In mathematics, a singularity is a point at which a given mathematical object is not defined, or a point where the mathematical object ceases to be well-behaved in some particular way, such as by lacking differentiability or analyticity.
In real analysis, singularities are either discontinuities, or discontinuities of the derivative (sometimes also discontinuities of higher order derivatives). There are four kinds of discontinuities: type I, which has two subtypes, and type II, which can also be divided into two subtypes (though usually is not).
There are some functions for which these limits do not exist at all. For example, the function
In real analysis, a singularity or discontinuity is a property of a function alone. Any singularities that may exist in the derivative of a function are considered as belonging to the derivative, not to the original function.
A coordinate singularity occurs when an apparent singularity or discontinuity occurs in one coordinate frame, which can be removed by choosing a different frame. An example of this is the apparent singularity at the 90 degree latitude in spherical coordinates. An object moving due north (for example, along the line 0 degrees longitude) on the surface of a sphere will suddenly experience an instantaneous change in longitude at the pole (in the case of the example, jumping from longitude 0 to longitude 180 degrees). This discontinuity, however, is only apparent; it is an artifact of the coordinate system chosen, which is singular at the poles. A different coordinate system would eliminate the apparent discontinuity (e.g., by replacing the latitude/longitude representation with an n-vector representation).
In complex analysis, there are several classes of singularities. These include the isolated singularities, the nonisolated singularities and the branch points.
Other than isolated singularities, complex functions of one variable may exhibit other singular behaviour. These are termed nonisolated singularities, of which there are two types:
An example would be the bouncing motion of an inelastic ball on a plane. If idealized motion is considered, in which the same fraction of kinetic energy is lost on each bounce, the frequency of bounces becomes infinite, as the ball comes to rest in a finite time. Other examples of finite-time singularities include the various forms of the Painlevé paradox (for example, the tendency of a chalk to skip when dragged across a blackboard), and how the precession rate of a coin spun on a flat surface accelerates towards infinite—before abruptly stopping (as studied using the Euler's Disk toy).
In algebraic geometry, a singularity of an algebraic variety is a point of the variety where the tangent space may not be regularly defined. The simplest example of singularities are curves that cross themselves. But there are other types of singularities, like cusps. For example, the equation y2 − x3 = 0 defines a curve that has a cusp at the origin x = y = 0. One could define the x-axis as a tangent at this point, but this definition can not be the same as the definition at other points. In fact, in this case, the x-axis is a "double tangent."
An equivalent definition in terms of commutative algebra may be given, which extends to abstract varieties and schemes: A point is singular if the local ring at this point is not a regular local ring.