Domain (mathematics)

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{math, number, function}

In mathematics, the domain of definition or simply the domain of a function is the set of "input" or argument values for which the function is defined. That is, the function provides an "output" or "value" for each member of the domain.[1]

For instance, the domain of cosine is the set of all real numbers, while the domain of the square root consists only of numbers greater than or equal to 0 (ignoring complex numbers in both cases). For a function whose domain is a subset of the real numbers, when the function is represented in an xy Cartesian coordinate system, the domain is represented on the x-axis.

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Formal definition

Given a function f:XY, the set X is the domain of f; the set Y is the codomain of f. In the expression f(x), x is the argument and f(x) is the value. One can think of an argument as an input to the function, and the value as the output.

The image (sometimes called the range) of f is the set of all values assumed by f for all possible x's; this is the set \{ f(x) : x \in X \}. The image of f can be the same set as the codomain or it can be a proper subset of it. It is in general smaller than the codomain; it is the whole codomain if and only if f is a surjective function.

A well defined function must carry every element of its domain to an element of its codomain. For example, the function f defined by

has no value for f(0). Thus, the set of all real numbers, \mathbb{R}, cannot be its domain. In cases like this, the function is either defined on \mathbb{R} - \{0 \} or the "gap is plugged" by explicitly defining f(0). If we extend the definition of f to

then f is defined for all real numbers, and its domain is \mathbb{R}.

Any function can be restricted to a subset of its domain. The restriction of g : A → B to S, where SA, is written g |S : S → B.

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