Necessary and sufficient

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In mathematics, the phrase "necessary and sufficient" is frequently used, for instance, in the formulation of theorems, in the text of proofs when a step has to be justified, or when an alternative version for a definition is given.
To say that a statement is "necessary and sufficient" to another statement means that the statements are either both true or both false.

Another phrase with the same meaning is "if and only if" (abbreviated to "iff").
In formulae "necessary and sufficient" is denoted by \Leftrightarrow.

There are also some special terms used to indicate the presence of a necessary and sufficient condition, usually used for statements of special significance:

A criterion is a proposition that expresses a necessary and sufficient condition for a statement to be true. The term is mostly used in cases where this condition is easier to check than the statement itself.
While — in the strict sense of the word — the condition given in a criterion has to be necessary and sufficient, the term is sometimes (mostly out of tradition) also used for conditions which are only sufficient.

A characterization of a mathematical object, a class of objects, or a property, is an alternative description equivalent to a previously given definition, i.e., a necessary and sufficient condition. This term is mainly used in cases where the condition is mathematically interesting and provides new insight.

Necessary and sufficient

A statement A is

"a necessary and sufficient condition",

or shorter,

"necessary and sufficient"

for another statement B if it is both


for B.


The statement

or shorter

means precisely the same as each of the following statements:


The statement

or shorter

means precisely the same as each of the following statements:


For a sequence of positive real numbers to converge against some real number

The same statements are expressed by:

 (\exists a\in\mathbb R) \lim_{n\to\infty} a_n = a \ \Rightarrow     \  (a_n) \ \text{is bounded}
 (\exists a\in\mathbb R) \lim_{n\to\infty} a_n = a \ \Leftarrow      \  (a_n) \ \text{is monotone decreasing}
 (\exists a\in\mathbb R) \lim_{n\to\infty} a_n = a \ \Leftrightarrow \  (a_n) \ \text{is a Cauchy sequence}

Cauchy convergence criterion

A sequence (an) of real numbers is convergent if and only if for all ε > 0 there is a number N such that |anam| < ε for all n,m > N.

Root test

A series    \sum a_n   of (real or complex) numbers an

This test is traditionally often referred to as a "criterion" even though

and therefore is not a true criterion.

Characterization of circles

A circle (in the plane) — more precisely: an arc of a circle — is usually defined as

An example of an alternative characterization of these arcs is the following:

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