In mathematics, a homogeneous function is a function of several variables such that, if all its arguments are multiplied by a scalar, then its value is multiplied by some power of this scalar, called the degree of homogeneity, or simply the degree; that is, if k is an integer, a function f of n variables is homogeneous of degree k if
for every and
For example, a homogeneous polynomial of degree k defines a homogeneous function of degree k.
for all nonzero and This definition is often further generalized to functions whose domain is not V, but a cone in V, that is, a subset C of V such that implies for every nonzero scalar s.
In the case of functions of several real variables and real vector spaces, a slightly more general form of homogeneity called positive homogeneity is often considered, by requiring only that the above identities hold for and allowing any real number k as a degree of homogeneity. Every homogeneous real function is positively homogeneous. The converse is not true, but is locally true in the sense that (for integer degrees) the two kinds of homogeneity cannot be distinguished by considering the behavior of a function near a given point.
A norm over a real vector space is an example of a positively homogeneous function that is not homogeneous. A special case is the absolute value of real numbers. The quotient of two homogeneous polynomials of the same degree gives an example of a homogeneous function of degree zero. This example is fundamental in the definition of projective schemes.
The concept of a homogeneous function was originally introduced for functions of several real variables. With the definition of vector spaces at the end of 19th century, the concept has been naturally extended to functions between vector spaces, since a tuple of variable values can be considered as a coordinate vector. It is this more general point of view that is described in this article.
The second one supposes to work over the field of real numbers, or, more generally, over an ordered field. This definition restricts to positive values the scaling factor that occurs in the definition, and is therefore called positive homogeneity, the qualificative positive being often omitted when there is no risk of confusion. Positive homogeneity leads to consider more functions as homogeneous. For example, the absolute value and all norms are positively homogeneous functions that are not homogeneous.
The restriction of the scaling factor to real positive values allows also considering homogeneous functions whose degree of homogeneity is any real number.
for some integer k, every and every nonzero The integer k is called the degree of homogeneity, or simply the degree of f.
A typical example of a homogeneous function of degree k is the function defined by a homogeneous polynomial of degree k. The rational function defined by the quotient of two homogeneous polynomials is a homogeneous function; its degree is the difference of the degrees of the numerator and the denominator; its cone of definition is the linear cone of the points where the value of denominator is not zero.
Homogeneous functions play a fundamental role in projective geometry since any homogeneous function f from V to W defines a well-defined function between the projectivizations of V and W. The homogeneous rational functions of degree zero (those defined by the quotient of two homogeneous polynomial of the same degre) play an essential role in the Proj construction of projective schemes.
When working over the real numbers, or more generally over an ordered field, it is commonly convenient to consider positive homogeneity, the definition being exactly the same as that in the preceding section, with "nonzero s" replaced by "s > 0" in the definitions of a linear cone and a homogeneous function.
This change allow considering (positively) homogeneous functions with any real number as their degrees, since exponentiation with a positive real base is well defined.
Even in the case of integer degrees, there are many useful functions that are positively homogeneous without being homogeneous. This is, in particular, the case of the absolute value function and norms, which are all positively homogeneous of degree 1. They are not homogeneous since if This remains true in the complex case, since the field of the complex numbers and every complex vector space can be considered as real vector spaces.
The function is homogeneous of degree 2:
Absolute value and norms
The absolute value of a complex number is a positively homogeneous function of degree over the real numbers (that is, when considering the complex numbers as a vector space over the real numbers). It is not homogeneous, over the real numbers as well as over the complex numbers.
More generally, every norm and seminorm is a positively homogeneous function of degree 1 which is not a homogeneous function. As for the absolute value, if the norm or semi-norm is defined on a vector space over the complex numbers, this vector space has to be considered as vector space over the real number for applying the definition of a positively homogeneous function.
Similarly, any multilinear function is homogeneous of degree by the definition of multilinearity:
Monomials in variables define homogeneous functions For example,
Given a homogeneous polynomial of degree with real coefficients that takes only positive values, one gets a positively homogeneous function of degree by raising it to the power So for example, the following function is positively homogeneous of degree 1 but not homogeneous:
For every set of weights the following functions are positively homogeneous of degree 1, but not homogeneous:
Rational functions formed as the ratio of two homogeneous polynomials are homogeneous functions in their domain, that is, off of the linear cone formed by the zeros of the denominator. Thus, if is homogeneous of degree and is homogeneous of degree then is homogeneous of degree away from the zeros of
Roughly speaking, Euler's homogeneous function theorem asserts that the positively homogeneous functions of a given degree are exactly the solution of a specific partial differential equation. More precisely:
Euler's homogeneous function theorem — If f is a (partial) function of n real variables that is positively homogeneous of degree k, and continuously differentiable in some open subset of then it satisfies in this open set the partial differential equation
Conversely, every maximal continuously differentiable solution of this partial differentiable equation is a positively homogeneous function of degree k (here, maximal means that the solution cannot be prolongated to a function with a larger domain).
Proof: For having simpler formulas, we set The first part results by using the chain rule for differentiating both sides of the equation with respect to and taking the limit of the result when s tends to 1.
The converse is proved by integrating a simple differential equation. Let be in the interior of the domain of f. For s sufficiently close of 1, the function is well defined. The partial differential equation implies that
As a consequence, if is continuously differentiable and homogeneous of degree its first-order partial derivatives are homogeneous of degree The results from Euler's theorem by derivating the partial differential equation with respect to one variable.
In the case of a function of a single real variable (), the theorem implies that a continuously differentiable and positively homogeneous function of degree k has the form for and for The constants and are not necessarily the same, as it is the case for the absolute value.
Application to differential equations
The substitution converts the ordinary differential equation
Homogeneity under a monoid action
The definitions given above are all specialized cases of the following more general notion of homogeneity in which can be any set (rather than a vector space) and the real numbers can be replaced by the more general notion of a monoid.
Let be a monoid with identity element let and be sets, and suppose that on both and there are defined monoid actions of Let be a non-negative integer and let be a map. Then is said to be homogeneous of degree over if for every and
A function is homogeneous over (resp. absolutely homogeneous over ) if it is homogeneous of degree over (resp. absolutely homogeneous of degree over ).
More generally, it is possible for the symbols to be defined for with being something other than an integer (for example, if is the real numbers and is a non-zero real number then is defined even though is not an integer). If this is the case then will be called homogeneous of degree over if the same equality holds:
The notion of being absolutely homogeneous of degree over is generalized similarly.
Distributions (generalized functions)
A continuous function on is homogeneous of degree if and only if
Glossary of name variants
This section possibly contains original research. (December 2021)
Let be a map between two vector spaces over a field (usually the real numbers or complex numbers ). If is a set of scalars, such as or for example, then is said to be homogeneous over if for every and scalar For instance, every additive map between vector spaces is homogeneous over the rational numbers although it might not be homogeneous over the real numbers
The following commonly encountered special cases and variations of this definition have their own terminology:
- (Strict) Positive homogeneity: for all and all positive real
- This property is often also called nonnegative homogeneity because for a function valued in a vector space or field, it is logically equivalent to: for all and all non-negative real [proof 1] However, for a function valued in the extended real numbers which appear in fields like convex analysis, the multiplication will be undefined whenever and so these statements are not necessarily interchangeable.[note 1]
- This property is used in the definition of a sublinear function.
- Minkowski functionals are exactly those non-negative extended real-valued functions with this property.
- Real homogeneity: for all and all real
- This property is used in the definition of a real linear functional.
- Homogeneity: for all and all scalars
- Conjugate homogeneity: for all and all scalars
- If then typically denotes the complex conjugate of . But more generally, as with semilinear maps for example, could be the image of under some distinguished automorphism of
- Along with additivity, this property is assumed in the definition of an antilinear map. It is also assumed that one of the two coordinates of a sesquilinear form has this property (such as the inner product of a Hilbert space).
All of the above definitions can be generalized by replacing the condition with in which case that definition is prefixed with the word "absolute" or "absolutely." For example,
- Absolute homogeneity: for all and all scalars
If is a fixed real number then the above definitions can be further generalized by replacing the condition with (and similarly, by replacing with for conditions using the absolute value, etc.), in which case the homogeneity is said to be "of degree " (where in particular, all of the above definitions are "of degree "). For instance,
- Real homogeneity of degree : for all and all real
- Homogeneity of degree : for all and all scalars
- Absolute real homogeneity of degree : for all and all real
- Absolute homogeneity of degree : for all and all scalars
A nonzero continuous function that is homogeneous of degree on extends continuously to if and only if
- However, if such an satisfies for all and then necessarily and whenever are both real then will hold for all
- Assume that is strictly positively homogeneous and valued in a vector space or a field. Then so subtracting from both sides shows that Writing then for any which shows that is nonnegative homogeneous.
- Blatter, Christian (1979). "20. Mehrdimensionale Differentialrechnung, Aufgaben, 1.". Analysis II (2nd ed.) (in German). Springer Verlag. p. 188. ISBN 3-540-09484-9.
- Schaefer, Helmut H.; Wolff, Manfred P. (1999). Topological Vector Spaces. GTM. Vol. 8 (Second ed.). New York, NY: Springer New York Imprint Springer. ISBN 978-1-4612-7155-0. OCLC 840278135.
- Schechter, Eric (1996). Handbook of Analysis and Its Foundations. San Diego, CA: Academic Press. ISBN 978-0-12-622760-4. OCLC 175294365.
- "Homogeneous function", Encyclopedia of Mathematics, EMS Press, 2001 
- Eric Weisstein. "Euler's Homogeneous Function Theorem". MathWorld.
- Schechter 1996, pp. 313–314.