Function composition

binary operation in mathematics

In mathematics, function composition is a way of making a new function from two other functions through a chain-like process.

More specifically, given a function f from X to Y and a function g from Y to Z, then the function "g composed with f", written as g ∘ f, is a function from X to Z (notice how it is usually written in the opposite way to how people would expect it to be).

The value of f given the input x is written as f(x). The value of g ∘ f given the input x is written as (gf)(x), and is defined as g(f(x)).

As an example. let f be a function which doubles a number (multiplies it by 2), and let g be a function which subtracts 1 from a number. These two functions can be written as:

Here, g composed with f would be the function which doubles a number, and then subtracts 1 from it. That is:

On the other hand, f composed with g would be the function which subtracts 1 from a number, and then doubles it:

Composition of functions can also be generalized to binary relations, where it is sometimes represented using the same symbol (as in ).[1]


Function composition can be proven to be associative, which means that:[2]


However, function composition is in general not commutative, which means that:[3]


This can be also seen in the first example, where (g ∘ f)(2) = 2*2 - 1 = 3 and (f ∘ g)(2) = 2*(2-1) = 2.

Related pagesEdit


  1. "Comprehensive List of Algebra Symbols". Math Vault. 2020-03-25. Retrieved 2020-08-28.
  2. Weisstein, Eric W. "Composition". Retrieved 2020-08-28.
  3. "3.4: Composition of Functions". Mathematics LibreTexts. 2020-01-16. Retrieved 2020-08-28.