You are on page 1of 4

The modulus function y =x

Or Absolute Value Function:

It is also sometimes written: abs(x)

The absolute value of x is defined as:

This always gives a positive result.

Example y = 3x2+6x-2 has graph

Whereas y = |3x+6x2| has graph


Note how the negative portions have been
reflected in the x-axis.

Example

y =| 3tanx|

y =| 3x + 2|
The Absolute Value Function is Continuous at 0
but is Not Differentiable at 0

Throughout this page, we consider just one special value of a.


a=0

On this page we must do two things.

The absolute value function is continuous at 0.

The absolute value function is not differentiable at 0.

The absolute value function is defined piecewise, with an apparent switch in behavior as the
independent variable x goes from negative to positive values. For this reason, it is convenient to
examine one-sided limits when studying this function near a = 0.
x if x 0
|x| =
{ -x if x < 0
The absolute value function is continuous at 0.

Computations of the two one-sided limits of the absolute value function at 0 are not difficult to
complete. Since |x| = x for all x > 0, we find the following right hand limit.
lim |x| = lim x = 0
+ +
x --> 0 x --> 0

Since |x| = -x for all x < 0, we find the following left hand limit.
lim |x| = lim -x = 0
-
x-->0 x-->0-

Since the two one-sided limits agree, the two sided limit exists and is equal to 0, and we find that
the following is true.
lim |x| = 0 = |a|
x-->a

This is what it means for the absolute value function to be continuous at a = 0. We remark that it
is even less difficult to show that the absolute value function is continuous at other (nonzero)
points in its domain. (There is no need to consider separate one sided limits at other domain
points.) In fact, the absolute value function is continuous (on its entire domain R).

The absolute value function is not differentiable at 0.

We examine the one-sided limits of difference quotients in the standard form.

Using the fact that if h > 0, then |h|/h = 1, we compute as follows.

|0 + h| - |0| |h|
lim = lim = lim 1= 1
+ + +
h-->0 h h-->0 h h-->0
In contrast, if h < 0, then |h|/h = -1, and so the result is the following.
|0 + h| - |0| |h|
lim = lim = lim -1 = -1
- - -
h-->0 h h-->0 h h-->0

We therefore find that the two one sided limits disagree, which means that the two sided limit of
difference quotients does not exist. Thus we find that the absolute value function is not
differentiable at 0.