# Composition of functions (§5.1)

A function takes one number as input and gives you another as output. 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:

• (f ∘ g)(x) = f(g(x)).
Notice that you do g first and f afterwards. The two composites f ∘ g and g ∘ f are usually different from each other.

Sometimes it helps to use different variables for the different functions. That is:

• Let y be g(x);
• let z be f(y);
• then z = f(g(x)) = (f ∘ g)(x).

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. We have:

• dom (f ∘ g) = {x | 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.
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!
Go back to the course homepage.
This web page was written by Toby Bartels, last edited on 2021 August 30. Toby reserves no legal rights to it.

The permanent URI of this web page is `http://tobybartels.name/MATH-1300/2022FA/composition/`.