# Calculus 2.3 - Online Math

```2.3 Continuity
Grand Canyon, Arizona
Photo by Vickie Kelly, 2002
Greg Kelly, Hanford High School, Richland, Washington
Most of the techniques of calculus require that functions
be continuous. A function is continuous if you can draw it
in one motion without picking up your pencil.
A function is continuous at a point if the limit is the same
as the value of the function.
This function has discontinuities
at x=1 and x=2.
2
1
1
2
3
4
It is continuous at x=0 and x=4,
because the one-sided limits
match the value of the function

Removable Discontinuities:
(You can fill the hole.)
Essential Discontinuities:
jump
infinite
oscillating

Removing a discontinuity:
x3  1
f  x  2
x 1
has a discontinuity at x  1 .
Write an extended function that is continuous
at x  1 .
 x  1  x 2  x  1 1  1  1
x3  1
 lim

lim 2
x 1
x 1 x  1
 x  1 x  1
2
 x3  1
 2 , x  1
f  x    x 1
 3 , x 1
 2

3
2
Note: There is another
discontinuity at x  1 that can
not be removed.
Removing a discontinuity:
5
4
3
2
1
-5 -4 -3 -2 -1 0
-1
1
2
3
4
5
-2
-3
-4
-5
 x3  1
 2 , x  1
f  x    x 1
 3 , x 1
 2
Note: There is another
discontinuity at x  1 that can
not be removed.

Continuous functions can be added, subtracted, multiplied,
divided and multiplied by a constant, and the new function
remains continuous.
Also: Composites of continuous functions are continuous.
examples:
y  sin  x 2 
y  cos x

Intermediate Value Theorem
If a function is continuous between a and b, then it takes
on every value between f  a  and f  b  .
f b
Because the function is
continuous, it must take on
every y value between f  a 
and f  b  .
f a
a
b

Example 5:
Is any real number exactly one less than its cube?
(Note that this doesn’t ask what the number is, only if it exists.)
f 1  1
x  x3  1
0  x3  x  1
f  x   x3  x  1
f  2  5
Since f is a continuous function, by the
intermediate value theorem it must
take on every value between -1 and 5.
Therefore there must be at least one
solution between 1 and 2.
Use your calculator to find an approximate solution.
solve  x  x 3  1, x 
F2
1: solve
1.32472

Graphing calculators can sometimes make noncontinuous functions appear continuous.
Graph:
y  floor  x 
CATALOG
Note resolution.
F
floor(
This example was graphed
on the classic TI-89. You
can not change the
resolution on the Titanium
Edition.
The calculator “connects the dots”
which covers up the discontinuities. 
Graphing calculators can make non-continuous
functions appear continuous.
Graph:
y  floor  x 
CATALOG
F
floor(
If we change the plot style
to “dot” and the resolution
to 1, then we get a graph
that is closer to the
correct floor graph.
The open and closed circles do not
show, but weGRAPH
can see the
discontinuities.
p
```