Continuous preference orderings representable by utility functions

  1. Carlos Hervés-Beloso 1
  2. Hugo del Valle-Inclán Cruces 1
  1. 1 Universidade de Vigo

    Universidade de Vigo

    Vigo, España


Working paper series ( RGEA )

Ano de publicación: 2017

Número: 6

Tipo: Documento de traballo


This article surveys the conditions under which it is possible to represent a continuous preference ordering using utility functions. We start with a historical perspective on the notions of utility and preferences, continue by defining the mathematical concepts employed in this literature, and then list several key contributions to the topic of representability. These contributions concern both, the preference orderings and the spaces where they are defined. For any continuous preference ordering, we show the need for separability and the sufficiency of connectedness and separability, or second-countability, of the space where it is defined. We emphasize the need of separability by showing that in any non-separable metric space there are continuous preference orderings without utility representation. However, by reinforcing connectedness, we show that countably boundedness of the preference ordering is a necessary and sufficient condition for the existence of a (continuous) utility representation. Lastly, we discuss the special case of strictly monotonic preferences