# Elements of the Differential and Integral Calculus/Chapter III

CHAPTER III

**THEORY OF LIMITS**

**13. Limit of a variable.**If a variable takes on successively a series of values that approach nearer and nearer to a constant value in such a manner that

^{[1]}becomes and remains less than any assigned arbitrarily small positive quantity, then is said to

*approach the limit*, or to

*converge to the limit*. Symbolically this is written

.

The following familiar examples illustrate what is meant:

(1) As the number of sides of a regular inscribed polygon is indefinitely increased, the limit of the area of the polygon is the area of the circle. In this case *the variable is always less than its limit.*

(2) Similarly, the limit of the area of the circumscribed polygon is also the area of the circle, but now *the variable is always greater than its limit.*

(3) Consider the series

*A*)

The sum of any even number of the first terms of this series is

(B) |
By 6, p. 1 |

Similarly, the sum of any odd number of the first terms of the series is

(C) |
By 6, p. 1 |

*B*) and (

*C*) in the forms

,

Hence, by definition of the limit of a variable, it is seen that both and are variables approaching as a limit as the number of terms increases without limit.

Summing up the first two, three, four, etc., terms of (*A*), the sums are found by (*B*) and (*C*) to be alternately less and greater than , illustrating the case when *the variable*, in this case the sum of the terms of (*A*), *is alternately less and greater than its limit.*

In the examples shown *the variable never reaches its limit*. This is not by any means always the case, for from the definition of the *limit of a variable* it is clear that the essence of the definition is simply that the numerical value of the difference between the variable and its limit shall ultimately become and remain less than any positive number we may choose, however small.

etc.

and *the limit is reached by the variable, every third value of the variable being C.*

**14. Division by zero excluded.** is indeterminate. For the quotient of two numbers is that number which multiplied by the divisor will give the dividend. But any number whatever multiplied by zero gives zero, and the quotient is indeterminate; that is, any number whatever may be considered as the quotient, a result which is of no value.

has no meaning, being different from zero, for there exists no number such that if it be multiplied by zero, the product will equal .

Therefore *division by zero is not an admissible operation.*

Care should be taken not to divide by zero inadvertently. The following fallacy is an illustration.

The result is absurd, and is caused by the fact that we divided by .

**15. Infinitesimals**A variable whose limit is zero is called an

*infinitesimal*.

^{[2]}This is written

, or, ,

*become indefinitely small or to ultimately vanish.*

*the difference between a variable and its limit is an infinitesimal.*

Conversely, *if the difference between a variable and a constant is an infinitesimal*, then the variable approaches the constant as a limit.

**16. The concept of infinity ().**If a variable ultimately becomes and remains greater than any assigned positive number however large, we say

*increases without limit*, and write

, or, .

*decreases without limit*, and write

, or, .

*, in numerical value, increases without limit, or becomes infinitely great,*

^{[3]}and write, or, .

Infinity () is not a number; it simply serves to characterize a particular mode of variation of a variable by virtue of which it increases or decreases without limit.

**17. Limiting value of a function.** Given a function .

,

,

,

and is read *the limit of , as approaches the limit in any manner, is .*

**18. Continuous and discontinuous functions.**A function is said to be

*continuous for*if the limiting value of the function when approaches the limit in any manner is the value assigned to the function for . In symbols, if

,

*continuous*for . The function is said to be

*discontinuous*for if this condition is not satisfied. For example, if

,

the function is discontinuous for .

The attention of the student is now called to the following cases which occur frequently.

Case I. As an example illustrating a simple case of a function continuous for a particular value of the variable, consider the function.

For , . Moreover, if approaches the limit in any manner, the function approaches as a limit. Hence the function is continuous for .

Case II. The definition of a continuous function assumes that the function is already defined for . If this is not the case, however, it is sometimes possible to assign such a value to the function for that the condition of continuity shall be satisfied. The following theorem covers these cases.

**Theorem.**

*If is not defined for , and if*

,

*then will be continuous for , if is assumed as the value of for .*Thus the function

;

Although the function is not defined for , if we arbitrarily assign it the value for , it then becomes continuous for this value.

*A function is said to be continuous in an interval when it is continuous for all values of in this interval.*^{[4]}

**19. Continuity and discontinuity of functions illustrated by their graphs.**

(1) Consider the function , and let | |

(A) |
. |

If we assume values for and calculate the corresponding values of , we can plot a series of points. Drawing a smooth line free-hand through these points, a good representation of the general behavior of the function may be obtained. This picture or image of the function is called its *graph*. It is evidently the locus of all points satisfying equation (*A*).

Such a series or assemblage of points is also called a curve. Evidently we may assume values of so near together as to bring the values of (and therefore the points of the curve) as near together as we please. In other words, there are no breaks in the curve, and the function is continuous for all values of .

(2) The graph of the continuous function is plotted by drawing the locus of.

It is seen that no break in the curve occurs anywhere.

(3) The continuous function is of very frequent occurrence in the Calculus. If we plot its graph fromwe get a smooth curve as shown. From this it is clearly seen that,

(a) when , ;

(b) when , is positive and increases as we pass towards the right from the origin;

(c) when , is still positive and decreases as we pass towards the left from the origin.

(4) The function is closely related to the last one discussed. In fact, if we plot its graph fromit will be seen that its graph has the same relation to and as the graph of has to and .

Here we see the following facts pictured:

(a) For , .

(b) For , is positive and increases as increases.

(c) For , is negative and increases in *numerical value* as diminishes, that is, .

(d) For , is not defined; hence the entire graph lies to the right of .

(5) Consider the function , and set

If the graph of this function be plotted, it will be seen that as approaches the value zero from the left (negatively), the points of the curve ultimately drop down an infinitely great distance, and as approaches the value zero from the right, the curve extends upward infinitely far.

The curve then does not form a continuous branch from one side to the other of the axis of , showing graphically that the function is discontinuous for , but continuous for all other values of .

(8) The function

(9) Similarly,

Functions exist which are discontinuous for every value of the independent variable within a certain range. In the ordinary applications of the Calculus, however, we deal with functions which are discontinuous (if at all) only for certain isolated values of the independent variable; such functions are therefore in general continuous, and are the only ones considered in this book.

**20. Fundamental theorems on limits.** In problems involving limits the use of one or more of the following theorems is usually implied. It is assumed that the limit of each variable exists and is finite.

**Theorem I.** *The limit of the algebraic sum of a finite number of variables is equal to the like algebraic sum of the limits of the several variables.*

**Theorem II.** *The limit of the product of a finite number of variables is equal to the product of the limits of the several variables.*

**Theorem III.** *The limit of the quotient of two variables is equal to the quotient of the limits of the separate variables, provided the limit of the denominator is not zero.*

Before proving these theorems it is necessary to establish the following properties of infinitesimals.

(1) *The sum of a finite number of infinitesimals is an infinitesimal.* To prove this we must show that the numerical value of this sum can be made less than any small positive quantity (as ) that may be assigned (**§15**). That this is possible is evident, for, the limit of each infinitesimal being zero, each one can be made numerically less than ( being the number of infinitesimals), and therefore their sum can be made numerically less than .

(2) *The product of a constant and an infinitesimal is an infinitesimal.* For the numerical value of the product can always be made less than any small positive quantity (as ) by making the numerical value of the infinitesimal less than .

(3) *The product of any finite number of infinitesimals is an infinitesimal.* For the numerical value of the product may be made less than any small positive quantity that can be assigned. If the given product contains factors, then since each infinitesimal may be assumed less than the th root of , the product can be made less than itself.

(4) *If is a variable which approaches a limit different from zero, then the quotient of an infinitesimal by is also an infinitesimal.* For if limit , and is any number numerically less than , then, by definition of a limit, will ultimately become and remain numerically greater than . Hence the quotient , where is an infinitesimal, will ultimately become and remain numerically less than , and is therefore by (2) an infinitesimal.

*Proof of Theorem I.*Let be the variables, and their respective limits. We may then write where are infinitesimals (i.e. variables having zero for a limit). Adding

*A*)

Since the right-hand member is an infinitesimal by (1), p. 19, we have, from the converse theorem on p. 18,

or, |

which was to be proved.

*Proof of Theorem II.* Let and be the variables, and their respective limits, and and infinitesimals; then

and |

Multiplying, |

*B*)

Since the right-hand member is an infinitesimal by (1) and (2), p. 19, we have, as before,

*Proof of Theorem III.*Using the same notation as before,

*C*)

Here again the right-hand member is an infinitesimal by (4), p. 19, if ; hence

It is evident that if any of the variables be replaced by constants, our reasoning still holds, and the above theorems are true.

**21. Special limiting values.** The following examples are of special importance in the study of the Calculus. In the following examples and .

Written in the form of limits. |
| Abbreviated form often used. |

The expressions in the second column are not to be considered as expressing numerical equalities ( not being a number); they are merely *symbolical equations* implying the relations indicated in the first column, and should be so understood.

**22. Show that .**^{[5]}

Let be the center of a circle whose radius is unity.

Let , and let and be tangents drawn to the circle at and . From Geometry,

; | |

or | . |

Dividing through by , we get If now approaches the limit zero,

Therefore , or, . | Th. III, p. 18 |

**23. The number .** One of the most important limits in the Calculus is

To prove rigorously that such a limit exists, is beyond the scope of this book. For the present we shall content ourselves by plotting the locus of the equation

10 | 1.0096 | |||

5 | 1.4310 | |||

2 | 1.7320 | |||

1 | 2.0000 | |||

.5 | 2.2500 | —.5 | 4.0000 | |

.1 | 2.5937 | —.1 | 2.8680 | |

.01 | 2.7048 | —.01 | 2.7320 | |

.001 | 2.7169 | —.001 | 2.7195 |

takes on values in the near neighborhood of , and therefore approximately.

As from the left, decreases and approaches as a limit. As from the right, increases and also approaches as a limit.

As , approaches the limit ; and as from the right, increases without limit.

In Chap. XVIII, Ex. 15, p. 233, we will show how to calculate the value of to any number of decimal places.

*Natural logarithms* are those which have the number for base. These logarithms play a very important role in mathematics. When the base is not indicated explicitly, the base is always understood in what follows in this book. Thus is written simply .

Natural logarithms possess the following characteristic property: If in any way whatever,

**24. Expressions assuming the form .** As is not a number, the expression is indeterminate. To evaluate a fraction assuming this form, the numerator and denominator being algebraic functions, we shall find useful the following

Rule. *Divide both numerator and denominator by the highest power of the variable occurring in either. Then substitute the value of the variable.*

Illustrative Example 1. Evaluate .

**Solution.** Substituting directly, we get , which is indeterminate. Hence, following the above rule, we divide both numerator and denominator by . Then

**EXAMPLES**

Prove the following:

** 1. .**

Proof. |
Th. I, p. 18 |

**2. .**

Proof. |
||

[Dividing both numerator and denominator by .] | ||

Th. III, p. 18 | ||

Th. I, p. 18 | ||

** 3. .**

** 4. .**

** 5. .**

** 6. .**

** 7. .**

** 8. .**

** 9. .**

**10. .**

**11. .**

**12. .**

**13. .**

**14. .**

**15. .**

**16. .**

**17. .**

**18. .**

**19. .**

**20. .**

**21. .**

**22. .**

**23. , if is increasing as it approaches the value .**

**24. , if is decreasing as it approaches the value .**

- ↑ To be read
*the numerical value of the difference between and .* - ↑ Hence a constant, no matter how small it may be, is not an infinitesimal.
- ↑ On account of the notation used and for the sake of uniformity, the expression is sometimes read
*approaches the limit plus infinity*. Similarly, is read*approaches the limit minus infinity*, and is read*, in numerical value, approaches the limit infinity.*While the above notation is convenient to use in this connection, the student must not forget that infinity is not a limit in the sense in which we defined a limit on p. 11, for infinity is not a number at all.

- ↑ In this book we shall deal only with functions which are in general continuous, that is, continuous for all values of , with the possible exception of certain isolated values, our results in general being understood as valid only for such values of for which the function in question is actually continuous. Unless special attention is called thereto, we shall as a rule pay no attention to the possibilities of such exceptional values of for which the function is discontinuous. The definition of a continuous function is sometimes roughly (but imperfectly) summed up in the statement that
*a small change in shall produce a small change in .*We shall not consider functions having an infinite number of oscillations in a limited region. - ↑ If we refer to the table on p. 4, it will be seen that for all angles less than 10° the angle in radians and the sine of the angle are equal to three decimal places. If larger tables are consulted, five-place, say, it will be seen that for all three angles less than 2.2° the sine of the angle and the angle itself are equal to four decimal places. From this we may well suspect that