Fatou's theorem

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Not to be confused with Fatou's lemma.

In complex analysis, Fatou's theorem, named after Pierre Fatou, is a statement concerning holomorphic functions on the unit disk and their pointwise extension to the boundary of the disk.

Motivation and statement of theorem[edit]

If we have a holomorphic function f defined on the open unit disk D^{2}=\{z:|z|<1\}, it is reasonable to ask under what conditions we can extend this function to the boundary of the unit disk. To do this, we can look at what the function looks like on each circle inside the disk centered at 0, each with some radius r. This defines a new function on the circle f_{r}:S^{1}\rightarrow \mathbb{C}, defined by f_{r}(e^{i\theta})=f(re^{i\theta}), where S^{1}:=\{e^{i\theta}:\theta\in[0,2\pi]\}=\{z\in \mathbb{C}:|z|=1\}. Then it would be expected that the values of the extension of f onto the circle should be the limit of these functions, and so the question reduces to determining when f_{r} converges, and in what sense, as r\rightarrow 1, and how well defined is this limit. In particular, if the L^p norms of these f_{r} are well behaved, we have an answer:

Theorem: Let f:D^{2}\rightarrow\mathbb{C} be a holomorphic function such that
\sup_{0<r<1}\lVert f_{r}\rVert_{L^{p}(S^{1})}<\infty.

Then f_{r} converges to some function f_{1}\in L^{p}(S^{1}) pointwise almost everywhere and in L^{p}. That is,

 \lVert f_{r}-f_{1}\rVert_{L^{p}(S^{1})}\rightarrow 0
 |f_{r}(e^{i\theta})-f_{1}(e^{i\theta})|\rightarrow 0
for almost every \theta\in [0,2\pi].

Now, notice that this pointwise limit is a radial limit. That is, the limit being taken is along a straight line from the center of the disk to the boundary of the circle, and the statement above hence says that

 f(re^{i\theta})\rightarrow f_{1}(e^{i\theta})

for almost every \theta. The natural question is, now with this boundary function defined, will we converge pointwise to this function by taking a limit in any other way? That is, suppose instead of following a straight line to the boundary, we follow an arbitrary curve \gamma:[0,1)\rightarrow D^{2} converging to some point e^{i\theta} on the boundary. Will f converge to f_{1}(e^{i\theta})? (Note that the above theorem is just the special case of \gamma(t)=te^{i\theta}). It turns out that the curve \gamma needs to be nontangential, meaning that the curve does not approach its target on the boundary in a way that makes it tangent to the boundary of the circle. In other words, the range of \gamma must be contained in a wedge emanating from the limit point. We summarize as follows:

Definition: Let \gamma:[0,1)\rightarrow D^{2} be a continuous path such that \lim_{t\rightarrow 1}\gamma(t)=e^{i\theta}\in S^{1}. Define
\Gamma_{\alpha}=\{z:\arg z\in [\pi-\alpha,\pi+\alpha]\}
\Gamma_{\alpha}(\theta)=D^{2}\cap e^{i\theta}(\Gamma_{\alpha}+1).
That is, \Gamma_{\alpha}(\theta) is the wedge inside the disk with angle 2\alpha : whose axis passes between e^{i\theta} and zero. We say that \gamma
converges nontangentially to e^{i\theta}, or that it is a nontangential limit, : if there exists \alpha\in(0,\frac{\pi}{2}) such that \gamma is contained in \Gamma_{\alpha} and \lim_{t\rightarrow 1}\gamma(t)=e^{i\theta}.
Fatou's theorem: Let f\in H^{p}(D^{2}). Then for almost all \theta\in[0,2\pi], \lim_{t\rightarrow1}f(\gamma(t))=f_{1}(e^{i\theta})
for every nontangential limit \gamma converging to e^{i\theta}, where f_{1} is defined as above.


See also[edit]


  • John B. Garnett, Bounded Analytic Functions, (2006) Springer-Verlag, New York
  • Walter Rudin. Real and Complex Analysis (1987), 3rd Ed., McGraw Hill, New York.
  • Elias Stein, Singular integrals and differentiability properties of functions (1970), Princeton University Press, Princeton.