Property holding for typical examples / From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
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In mathematics, properties that hold for "typical" examples are called generic properties. For instance, a generic property of a class of functions is one that is true of "almost all" of those functions, as in the statements, "A generic polynomial does not have a root at zero," or "A generic square matrix is invertible." As another example, a generic property of a space is a property that holds at "almost all" points of the space, as in the statement, "If f : M → N is a smooth function between smooth manifolds, then a generic point of N is not a critical value of f." (This is by Sard's theorem.)
There are many different notions of "generic" (what is meant by "almost all") in mathematics, with corresponding dual notions of "almost none" (negligible set); the two main classes are:
- In measure theory, a generic property is one that holds almost everywhere, with the dual concept being null set, meaning "with probability 0".
- In topology and algebraic geometry, a generic property is one that holds on a dense open set, or more generally on a residual set, with the dual concept being a nowhere dense set, or more generally a meagre set.
There are several natural examples where those notions are not equal. For instance, the set of Liouville numbers is generic in the topological sense, but has Lebesgue measure zero.