AskDefine | Define injective

User Contributed Dictionary



  1. of, relating to, or being an injection


Extensive Definition

In mathematics, an injective function is a function which associates distinct arguments with distinct values.
An injective function is called an injection, and is also said to be an information-preserving or one-to-one function (the latter is not to be confused with one-to-one correspondence, i.e. a bijective function).
A function f that is not injective is sometimes called many-to-one. (However, this terminology is also sometimes used to mean "single-valued", i.e. each argument is mapped to at most one value.)


Let f be a function whose domain is a set A. It is injective if, for all a and b in A such that f(a)=f(b), we have a = b.

Examples and counter-examples

  • For any set X, the identity function on X is injective.
  • The function f : R → R defined by f(x) = 2x + 1 is injective.
  • The function g : R → R defined by g(x) = x2 is not injective, because (for example) g(1) = 1 = g(−1). However, if g is redefined so that its domain is the non-negative real numbers [0,+∞), then g is injective.
  • The exponential function \exp : \mathbb \to \mathbb : x \mapsto \mathrm^x is injective (but not surjective as no value maps to a negative number).
  • The natural logarithm function \ln : (0,+\infty) \to \mathbb : x \mapsto \ln is injective.
  • The function g : R → R defined by g(x) = x^n - x is not injective, since, for example, g(0) = g(1).
More generally, when X and Y are both the real line R, then an injective function f : R → R is one whose graph is never intersected by any horizontal line more than once.

Injections can be undone

Functions with left inverses (often called sections) are always injections. That is to say, for f : X → Y, if there exists a function g : Y → X such that, for every x \in X
g(f(x)) = x \, (f can be undone by g)
then f is injective.
Conversely, every injection f with non-empty domain has a left inverse g (in conventional mathematics). Note that g may not be a complete inverse of f because the composition in the other order, f o g, may not be the identity on Y. In other words, a function that can be undone or "reversed", such as f, is not necessarily invertible (bijective). Injections are "reversible" but not always invertible.
Although it is impossible to reverse a non-injective (and therefore information-losing) function, you can at least obtain a "quasi-inverse" of it, that is a multiple-valued function.

Injections may be made invertible

In fact, to turn an injective function f : X → Y into a bijective (hence invertible) function, it suffices to replace its codomain Y by its actual range J = f(X). That is, let g : X → J such that g(x) = f(x) for all x in X; then g is bijective. Indeed, f can be factored as inclJ,Yog, where inclJ,Yis the inclusion function from J into Y.

Other properties

  • If f and g are both injective, then f o g is injective.
  • If g o f is injective, then f is injective (but g need not be).
  • f : X → Y is injective if and only if, given any functions g, h : W → X, whenever f o g = f o h, then g = h. In other words, injective functions are precisely the monomorphisms in the category Set of sets.
  • If f : X → Y is injective and A is a subset of X, then f −1(f(A)) = A. Thus, A can be recovered from its image f(A).
  • If f : X → Y is injective and A and B are both subsets of X, then f(A ∩ B) = f(A) ∩ f(B).
  • Every function h : W → Y can be decomposed as h = f o g for a suitable injection f and surjection g. This decomposition is unique up to isomorphism, and f may be thought of as the inclusion function of the range h(W) of h as a subset of the codomain Y of h.
  • If f : X → Y is an injective function, then Y has at least as many elements as X, in the sense of cardinal numbers.
  • If both X and Y are finite with the same number of elements, then f : X → Y is injective if and only if f is surjective.
  • Every embedding is injective.



injective in Bulgarian: Инекция
injective in Catalan: Funció injectiva
injective in Czech: Prosté zobrazení
injective in Danish: Injektiv
injective in German: Injektivität
injective in Spanish: Función inyectiva
injective in Esperanto: Enĵeto
injective in French: Injection (mathématiques)
injective in Korean: 단사 함수
injective in Croatian: Injektivna funkcija
injective in Ido: Injektio
injective in Italian: Funzione iniettiva
injective in Hebrew: פונקציה חד חד ערכית
injective in Lithuanian: Injekcija (matematika)
injective in Hungarian: Injektív leképezés
injective in Dutch: Injectie (wiskunde)
injective in Japanese: 単射
injective in Occitan (post 1500): Injeccion (matematicas)
injective in Polish: Funkcja różnowartościowa
injective in Portuguese: Função injectiva
injective in Romanian: Funcţie injectivă
injective in Russian: Инъекция (математика)
injective in Slovak: Prosté zobrazenie
injective in Slovenian: Injektivna preslikava
injective in Serbian: Инјективно пресликавање
injective in Finnish: Injektio
injective in Swedish: Injektiv
injective in Chinese: 单射
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