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In the previous article, you learned about composite function, in this article, you will learn about inverse functions. The term “inverse” means to “undo” something and which is what the “inverse” of a function do. If a function find the value for an value, the inverse of the function does the opposite, meaning it finds the value for a given value.

**Function and its inverse**

Remember from previous articles, that the function is set of ordered pair , that is, for every input there is a one and only .

Suppose is function that takes input and gives us the value . We are just undoing the function . Therefore, if is inverse function of , then it is denoted as .

The inverse of the function is the set of ordered pairs .

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**One-To-One Relationship**

If you look at the figure 2, you will find that there is a **one-to-one relationship** between function and its inverse .

If there are two functions and its inverse function , then

Where is all values in the domain of inverse function . Similarly,

Where is all values in the domain of function .

If a function does not maintain the one-to-one relationship, there is no inverse. Consider the quadratic function . The function has same outputs for and .

If we take an inverse of the function which is implies that there are two values for . Therefore, inverse is not a function because a function can only have one output for given input .

### Horizontal Line Test

The easiest way to understand whether a function has inverse or not is to perform a **horizontal line test **on the graph of the function. To understand this concept , we will use our previous example of quadratic function . The graph of function is given below.

We perform a horizontal line test , that is, draw a horizontal line and if the line intersect the graph of function it has no inverse function. The figure 4 above, shows that the horizontal line intersect the graph of parabola, at and . Therefore, has no inverse.

### Graph of Inverse Function

The graph of inverse function, if exists, can be obtained easily by changing the set of ordered pair to the set of ordered pair .

For example, consider the graph of exponential function which is an **exponential function.** The function passes the **horizontal line test**, therefore, an inverse function exists.

x | f(x) =2^x |

-4 | 0.0625 |

-3 | 0.125 |

-2 | 0.25 |

-1 | 0.5 |

0 | 1 |

1 | 2 |

2 | 4 |

3 | 8 |

The inverse function is set of all ordered pairs . The inverse function of exponential function is .

x | f^{-1}(x) |

0.0625 | -4 |

0.125 | -3 |

0.25 | -2 |

0.5 | -1 |

1 | 0 |

2 | 1 |

4 | 2 |

8 | 3 |

Note that the inverse function is accepting all positive values, and all inverse function (shown in red) will reflect over the line ( in green) . The ordered pairs in exponential function is replaced with ordered pair .

**How To Find The Inverse Function ?**

To find the inverse of the function you must follow the following steps. If is a function with an expression, then

- Write instead of .
- Interchange the and in the equation.
- Solve the equation for and if the equation does not define in terms of , then there is no inverse. Otherwise, you will have an equation that defines in terms of .
- Replace with .

Now, it is necessary to verify the inverse function, that can be done by verifying and . The composition of and is an algebraic proof of inverse function.

**Example #1**

Find the inverse function of .

**Solution:**

The given equation is . exponential equation and we expect to find a logarithmic function as inverse. But, we will go through all the steps to find the inverse of this function.

Now , we must verify if the inverse function is correct, by using composition of functions. Therefore,

Similarly,

**Example #2**

Find the inverse function of the function .

**Solution:**

The function is a linear function. Therefore, an inverse function exists, but we will verify whether inverse exist of not by following our steps to find the inverse of a function.

Now, we must verify the inverse function.

Similarly,

### Restricted Domain

It is possible to find an inverse function to functions that does not have any inverse if we restrict the domain. It means we only accept set of ordered pairs of function for which there exist ordered pairs .

Consider the graph of absolute value function [latedpage]. This graph did not pass the **horizontal line test** and for each value, there exist two values.

The graph will pass the horizontal line test if we restrict the domain to , therefore, an inverse of absolute value function exists if we choose values between the interval .

The inverse of the new restricted absolute function is as follows.

We must observe two things,

- The absolute value cannot be a negative number, therefore, where .
- The function and its inverse does not reflect over , but .