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sci.math FAQ: Name for f(x)^f(x) = x

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Archive-name: sci-math-faq/fxtofx
Last-modified: February 20, 1998
Version: 7.5

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                   Name for f(x)^(f(x)) = x

   Solving for f one finds a ``continued fraction"-like answer
   f(x) = (log x)/(log(log x)/(log(log x)/(log ...)))
   This question has been repeated here from time to time over the years,
   and no one seems to have heard of any published work on it, nor a
   published name for it.
   This function is the inverse of f(x) = x^x. It might be argued that
   such description is good enough as far as mathematical names go: "the
   inverse of the function f(x) = x^x" seems to be clear and succint.
   Another possible name is lx(x). This comes from the fact that the
   inverse of e^x is ln(x) thus the inverse of x^x could be named lx(x).
   It's not an analytic function.
   The ``continued fraction" form for its numeric solution is highly
   unstable in the region of its minimum at 1/e (because the graph is
   quite flat there yet logarithmic approximation oscillates wildly),
   although it converges fairly quickly elsewhere. To compute its value
   near 1/e, use the bisection method which gives good results. Bisection
   in other regions converges much more slowly than the logarithmic
   continued fraction form, so a hybrid of the two seems suitable. Note
   that it's dual valued for the reals (and many valued complex for
   negative reals).
   A similar function is a built-in function in MAPLE called W(x) or
   Lambert's W function. MAPLE considers a solution in terms of W(x) as a
   closed form (like the erf function). W is defined as W(x)e^(W(x)) = x.
   Notice that f(x) = exp(W(log(x))) is the solution to f(x)^f(x) = x
   An extensive treatise on the known facts of Lambert's W function is
   available for anonymous ftp at at
Alex Lopez-Ortiz                                                      Assistant Professor	
Faculty of Computer Science                  University of New Brunswick

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