arbitrary > 0,
it is possible to indicate a number N > 0 such that for all values of x that satisfy the inequality
|x| > N , the inequality
|f (x) `| <
will be fulfilled.

Anant Kumar

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The limit of a function

x+1
1
Example 7. We will prove that lim
= 1 or which is the same thing as lim 1 +
= 1.
x
x
x
x
In order to prove the above fact, it is necessary to prove that, for an arbitrary > 0, the following
inequality is fulfilled

1 + 1 1

x
provided |x| > N , where N is a positive
number determined by the choice of . The above inequality is
1
equivalent to the following inequality: < , which will be fulfilled if
x
|x| >
So the required condition is met, if we select N =

1
. But that means that lim
x

x+1
x

= 1.

If we know the meaning of the symbols x + and x , the meanings of the following
operations are obvious:
f (x) approaches ` as x + :

lim f (x) = `,

x+

f (x) approaches ` as x :

2.2

lim f (x) = `

A function that approaches infinity

We have considered cases when a function f (x) approaches a certain limit ` as x a or as


x .
We now consider the case where the function y = f (x) approaches infinity when the argument
varies in some way.
Definition 5. The function f (x) approaches infinity as x a, i.e. it is infinitely large quantity
as x a if for each positive number M , no matter how large, it is possible to find a > 0 such
that for all values of x different that a and satisfying the condition |x a| < , we have the
inequality |f (x)| > M .
If f (x) approaches infinity as x a, we write
lim f (x) =

xa

If f (x) approaches infinity as x a and, in the process, assumes only positive or only negative
values, the appropriate notation is lim f (x) = + or lim f (x) = .
xa

Example 8. We shall prove that lim

x1

xa

1
= +. Indeed, for any M > 0, we have
(1 x)2
1
>M
(1 x)2

provided
(1 x)2 <

1
M

1
|1 x| <
M

1
|x 1| < =
M

1
where we have set = . At the same time, the function assumes only positive values and thus the
M
result follows.

Remark 3. A function f (x) may not necessarily approach a finite limit or infinity as x a
or x . For instance, the function y = sin x defined on the interval < x < , does not
1
approach either a finite limit or infinity as x +. Again, the function y = sin defined for
x
all values of x, except x = 0, does not approach either a finite limit or infinity as x 0. The
graph of this function is shown in Fig. 4.
Anant Kumar

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Mob. No. 9932347531, 8967881837

The limit of a function


y

1
x

Figure 4: Graph of y = sin .


Definition 6. A function y = f (x) is called bounded in a given interval I if there exists a
positive number M such that for all values of x I, the inequality |f (x)| M is fulfilled. If
there is no such number M , the function f (x) is called unbounded in I.
Example 9. The function y = sin x, defined in the infinite interval < x < +, is bounded, since for
all values of x
| sin x| 1 = M

Definition 7. The function y = f (x) is called bounded as x a if there exists a neighborhood,


with center at the point a, in which the given function is bounded.
Definition 8. The function y = f (x) is bounded as x if there exists a number N > 0
such that for all values of x satisfying the inequality |x| > N , the function is bounded.
The boundedness of a function approaching a limit is decided by the following theorem.
Theorem 1. If lim f (x) = b, where b is a finite number, the function is bounded as x a.
xa

Proof. From the statement lim f (x) = b, it follows that for any > 0 there will be a such that
xa
in the neighborhood a < x < a + the inequality
|f (x) b| <

|f (x)| < |b| +

is fulfilled, which means that the function y = f (x) is bounded as x a.


Remark 4. From the definition of a bounded function y = f (x) it follows that it
lim f (x) =

xa

or

lim f (x) =

that is, if f (x) is an infinitely large function, it is unbounded. The converse, however, is not
true: an unbounded function may not be infinitely large. For example, the function y = x sin x
as x is unbounded because, for an M > 0, values of x can be found such that |x sin x| > M
(see Fig. 5). But the function y = x sin x is not infinitely large because it becomes zero when
x = 0, , 2, . . ..
Theorem 2. If lim = b 6= 0, then the function y =
xa

1
is a bounded function as x a.
f (x)

Proof. From the statement of the theorem it follows that for an arbitrary > 0 in a certain
neighborhood of the point x = a, we will have |f (x) b| < , or ||f (x)| |b|| < , or <
|f (x)| |b| < , or |b| < |f (x)| < |b| + .
Anant Kumar

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Infinitesimals and their basic properties


y

3
2

3
2

5
2

5
2

Figure 5: The graph of function y = x sin x.


From the latter inequality it follows that
1
1
1
>
>
|b|
|f (x)|
|b| +
For example, taking =

1
10

|b|, we get
1
10
10
>
>
9|b|
|f (x)|
11|b|

which means that the function y =

1
is bounded.
f (x)

Infinitesimals and their basic properties

In this section we shall consider functions approaching zero as the argument varies in a certain
manner.
Definition 9. The function = (x) is called infinitesimal as x a or as x if
lim (x) = 0 or lim (x) = 0.
xa

Example 10. The function = (x 1)2 is an infinitesimal as x 1 because lim = lim (x 1)2 = 0.
x1

Example 11. The function =

x1

1
is an infinitesimal as x .
x

Infinitesimals possess the following properties that have been given as theorems (without any
proof):
Theorem 3. If the function y = f (x) is in the form of a sum of a constant b and an
infinitesimal (x):
y = b + (x)
(3.1)
then
lim y = b

(as x a or x )

Conversely, if lim y = b, we may write y = b + (x), where (x), where (x) is an infinitesimal.
Anant Kumar

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Basic theorems on limits

Theorem 4. If = (x) approaches zero as x a (or as x ) and does not become zero,
1
then y = approaches infinity.

Theorem 5. The algebraic sum of two, three or, in general, a definite number of infinitesimals
is an infinitesimal function.
Theorem 6. The product of an infinitesimal = (x) and a bounded function z = z(x), as
x a (or x ) is an infinitesimal quantity.
As corollaries to this theorem, we have the following two results:
3 Corollary 1. If lim = 0, lim = 0, then lim = 0 because (x) is a bounded quantity.
This holds for any finite number of factors.
3 Corollary 2. If lim = 0 and c = const, then lim c = 0.
(x)
obtained by dividing the infinitesimal (x) by a function
z(x)
whose limit differs from zero, is an infinitesimal.
Theorem 7. The quotient

Basic theorems on limits

In this section we shall consider sets of function that depend on the same argument x, where
x a or x . We shall carry out the proof for one of these cases, since the other is proved
analogously.
Theorem 8. The limit of an algebraic sum of two, three or, in general, any definite number
of functions is equal to the algebraic sum of the limits of these functions:
X
X
lim fk
(4.1)
fk =
lim
k

Proof. We shall carry out the proof for two terms since it is the same for any number of terms.
Let lim f1 = `1 and lim f2 = `2 . Then on the basis of Theorem 3, we can write
f1 = `1 + 1 ,

f2 = `2 + 2

where 1 and 2 are infinitesimals. Consequently,


f1 + f2 = (`1 + `2 ) + (1 + 2 )
Since `1 + `2 is a constant and 1 + 2 is an infinitesimal, again by Theorem 3, we conclude that
lim(f1 + f2 ) = `1 + `2 = lim f1 + lim f2

Theorem 9. The limit of a product of two, three or, in general, any definite number of
functions is equal to the product of the limits of these functions:
lim(f1 f2 . . . fn ) = lim f1 lim f2 . . . lim fn

(4.2)

Proof. We carry out the proof for two n = 2. For larger n, the proof is similar. Let lim f1 = `1
and lim f2 = `2 . Therefore,
f1 = `1 + 1 ,
f2 = `2 + 2
where 1 and 2 are infinitesimals. Then
f1 f2 = (`1 + 1 )(`2 + 2 ) = `1 `2 + `1 2 + `2 1 + 1 2
The product `1 `2 is a constant. The quantity `1 2 + `2 1 + 1 2 is an infinitesimal. Hence,
lim f1 f2 = `1 `2 = lim f1 lim f2 .
Anant Kumar

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Mob. No. 9932347531, 8967881837

10

Basic theorems on limits

From this theorem, it follows that:


3 Corollary 3. A constant factor may be taken outside the limit sign. Indeed, if lim f (x) = `,
and c is a constant and, consequently, lim c = c, then lim(cf (x)) = lim c lim f (x) = c lim f (x),
as required.
The proof of the next theorem is left as an exercise:
Theorem 10. The limit of a quotient of two functions is equal to the quotient of the limits of
these functions if the limit of the denominator is not zero:
lim

f (x)
lim f (x)
=
g(x)
lim g(x)

if lim g(x) 6= 0

(4.3)

The following result is frequently referred to as the Sandwich theorem:


Theorem 11 (Sandwich Theorem). If the functions f , g, and h satisfy the inequalities
f (x) h(x) g(x) in a neighborhood of the point x = a, and further f (x) and g(x) approach
the same limit ` as x a (or as x ), then the function h(x) approaches the same limit ` as
x a (or as x ).
Proof. For definiteness, we consider the variation of the functions as x a. From the inequalities
f (x) h(x) g(x) follow the inequalities
f (x) ` h(x) ` g(x) `
Since lim f (x) = ` and lim g(x) = `, it follows that there will be a certain neighborhood, with
xa

xa

the center at the point a, in which the inequality |f (x) `| < will be fulfilled. Likewise, there
will be a certain neighborhood with center at the point a in which the inequality |g(x) `| <
will be fulfilled. The following inequalities will be fulfilled in the smaller of these neighborhood:
< f (x) ` <

and

< g(x) ` <

and thus the inequalities


< h(x) ` <
will be fulfilled; that is lim h(x) = `.
xa

Definition 10. If as x a (or as x ), the function y = f (x) takes on nonnegative values:


y 0, and, at the same time, approaches the limit `, then ` is a nonnegative number: ` 0.
Proof. Assume, on the contrary, that ` < 0, then |y `| |`|; that is, the difference modulus
|y `| is greater than positive number |`| and, hence, does not approach zero as x a. But then
y does not approach ` as x a which is a contradiction. Accordingly ` 0.
Theorem 12. If the inequality f g holds between corresponding values of two functions
f (x) and g(x) which approach finite limits as x a or x , then lim f lim g.
Proof. The result follows from the previous theorem by taking y = f g.
Theorem 13. For all the basic elementary functions at any point of their domain

lim f (x) = f lim x = f (a)


xa

xa

Proof. The proof of this theorem will be obtained in the section of continuity.
Anant Kumar

study circle for iitjee & aieee

Mob. No. 9932347531, 8967881837

11

Calculation of limits
y
1

C
M
1
x
O

Figure 6

Figure 7: Graph of the function f (x) =

sin x
.
x

Calculation of limits

In this section, we shall derive a few important limits that have wide applications.

5.1

The limit of the function

sin x
x

as x 0

sin x
is not defined for x = 0 since the numerator and denominator of the fraction
x
become zero. Let us limit of this function as x 0. Consider a circle of radius 1 unit (see Fig. 6);
denote the central angle M OB by x where x lies between 0 and /2. From Fig. 6, it follows that
The function

area of 4 M OA < area of sectorM OA < area of 4 COA


1
2

sin x <

1
2

x<

1
2

tan x

sin x < x < tan x


x
1
1<
<
sin x
cos x
sin x
1>
> cos x
x

sin(x)
sin x
=
and
(x)
x
cos(x) = cos x, we conclude that it holds for x < 0 as well. But lim = 1, and lim 1 = 1. Hence,
We derived this inequality on the assumption that x > 0; noting that

by the sandwich theorem, we obtain

x0

sin x
=1
x0 x
lim

The graph of the function y =

5.2

x0

(5.1)

sin x
is as shown in Fig. 7.
x

The number e

Let us consider the variable

1 n
1+
n
where n is an increasing variable that takes on the values 1, 2, 3, . . . .

1 n
, as n , has a limit between the number 2 and 3.
Theorem 14. The variable 1 +
n
Proof. By binomial theorem, we have

2
3
1 n
n 1 n(n 1)
1
n(n 1)(n 2)
1
1+
= 1+
+

+
n
1n
12
n
123
n
n
n(n 1)(n 2) . . . [n (n 1)]
1
... +

1 2 ... n
n
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12

Calculation of limits

Carrying out obvious algebraic manipulations, we obtain

1 n
1
1
1
1
2
1+
= 1+1+
1
+
1
1
+
n
12
n
123
n
n

1
1
2
n1
... +
1
1
1
(5.2)
1 2 ... n
n
n
n

1 n
From this last equality it follows that the variable 1 +
is an increasing variable as n
n
increases. Indeed when going from the value n to the value n + 1, each term in the latter sum
increases,

1
1
1
1
1
<
1
and so forth,
12
n
12
n+1
and another term is added. (All terms
of the
expansion are positive.)
1 n
Next, we show that the variable 1 +
is bounded. Noting that
n

1
2
1
< 1,
1
1
< 1,
1
n
n
n
etc., we obtain from Eq. (5.2), the following inequality

1 n
1
1
1
1+
<1+1+
+
+ ... +
n
12 123
1 2 3 ... n
Further noting that
1
1
< 2,
123
2

1
1
1
1
< 3, ...,
< n1
1234
2
1 2 3 ... n
2

we can write the inequality

1 n
1
1
1
1+
< 1 + 1 + + 2 + . . . + n1
n
2 }
| 2 2 {z
The grouped terms on the right-hand side of this inequality forms a geometric progression with
the first term 1 and common difference 1/2, and so

1 n
1
1
1
1+
< 1 + 1 + + 2 + . . . + n1
n
2 2
2
"
1 n
n1 #
1 2
1
=1+ 2
= 1+
1
2
1 2
<3
Consequently, for all n we get

From Eq. (5.2) it follows that

Thus, we get the inequality

Anant Kumar

1 n
1+
<3
n

1 n
1+
2
n

1 n
<3
2 1+
n
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Calculation of limits

1 n
This proves that the variable 1 +
is bounded.

n n
1
Thus, the variable 1 +
is an increasing and bounded variable; therefore it has a limit.
n
This limit is denoted by the letter e. Obviously, 2 e < 3.

1 n
Definition 11. The limit of the variable 1 +
as n is the number e:
n

1 n
e = lim 1 +
(5.3)
n
n
The number e is an irrational number. Methods are there which permit the calculation of e
to any degree of accuracy. Its value to ten decimal places is
e = 2.7182818284 . . .

1 x
Theorem 15. The function 1 +
approaches the limit e as x approaches infinity,
x

1 x
=e
(5.4)
lim 1 +
x
x

1 n
Proof. If has been proved that 1 +
e as n , if n takes on positive integral values.
n
Now let x approach infinity while taking on both fractional and negative values.
(1) Let x +. Each of its values lies between two positive integers,
nx<n+1
The following inequalities will be fulfilled:
1
1
1
>
n
x
n+1
1
1
1
1+ 1+ >1+
n
x
n+1

1 n+1
1 x
1
1+
> 1+
> 1+
n
x
n+1

1 x
If x , it is obvious that n . We find the limits between which the variable 1 +
x
lies:

1 n+1
1 n
1
1 n
1
lim
1+
= lim
1+
1+
= lim
1+
lim
1+
= e1 = e
n+
n+
n+
n+
n
n
n
n
n

lim
1+

n+

1
n+1

n = lim
1+

n+1

1 1
1+
n+
n
n+1

1 1
1
lim
1+
= e (1)1 = e
= lim
1+
n+
n+
n+1
n
1
n+1

Hence, by the sandwich theorem,

1 x
lim
1+
=e
x+
x
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Calculation of limits

(2) Let x . Introduce a new variable t = (x + 1) or x = (t + 1). When t +, then


x . We can write

t1
(t+1)
1 x
1
t
1+
lim
= lim 1
= lim
x
t+
t+ t + 1
x
t+1

t+1

t+1
1 t+1
= lim
= lim 1 +
t+
t+
t
t

1
1
= lim 1 +
1+
t+
t
t
= e1=e
Thus, from the two cases we conclude that

1 x
lim 1 +
=e
x
x

1 x
is as shown in Fig. 8.
The theorem is thus proved. The graph of the function 1 +
x
y

e
1

1 O

Figure 8: Graph of the function 1 +


If in Eq. (5.5) we put

1
x

Figure 9: Graph of the functions ex (solid

line) and ex (broken line).

1
= , then as x we have 0 (but 6= 0) and we get
x
1

lim (1 + ) = e

(5.6)

Remark 5. The exponential function ex , to which the number e is the base, plays a very
important role in almost all branches of mathematics and engineering. The graphs of the function
ex and ex has been shown in Fig. 9.
Apart from the limits discussed above, the following limits are frequently used:
loga (1 + x)
= loga e where a > 0 and a 6= 1. As a special case, by setting a = e, we
x
ln(1 + x)
obtain lim
= 1.
x0
x

lim

x0

ax 1
= ln a where a > 0. Again, by setting a = e, we obtain as a special case
x0
x
x
e 1
lim
= 1.
x0
x

lim

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15

Continuity of functions

Continuity of functions

Let a function y = f (x) be defined for some value x0 and in some neighborhood with center x0 .
Let y0 = f (x0 ).
If x receives some positive or negative (it is immaterial which) increment x and assumes
the value x = x0 + x, then the function y too will receive an increment y. The new increased
value of the function will be y0 + y = f (x0 + x) (see Fig. 10). The increment, y, of the
function will be expressed by
y = f (x0 + x) f (x0 )

y
M
y
N

M0

y0

x
x0

x0 + x

Figure 10: Defining continuity of a function. The function takes on the value y0 at the point x0 , while its value
at the point x0 + x is y0 + y.
Definition 12 (Continuity). A function y = f (x) is said to continuous for the values x = x0
(or at the point x = x0 ) if it is defined in some neighborhood of the point x0 (obviously, at the
point x0 as well) and if
lim y = 0
(6.1)
x0

or, which is the same thing,


lim [f (x0 + x) f (x0 )] = 0

(6.2)

x0

The continuity condition (6.2) may also be written as follows:


lim f (x0 + x) = f (x0 )

x0

or

lim f (x) = f (x0 )

(6.3)

xx0

But since x0 = lim x, hence (6.3) can also be written as


xx0

lim f (x) = f

xx0

lim x

(6.4)

xx0

In other words, in order to find the limit of a continuous function as x x0 , it is sufficient, in


the expression of the function, to put the value x0 in place of the argument x.
Geometrically, the continuity of a function at a given point signifies that the difference of the
ordinates on the graph of the function y = f (x) at the points x0 + x and x0 will, in absolute
value, be arbitrarily small, provided |x| is sufficiently small.
Example 12. We shall prove that the function y = x2 is continuous at an arbitrary point x0 . Indeed
y0 = x20 , and y0 + y = (x0 + x)2 . Therefore, y = (x0 + x)2 x20 = 2x0 x + (x)2 . Accordingly
lim y = lim [2x0 x + (x)2 ] = 2x0 lim x + lim x lim x = 0

x0

x0

x0

x0

x0

for any way that x may approach zero.


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16

Continuity of functions

Example 13. We shall prove that the function y = sin x is continuous at any arbitrary point x0 . Indeed,
y0 = sin x0 , y0 + y = sin(x0 + x). Thus,

x
x
cos x0 +
y = sin(x0 + x) sin x0 = 2 sin
2
2

x
x
Now lim sin
= 0 and the function cos x +
is bounded. Therefore, lim y = 0.
x0
x0
2
2

In similar ways, by considering each basic elementary function, it is possible to prove that
Theorem 16. Each of the basic elementary function is continuous at every point at which it
is defined.
This fact, together with the definition of continuity, justifies Theorem 13.
We now prove the following theorem:
Theorem 17. If the functions f1 (x) and f2 (x) are continuous at a point x0 , then the sum
(x) = f1 (x) + f2 (x) is also continuous at the point x0 .
Proof. Since f1 (x) and f2 (x) are continuous at a point x0 , we have the following two equalities:
lim f1 (x) = f1 (x0 ),

xx0

and

lim f2 (x) = f2 (x0 )

xx0

By utilizing a theorem on limits, we can write


lim (x) = lim [f1 (x) + f2 (x)]

xx0

xx0

= lim f1 (x) + lim f2 (x) = f1 (x0 ) + f2 (x0 ) = (x0 )


xx0

xx0

Thus, the sum (x) = f1 (x) + f2 (x) is continuous at the point x0 .


Note, as a corollary, that the foregoing theorem holds true for any finite number of terms.
Using the properties of limits, we can prove the following theorems:
Theorem 18. The product of two continuous functions is a continuous function.
Theorem 19. The quotient of two continuous functions is a continuous function if the denominator does not vanish at the point under consideration.
Theorem 20. If u = (x) is continuous at x = x0 , and f (u) is continuous at the point
u0 = (x0 ), then the composite function f [(x)] is continuous at the point x0 .
Using these theorems, we can prove the following theorem:
Theorem 21. Every elementary function is continuous at every point at which it is defined.
Definition 13. If a function y = f (x) is continuous at each point of certain interval (a, b),
where a < b, then it is said that the function is continuous in this interval.
If the function is also defined for x = a and lim = f (a), it is said that f (x) is continuous at
xa+

the right at the point x = a. Similarly, if the function is also defined for x = b and lim = f (b),
xb

it is said that f (x) is continuous at the left at the point x = b.


If the function f (x) is continuous at each point of the interval (a, b) and is continuous at the
end points of the interval, on the right and on the left, respectively, we say that the function f (x)
is continuous over the closed interval [a, b].
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Continuity of functions

6.1

Discontinuity and its classification

If at some point x = x0 , at least one of the conditions of continuity is not fulfilled for the function
y = f (x), that is,
if for x = x0 the function is not defined, or
there does not exist the limit lim f (x), or
xx0

lim f (x) 6= f (x0 ) in the arbitrary approach of x x0 , although the expression on the
xx0

right and left exist,

then at x = x0 the function y = f (x) is discontinuous. In this case, the point x = x0 is called
the point of discontinuity of the function.
The points of discontinuity are classified as those of first and second kind as follows:
i) Points of discontinuity of the First kind. The point x = x0 is called a discontinuity of
the first kind of the function f (x) if there exist the right and left limits and they are finite.
Further, if lim f (x) = lim f (x) 6= f (x0 ), then x0 is called a removable discontinuity.
xx0

xx0 +

But if lim f (x) 6= lim f (x), then x0 is a non-removable discontinuity of the first kind,
xx0

xx0 +

and the difference lim f (x) lim f (x) is called the jump discontinuity of the function
xx0 +

xx0

f (x) at the point x0 .

ii) Points of discontinuity of the Second kind. If at least one of the limits lim f (x) and
xx0

lim f (x) is non-existent or infinite then point x0 is called a discontinuity of the second

xx0 +

kind of the function f (x).

Example 14. The function y = 21/x is discontinuous at x = 0 since it is not defined at x = 0. Further,
we see that lim 21/x = and lim 21/x = 0. Since, the right limit is infinite, the point x = 0 is a
x0+

x0

discontinuity of the second kind. The graph of the function y = 21/x is as shown in Fig. 11.
x
. This function is not defined at x = 0. Hence, it is
|x|
x
x
= 1, whereas for x > 0,
= 1. Thus, the left and
discontinuous at this point. Further, for x < 0,
|x|
|x|
right limits are
Example 15. Consider the function f (x) =

x
= 1
|x|
x
lim f (x) = lim
=1
x0+
x0+ |x|
lim f (x) = lim

x0

x0

Thus, the point x = 0 is a non-removable discontinuity having a jump discontinuity 2. The graph of the
function f (x) is as shown in Fig. 12
y
y
1
x

1
x

Figure 11: Graph of the function 21/x .

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-1

Figure 12: Graph of the functions

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.
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Certain properties of Continuous Functions

Certain properties of Continuous Functions

In this section we shall consider a number of properties of functions that are continuous on an
interval. These properties will be stated in the form of theorems given without proof.
Theorem 22. If a function y = f (x) is continuous on some interval [a, b], there will be, on
this interval, at least one point x = x1 such that the value of the function at that point will satisfy
f (x1 ) f (x)
where x is any other point of this interval, and there will be at least one point x2 such that the
value of the function at that point will satisfy the relation
f (x2 ) f (x)
We shall call the value of the function f (x1 ) = M the maximum value of the function y = f (x)
on the interval [a, b], and the value f (x2 ) = m the minimum (least) value of the function on the
interval [a, b]. Consequently, the above theorem simply says that: A function continuous on the
interval a x b attains on this interval (at least once) a maximum value M and a minimum
value m.
Remark 6. The assertion that there exists a maximum and minimum value of the function
may prove incorrect if one considers the values of the function in the open interval (a, b). For
example, if we consider the function y = x in the interval (0, 1), there will be no maximum and
no minimum values among them. Indeed, there is minimum value or greatest value of x in the
interval. (There is no extreme left point, since no matter what point x we take there will be
x
; likewise, there is no extreme right point;
a point to the left of it, for instance, the point
2
consequently, there is no least and greatest value of y = x.)
Theorem 23. Let the function y = f (x) be continuous on the interval [a, b] and at the end
points of this interval let it take on values of different signs; then between the points a and b there
will be at least one point x = c, at which the function becomes zero:
f (c) = 0,

a<c<b

y
6

y
M2 [b, f (b)]
f (b)
a

f (a)

M1 [a, f (a)]

Figure 13

Figure 14

This theorem has a simple geometrical meaning. The graph of a continuous function y = f (x)
joining the points M1 [a, f (a)] and M2 [b, f (b)], where f (a) < 0 and f (b) > 0 or f (a) > 0 and
f (b) < 0, cuts the x-axis in at least one point (see Fig. 13).
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Certain properties of Continuous Functions

Example 16. Given the function y = f (x) = x3 2; f (1) = 1, f (2) = 6. It is continuous in the interval
[1, 2]. Hence,
in this interval there is a point where y = x3 2 becomes zero (see Fig. 14). Indeed, y = 0

3
when x = 2.

Theorem 24. Let a function y = f (x) be defined and continuous in the interval [a, b]. If at
the end points of this interval the function takes on unequal values f (a) = , f (b) = , then no
matter what number between numbers and , there will be at least one point x = c between a
and b such that f (c) = .
The geometrical meaning of this theorem is clearly illustrated in Fig. 15. In the given case,
any straight line y = cuts the graph of the function y = f (x).
y

= f (c)

Figure 15

Figure 16

Remark 7. It will be noted that Theorem 23 is a particular case of this theorem, for if and
have different signs, then for one can take 0, and then = 0 will lie between the numbers
and .
As a corollary to Theorem 24, we have the following:
3 Corollary 4. If a function y = f (x) is continuous function in some interval [a, b], then it takes
on, at least once in this interval, any value lying between its maximum and minimum values.
Indeed, since the function is continuous on [a, b], by Theorem 22, it takes on a maximum and
minimum value in this interval. Let M be its maximum value taken at x = c and m its minimum
value taken at x = d. Consider the interval [c, d]. By Theorem 24, in this interval the function
y = f (x) takes on any value lying between M and m. But the interval [c, d] lies inside the
interval [a, b] in which the function is defined (see Fig. 16).

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