One of the mysteries of the English language finally explained.
A function whose result is unity for the members of a given set and zero for all non-members.
- ‘In 1834, Dublin mathematician William Rowan Hamilton applied his work on characteristic functions in optics to Newtonian mechanics, and what is now called the Hamiltonian formalism of mechanics was born.’
- ‘By his law of varying action he made the initial and final coordinates the independent variables of the characteristic function.’
- ‘Perhaps his most famous work was Characteristic Functions which studied the properties of characteristic functions and their applications.’
- ‘His recent breakthroughs in the theory of characteristic functions for several commuting operators indicate that in spite of his seventy years, mathematically Moshe is still a young man.’
- ‘In particular in two papers published in 1900 and 1901, he proved the central limit theorem using a technique based on characteristic functions.’
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