Lebesgue's decomposition theorem

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In mathematics, more precisely in measure theory, Lebesgue's decomposition theorem[1][2][3] states that for every two σ-finite signed measures and on a measurable space there exist two σ-finite signed measures and such that:

  • (that is, is absolutely continuous with respect to )
  • (that is, and are singular).

These two measures are uniquely determined by and .


Lebesgue's decomposition theorem can be refined in a number of ways.

First, the decomposition of the singular part of a regular Borel measure on the real line can be refined:[4]


  • νcont is the absolutely continuous part
  • νsing is the singular continuous part
  • νpp is the pure point part (a discrete measure).

Second, absolutely continuous measures are classified by the Radon–Nikodym theorem, and discrete measures are easily understood. Hence (singular continuous measures aside), Lebesgue decomposition gives a very explicit description of measures. The Cantor measure (the probability measure on the real line whose cumulative distribution function is the Cantor function) is an example of a singular continuous measure.

Related concepts[edit]

Lévy–Itō decomposition[edit]

The analogous[citation needed] decomposition for a stochastic processes is the Lévy–Itō decomposition: given a Lévy process X, it can be decomposed as a sum of three independent Lévy processes where:

  • is a Brownian motion with drift, corresponding to the absolutely continuous part;
  • is a compound Poisson process, corresponding to the pure point part;
  • is a square integrable pure jump martingale that almost surely has a countable number of jumps on a finite interval, corresponding to the singular continuous part.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ (Halmos 1974, Section 32, Theorem C)
  2. ^ (Hewitt & Stromberg 1965, Chapter V, § 19, (19.42) Lebesgue Decomposition Theorem)
  3. ^ (Rudin 1974, Section 6.9, The Theorem of Lebesgue-Radon-Nikodym)
  4. ^ (Hewitt & Stromberg 1965, Chapter V, § 19, (19.61) Theorem)


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