In mathematics, the domain of a function is the set of inputs accepted by the function. It is sometimes denoted by or , where f is the function. In layman's terms, the domain of a function can generally be thought of as "what x can be".
More precisely, given a function , the domain of f is X. In modern mathematical language, the domain is part of the definition of a function rather than a property of it.
In the special case that X and Y are both sets of real numbers, the function f can be graphed in the Cartesian coordinate system. In this case, the domain is represented on the x-axis of the graph, as the projection of the graph of the function onto the x-axis.
Any function can be restricted to a subset of its domain. The restriction of to , where , is written as .
If a real function f is given by a formula, it may be not defined for some values of the variable. In this case, it is a partial function, and the set of real numbers on which the formula can be evaluated to a real number is called the natural domain or domain of definition of f. In many contexts, a partial function is called simply a function, and its natural domain is called simply its domain.
The term domain is also commonly used in a different sense in mathematical analysis: a domain is a non-empty connected open set in a topological space. In particular, in real and complex analysis, a domain is a non-empty connected open subset of the real coordinate space or the complex coordinate space
Sometimes such a domain is used as the domain of a function, although functions may be defined on more general sets. The two concepts are sometimes conflated as in, for example, the study of partial differential equations: in that case, a domain is the open connected subset of where a problem is posed, making it both an analysis-style domain and also the domain of the unknown function(s) sought.
For example, it is sometimes convenient in set theory to permit the domain of a function to be a proper class X, in which case there is formally no such thing as a triple (X, Y, G). With such a definition, functions do not have a domain, although some authors still use it informally after introducing a function in the form f: X → Y.