All posts by Jean-Pierre Merx

A semi-continuous function with a dense set of points of discontinuity

Let’s come back to Thomae’s function which is defined as:
\mathbb{R} & \longrightarrow & \mathbb{R} \\
x & \longmapsto & 0 \text{ if } x \in \mathbb{R} \setminus \mathbb{Q} \\
\frac{p}{q} & \longmapsto & \frac{1}{q} \text{ if } \frac{p}{q} \text{ in lowest terms and } q > 0

We proved here that \(f\) right-sided and left-sided limits vanish at all points. Therefore \(\limsup\limits_{x \to a} f(x) \le f(a)\) at every point \(a\) which proves that \(f\) is upper semi-continuous on \(\mathbb R\). However \(f\) is continuous at all \(a \in \mathbb R \setminus \mathbb Q\) and discontinuous at all \(a \in \mathbb Q\).

A prime ideal that is not a maximal ideal

Every maximal ideal is a prime ideal. The converse is true in a principal ideal domain – PID, i.e. every nonzero prime ideal is maximal in a PID, but this is not true in general. Let’s produce a counterexample.

\(R= \mathbb Z[x]\) is a ring. \(R\) is not a PID as can be shown considering the ideal \(I\) generated by the set \(\{2,x\}\). \(I\) cannot be generated by a single element \(p\). If it was, \(p\) would divide \(2\), i.e. \(p=1\) or \(p=2\). We can’t have \(p=1\) as it means \(R = I\) but \(3 \notin I\). We can’t have either \(p=2\) as it implies the contradiction \(x \notin I\). The ideal \(J = (x)\) is a prime ideal as \(R/J \cong \mathbb Z\) is an integral domain. Since \(\mathbb Z\) is not a field, \(J\) is not a maximal ideal.

Totally disconnected compact set with positive measure

Let’s build a totally disconnected compact set \(K \subset [0,1]\) such that \(\mu(K) >0\) where \(\mu\) denotes the Lebesgue measure.

In order to do so, let \(r_1, r_2, \dots\) be an enumeration of the rationals. To each rational \(r_i\) associate the open interval \(U_i = (r_i – 2^{-i-2}, r_i + 2^{-i-2})\). Then take \[
\displaystyle V = \bigcup_{i=1}^\infty U_i \text{ and } K = [0,1] \cap V^c.\] Clearly \(K\) is bounded and closed, therefore compact. As Lebesgue measure is subadditive we have \[
\mu(V) \le \sum_{i=1}^\infty \mu(U_i) \le \sum_{i=1}^\infty 2^{-i-1} = 1/2.\] This implies \[
\mu(K) = \mu([0,1]) – \mu([0,1] \cap V) \ge 1/2.\] In a further article, we’ll build a totally disconnected compact set \(K^\prime\) of \([0,1]\) with a predefined measure \(m \in [0,1)\).

Converse of fundamental theorem of calculus

The fundamental theorem of calculus asserts that for a continuous real-valued function \(f\) defined on a closed interval \([a,b]\), the function \(F\) defined for all \(x \in [a,b]\) by
\[F(x)=\int _{a}^{x}\!f(t)\,dt\] is uniformly continuous on \([a,b]\), differentiable on the open interval \((a,b)\) and \[
F^\prime(x) = f(x)\]
for all \(x \in (a,b)\).

The converse of fundamental theorem of calculus is not true as we see below.

Consider the function defined on the interval \([0,1]\) by \[
f(x)= \begin{cases}
2x\sin(1/x) – \cos(1/x) & \text{ for } x \neq 0 \\
0 & \text{ for } x = 0 \end{cases}\] \(f\) is integrable as it is continuous on \((0,1]\) and bounded on \([0,1]\). Then \[
F(x)= \begin{cases}
x^2 \sin \left( 1/x \right) & \text{ for } x \neq 0 \\
0 & \text{ for } x = 0 \end{cases}\] \(F\) is differentiable on \([0,1]\). It is clear for \(x \in (0,1]\). \(F\) is also differentiable at \(0\) as for \(x \neq 0\) we have \[
\left\vert \frac{F(x) – F(0)}{x-0} \right\vert = \left\vert \frac{F(x)}{x} \right\vert \le \left\vert x \right\vert.\] Consequently \(F^\prime(0) = 0\).

However \(f\) is not continuous at \(0\) as it does not have a right limit at \(0\).

Four elements rings

A group with four elements is isomorphic to either the cyclic group \(\mathbb Z_4\) or to the Klein four-group \(\mathbb Z_2 \times \mathbb Z_2\). Those groups are commutative. Endowed with the usual additive and multiplicative operations, \(\mathbb Z_4\) and \(\mathbb Z_2 \times \mathbb Z_2\) are commutative rings.

Are all four elements rings also isomorphic to either \(\mathbb Z_4\) or \(\mathbb Z_2 \times \mathbb Z_2\)? The answer is negative. Let’s provide two additional examples of commutative rings with four elements not isomorphic to \(\mathbb Z_4\) or \(\mathbb Z_2 \times \mathbb Z_2\).

The first one is the field \(\mathbb F_4\). \(\mathbb F_4\) is a commutative ring with four elements. It is not isomorphic to \(\mathbb Z_4\) or \(\mathbb Z_2 \times \mathbb Z_2\) as both of those rings have zero divisor. Indeed we have \(2 \cdot 2 = 0\) in \(\mathbb Z_4\) and \((1,0) \cdot (0,1)=(0,0)\) in \(\mathbb Z_2 \times \mathbb Z_2\).

A second one is the ring \(R\) of the matrices \(\begin{pmatrix}
x & 0\\
y & x\end{pmatrix}\) where \(x,y \in \mathbb Z_2\). One can easily verify that \(R\) is a commutative subring of the ring \(M_2(\mathbb Z_2)\). It is not isomorphic to \(\mathbb Z_4\) as its characteristic is \(2\). This is not isomorphic to \(\mathbb Z_2 \times \mathbb Z_2\) either as \(\begin{pmatrix}
0 & 0\\
1 & 0\end{pmatrix}\) is a non-zero matrix solution of the equation \(X^2=0\). \((0,0)\) is the only solution of that equation in \(\mathbb Z_2 \times \mathbb Z_2\).

One can prove that the four rings mentioned above are the only commutative rings with four elements up to isomorphism.

Counterexamples around series (part 2)

We follow the article counterexamples around series (part 1) providing additional funny series examples.

If \(\sum u_n\) converges and \((u_n)\) is non-increasing then \(u_n = o(1/n)\)?

This is true. Let’s prove it.
The hypotheses imply that \((u_n)\) converges to zero. Therefore \(u_n \ge 0\) for all \(n \in \mathbb N\). As \(\sum u_n\) converges we have \[
\displaystyle \lim\limits_{n \to \infty} \sum_{k=n/2}^{n} u_k = 0.\] Hence for \(\epsilon \gt 0\), one can find \(N \in \mathbb N\) such that \[
\epsilon \ge \sum_{k=n/2}^{n} u_k \ge \frac{1}{2} (n u_n) \ge 0\] for all \(n \ge N\). Which concludes the proof.

\(\sum u_n\) convergent is equivalent to \(\sum u_{2n}\) and \(\sum u_{2n+1}\) convergent?

Is not true as we can see taking \(u_n = \frac{(-1)^n}{n}\). \(\sum u_n\) converges according to the alternating series test. However for \(n \in \mathbb N\) \[
\sum_{k=1}^n u_{2k} = \sum_{k=1}^n \frac{1}{2k} = 1/2 \sum_{k=1}^n \frac{1}{k}.\] Hence \(\sum u_{2n}\) diverges as the harmonic series diverges.

\(\sum u_n\) absolutely convergent is equivalent to \(\sum u_{2n}\) and \(\sum u_{2n+1}\) absolutely convergent?

This is true and the proof is left to the reader.

\(\sum u_n\) is a positive convergent series then \((\sqrt[n]{u_n})\) is bounded?

Is true. If not, there would be a subsequence \((u_{\phi(n)})\) such that \(\sqrt[\phi(n)]{u_{\phi(n)}} \ge 2\). Which means \(u_{\phi(n)} \ge 2^{\phi(n)}\) for all \(n \in \mathbb N\) and implies that the sequence \((u_n)\) is unbounded. In contradiction with the convergence of the series \(\sum u_n\).

If \((u_n)\) is strictly positive with \(u_n = o(1/n)\) then \(\sum (-1)^n u_n\) converges?

It does not hold as we can see with \[
u_n=\begin{cases} \frac{1}{n \ln n} & n \equiv 0 [2] \\
\frac{1}{2^n} & n \equiv 1 [2] \end{cases}\] Then for \(n \in \mathbb N\) \[
\sum_{k=1}^{2n} (-1)^k u_k \ge \sum_{k=1}^n \frac{1}{2k \ln 2k} – \sum_{k=1}^{2n} \frac{1}{2^k} \ge \sum_{k=1}^n \frac{1}{2k \ln 2k} – 1.\] As \(\sum \frac{1}{2k \ln 2k}\) diverges as can be proven using the integral test with the function \(x \mapsto \frac{1}{2x \ln 2x}\), \(\sum (-1)^n u_n\) also diverges.

Group homomorphism versus ring homomorphism

A ring homomorphism is a function between two rings which respects the structure. Let’s provide examples of functions between rings which respect the addition or the multiplication but not both.

An additive group homomorphism that is not a ring homomorphism

We consider the ring \(\mathbb R[x]\) of real polynomials and the derivation \[
D : & \mathbb R[x] & \longrightarrow & \mathbb R[x] \\
& P & \longmapsto & P^\prime \end{array}\] \(D\) is an additive homomorphism as for all \(P,Q \in \mathbb R[x]\) we have \(D(P+Q) = D(P) + D(Q)\). However, \(D\) does not respect the multiplication as \[
D(x^2) = 2x \neq 1 = D(x) \cdot D(x).\] More generally, \(D\) satisfies the Leibniz rule \[
D(P \cdot Q) = P \cdot D(Q) + Q \cdot D(P).\]

A multiplication group homomorphism that is not a ring homomorphism

The function \[
f : & \mathbb R & \longrightarrow & \mathbb R \\
& x & \longmapsto & x^2 \end{array}\] is a multiplicative group homomorphism of the group \((\mathbb R, \cdot)\). However \(f\) does not respect the addition.

A nonzero continuous map orthogonal to all polynomials

Let’s consider the vector space \(\mathcal{C}^0([a,b],\mathbb R)\) of continuous real functions defined on a compact interval \([a,b]\). We can define an inner product on pairs of elements \(f,g\) of \(\mathcal{C}^0([a,b],\mathbb R)\) by \[
\langle f,g \rangle = \int_a^b f(x) g(x) \ dx.\]

It is known that \(f \in \mathcal{C}^0([a,b],\mathbb R)\) is the always vanishing function if we have \(\langle x^n,f \rangle = \int_a^b x^n f(x) \ dx = 0\) for all integers \(n \ge 0\). Let’s recall the proof. According to Stone-Weierstrass theorem, for all \(\epsilon >0\) it exists a polynomial \(P\) such that \(\Vert f – P \Vert_\infty \le \epsilon\). Then \[
0 &\le \int_a^b f^2 = \int_a^b f(f-P) + \int_a^b fP\\
&= \int_a^b f(f-P) \le \Vert f \Vert_\infty \epsilon(b-a)
\end{aligned}\] As this is true for all \(\epsilon > 0\), we get \(\int_a^b f^2 = 0\) and \(f = 0\).

We now prove that the result becomes false if we change the interval \([a,b]\) into \([0, \infty)\), i.e. that one can find a continuous function \(f \in \mathcal{C}^0([0,\infty),\mathbb R)\) such that \(\int_0^\infty x^n f(x) \ dx\) for all integers \(n \ge 0\). In that direction, let’s consider the complex integral \[
I_n = \int_0^\infty x^n e^{-(1-i)x} \ dx.\] \(I_n\) is well defined as for \(x \in [0,\infty)\) we have \(\vert x^n e^{-(1-i)x} \vert = x^n e^{-x}\) and \(\int_0^\infty x^n e^{-x} \ dx\) converges. By integration by parts, one can prove that \[
I_n = \frac{n!}{(1-i)^{n+1}} = \frac{(1+i)^{n+1}}{2^{n+1}} n! = \frac{e^{i \frac{\pi}{4}(n+1)}}{2^{\frac{n+1}{2}}}n!.\] Consequently, \(I_{4p+3} \in \mathbb R\) for all \(p \ge 0\) which means \[
\int_0^\infty x^{4p+3} \sin(x) e^{-x} \ dx =0\] and finally \[
\int_0^\infty u^p \sin(u^{1/4}) e^{-u^{1/4}} \ dx =0\] for all integers \(p \ge 0\) using integration by substitution with \(x = u^{1/4}\). The function \(u \mapsto \sin(u^{1/4}) e^{-u^{1/4}}\) is one we were looking for.

A group G isomorph to the product group G x G

Let’s provide an example of a nontrivial group \(G\) such that \(G \cong G \times G\). For a finite group \(G\) of order \(\vert G \vert =n > 1\), the order of \(G \times G\) is equal to \(n^2\). Hence we have to look at infinite groups in order to get the example we’re seeking for.

We take for \(G\) the infinite direct product \[
G = \prod_{n \in \mathbb N} \mathbb Z_2 = \mathbb Z_2 \times \mathbb Z_2 \times \mathbb Z_2 \dots,\] where \(\mathbb Z_2\) is endowed with the addition. Now let’s consider the map \[
\phi : & G & \longrightarrow & G \times G \\
& (g_1,g_2,g_3, \dots) & \longmapsto & ((g_1,g_3, \dots ),(g_2, g_4, \dots)) \end{array}\]

From the definition of the addition in \(G\) it follows that \(\phi\) is a group homomorphism. \(\phi\) is onto as for any element \(\overline{g}=((g_1, g_2, g_3, \dots),(g_1^\prime, g_2^\prime, g_3^\prime, \dots))\) in \(G \times G\), \(g = (g_1, g_1^\prime, g_2, g_2^\prime, \dots)\) is an inverse image of \(\overline{g}\) under \(\phi\). Also the identity element \(e=(\overline{0},\overline{0}, \dots)\) of \(G\) is the only element of the kernel of \(G\). Hence \(\phi\) is also one-to-one. Finally \(\phi\) is a group isomorphism between \(G\) and \(G \times G\).

Counterexamples around series (part 1)

The purpose of this article is to provide some basic counterexamples on real series. Counterexamples are provided as answers to questions.

Unless otherwise stated, \((u_n)_{n \in \mathbb{N}}\) and \((v_n)_{n \in \mathbb{N}}\) are two real sequences.

If \((u_n)\) is non-increasing and converges to zero then \(\sum u_n\) converges?

Is not true. A famous counterexample is the harmonic series \(\sum \frac{1}{n}\) which doesn’t converge as \[
\displaystyle \sum_{k=p+1}^{2p} \frac{1}{k} \ge \sum_{k=p+1}^{2p} \frac{1}{2p} = 1/2,\] for all \(p \in \mathbb N\).

If \(u_n = o(1/n)\) then \(\sum u_n\) converges?

Does not hold as can be seen considering \(u_n=\frac{1}{n \ln n}\) for \(n \ge 2\). Indeed \(\int_2^x \frac{dt}{t \ln t} = \ln(\ln x) – \ln (\ln 2)\) and therefore \(\int_2^\infty \frac{dt}{t \ln t}\) diverges. We conclude that \(\sum \frac{1}{n \ln n}\) diverges using the integral test. However \(n u_n = \frac{1}{\ln n}\) converges to zero. Continue reading Counterexamples around series (part 1)