Composition and inverses
A function takes one number and spits out another.
You can then take this output and use it as the input to another function,
to get yet another number.
This is composition of functions.
If f and g are functions,
then their composite is also a function,
denoted f ∘ g,
which I usually read as ‘f after g’.
It may be defined as follows:
Notice that you do g first and f afterwards.
The two composites
f ∘ g and g ∘ f
are not usually the same.
Sometimes it helps to use different variables for the different functions.
- Let y be g(x);
- let z be f(y);
- then z = f(g(x)) =
(f ∘ g)(x).
Domains of composites
If f and g are both defined for every real number,
then so is f ∘ g.
But in general, the domain of f ∘ g
is only part of the domain of g.
If you simplify the expression for f ∘ g,
then this will only help with the second condition;
be sure to go back and check the domain of g!
- dom (f ∘ g) =
x ∈ dom g,
g(x) ∈ dom f}; that is,
- x belongs to the domain of f ∘ g
if and only if x belongs to the domain of g
and g(x) belongs to the domain of f.
Two functions f and g
are inverse functions of each other if:
Not every function has an inverse function!
If f does have an inverse function, then it only has one;
we call f one-to-one
and denote its unique inverse function by f−1.
- f(g(x)) = x
whenever x ∈ dom g, and
- g(f(x)) = x
whenever x ∈ dom f.
f−1 does not mean 1/f!
There are two ways to caclulate f−1:
If you don't get a single solution when you solve the equation,
then f is not one-to-one, and it has no inverse.
- Start with x = f(y) and solve for y;
this gives you y = f−1(x).
- Start with y = f(x) and solve for x;
this gives you x = f−1(y).
- f−1(f(x)) = x
whenever x ∈ dom f, and
- f(f−1(y)) = y
whenever y ∈ ran f.
Graphs of inverse functions
The graphs of inverse functions are related by switching x and y.
A function is one-to-one
if and only if its graph satisfies the Horizontal Line Test.
- The range of f
is the same as the domain of f−1;
- the range of f−1
is the same as the domain of f.
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This web page was written in 2011 by Toby Bartels,
last edited on 2011 April 19.
Toby reserves no legal rights to it.
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