Taylor Series Revisited

Taylor series is a very important concept that is used in numerical methods. From the concept of truncation error to finding the true error in Trapezoidal rule, having a clear understanding of Taylor series is extremely important. Other places in numerical methods where Taylor series concept is used include: the derivation of finite difference formulas for derivatives, finite difference method of solving differential equations, error in Newton Raphson method of solving nonlinear equations, Newton divided difference polynomial for interpolation, etc.

I have written a short chapter on Taylor series. After reading the chapter, you should be able to:

1. understand the basics of Taylor’s theorem,

2. see how transcendental and trigonometric functions can be written as Taylor’s polynomial,

3. use Taylor’s theorem to find the values of a function at any point, given the values of the function and all its derivatives at a particular point,

4. errors and error bounds of approximating a function by Taylor series,

5. revisit the chapter whenever Taylor’s theorem is used to derive or explain numerical methods for various mathematical procedures.

This post is brought to you by Holistic Numerical Methods: Numerical Methods for the STEM undergraduate at http://numericalmethods.eng.usf.edu.

An abridged (for low cost) book on Numerical Methods with Applications will be in print (includes problem sets, TOC, index) on December 10, 2008 and available at lulu storefront.

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Author: Autar Kaw

Autar Kaw (http://autarkaw.com) is a Professor of Mechanical Engineering at the University of South Florida. He has been at USF since 1987, the same year in which he received his Ph. D. in Engineering Mechanics from Clemson University. He is a recipient of the 2012 U.S. Professor of the Year Award. With major funding from NSF, he is the principal and managing contributor in developing the multiple award-winning online open courseware for an undergraduate course in Numerical Methods. The OpenCourseWare (nm.MathForCollege.com) annually receives 1,000,000+ page views, 1,000,000+ views of the YouTube audiovisual lectures, and 150,000+ page views at the NumericalMethodsGuy blog. His current research interests include engineering education research methods, adaptive learning, open courseware, massive open online courses, flipped classrooms, and learning strategies. He has written four textbooks and 80 refereed technical papers, and his opinion editorials have appeared in the St. Petersburg Times and Tampa Tribune.

4 thoughts on “Taylor Series Revisited”

  1. I feel that some of your example (Example 5 of this section) make mathematical leaps of logic that not all students follow. Your calculations for true error and the remainder do not have clear steps to express where each variable is originating, nor do your examples correspond to either of the calculus textbooks I have as they calculate error differently for these series. It would be lovely if you included more details as explanation so that the text was a better learning tool.


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