I'm trying to read the following article, and in the abstract they write: Let $\xi$ be a non-constant real-valued random variable with finite support, and let $M_n(\xi)$ denote a $n\times n$ random matrix with entries that are independent copies of $\xi$. For $\xi$ which is not uniform on its support, we show that: $Pr[M_n(\xi) \text{ is singular}] = Pr[\text{zero row or column}]+ (1+o_n(1))Pr[\text{two equal (up to sign) rows or columns}]$.

What does $o_n(1)$ mean here?

  • $\begingroup$ It is hard to answer without any context… $\endgroup$
    – Nathaniel
    Mar 18 at 21:32
  • 5
    $\begingroup$ My guess is that they mean $o(1)$ in the normal sense (Landau notation), but since they are working with several variables, they add $n$ as subscript to mean "as $n$ goes to infinity". $\endgroup$ Mar 18 at 23:25
  • $\begingroup$ @JeanAbouSamra You should post it as an answer. $\endgroup$
    – Nathaniel
    Mar 19 at 8:57
  • $\begingroup$ @JeanAbouSamra but here we only have 1 variable n $\endgroup$ Mar 19 at 10:42
  • 2
    $\begingroup$ @L.breitman Actually, there is also the variable $p$. $\endgroup$
    – Nathaniel
    Mar 19 at 12:22

2 Answers 2


As I understand it, this $o_n(1)$ is meant as the standard “little o” notation (when $v_n$ takes non-zero values, $u_n = o(v_n)$ means $\frac{u_n}{v_n} → 0$), except that because several variables are involved ($n$, $ξ$, $p$), they added the $n$ subscript to clarify that the limit is as $n$ goes to infinity, for fixed values of the other variables. A perhaps more standard notation for what they write as $$x = o_n(y)$$ would be $$x \underset{n→+∞}{=} o(y)$$

  • 2
    $\begingroup$ This is consistent with the definition of $O_\alpha, \Omega_\alpha, \Theta_\alpha$ in the "Notation" section of the paper, although strangely they omit defining $o_\alpha$. $\endgroup$
    – Discrete lizard
    Mar 20 at 14:01
  • $\begingroup$ Thanks for the answer! $\endgroup$ Mar 21 at 14:15

Given functions $f(n)$ and $G(n)$, from $[0,\infty)\rightarrow [0,\infty) $ we can define

Operands Meaning
$f(n) = O_n(G(n))$ $\displaystyle \lim_{n\rightarrow \infty} \inf \frac{G(n)}{f(n)} > 0$
$f(n) = o_n(G(n))$ $\displaystyle \lim_{n\rightarrow \infty} \frac{G(n)}{f(n)} = 0$
$f(n) = \Theta_n(G(n))$ $f(n) = O(G(n)) \;\&\; G(n) = O(f(n))$
$f(n) \sim_{n} G(n)$ $\displaystyle \lim_{n\rightarrow \infty} \frac{G(n)}{f(n)} = 1$
  • 3
    $\begingroup$ The first one is incorrect. E.g. $1 + \sin(n) = O(1)$ but $\lim 1/(1 + \sin(n))$ does not exist. You can replace the limit by $\lim\inf$. $\endgroup$
    – Neal Young
    Mar 20 at 12:27
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ You are right. I corrected the answer. $\endgroup$ Mar 28 at 10:28

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