Bijective function

one to one and onto mapping of sets
Gen bijection.svg
Bijection. There is exactly one arrow to every element in the codomain B (from an element of the domain A).

In mathematics, a bijective function or bijection is a function f : AB that is both an injection and a surjection.[1] This is equivalent to the following statement: for every element b in the codomain B, there is exactly one element a in the domain A such that f(a)=b. Another name for bijection is 1-1 correspondence (read "one-to-one correspondence).[2][3]

The term bijection and the related terms surjection and injection were introduced by Nicholas Bourbaki.[4] In the 1930s, he and a group of other mathematicians published a series of books on modern advanced mathematics.

Gen not surjection not injection.svg
Not a bijection. (It is not a surjection. It is not an injection.)

Basic propertiesEdit


  is a bijective function if  , there is a unique   such that   

where the element   is called the image of the element  , and the element   the pre-image of the element  .

The formal definition can also be interpreted in two ways:

  • Every element of the codomain B is the image of exactly one element in the domain A.
  • Every element of the codomain B has exactly one pre-image in the domain A.

Note: Surjection means minimum one pre-image. Injection means maximum one pre-image. So bijection means exactly one pre-image.


Cardinality is the number of elements in a set. The cardinality of A={X,Y,Z,W} is 4. This can be written as #A=4.[5]:60

By definition, two sets A and B have the same cardinality if there is a bijection between the sets. So #A=#B means there is a bijection from A to B.

Bijections and inverse functionsEdit

Bijections and inverse functions are related to each other, in that a bijection is invertible, can be turned into its inverse function by reversing the arrows.

Formally: Let f : AB be a bijection. The inverse function g : BA is defined by if f(a)=b, then g(b)=a. (See also Inverse function.)

  • The inverse function of the inverse function is the original function.[6]
  • A function has an inverse function if and only if it is a bijection.[7][8][9]

Note: The notation for the inverse function of f is confusing. Namely,

    denotes the inverse function of the function f, but    denotes the reciprocal value of the number x.


Elementary functionsEdit

Let f(x):ℝ→ℝ be a real-valued function y=f(x) of a real-valued argument x. (This means both the input and output are numbers.)

  • Graphic meaning: The function f is a bijection if every horizontal line intersects the graph of f in exactly one point.
  • Algebraic meaning: The function f is a bijection if for every real number yo we can find at least one real number xo such that yo=f(xo) and if f(xo)=f(x1) means xo=x1 .

Proving that a function is a bijection means proving that it is both a surjection and an injection. So formal proofs are rarely easy. Below we discuss and do not prove. (See surjection and injection.)

Example: The linear function of a slanted line is a bijection. That is, y=ax+b where a≠0 is a bijection.

Discussion: Every horizontal line intersects a slanted line in exactly one point (see surjection and injection for proofs). Image 1.

Example: The polynomial function of third degree: f(x)=x3 is a bijection. Image 2 and image 5 thin yellow curve. Its inverse is the cube root function f(x)= ∛x and it is also a bijection f(x):ℝ→ℝ. Image 5: thick green curve.

Example: The quadratic function f(x) = x2 is not a bijection (from ℝ→ℝ). Image 3. It is not a surjection. It is not an injection. However, we can restrict both its domain and codomain to the set of non-negative numbers (0,+∞) to get an (invertible) bijection (see examples below).

Note: This last example shows this. To determine whether a function is a bijection we need to know three things:

  • the domain
  • the function machine
  • the codomain

Example: Suppose our function machine is f(x)=x².

  • This machine and domain=ℝ and codomain=ℝ is not a surjection and not an injection. However,
  • this same machine and domain=[0,+∞) and codomain=[0,+∞) is both a surjection and an injection and thus a bijection.

Bijections and their inversesEdit

Let f(x):AB where A and B are subsets of ℝ.

  • Suppose f is not a bijection. For any x where the derivative of f exists and is not zero, there is a neighborhood of x where we can restrict the domain and codomain of f to be a bisection.[5]:281
  • The graphs of inverse functions are symmetric with respect to the line y=x. (See also Inverse function.)

Example: The quadratic function defined on the restricted domain and codomain [0,+∞)

   defined by   

is a bijection. Image 6: thin yellow curve.

Example: The square root function defined on the restricted domain and codomain [0,+∞)

   defined by   

is the bijection defined as the inverse function of the quadratic function: x2. Image 6: thick green curve.

Example: The exponential function defined on the domain ℝ and the restricted codomain (0,+∞)

   defined by   

is a bijection. Image 4: thin yellow curve (a=10).

Example: The logarithmic function base a defined on the restricted domain (0,+∞) and the codomain ℝ

   defined by   

is the bijection defined as the inverse function of the exponential function: ax. Image 4: thick green curve (a=10).

Bijection: every vertical line (in the domain) and every horizontal line (in the codomain) intersects exactly one point of the graph.
1. Bijection. All slanted lines are bijections f(x):ℝ→ℝ.
2. Bijection. f(x):ℝ→ℝ. f(x)=x³.
3. Not a bijection. f(x):ℝ→ℝ. f(x)=x² is not a surjection. It is not an injection.
4. Bijections. f(x):ℝ→ (0,+∞). f(x)=10x (thin yellow) and its inverse f(x):(0,+∞)→ℝ. f(x)=log10x (thick green).
5. Bijections. f(x):ℝ→ℝ. f(x)=x³ (thin yellow) and its inverse f(x)=∛x (thick green).
6. Bijections. f(x):[0,+∞)→[0,+∞). f(x)=x² (thin yellow) and its inverse f(x)=√x (thick green).

Related pagesEdit


  1. "The Definitive Glossary of Higher Mathematical Jargon". Math Vault. 2019-08-01. Retrieved 2020-09-08.
  2. Weisstein, Eric W. "Bijective". Retrieved 2020-09-08.
  3. C.Clapham, J.Nicholson (2009). "Oxford Concise Dictionary of Mathematics, Bijection" (PDF). addison-Wesley. p. 88. Retrieved 2014-02-01.CS1 maint: uses authors parameter (link)
  4. Miller, Jeff (2010). "Earliest Uses of Some of the Words of Mathematics". Tripod. Retrieved 2014-02-01.
  5. 5.0 5.1 Tanton, James (2005). Encyclopedia of Mathematics, Cardinality. Facts on File, New York. ISBN 0-8160-5124-0. (in English)
  6. "Inverse of Bijection is Bijection". Retrieved 2014-02-01.
  7. "Injection iff Left Inverse". Retrieved 2014-02-01.
  8. "Surjection iff Right Inverse". Retrieved 2014-02-01.
  9. "Bijection iff Left and Right Inverse". Retrieved 2014-02-01.

Other websitesEdit