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In general context, a function may have multiple minimum and maximum values in the domain of function. These minimum and maximum values are “local” minimum and maximum, which belongs to finite sub-intervals within the domain of function. The least minimum and greatest maximum in the domain of function are “global” minimum and maximum respectively in the entire domain of the function. Clearly, least and greatest values are one of the local minimum and maximum values. The minimum and maximum, which are not global, are also known as “relative” minimum and maximum.
Note : This module contains certain concepts relating to continuity, limits and differentiation, which we have not covered in this course. The topic is dealt here because minimum, maximum, least, greatest and range are important attributes of a function and its study is required to complete the discussion on function.
Let us consider a very general graphic representation of a function. Following observations can easily be made by observing the graph :
1: A function may have local minimum (C, E, G, I) and maximum (B,D,F,H) at more than one point.
2: It is not possible to determine global minimum and maximum unless we know function values corresponding to all values of x in the domain of function. Note that graph above can be defined to any value beyond A.
3: Local minimum at a point (E) can be greater than local maximum at other points (B and H).
4: If function is continuous in an interval, then pair of minimum and maximum in any order occur alternatively (B,C), (C,D), (D,E), (E,F) , (F,G) , (G,H) , (H,I).
5: A function can not have minimum and maximum at points where function is not defined. Consider a rational function, which is not defined at x=1.
$$f\left(x\right)=\frac{1}{x-1};\phantom{\rule{1em}{0ex}}x\ne 1$$
Similarly, a function below is not defined at x=0.
| x=1; x>0
f(x) = ||x = -1; x<0
Minimum and maximum of function can not occur at points where function is not defined, because there is no function value corresponding to undefined points. We should understand that undefined points or intervals are not part of domain - thus not part of function definition. On the other hand, minimum and maximum are consideration within the domain of function and as such undefined points or intervals should not be considered in the first place. Non-occurance of minimum and maximum in this context, however, has been included here to emphasize this fact.
6: A function can have minimum and maximum at points where it is discontinuous. Consider fraction part function in the finite domain. The function is not continuous at x=1, but minimum occurs at this point (recall its graph).
7: A function can have minimum and maximum at points where it is continuous but not differentiable. In other words, maximum and minimum can occur at corners. For example, modulus function |x| has its only minimum at corner point at x=0 (recall its graph).
Extreme value or extremum is either a minimum or maximum value. A function, f(x), has a extremum at x=e, if it has either a minimum or maximum value at that point.
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