# Characterization (mathematics)

In the jargon of mathematics, the statement that "Property *P* characterizes object *X*" means, not simply that *X* has property *P*, but that *X* is the *only* thing that has property *P*. It is also common to find statements such as "Property *Q* characterises *Y* up to isomorphism". The first type of statement says in different words that the extension of *P* is a singleton set. The second says that the extension of *Q* is a single equivalence class (for isomorphism, in the given example — depending on how *up to* is being used, some other equivalence relation might be involved).

## Examples

- "Among probability distributions on the interval from 0 to ∞ on the real line, memorylessness characterizes the exponential distributions." This statement means that the exponential distributions are the only probability distributions that are memoryless.

- "According to Bohr-Mollerup theorem, among all functions
*f*such that*f*(1) = 1 and*x f*(*x*) =*f*(*x*+ 1) for*x*> 0, log-convexity characterizes the gamma function." This means that among all such functions, the gamma function is the*only*one that is log-convex. (A function*f*is*log-convex*iff log(*f*) is a convex function. The base of the logarithm does not matter as long as it is more than 1, but conventionally mathematicians take "log" with no subscript to mean the natural logarithm, whose base is*e*.)

- The circle is characterized as a manifold by being one-dimensional, compact and connected; here the characterization, as a smooth manifold, is up to diffeomorphism.