Level set

# Level set

Discussion

Encyclopedia
In mathematics
Mathematics
Mathematics is the study of quantity, space, structure, and change. Mathematicians seek out patterns and formulate new conjectures. Mathematicians resolve the truth or falsity of conjectures by mathematical proofs, which are arguments sufficient to convince other mathematicians of their validity...

, a level set of a real
Real number
In mathematics, a real number is a value that represents a quantity along a continuum, such as -5 , 4/3 , 8.6 , √2 and π...

-valued function
Function (mathematics)
In mathematics, a function associates one quantity, the argument of the function, also known as the input, with another quantity, the value of the function, also known as the output. A function assigns exactly one output to each input. The argument and the value may be real numbers, but they can...

f of n variables is a set of the form

that is, a set where the function takes on a given constant value c.

When the number of variables is two, a level set is generically a curve, called a level curve, contour line
Contour line
A contour line of a function of two variables is a curve along which the function has a constant value. In cartography, a contour line joins points of equal elevation above a given level, such as mean sea level...

, or isoline. When n = 3, a level set is called a level surface (see also isosurface
Isosurface
An isosurface is a three-dimensional analog of an isoline. It is a surface that represents points of a constant value within a volume of space; in other words, it is a level set of a continuous function whose domain is 3D-space.Isosurfaces are normally displayed using computer graphics, and are...

), and for higher values of n the level set is a level hypersurface.

A set of the form

is called a sublevel set of f (or, alternatively, a lower level set or trench of f).

is called a superlevel set of f.

A level set is a special case of a fiber.

## Properties

In vector calculus, the gradient of a scalar field is a vector field that points in the direction of the greatest rate of increase of the scalar field, and whose magnitude is the greatest rate of change....

of f at a point is perpendicular to the level set of f at that point.

• The sublevel sets of a convex function
Convex function
In mathematics, a real-valued function f defined on an interval is called convex if the graph of the function lies below the line segment joining any two points of the graph. Equivalently, a function is convex if its epigraph is a convex set...

are convex (the converse is however not generally true).