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Concept# Critical point (mathematics)

Summary

Critical point is a wide term used in many branches of mathematics.
When dealing with functions of a real variable, a critical point is a point in the domain of the function where the function is either not differentiable or the derivative is equal to zero. When dealing with complex variables, a critical point is, similarly, a point in the function's domain where it is either not holomorphic or the derivative is equal to zero. Likewise, for a function of several real variables, a critical point is a value in its domain where the gradient is undefined or is equal to zero.
The value of the function at a critical point is a critical value.
This sort of definition extends to differentiable maps between \R^m and \R^n, a critical point being, in this case, a point where the rank of the Jacobian matrix is not maximal. It extends further to differentiable maps between differentiable manifolds, as the points where the rank of the Jacobian matrix decreases. In this case, critical points are also called bifurcation points.
In particular, if C is a plane curve, defined by an implicit equation f (x,y) = 0, the critical points of the projection onto the x-axis, parallel to the y-axis are the points where the tangent to C are parallel to the y-axis, that is the points where
In other words, the critical points are those where the implicit function theorem does not apply.
The notion of a critical point allows the mathematical description of an astronomical phenomenon that was unexplained before the time of Copernicus. A stationary point in the orbit of a planet is a point of the trajectory of the planet on the celestial sphere, where the motion of the planet seems to stop before restarting in the other direction. This occurs because of a critical point of the projection of the orbit into the ecliptic circle.
A critical point of a function of a single real variable, f (x), is a value x_0 in the domain of f where f is not differentiable or its derivative is 0 (i.e. ). A critical value is the image under f of a critical point.

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Sard's theorem

In mathematics, Sard's theorem, also known as Sard's lemma or the Morse–Sard theorem, is a result in mathematical analysis that asserts that the set of critical values (that is, the of the set of critical points) of a smooth function f from one Euclidean space or manifold to another is a null set, i.e., it has Lebesgue measure 0. This makes the set of critical values "small" in the sense of a generic property. The theorem is named for Anthony Morse and Arthur Sard. More explicitly, let be , (that is, times continuously differentiable), where .

Saddle point

In mathematics, a saddle point or minimax point is a point on the surface of the graph of a function where the slopes (derivatives) in orthogonal directions are all zero (a critical point), but which is not a local extremum of the function. An example of a saddle point is when there is a critical point with a relative minimum along one axial direction (between peaks) and at a relative maximum along the crossing axis. However, a saddle point need not be in this form.

Maximum and minimum

In mathematical analysis, the maximum and minimum of a function are, respectively, the largest and smallest value taken by the function. Known generically as extremum, they may be defined either within a given range (the local or relative extrema) or on the entire domain (the global or absolute extrema) of a function. Pierre de Fermat was one of the first mathematicians to propose a general technique, adequality, for finding the maxima and minima of functions.

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