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# THE REGULARITY THEOREM FOR DISTRIBUTIONS

MATT ZIEMKE

The purpose of this paper is to give a proof of the one-dimensional Regularity Theorem for Distribu-
tions which states that if T is a tempered distribution on R then T is the weak nth derivative of some
polynomially bounded continuous function. We will start by giving the necessary definitions then prove the
N-Representation Theorem for the Schwartz class and for tempered distributions which we will then use to
prove the Regularity Theorem.

## (ii) (x) = ||(x) for all C

A family of seminorms ( )A is said to separate points if (x) = 0 for all A implies x = 0.

Definition 2. A locally convex space is a vector space X with a family of seminorms ( )A which
separates points. The natural topology on a locally convex space is the weakest (or smallest) topology for
which all the are continuous and for which the operation of addition is continuous.

Definition 3. If ( )A and (d )B are two families of seminorms on a vector space X such that the
natural topologies with respect to each family are the same then we say the families ( )A and (d )B
on X are equivalent.

Proposition 1. Let ( )A and (d )B be two families of seminorms. Then the families are equivalent
if and only if, for each A, there exists 1 , 2 , . . . , n B and C > 0 so that for all x X

## (x) C (d1 (x) + + dn (x))

and for each B there exists 1 , 2 , . . . , m A and D > 0 so that for all x X

## d (x) D (1 (x) + + n (x))

Proof. First, suppose the families are equivalent. Let A. Then {x : (x) < 1} is d -open. So there
exists N = Nd1 ,...,n , such that N {x : (x) < 1}. Suppose x X such that dk 6= 0 for some k = 1, . . . n.
Then for all k = 1, . . . n,  
x
dk <
d1 (x) + + dn (x)
So,  
x
<1
d1 (x) + + dn (x)

## Date: May 2013.

1
THE REGULARITY THEOREM FOR DISTRIBUTIONS MATT ZIEMKE

hence,
1
(x) < (d1 (x) + + dn (x))

If dk (x) = 0 for all k = 1, . . . , n then dk (ax) = 0 <  for all k = 1, . . . , n and so (ax) < 1. Hence,
1
(x) < a for all a > 0 and therefore (x) = 0. The second statement is symmetric to the first. Now, for
the other direction. Let (x )D be a net in X such that x x in the d -topology, i.e., d (x x) 0 for
all B. Then,
(x x) C (d1 (x) + + dn (x)) 0
So is continuous with respect to the d -topology for all A, hence, d . A symmetric argument
shows d .


Definition 4. A family ( )A of seminorms on a vector space V is called directed if and only if for all
, A there is a A and a C > 0 so that (x) + (x) C (x) for all x V .

Definition 5. If X is a locally convex space then the topological dual, denoted by X , is the set of
continuous linear functionals on X with respect to the natural topology.

Definition 6. The Schwartz class, denoted by S(R), is the set of infinitely differentiable complex-valued
functions on R for which

## kkn,m, := sup |xn Dm (x)| < for all n, m I+

xRn

where I+ = N {0}. It is easy to see that (k kn,m, )n,mI+ is a family of seminorms which separates points.

Definition 7. The Space of Tempered Distributions, denoted by S 0 (R), is the topological dual of
S(R).

Note. S(R) embeds (S 0 , S)-continuously into S 0 (R) where the (S 0 , S)-topology is the smallest topology
on S 0 (R) such that the maps {x : S 0 (R) C|x X} are continuous, where x (`) = `(x) for all ` S 0 (R).
Further, S(R) is dense in S 0 (R).

Definition 8. Let T S 0 (R) and n I+ . The weak nth derivative of T, denoted Dn T , is defined by

## (Dn T ) (f ) = (1)n T (Dn f )

We are now ready to prove the N-Representation Theorem for S(R) and S 0 (R) after a couple more
definitions and lemmas.

## Lemma 1. For n, m I+ define a seminorm k kn,m,2 on S(R) by

Z 1/2
kf kn,m,2 = |xn Dm f (x)|2 dx
R

Then the families of seminorms (k kn,m, )n,mI+ and (k kn,m,2 )n,mI+ on S(R) are equivalent.
2
MATT ZIEMKE THE REGULARITY THEOREM FOR DISTRIBUTIONS

Proof. Let f S(R) and let g(x) = (1 + x2 )1 . Then g L2 (R) and, for n, m I+ ,

## kf kn,m,2 = kxn Dm f (x)k2

(1 + x2 )xn Dm f (x)
=k k2
1 + x2
!1/2
(1 + x2 )xn Dm f (x) 2
Z
=
dx

R
1 + x2
1/2
k(1 + x2 )xn Dm f (x)k2
Z
dx
R |1 + x2 |2
= k(1 + x2 )xn Dm f (x)k kgk2
kgk2 kxn Dm f (x)k + kxn+2 Dm f (x)k


## Further, for any f S(R),

Z x Z
f 0 (x)dx |f 0 (x)|dx = kf 0 k1 k(1 + x2 )f 0 k2 k(1 + x2 )1 k2

kf k = sup
xR R

So we have that
d n m
kf kn,m, k(1 + x2 ) (x D f (x))k2 k(1 + x2 )1 k2
dx
= Ck(1 + x2 )(nxn1 Dm f (x) + xn Dm+1 f (x)k2
C knxn1 Dm f (x)k2 + kxn Dm+1 f (x)k2 + knxn+1 Dm f (x)k2 + kxn+2 Dm+1 f (x)k2


## Definition 9. Let A : S(R) S(R) and A : S(R) S(R) where

   
1 d 1 d
A= x+ and A = x
2 dx 2 dx
Let N = A A and define a seminorm k kn on S(R) by kf kn = k(N + 1)n f k2 . Further, define
 n
1/2 n 1/4 x2 /2 d 2
n
n (x) = (2 n!) (1) e ex
dx
The functions (n )nI+ are called the Hermite functions.

## Lemma 2. The set (n )nI+ is an orthonormal basis for L2 (R).

2 2 2
d n x
Proof. Let Hn (x) = (1)n ex ( dx ) e and let w(x, t) = e2xtt . Then,
 n  n    n
d d x2 (xt)2 n x2 d u2

w(x, t)
= e e = (1) e e = Hn (x)
dt t=0 dt
t=0 du
u=x
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THE REGULARITY THEOREM FOR DISTRIBUTIONS MATT ZIEMKE

So we have that

2 X Hn (x) n
(1) w(x, t) = e2xtt = t
n=0
n!

Further,
d
(w(x, t)) = (2x 2t)w(x, t)
dt
So, by substituting (1), we have

!
d X Hn (x) n X Hn (x) n X Hn (x) n
0= t 2x t + 2t t
dt n=0
n! n=0
n! n=0
n!

X Hn (x) n1 X Hn (x) n X Hn (x) n+1
= t 2x t +2 t
n=1
(n 1)! n=0
n! n=0
n!

X Hn (x) n X Hn (x) n X Hn1 (x) n
= t 2x t +2 t
n=0
n! n=0
n! n=1
(n 1)!

## Then, by equating coefficients, we have

Hn+1 (x) 2xHn (x) 2Hn1 (x)
+ =0
n! n! (n 1)!
for all n 1 and hence,

## (2) Hn+1 (x) 2xHn (x) + 2nHn1 (x) = 0

Similarly,
d
(w(x, t)) = 2tw(x, t)
dx
So, by substituting (1), we have

X Hn0 (x) n X Hn1 (x) n
0= t 2 t
n=0
n! n=1
(n 1)!

## Hn+1 (x) 2xHn (x) + Hn0 (x) = 0

0
Hn+1 (x) 2Hn (x) 2xHn0 (x) + Hn00 (x) = 0
And, therefore,

## (4) Hn00 (x) 2xHn0 (x) + 2nHn (x) = 0

4
MATT ZIEMKE THE REGULARITY THEOREM FOR DISTRIBUTIONS

2
Let un (x) = ex /2
Hn (x). Then,
2 2
u00n (x) = un (x) + x2 un (x) 2xex /2
Hn0 (x) + ex /2
Hn00 (x)
2
= (x2 1)un (x) + ex /2
(Hn00 (x) 2xHn0 (x))
2
= (x2 1)un (x) + ex /2
(2nHn (x)) by (4)
= (x2 2n 1)un (x)

## Now, let n, m I+ such that n 6= m. Then, by (5),

(6) um (x)u00n (x) + (2n + 1)um (x)un (x) = 0 and un (x)u00m (x) + (2m + 1)un (x)um (x) = 0

Then, by (6),
d
(u0 (x)um (x) u0m (x)un (x)) + 2(n m)um (x)un (x) = u00n (x)um (x) u00m (x)un (x) + 2(n m)um (x)un (x)
dx n
= (2n 1 + 2m + 1 + 2n 2m)un (x)um (x)
=0

So,
d
2(n m)um (x)un (x) = (u0 (x)um (x) u0m un (x))
dx n
And therefore, Z

2(n m) um (x)un (x)dx = (u0n (x)um (x) u0m (x)un (x)| = 0
R
2
Since u0n (x)um (x) u0m (x)un (x) = p(x)ex /2
0 as |x| where p is a polynomial of degree n + m + 1.
Therefore um and un are orthogonal. For n = m, first substitute n 1 forn in (2) and then multiply through
by Hn (x) to get

(7) Hn2 (x) 2xHn (x)Hn1 (x) + 2(n 1)Hn (x)Hn2 (x) = 0

for n 2. Similarly,
2
(8) Hn1 (x)Hn+1 (x) 2xHn1 (x)Hn (x) + 2nHn1 (x) = 0

## Then, subtracting (8) from (7) we have

0 = Hn2 (x) + 2(n 1)Hn (x)Hn2 (x) Hn1 (x)Hn+1 (x) 2nHn1
2
(x)
2
Therefore, by multiplying through by ex /2 and integrating, we have
Z
u2n (x) + 2(n 1)un (x)un2 (x) un1 (x)un+1 (x) 2nu2n1 (x) dx

0=
ZR
u2N (x) 2nu2n1 (x) dx

= by orthogonality
R

5
THE REGULARITY THEOREM FOR DISTRIBUTIONS MATT ZIEMKE

Therefore,
Z Z
u2n (x)dx = 2n u2n1 (x)dx
R R
Z
= 4n(n 1) u2n2 (x)dx
R

Z
2
= 2n n! ex /2
dx
R

= 2n n!

Therefore, (n )nI+ is orthonormal. To prove the Hermite functions are an orthonormal basis for L2 (R) it
suffices to prove that if
Z
2
ex /2
Hn (x)f (x)dx = 0 for all n I+ then f = 0
R
2
ex /2
R
So, suppose R
Hn (x)f (x)dx = 0 for all n I+ . Then, for any t R,
it n Z

2
2
ex /2
Hn (x)f (x)dx = 0
n! R

and hence,
it n
 Z
X 2
0= 2
ex /2
Hn (x)f (x)dx
n=0
n! R
 n
Hn (x) it
Z X
2
= ex /2 f (x)dx
R n=0 n! 2
Z
2 2
= etx+t /4 ex /2 f (x)dx
R

Therefore, Z
 2
 2
F ex /2 f (t) = ex /2 f (x)etx dx = 0
R
2
And since the Fourier Transform is an isometry on L2 (R) we have that ex /2
f (x) = 0 and therefore f = 0.


Lemma 3. The family of seminorms (k kn )nI+ is a directed family which is equivalent to the
(k kn,m,2 )n,mI+ family of seminorms on S(R).

## kAo(1) Ao(2) Ao(m) f k2 k(N + m)m/2 f k2

2
d n x2 /2
Let cn = (1)n (2n n! )1/2 so that n (x) = cn ex /2 ( dx ) e . Then
  n h  n h i
cn 2 d 2
i 2 d 2
An (x) = 2xex /2 ex /2 + ex /2 2xex /2
2 dx dx
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MATT ZIEMKE THE REGULARITY THEOREM FOR DISTRIBUTIONS

Further,
 n h n  
d x2 /2
i X n 2
 2 2

2xe = 2 (x)() (ex )(n) = 2 x(ex )(n) + n(ex )(n1)
dx =0

## So, we have that, !

n1 h


cn 2 d 2
i
An (x) = 2nex ex = nn1 (x)
2 dx
Also,
 n h  n+1 h
1 cn 2 d 2
i cn 2 d 2
i
A n (x) = xn (x) xex /2 ex ex /2 ex
2 2 dx 2 dx
n+1 h
(1)n

1 2 d 2
i
= 1/2
ex /2 ex
2 (2n n! ) dx

= n + 1n+1 (x)

Therefore, N n (x) = A An (x) = nn (x). Now, let f S(R). Then, by lemma 2, there exists (an )nI+ so
P
that f = n=0 an n . Then,

!1/2
o o o
X 2 2
kA(1) A(2) A(m) f k2 n + 1 n + 2 n + m an
n=0

!1/2
X
(n + m)m a2n
n=0

= k(N + m)m/2 f k2

## k(N + 1)n f k2 + k(N + 1)m f k2 Ck(N + 2n)2n f k2 + C 0 k(N + 2m)2m f k2

!1/2 !1/2

X
X
C 00 (k + 2n)2n a2k + (k + 2m)2m a2k
k=0 k=0
00 n
2C k(N + 2n) f k2
C 000 k(N + 1)n f k2

So, (k kn )nI+ is a directed family of seminorms. The fact that the seminorms (k kn )nI+ are equivalent
to the seminorms (k kn,m,2 )n,mI+ follows immediately from our claim and the equation
1
xf = (A + A ) f
2
and hence,
 m  k+m
d 1 k m
x k
f= (A + A ) (A A ) f
dx 2


We are now ready to prove the N-Representation Theorem for S(R) and S 0 (R).
7
THE REGULARITY THEOREM FOR DISTRIBUTIONS MATT ZIEMKE

Theorem 1 (The N-Representation Theorem for S(R)). Let s be the set of sequences (an )nI+ in C
with the property
sup |an |nm < for all m I+
nI+

## Topologize s by defining the seminorms

X
k(an )nI+ k2m = (n + 1)2m |an |2
n=0
R
Let f S(R). Then the sequence (an )nI+ , where an = R
f (x)n (x)dx, is in s and the map f 7 (an )nI+
is a topological isomorphism.

R
Proof. Define : S(R) s by (f ) = (an )nI+ where an = R
f (x)n (x)dx. Let n I+ . From the proof of
lemma 2, we saw that N n = nn . Now, let f S(R). Since (n )n I+ is an orthonormal basis for L2 (R)
P
there exists (an )n I+ such that f = n=0 an n . Well,

X
X
m
an n n = an N m n = N m f L2 (R)
n=0 n=0

So,

X
|an |2 n2m = kN m f k22 <
n=0
hence,
sup |an |nm <
nI+

## and therefore (an )nI+ s. Further,

X
X
kf km = k(N + 1)m f k2 = k an (N + 1)m n k2 = k an (n + 1)m n k2
n=0 n=0

And,

!1/2
X X
k an (n + 1)m n k2 = (n + 1)2 m|an |2 = k(an )nI+ km
n=0 n=0
Therefore, kf km = k(an )nI+ km . Further, since k km is actually a norm on S(R) we have that is injective.
PN
Let (an )nI+ . For N N, let fN = n=0 an n . Then, if N < M ,
M
!1/2
X
kfN fm km = k(N + 1)m (fN fM )k2 = (n + 1)2m |an |2 0
n=N +1

as N, M . Therefore (fN )N I+ is Cauchy in each k km and thus Cauchy in each k kn,m,2 by lemma 3
and hence Cauchy in each k kn,m, by lemma 1, i.e., (fN )N I+ is Cauchy in S(R). Therefore, there exists
P
f S(R) so that fN f in S(R) and hence fN f in L2 (R). Thus, f = n=0 an n and so is onto.
Lastly we want to show is a homeomorphism. If (fn )nI+ S(R) such that fn f with respect to k km
then
k(fn ) (f )km = k(an )nI+ (bn )nI+ km = kfn f km 0
8
MATT ZIEMKE THE REGULARITY THEOREM FOR DISTRIBUTIONS

## So is continuous. Further, if ((am m

n )nI+ )mI+ s such that (an )nI+ (bn )nI+ as m with respect
to k km then

## So 1 is continuous and therefore is a topological isomorphism.



Theorem 2 (The N-Representation Theorem for S 0 (R)). Let T S 0 (R) and let bn = T (n ) for all
n I+ . Then for some m I+ , we have |bn | C(n + 1)m for all n I+ . Conversely, if |bn | C(n + 1)m
for all n I+ , there is a unique T S 0 (R) with T (n ) = bn . Further, if T S 0 (R) and bn = T (n ) then
P 0
n=0 bn n converges in the (S (R), S(R))-topology to T .

Proof. Let T S 0 (R). First, we want to show there exists m I+ and C > 0 such that |T ()| Ckkm for
all S(R). Well, T 1 (B(0, 1)) is open, where B(0, 1) is the ball centered at 0 of radius 1, so there exists
an open neighborhood of zero N T 1 (B(0, 1)) such that N nk=1 Umk ,xk ,k where
Umk ,xk ,k = {y S(R) : ky xk kmk < k }. Further, for all k = 1, ..., n we have that 0 Umk ,xk ,k so
there exists k > 0 such that Umk ,0,k Umk ,xk ,k . Then M = nk=1 Umk ,0,k is an open neighborhood of
zero and M if and only if kkmk < k for all k = 1, . . . , n. Also, note that M N T 1 (B(, 0, 1)).
Since (k kn )nI+ is directed, there exists m I+ and C > 0 so that kkm1 + + kkmn Ckkm for all
S(R). Let  = min{1 , . . . , n }. Then, for k = 1, . . . , n,


 + + 
 

2Ckkm 2Ckkm 2Ckkm C 2Ckkm = 2 < k

mk m1 mn m


So, 2Ckkm M T 1 (B(0, 1)) hence
 

T 
1
2Ckkm
and therefore
2C
|T ()| kkm

Hence,
|bn | = |T (n )k Ckn km = C(n + 1)m
9
THE REGULARITY THEOREM FOR DISTRIBUTIONS MATT ZIEMKE

Conversely, suppose (bn )nI+ C such that |bn | C(n + 1)m for some m I+ . Let (an )nI+ s. Define
P
B : s C by B((an )nI+ ) = n=0 bn an . Then,

X
|B((an )nI+ )| |bn ||an |
n=0
X
C(n + 1)m |an |
n=0
X
C (n + 1)1 (n + 1)m+1 |an |
n=0

!1/2
!1/2
X
2m+2 2
X 1
(n + 1) |an |
n=0 n=0
(n + 1)2
r
2
=C k(an )nI+ km+1
6
So B is a continuous linear functional on s. Then, if is the topological isomorphism from S(R) into s, we
have that B S 0 (R). Hence, if T = B then

!
X X
T an n = B((an )nI+ ) = an bn
n=0 n=0
P
In particular, T (n ) = bn . Lastly, if bn = T (n ) and f S(R). Then we can write f = n=0 an n and

! Z !
X X
bn n (f ) = bn n (x) f (x)dx
n=0 R n=0

X Z
= bn n (x)f (x)dx
n=0 R

X
= T (n )an
n=0

!
X
=T a n n
n=0

= T (f )
P
Hence n=0 bn n = T in the (S 0 (R), S(R))-topology. 

Theorem 3 (Regularity Theorem for Distributions). Let T S 0 (R). Then T = Dn g for some
polynomially bounded continuous function g and n I+ , that is,
Z
T (f ) = (1)n g(x) (Dn f ) (x)dx for all f S(R)
R
0
Proof. Let T S (R). Let bn = T (n ). Then, by the last theorem, |bn | C(n + 1)m for some m I+ and
C > 0. Let an = bn (n + 1)(m+3) . Note that

## kn k k0n k1 ck(1 + x2 )0n k c0 (n + 1)3/2

10
MATT ZIEMKE THE REGULARITY THEOREM FOR DISTRIBUTIONS

and so,

X X |bn |
|an |kk = kk
n=0 n=0
(n + 1)m+3

X C
kk
n=0
(n + 1)3

X c0

n=0
(n + 1)3/2

P
Therefore, n=0 an n converges uniformly to some continuous F on R.
Then we have that

X
(N + 1)m+3 F = (N + 1)m+3 an n
n=0

X bn
= (N + 1)m+3 n
n=0
(n + 1)m+3

X bn
= m+3
(N + 1)m+3 n
n=0
(n + 1)

X bn
= m+3
(n + 1)m+3 n
n=0
(n + 1)

X
= bn n
n=0

=T

where convergence is in the (S 0 (R), S(R))-topology by theorem 2. So, we have that T = (N + 1)m+3 F . It
remains to show that T = Dn g for some polynomially bounded continuous function g which is fairly easy to
convince ourselves of but quite tedious to prove formally. One simply has to do integration by parts many
times.


11
THE REGULARITY THEOREM FOR DISTRIBUTIONS MATT ZIEMKE

References

1. Lebedev, N. (1972), "Special Functions and Their Applications". New York: Dover Publications.

2. M. Reed and B. Simon (1972), "Methods of Modern Mathematical Physics", Volume 1. New York: