132 (2013), p. 139 -149. ALGEBRAIC AND TOPOLOGICAL STRUCTURES ON THE SET OF MEAN FUNCTIONS AND GENERALIZATION OF THE AGM MEAN
Abstract. In this paper, we present new structures and results on theset MD of mean functions on a given symmetric domain D in R2. First,we construct on MD a structure of abelian group in which the neutralelement is the arithmetic mean; then we study some symmetries in thatgroup. Next, we construct on MD a structure of metric space underwhich MD is the closed ball with center the arithmetic mean and radius1/2. We show in particular that the geometric and harmonic means lieon the boundary of MD. Finally, we give two theorems generalizing theconstruction of the AGM mean. Roughly speaking, those theorems showthat for any two given means M1 and M2, which satisfy some regular-ity conditions, there exists a unique mean M satisfying the functionalequation M (M1, M2) = M .
Let D be a nonempty symmetric domain in R2. A mean function (or
simply a mean) on D is a function M : D → R satisfying the followingthree axioms:
(i) M is symmetric, that is, M (x, y) = M (y, x) for all (x, y) ∈ D.
(ii) For all (x, y) ∈ D, we have min(x, y) ≤ M (x, y) ≤ max(x, y).
(iii) For all (x, y) ∈ D, we have M (x, y) = x =⇒ x = y.
Note that because of (ii), the implication in (iii) is actually an equivalence.
Among the most known examples of mean functions, we cite:• The arithmetic mean A deﬁned on R2 by: A(x, y) = x+y.
The geometric mean G deﬁned on (0, +∞)2 by: G(x, y) =
• The harmonic mean H deﬁned on (0, +∞)2 by: H(x, y) = 2xy . • The Gauss arithmetic-geometric mean AGM deﬁned on (0, +∞)2 by thefollowing process:
Given positive real numbers x, y, AGM(x, y) is the common limit of the two
2010 Mathematics Subject Classification. Primary 20K99, 54E35; Secondary 39B22. Key words and phrases. Means, abelian groups, metric spaces, symmetries.
sequences (xn)n∈N and (yn)n∈N deﬁned by
x0 = x , y0 = y xn+1 = xn+yn
For a survey on mean functions, we refer to Chapter 8 of the book [Bor] in
which AGM takes the principal place. However, there are some diﬀerences
between that reference and the present paper. Indeed, in [Bor], only axiom
(ii) is taken to deﬁne a mean function; (iii) is added to obtain the so called
strict mean while (i) is not considered. In this paper, we shall see that the
three axioms (i), (ii) and (iii) are both necessary and suﬃcient to deﬁne a
good mean or a good set of mean functions on a given domain. In particular,
axiom (iii), absent in [Bor], is necessary for the foundation of our algebraic
and topological structures (see Sections 2 and 3).
Given a nonempty symmetric domain D in R2, we denote by MD the
set of mean functions on D. The purpose of this paper is on the one handto establish some algebraic and topological structures on MD and to studysome of their properties and on the other hand to generalize in a natural
way the arithmetic-geometric mean AGM.
In the ﬁrst section, we deﬁne on MD a structure of abelian group in
which the neutral element is the arithmetic mean. The study of this group
reveals that the arithmetic, geometric and harmonic means lie in a particular
class of mean functions that we call normal mean functions. We then study
symmetries on MD and we discover that the symmetry with respect toeach of the three means A, G and H oddly coincides with another type
of symmetry (with respect to the same means) which we call functionalsymmetry. The problem of describing the set of all means realizing that
In the second section, we deﬁne on MD a structure of metric space which
turns out to be a closed ball with center A and radius 1/2. We then use
the group structure to calculate the distance between two means on D;this permits us in particular to establish a simple characterization of the
In the third section, we introduce the concept of functional middle of
two mean functions on D which generalizes in a natural way the arithmetic-geometric mean, so that the latter is the functional middle of the arithmetic
and geometric means. We establish two suﬃcient conditions for the existence
and uniqueness of the functional middle of two means. The ﬁrst one uses the
metric space structure of MD by imposing on the two means in question
the condition that the distance between them is less than 1. The second
requires the two means in question to be continuous on D. In the proof ofthe latter one, axiom (iii) plays a vital role.
2. An abelian group structure on MD
Given a nonempty symmetric domain D in R2, we denote by AD the set
of asymmetric maps on D, that is, maps f : D → R, satisfying
f (x, y) = −f (y, x)
(∀(x, y) ∈ D).
It is clear that (AD, +) (where + is the usual addition of maps from D intoR) is an abelian group with neutral element the null map.
Now, consider φ : MD → RD deﬁned by: (
log −M(x,y)−xD , ∀(x, y) ∈ D : φ(M )(x, y) := 0
The axioms (i)-(iii) ensure that −M(x,y)−x (for x ̸= y) is well-deﬁned and
Theorem 2.1. We have φ(MD) = AD. In addition, the map φ : M → φ(M ) is a bijection from MD to AD and its inverse is given by ∀f ∈ AD , ∀(x, y) ∈ D : φ−1(f)(x, y) =
Proof. Axiom (i) ensures that for all M ∈ MD, we have φ(M) ∈ AD. Next, if f is an asymmetric map on D, we easily verify that M : D → Rdeﬁned by M (x, y) := x+yef(x,y) (∀(x, y) ∈ D) is a mean on D and φ(M ) = f .
Since obviously φ is injective, the proof is ﬁnished.
We now transport, by φ, the abelian group structure (AD, +) onto MD,
that is, we deﬁne on MD the following composition law ∗:
∀M1, M2 ∈ MD : M1 ∗ M2 = φ−1 (φ(M1) + φ(M2)) .
So (MD, ∗) is an abelian group and φ is a group isomorphism from (MD, ∗)to (AD, +). Furthermore, since the null map on D is the neutral element of(AD, +) and φ−1(0) = A, the arithmetic mean A is the neutral element of(MD, ∗). By calculating explicitly M1 ∗ M2 (for M1, M2 ∈ MD), we obtain:
Proposition 2.2. The composition law ∗ on MD is defined by:
{x(M1(x,y)−y)(M2(x,y)−y)+y(M1(x,y)−x)(M2(x,y)−x) if x ̸= y
(M1(x,y)−x)(M2(x,y)−x)+(M1(x,y)−y)(M2(x,y)−y)
for M1, M2 ∈ MD and (x, y) ∈ D.
Now, it is easy to verify that the images of the geometric and harmonic
means under the isomorphism φ are given by
(∀(x, y) ∈ (0, +∞)2),φ(H)(x, y) = log x − log y
(∀(x, y) ∈ (0, +∞)2).
From (2.2) and (2.3), we see that φ(G) and φ(H) (and trivially also φ(A))
have a particular form: each can be written as h(x) − h(y), where h is a realfunction of one variable.
To generalize, we deﬁne a normal mean as a mean function M : I2 → R
(I ⊂ R) such that φ(M ) has the form h(x) − h(y) for some map h : I → R. Equivalently, a normal mean function is a function M : I2 → R (I ⊂ R)which can be written as
xP (x) + yP (y)
P (x) + P (y)
where P : I → R is a positive function on I. Study of some symmetries on the group (MD, ∗). We are now inter- ested in the symmetric image of a given mean M1 with respect to another mean M0 via the group structure (MD, ∗). Denote by SM the symmetry
with respect to M0 in the group (MD, ∗), deﬁned by
∀M1, M2 ∈ MD : SM (M
1) = M2 ⇐⇒ M1 ∗ M2 = M0 ∗ M0.
Using the group isomorphism φ, we obtain by a simple calculation the ex-
Proposition 2.3. For any M0, M1 ∈ MD,
1 − x)(M0 − y)2 − y(M0 − x)2(M1 − y)
(M1 − x)(M0 − y)2 − (M0 − x)2(M1 − y)
where, for simplicity, we have written M0 for M0(x, y), M1 for M1(x, y) andSM (M
As an application, we get the following immediate corollary:
Corollary 2.4. For any M ∈ MD, we have:
(1) SA(M ) = x + y − M = 2A − M . (2) SG(M ) = xy = G2
(when D ⊂ (0, +∞)2).(when D ⊂ (0, +∞)2).
(4) SH = SG ◦ SA ◦ SG.
Now, we are going to deﬁne another symmetry on MD (for D of a certain
form), independent of the group structure (MD, ∗). This new symmetry is
deﬁned by solving a functional equation but it curiously coincides, in many
cases, with the symmetry deﬁned above. Definition 2.5. Let I be a nonempty interval of R, D = I2 and M0, M1 and M2 be three mean functions on D such that M1 and M2 take their values in I. We say that M2 is the functional symmetric mean of M1 with respect to M0 if the following functional equation is satisﬁed: M0(M1(x, y), M2(x, y)) = M0(x, y)
(∀(x, y) ∈ D).
Equivalently, we also say that M0 is the functional middle of M1 and M2.
According to axiom (iii), it is immediate that if the functional symmetric
mean exists then it is unique. This justiﬁes the following notation:
Notation 2.6. Given two mean functions M0 and M1 on D = I2 with values in I (where I is an interval of R), we denote by σM (M
symmetric mean (if it exists) of M1 with respect to M0.
A simple calculation establishes the following:
Proposition 2.7. Let M be a mean function on a suitable symmetric do- σA(M ) = x + y − M,
(for D ⊂ (0, +∞)2),
(for D ⊂ (0, +∞)2).
The remarkable phenomenon of the coincidence of the two symmetries
deﬁned on MD in the particular cases of the means A, G and H leads tothe following question:
Open question. For which mean functions M on D = (0, +∞)2 the two symmetries with respect to M (in the sense of the group law introduced on MD and in the functional sense) coincide? Example. Using the deﬁnition of AGM (see Section 1), it is easy to show
that A and G are symmetric in the functional sense with respect to AGM.
Throughout this section, we ﬁx a nonempty symmetric domain D in R2.
We suppose that D contains at least one point (x0, y0) of R2 such that x0 ̸=y0 (otherwise MD reduces to a unique element). For all couples (M1, M2)
1(x, y) − M2(x, y)
Proposition 3.1. The map d of M2D into [0, +∞] is a distance on MD. In addition, the metric space (MD, d) is the closed ball with center A (the arithmetic mean) and radius 1 . Proof. First let us show that d(M1, M2) is ﬁnite for all M1, M2. For all(x, y) ∈ D, x ̸= y, the numbers M1(x, y) and M2(x, y) lie in the interval[min(x, y), max(x, y)], so
|M1(x, y) − M2(x, y)| ≤ max(x, y) − min(x, y) = |x − y|.
1(x, y) − M2(x, y)
that is, d(M1, M2) ≤ 1. Further, since the three axioms of a distance aretrivially satisﬁed, d is a distance on MD. Now, given M ∈ MD, let us show that d(M, A) ≤ 1. For all (x, y) ∈ D,
x ̸= y, the number M (x, y) lies in the closed interval with endpoints x andy, so
|M(x, y) − A(x, y)| ≤ max (x − A(x, y), y − A(x, y))
x − x + y , y − x + yM (x, y) − A(x, y)
that is, d(M, A) ≤ 1, as required. Remark 3.2. Given M1, M2 ∈ MD, since the map (x, y) → M1(x,y)−M2(x,y)
is obviously asymmetric (on the set {(x, y) ∈ D : x ̸= y}), we also have
1(x, y) − M2(x, y)
We now establish a practical formula for the distance between two mean
Proposition 3.3. Let M1 and M2 be two mean functions on D. Set f1 = φ(M1) and f2 = φ(M2). Then
(x,y)∈D (ef1 + 1)(ef2 + 1)
Proof. Using (2.1), for all (x, y) ∈ D we have M1(x, y) = φ−1(f1)(x, y) =
x+yef1(x,y) and M
2(x, y) = φ−1(f2)(x, y) = x+yef2(x,y)
As an application, we get the following immediate corollary:
Corollary 3.4. Let M be a mean function on D and f := φ(M ). Then, setting s := supD f ∈ [0, +∞], we have (We naturally suppose that es−1 = 1 when s = +∞).In particular, the mean M lies on the boundary of MD (that is, on the circlewith center A and radius 1 ) if and only if sup
Examples: The two means G and H lie on the boundary of MD.
4. Construction of a functional middle of two means
Let I ⊂ R (I ̸= ∅) and let D = I2. The aim of this section is to
prove, under some regularly conditions, the existence and uniqueness of the
functional middle of two given means M1 and M2 on D; that is, the existenceand uniqueness of a new mean M on D satisfying the functional equation
M (M1, M2) = M.
In this context, we obtain two results which only diﬀer in the condition
imposed on M1 and M2. The ﬁrst one requires d(M1, M2) ̸= 1 (where d isthe distance deﬁned in Section 3) while the second requires M1 and M2 tobe continuous on D (by taking I an interval of R). Notice further that ourway of establishing the existence of the functional middle is constructive
and generalizes the idea of the AGM mean. Our ﬁrst result is the following:
Theorem 4.1. Let M1 and M2 be two mean functions on D = I2, with values in I and such that d(M1, M2) < 1. Then there exists a unique mean function M on D satisfying the functional equation M (M1, M2) = M.Moreover, for all (x, y) ∈ D, M (x, y) is the common limit of the two realsequences (xn) and (y
x0 = x , y0 = y, xn+1 = M1(xn, yn)
Proof. Let k := d(M1, M2). By hypothesis, we have k < 1. Let (xn) and
(yn) be as in the statement and let (uun := min(xn, yn) and vn := max(xn, yn) (∀n ∈ N).un+1 = min(xn+1, yn+1) = min(M1(xn, yn), M2(xn, yn)) ≥ min(xn, yn) = un
(because M1(xn, yn) ≥ min(xn, yn) and M2(xn, yn) ≥ min(xn, yn)). Similarly, for all n ∈ N,
vn+1 = max(xn+1, yn+1) = max(M1(xn, yn), M2(xn, yn)) ≤ max(xn, yn) = vn.|vn+1 − un+1| = |max(xn+1, yn+1) − min(xn+1, yn+1)|
= |M1(xn, yn) − M2(xn, yn)|≤ k|xn − yn||vn − un| ≤ kn|v0 − u0|
It follows (since k ∈ [0, 1)) that (vn − un) tends to 0 as n tends to inﬁnity. Thus the bounded monotonic sequences (un) and (vun ≤ xn ≤ vn and un ≤ yn ≤ vn
also converge to the same limit. Denote the
common limit of the four sequences by M (x, y).
Now we show that the map M : D → R just deﬁned is a mean function
on D and satisﬁes M (M1, M2) = M . First we check the three axioms of amean function. (i) Given (x, y) ∈ D, on changing (x, y) to (y, x) in the deﬁnition of the sequences (xn) and (y
, they remain unchanged except their ﬁrst terms
(since M1 and M2 are symmetric). So,
M (x, y) = M (y, x)
(∀(x, y) ∈ D).(ii) Given (x, y) ∈ D, since the corresponding sequences (un) and (v
are respectively non-decreasing and non-increasing and since M (x, y) is their
common limit, we have u0 ≤ M (x, y) ≤ v0, that is,
min(x, y) ≤ M (x, y) ≤ max(x, y).(iii) Fix (x, y) ∈ D. Suppose that M (x, y) = x and, towards a contradiction, x ̸= y. Since M1 and M2 are means, we have (by axiom (iii)) M1(x, y) ̸= x and M2(x, y) ̸= x.
Then M (x, y) = x = min(x, y) = u0. So (un) is non-decreasing and con-
verges to u0. It follows that (un) is necessarily constant and in particular
min(M1(x, y), M2(x, y)) = x,
Then M (x, y) = x = max(x, y) = v0. So (vn) is non-increasing and con-
verges to v0. It follows that (vn) is constant and in particular v
max(M1(x, y), M2(x, y)) = x,
which again contradicts (4.1), proving (iii).
To prove M (M1, M2) = M , note that changing in the deﬁnition of (xn)n
and (yn) the couple (x, y) of D to (M
1(x, y), M2(x, y)) just amounts to shift-
ing these sequences (namely we obtain (xn+1) instead of (x
instead of (yn) ). Consequently, the common limit (which is M (x, y)) re-
M (M1(x, y), M2(x, y)) = M (x, y).
It remains to show that M is the unique mean satisfying the func-
tional equation M (M1, M2) = M . Let M ′ be any mean function satis-fying M ′(M1, M2) = M ′ and ﬁx (x, y) ∈ D. We associate to (x, y) thesequence (xn, yn)n∈N in the statement of the theorem. Using the relationM ′(M1, M2) = M ′, we have
M ′(x, y) = M ′(x1, y1) = M ′(x2, y2) = · · · = M ′(xn, yn) = · · ·
But since M ′ is a mean, it follows that for all n ∈ N,
min(xn, yn) ≤ M ′(x, y) ≤ max(xn, yn),M ′(x, y) = M (x, y),
From Theorem 4.1, we derive the following corollary:
Corollary 4.2. Let M be a mean function on D = I2, with values in I. Then there exists a unique mean on D satisfying the functional equation
= M (x, y) (∀(x, y) ∈ D).In addition, for all (x, y) ∈ D, M (x, y) is the common limit of the two realsequences (xn) and (yProof. Since the metric space (MD, d) is the closed ball with center A andradius 1/2 (see Proposition 3.1), we have d(M, A) ≤ 1/2 < 1. The corollarythen immediately follows from Theorem 4.1.
In the following theorem, we establish another suﬃcient condition for
the existence and uniqueness of the functional middle of two means. Theorem 4.3. Suppose that I is an interval of R and let M1 and M2 be two mean functions on D = I2 with values in I. Suppose that M1 and M2 are continuous on D. Then there exists a unique mean function M on D satisfying the functional equation M (M1, M2) = M.In addition, for all (x, y) ∈ D, M (x, y) is the common limit of the two realsequences (xn) and (yProof. Fix (x, y) ∈ D and deﬁne (un) and (v
are convergent. Let u = u(x, y) and
v = v(x, y) denote their respective limits (so u and v lie in [u0, v0] =[min(x, y), max(x, y)] ⊂ I).
Now, since M1 and M2 are symmetric on D, we have, for all n ∈ N,
xn+1 = M1(un, vn) and yn+1 = M2(un, vn).
By continuity, the sequences (xn) and (y
respective limits are M1(u, v) and M2(u, v). Letting n → ∞ in xn+1 =M1(xn, yn), we obtain
M1(u, v) = M1 (M1(u, v), M2(u, v)) ,M1(u, v) = M2(u, v).
converge to the same limit. Denoting by M (x, y) this
common limit, we show as in the proof of Theorem 4.1 that M is a mean
function on D and that it is the unique mean on D which satisﬁes thefunctional equation M (M1, M2) = M .
[Bor] J. M. Borwein and P. B. Borwein, Pi and the AGM, (A study inAnalytic Number Theory and Computational Complexity), Wiley., New
Department of Mathematics, University of B´
E-mail address: [email protected]

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