UCT MAM1000 lecture notes part 21 – Tuesday 18th August

So we’ve now looked at a couple of different functions and found polynomials which approximate the functions to different levels of accuracy. Let’s try and come up with a general method of formulating this. Let’s say that we have some function f(x) and we want to approximate it close to x=a. We will then assume that we can write the polynomial approximation as:


\sum_{i=0}^n c_i (x-a)^i


Note that previously we wrote a_i but it’s good to get used to slightly changeable notation. The context is what should tell you the meaning.

We want to have that:


f(x)\approx \sum_{i=0}^n c_i (x-a)^i


We will first ask that the value of the polynomial is equal to the value of the function at x=a. We do this by setting x=a in both sides of the above. Note that we are being slightly ambiguous in what we mean by the approximation here because in a moment we will go from a \approx sign to an = sign.…

UCT MAM1000 lecture notes part 20 – part iii – Monday 17th August

Now we’re going to take a more complicated expression and approximate it by a polynomial function. The function we’re going to look at is f(x)=2 \sin x+\frac{\cos 3x}{2}, but we could choose any function which is well behaved close to where we want to approximate it (there is a much more precise way to phrase this, but for the current discussion, this is enough).

This function looks like:


OK, so how are we going to go about approximating this function? Well, let’s ask about approximating it close to the point x=2.5 (this value is arbitrary and we could have asked for any value). What would be the most naive approximation we could make? Well, if we have a function which is a constant, and equal to the original function at x=2.5 then that’s a start. At least it matches the value of the function at that point, if nothing else. What is the value of this function at x=2.5?…