A functional equation, roughly speaking, is an equation in which some of the unknowns to be solved for are functions. For example, the following are functional equations:
The Inverse of a Function
The inverse of a function is a function that "undoes" a function. For an example, consider the function: . The function has the property that . In this case, is called the (right) inverse function. (Similarly, a function so that is called the left inverse function. Typically the right and left inverses coincide on a suitable domain, and in this case we simply call the right and left inverse function the inverse function.) Often the inverse of a function is denoted by .
A cyclic function is a function that has the property that:
A classic example of such a function is because . Cyclic functions can significantly help in solving functional identities. Consider this problem:
Find such that . In this functional equation, let and let . This yields two new equations:
Now, if we multiply the first equation by 3 and the second equation by 4, and add the two equations, we have: