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This handout deals with the basic ideas in limits and continuous functions.

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Contents

1 The limit of a variable

2.1 Finite limits . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

2.2 A function that approaches infinity . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

3

3

6

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

18

5.1

5.2

11

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|

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

1

x1 = 1 ,

2

x2 = 1 +

1

,

22

x3 = 1

1

,

23

x4 = 1 +

1

,

24

...,

xn = 1 + (1)n

1

2n

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

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 .

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

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.

Anant Kumar

lim f (x) = `

(2.2)

xa

(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+

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+

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

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

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.

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

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) = `

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

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

y

1

x

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

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| <

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

y

3

2

3

2

5

2

5

2

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|

1

is bounded.

f (x)

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

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

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

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

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

10

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)

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

< h(x) ` <

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

xa

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

xa

xa

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

Anant Kumar

11

Calculation of limits

y

1

C

M

1

x

O

Figure 6

sin x

.

x

Calculation of limits

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

5.1

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

1

2

sin x <

1

2

x<

1

2

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

x0

sin x

=1

x0 x

lim

5.2

x0

(5.1)

sin x

is as shown in Fig. 7.

x

The number e

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

Anant Kumar

12

Calculation of limits

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

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

Anant Kumar

1 n

1+

<3

n

1 n

1+

2

n

1 n

<3

2 1+

n

study circle for iitjee & aieee

13

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

1 x

lim

1+

=e

x+

x

Anant Kumar

(5.5)

Mob. No. 9932347531, 8967881837

14

Calculation of limits

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

If in Eq. (5.5) we put

1

x

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

Anant Kumar

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

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

(6.2)

x0

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

x0

or

(6.3)

xx0

xx0

lim f (x) = f

xx0

lim x

(6.4)

xx0

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

Anant Kumar

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

xx0

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

xx0

xx0

xx0

xx0

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

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].

Anant Kumar

17

Continuity of functions

6.1

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

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

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 +

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

Anant Kumar

-1

x

.

|x|

18

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).

Anant Kumar

19

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).

Anant Kumar

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