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Concept# Level set

Summary

In mathematics, a level set of a real-valued function f of n real variables is a set where the function takes on a given constant value c, that is:
When the number of independent variables is two, a level set is called a level curve, also known as contour line or isoline; so a level curve is the set of all real-valued solutions of an equation in two variables x_1 and x_2. When n = 3, a level set is called a level surface (or isosurface); so a level surface is the set of all real-valued roots of an equation in three variables x_1, x_2 and x_3. For higher values of n, the level set is a level hypersurface, the set of all real-valued roots of an equation in n > 3 variables.
A level set is a special case of a fiber.
Level sets show up in many applications, often under different names. For example, an implicit curve is a level curve, which is considered independently of its neighbor curves, emphasizing that such a curve is defined by an implicit equation. Analogously, a level surface is sometimes called an implicit surface or an isosurface.
The name isocontour is also used, which means a contour of equal height. In various application areas, isocontours have received specific names, which indicate often the nature of the values of the considered function, such as isobar, isotherm, isogon, isochrone, isoquant and indifference curve.
Consider the 2-dimensional Euclidean distance: A level set of this function consists of those points that lie at a distance of from the origin, that make a circle. For example, , because . Geometrically, this means that the point lies on the circle of radius 5 centered at the origin. More generally, a sphere in a metric space with radius centered at can be defined as the level set .
A second example is the plot of Himmelblau's function shown in the figure to the right. Each curve shown is a level curve of the function, and they are spaced logarithmically: if a curve represents , the curve directly "within" represents , and the curve directly "outside" represents .

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