# definition by cases

Definition A (total) function $f:\mathbb{N}^{k}\to\mathbb{N}$ is said to be defined by cases if there are functions $f_{1},\ldots,f_{m}:\mathbb{N}^{k}\to\mathbb{N}$, and predicates  $\Phi_{1}(\boldsymbol{x}),\ldots,\Phi_{m}(\boldsymbol{x})$, which are pairwise exclusive

 $S(\Phi_{i})\cap S(\Phi_{j})=\varnothing$

for $i\neq j$, such that

 $f(\boldsymbol{x}):=\left\{\begin{array}[]{ll}f_{1}(\boldsymbol{x})&\textrm{if % }\Phi_{1}(\boldsymbol{x}),\\ \cdots\\ f_{m}(\boldsymbol{x})&\textrm{if }\Phi_{m}(\boldsymbol{x}).\end{array}\right.$

Since $f$ is a total function  (domain is all of $\mathbb{N}^{k}$), we see that $S(\Phi_{1})\cup\cdots\cup S(\Phi_{m})=\mathbb{N}^{k}$.

###### Proposition 1.

As above, if the functions $f_{1},\ldots,f_{m}:\mathbb{N}^{k}\to\mathbb{N}$, as well as the predicates $\Phi_{1}(\boldsymbol{x}),\ldots,\Phi_{m}(\boldsymbol{x})$, are primitive recursive, then so is the function $f:\mathbb{N}^{k}\to\mathbb{N}$ defined by cases from the $f_{i}$ and $\Phi_{j}$.

To see this, we first need the following:

###### Lemma 1.

If functions $f_{1},\ldots,f_{m}:\mathbb{N}^{k}\to\mathbb{N}$ are primitive recursive, so is $f_{1}+\cdots+f_{m}$.

###### Proof of Proposition 1.

$f$ is just

 $f(\boldsymbol{x}):=\left\{\begin{array}[]{ll}f_{1}(\boldsymbol{x})&\textrm{if % }\boldsymbol{x}\in S(\Phi_{1}),\\ \cdots\\ f_{m}(\boldsymbol{x})&\textrm{if }\boldsymbol{x}\in S(\Phi_{m}).\end{array}\right.$

which can be re-written as

 $f=\varphi_{S(\Phi_{1})}f_{1}+\cdots+\varphi_{S(\Phi_{m})}f_{m},$

where $\varphi_{S}$ denotes the characteristic function of set $S$. By assumption  , both $f_{i}$ and $\varphi_{S(\Phi_{i})}$ are primitive recursive, so is their product  , and hence the sum of these products. As a result, $f$ is primitive recursive too. ∎

Title definition by cases DefinitionByCases 2013-03-22 19:08:13 2013-03-22 19:08:13 CWoo (3771) CWoo (3771) 5 CWoo (3771) Example msc 03D20