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Jun 4, 2005, 3:57:44 PM6/4/05

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The following two facts often arise in sci.math:

** The fact that a function f(x,y) can be continuous

in each variable separately, but not be continuous.

** The fact that a function f(x,y) can be continuous

relative to every line through a given point but

not be continuous at that point.

For example, within the past week, two threads have

appeared on these issues -- "limit existence of two

variable function" and "Multivariate functions limits".

For this reason, and because these issues came up

in some papers I was organizing and filing away today,

I thought I'd post a short essay on this topic.

Let g(x) = exp(-1/x^2), with g(0) left undefined.

Define f: R^2 --> R by

f(x,y) = 1 on the graph of y = g(x)

f(x,y) = 0 otherwise

Then f is continuous along every real-analytic curve

passing through the origin, but f is not continuous

at the origin. This example is given in footnote 3

on p. 31 of the following paper:

Arthur Rosenthal, "On the continuity of functions of

several variables", Mathematische Zeitschrift 63

(1955), 31-38. [Zbl 64.30003; MR 17,245c]

http://www.emis.de/cgi-bin/Zarchive?an=0064.30003

Rosenthal's paper is on-line at

http://dz-srv1.sub.uni-goettingen.de/cache/toc/D158728.html

Rosenthal established reasonably sharp upper and

lower bounds on results of this type by proving

the following theorem:

Theorem 1 (p. 31): If the single-valued function f is

continuous at p_0 along every convex curve through p_0

which is (at least) once differentiable, then f is also

continuous at p_0 as a function of (x,y). Yet f can

be continuous along every curve through p_0 which is

(at least) twice differentiable without being continuous

at p_0 as a function of (x,y).

The next paper gives a nice elementary and historical

survey of this topic. (Rosenthal's example is given and

cited on p. 123.)

Zbigniew Piotrowski, "The genesis of separate versus joint

continuity", Tatra Mountains Mathematical Publications

8 (1996), 113-126. [MR 98j:01026; Zbl 914.01007]

http://www.emis.de/cgi-bin/MATH-item?0914.01007

http://tatra.mat.savba.sk/paper.php?id_paper=357

Piotrowski's paper is on-line at

http://cc.ysu.edu/~zpiotrow/newpub.htm

I also have a scanned .pdf file for Piotrowski's paper

if anyone is interested. (For some reason I can't get

the on-line version to compile.)

To more efficiently state a few results that may be

of interest, I'll use the following terminology.

We say that f(x,y) is "coordinate-wise continuous" if

(a) for each fixed x_0, f(x_0,y) is continuous

and

(b) for each fixed y_0, f(x,y_0) is continuous.

We say that f(x,y) is "linearly continuous" if the

restriction of f to every line in the plane is

continuous.

We say that a set is "c-dense" if its intersection

with every open set has cardinality c. "Co-meager"

means the complement of a set of first Baire category

(i.e. the complement is a countable union of nowhere

dense sets).

RenĂ© Baire proved in his 1899 Ph.D. Dissertation

[1, p. 27] that if f(x,y) is coordinate-wise continuous,

then f is continuous at each point of a certain set

that is c-dense in R^2.

More precisely, Baire proved that if f(x,y) is

coordinate-wise continuous, then the set of continuity

points of f contains a co-meager set of horizontal

lines and a co-meager set of vertical lines. In

particular, f is continuous at co-meagerly many

points of R^2. By the way, this last statement

follows easily from the statement before it, being

the easy converse of the Kuratowski-Ulam theorem.

It also follows from the next result.

Baire also proved in his Dissertation that every

coordinate-wise continuous function f(x,y) is a

Baire-one function. That is, f is a pointwise limit

of a sequence of continuous functions from R^2 to R.

See [2] for a short explicit proof of this result.

In 1910, William H. Young and Grace C. Young [3]

constructed a linearly continuous function f(x,y)

that is discontinuous at each point of a certain

set that is c-dense in R^2. Richard Kershner remarks

[4, p. 83] that Young/Young's example can easily be

modified to give a function f(x,y) that is continuous

relative to every analytic arc and yet is discontinuous

at each point of a certain set that is c-dense in R^2.

I suspect the same example could be modified using

Rosenthal's example to obtain a function continuous

relative to even more subsets of R^2 while still being

discontinuous at each point of some set that is c-dense

in R^2, but I am not aware of any such result that

has been published.

G. Tolstov [5] proved in 1949 that linearly continuous

functions are determined by their values on dense sets.

A much shorter and more elementary proof of this was

given by Casper Goffman and C. J. Neugebauer in 1961 [6].

[1] http://www.emis.de/cgi-bin/JFM-item?30.0359.01

[2] http://www.emis.de/cgi-bin/MATH-item?0208.07501

[3] http://www.emis.de/cgi-bin/JFM-item?40.0437.03

[4] http://www.emis.de/cgi-bin/MATH-item?0063.09017

[5] http://www.emis.de/cgi-bin/Zarchive?an=0038.04003

English translation: American Mathematical Society

Translation 1952, no. 69, 30 pages. (MR 13,926a)

[6] http://www.emis.de/cgi-bin/Zarchive?an=0101.04603

I'll end with an example of a coordinate-wise continuous

function whose discontinuity set is any specified

countable dense subset of R^2. This example is given

on p. 123 of Piotrowski's paper, and it is a slight

variation of a construction given on p. 34 of Rosenthal's

paper.

Let D = {(x_n, y_n) : n = 1, 2, 3, ...} be a countable

dense subset of R^2.

Let g_n(x,y) = 2(x - x_n)(y - y_n) / A(x,y)_n,

where A(x,y)_n = (x - x_n)^2 + (y - y_n)^2.

Let f_n(x,y) = 0 if (x,y) = (x_n, y_n)

and f_n(x,y) = g_n(x,y) otherwise.

Finally, define f(x,y) = sum(n=1 to infinity)

of f_n(x,y) / 2^n.

Then f is coordinate-wise continuous and the discontinuity

set of f is D (proof left to the reader).

Dave L. Renfro

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