AskDefine | Define discontinuous

Dictionary Definition

discontinuous adj
1 of a function or curve; possessing one or more discontinuities [ant: continuous]
2 not continuing without interruption in time or space; "discontinuous applause"; "the landscape was a discontinuous mosaic of fields and forest areas"; "he received a somewhat haphazard and discontinuous schooling" [syn: noncontinuous] [ant: continuous]

User Contributed Dictionary



  1. having breaks or interruptions; intermittent
  2. having at least one discontinuity


*Swedish: diskontinuerlig

Extensive Definition

Jump point redirects here. For the book by Tom Hayes, see Jump Point.
Continuous functions are of utmost importance in mathematics and applications. However, not all functions are continuous. If a function is not continuous at a point in its domain, one says that it has a discontinuity there. The set of all points of discontinuity of a function may be a discrete set, a dense set, or even the entire domain of the function.
This article describes the classification of discontinuities in the simplest case of functions of a single real variable taking real values.

Classification of discontinuities

Consider a function f of real variable x with real values defined in a neighborhood of a point x_0. Then three situations are possible:
1. The one-sided limit from the negative direction
L^=\lim_ f(x)
and the one-sided limit from the positive direction
L^=\lim_ f(x)
at x_0 exist, are finite, and are equal. Then, if f(x0) is not equal to L, x0 is called a removable discontinuity. This discontinuity can be removed (so f can be made continuous at x0) by setting f(x_0)=L.
2. The limits L^ and L^ exist and are finite, but not equal. Then, x0 is called a jump discontinuity or step discontinuity.
3. One or both of the limits L^ and L^ does not exist or is infinite. Then, x0 is called an essential discontinuity.
The term removable discontinuity is sometimes (improperly) used for cases in which the limits in both directions exist and are equal, while the function is undefined at the point x_0. This use is improper because continuity and discontinuity of a function are concepts defined only for points in the function's domain.


1. Consider the function
f(x)=\beginx^2 & \mbox x1\end
Then, the point x_0=1 is a removable discontinuity.
2. Consider the function
f(x)=\beginx^2 & \mbox x1\end
Then, the point x_0=1 is a jump discontinuity.
3. Consider the function
f(x)=\begin\sin\frac & \mbox x1\end
Then, the point x_0=1 is an essential discontinuity. For it to be an essential discontinuity, it would have sufficed that only one of the two one-sided limits did not exist or were infinite.

The set of discontinuities of a function

The set of points at which a function is continuous is always a Gδ set. The set of discontinuities is an Fσ set.
Thomae's function is discontinuous at every rational point, but continuous at every irrational point.
The indicator function of the rationals, also known as the Dirichlet function, is discontinuous everywhere.



discontinuous in German: Sprungstetigkeit
discontinuous in Spanish: Clasificación de discontinuidades
discontinuous in Italian: Punto di discontinuità
discontinuous in Hebrew: נקודת אי רציפות
discontinuous in Korean: 불연속성의 분류
discontinuous in Dutch: Discontinuïteit
discontinuous in Swedish: Diskontinuitet
discontinuous in Chinese: 间断点

Synonyms, Antonyms and Related Words

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