Nowhere continuous function

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In mathematics, a nowhere continuous function, also called an everywhere discontinuous function, is a function that is not continuous at any point of its domain. If f is a function from real numbers to real numbers, then f is nowhere continuous if for each point x there is an ε > 0 such that for each δ > 0 we can find a point y such that 0 < |xy| < δ and |f(x) − f(y)| ≥ ε. Therefore, no matter how close we get to any fixed point, there are even closer points at which the function takes not-nearby values.

More general definitions of this kind of function can be obtained, by replacing the absolute value by the distance function in a metric space, or by using the definition of continuity in a topological space.

Dirichlet function[edit]

One example of such a function is the indicator function of the rational numbers, also known as the Dirichlet function. This function is denoted as IQ or 1Q and has domain and codomain both equal to the real numbers. IQ(x) equals 1 if x is a rational number and 0 if x is not rational.

More generally, if E is any subset of a topological space X such that both E and the complement of E are dense in X, then the real-valued function which takes the value 1 on E and 0 on the complement of E will be nowhere continuous. Functions of this type were originally investigated by Peter Gustav Lejeune Dirichlet.[1]

Hyperreal characterisation[edit]

A real function f is nowhere continuous if its natural hyperreal extension has the property that every x is infinitely close to a y such that the difference f(x) − f(y) is appreciable (i.e., not infinitesimal).

See also[edit]

  • Blumberg theorem – even if a real function f : ℝ → ℝ is nowhere continuous, there is a dense subset D of ℝ such that the restriction of f to D is continuous.
  • Thomae's function (also known as the popcorn function) – a function that is continuous at all irrational numbers and discontinuous at all rational numbers.
  • Weierstrass function – a function continuous everywhere (inside its domain) and differentiable nowhere.


  1. ^ Lejeune Dirichlet, Peter Gustav (1829). "Sur la convergence des séries trigonométriques qui servent à représenter une fonction arbitraire entre des limites données". Journal für die reine und angewandte Mathematik. 4: 157–169.

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