For questions that involve concrete approximations, such as finding an approximate value of a number with some precision. For questions that belong to the mathematical area of Approximation Theory, use (approximation-theory).

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138
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A 1,400 years old approximation to the sine function by Mahabhaskariya of Bhaskara I

The approximation $$\sin(x) \simeq \frac{16 (\pi -x) x}{5 \pi ^2-4 (\pi -x) x}\qquad (0\leq x\leq\pi)$$ was proposed by Mahabhaskariya of Bhaskara I, a seventh-century Indian mathematician. I ...
95
votes
4answers
4k views

Is there an integral that proves $\pi > 333/106$?

The following integral, $$ \int_0^1 \frac{x^4(1-x)^4}{x^2 + 1} \mathrm{d}x = \frac{22}{7} - \pi $$ is clearly positive, which proves that $\pi < 22/7$. Is there a similar integral which proves $\...
77
votes
14answers
10k views

Can the golden ratio accurately be expressed in terms of e and $\pi$

I was playing around with numbers when I noticed that $\sqrt e$ was very somewhat close to $\phi$ And so, I took it upon myself to try to find a way to express the golden ratio in terms of the ...
76
votes
9answers
6k views

Find the average of $\sin^{100} (x)$ in 5 minutes?

I read this quote attributed to VI Arnold. "Who can't calculate the average value of the one hundredth power of the sine function within five minutes, doesn't understand mathematics - even if he ...
67
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4answers
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Motivation for Ramanujan's mysterious $\pi$ formula

The following formula for $\pi$ was discovered by Ramanujan: $$\frac1{\pi} = \frac{2\sqrt{2}}{9801} \sum_{k=0}^\infty \frac{(4k)!(1103+26390k)}{(k!)^4 396^{4k}}\!$$ Does anyone know how it works, or ...
36
votes
1answer
609 views

Is there an integral for $\pi^4-\frac{2143}{22}$?

In Ramanujan's Notebooks, Vol 4, p.48 (and a related one in Quarterly Journal of Mathematics, XLV, 1914) there are various approximations, including the close (by just $10^{-7}$), $$\pi^4 \approx 2^4+...
33
votes
9answers
3k views

How is the derivative truly, literally the “best linear approximation” near a point?

I've read many times that the derivative of a function $f(x)$ for a certain $x$ is the best linear approximation of the function for values near $x$. I always thought it was meant in a hand-waving ...
31
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4answers
1k views

Geometric explanation of $\sqrt 2 + \sqrt 3 \approx \pi$

Just curious, is there a geometry picture explanation to show that $\sqrt 2 + \sqrt 3 $ is close to $ \pi $?
30
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7answers
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Pi Estimation using Integers

I ran across this problem in a high school math competition: "You must use the integers $1$ to $9$ and only addition, subtraction, multiplication, division, and exponentiation to approximate the ...
30
votes
1answer
805 views

A series problem by Knuth

I came across the following problem, known as Knuth's Series which originally was an American Mathematical Monthly problem. Prove that $$\sum_{n=1}^\infty \left(\frac{n^n}{n!e^n}-\frac{1}{\sqrt{2\...
30
votes
2answers
779 views

On Shanks' quartic approximation $\pi \approx \frac{6}{\sqrt{3502}}\ln(2u)$

In Mathworld's "Pi Approximations", (line 58), Weisstein mentions one by the mathematician Daniel Shanks that differs by a mere $10^{-82}$, $$\pi \approx \frac{6}{\sqrt{3502}}\ln(2u)\color{blue}{+10^{...
29
votes
6answers
688 views

Why is it that this gives a good approximation of $\pi$?

At the end of a Physics examination, I decided to play around with my calculator, as I always do when I have time left over, and found that: $$\frac{1}{100} \cdot 11^{\ln(11)} \approx 3.14159789211,$$...
27
votes
9answers
7k views

What is the purpose of Stirling's approximation to a factorial?

Stirling approximation to a factorial is $$ n! \sim \sqrt{2 \pi n} \left(\frac{n}{e}\right)^n. $$ I wonder what benefit can be got from it? From computational perspective (I admit I don't ...
27
votes
4answers
4k views

How much gas does a car use to carry its own gas?

I have always been curious about this one. Since the gas has some weight, the car will have to burn some extra gas to carry it's own fuel around. How can I calculate how much that extra gas is? ...
26
votes
5answers
5k views

How do you calculate the decimal expansion of an irrational number?

Just curious, how do you calculate an irrational number? Take $\pi$ for example. Computers have calculated $\pi$ to the millionth digit and beyond. What formula/method do they use to figure this out? ...
26
votes
3answers
1k views

The right “weigh” to do integrals

Back in the day, before approximation methods like splines became vogue in my line of work, one way of computing the area under an empirically drawn curve was to painstakingly sketch it on a piece of ...
25
votes
7answers
17k views

Simple numerical methods for calculating the digits of $\pi$

Are there any simple methods for calculating the digits of $\pi$? Computers are able to calculate billions of digits, so there must be an algorithm for computing them. Is there a simple algorithm that ...
25
votes
4answers
1k views

Prove that $2^{2^{\sqrt3}}>10$

With a computer or calculator, it is easy to show that $$ 2^{2^\sqrt{3}} = 10.000478 \ldots > 10. $$ How can we prove that $2^{2^{\sqrt3}}>10$ without a calculator?
25
votes
1answer
532 views

Approximate value of a slowly-converging sum of $\sum|\sin n|^n/n$

In this question on Math.SE there appears this sum: $$ S = \sum_{n\geq1}s_n, \qquad s_n = \frac{|\sin n|^n}{n}, $$ which converges very slowly. What methods would you suggest for evaluating it ...
22
votes
6answers
1k views

Why is $e^\pi - \pi$ so close to $20$?

$e^\pi-\pi\approx 19.99909998$ Why is this so close to $20$?
21
votes
7answers
3k views

How to show this formula to get a square root of a number in “just few seconds” is true?

I don't remember in which topic I found it but I know it was there. And I still have not find a proof of this nice approximation. Let $x$ be a non perfect square number. If $y$ is the closer ...
21
votes
3answers
713 views

Approximation for $\pi$

I just stumbled upon $$ \pi \approx \sqrt{ \frac{9}{5} } + \frac{9}{5} = 3.141640786 $$ which is $\delta = 0.0000481330$ different from $\pi$. Although this is a rather crude approximation I ...
21
votes
8answers
6k views

Rapid approximation of $\tanh(x)$

This is kind of a signal processing/programming/mathematics crossover question. At the moment it seems more math-related to me, but if the moderators feel it belongs elsewhere please feel free to ...
21
votes
3answers
700 views

Maximum of Polynomials in the Unit Circle

Let $z_{1},z_{2},\ldots,z_{n}$ be i.i.d random points in the unit circle ($|z_i|=1$) with uniform distribution of their angles. Consider the random polynomial $P(z)$ given by $$ P(z)=\prod_{i=1}^{n}(...
20
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6answers
6k views

Approximation of $e^{-x}$

Is there a method to mentally evaluate $e^{-x}$ for $x>0$? Just to have an idea when computing probabilities or anything that is an exponential function of some parameters.
19
votes
5answers
2k views

How best to explain the $\sqrt{2\pi n}$ term in Stirling's?

I recently showed my Algorithms class how to bound $\ln n! = \sum \ln n$ by integrals, thereby obtaining the simple factorial approximation $$ e \left(\frac{n}{e}\right)^{n} \leq n! \leq en\left(\...
19
votes
4answers
473 views

How could I improve this approximation?

In a computer application, I need to solve trillions of times an equation which can be reduced to $$f(x)=\sin(x)-a x=0$$ Newton methods (quadratic and higher orders) are used for the solution. ...
18
votes
3answers
2k views

Sine Approximation of Bhaskara

An Indian mathematician, Bhaskara I, gave the following amazing approximation of the sine (I checked the graph and some values, and the approximation is truly impressive.) $$\sin x \approx \frac{{16x\...
18
votes
3answers
8k views

Approximating the logarithm of the binomial coefficient

We know that by using Stirling approximation: $\log n! \approx n \log n$ So how to approximate $\log {m \choose n}$?
17
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3answers
442 views

Approximating $1/z$ by polynomials

Let $C=\{\mathrm e^{\mathrm it}, 0\le t\le 3\pi/2\}$ and $f(z)=1/z$. By Runge's theorem, there is a sequence of polynomials $p_n(z)$ such that $$\lim_n p_n(z)=f(z)$$ uniformly on $C$. Does anyone ...
16
votes
3answers
497 views

Approximating $100!$

I participated in an Estimathon (a speed contest of Fermi problems) not long ago. It works as follows. Contestants are given questions and they must give a closed range $[a,b]$ which should contain ...
16
votes
1answer
372 views

Nested solutions of a quadratic equation.

A quadratic equation of the form $x^2+bx+c=0$ can be solved with the classical formula that gives all solutions. Here I want discuss some other methods to find one solution. The best known is by ...
16
votes
2answers
221 views

Elegantly Proving that $~\sqrt[5]{12}~-~\sqrt[12]5~>~\frac12$

$\qquad$ How could we prove, without the aid of a calculator, that $~\sqrt[5]{12}~-~\sqrt[12]5~>~\dfrac12$ ? I have stumbled upon this mildly interesting numerical coincidence by accident, ...
15
votes
3answers
2k views

How to convert $\pi$ to base 16?

According to this Wikipedia article $\pi$ is approximately 3.243F in base 16 (i.e. hexadecimal). Can someone explain this? (Note: I understand how to convert an integer to base 16) Thanks
15
votes
2answers
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Ramanujan's approximation for $\pi$

In 1910, Srinivasa Ramanujan found several rapidly converging infinite series of $\pi$, such as $$ \frac{1}{\pi} = \frac{2\sqrt{2}}{9801} \sum^\infty_{k=0} \frac{(4k)!(1103+26390k)}{(k!)^4 396^{4k}}. $...
15
votes
2answers
215 views

A Mathematical Coincidence, or more?

According to the paper "Ten Problems in Experimental Mathematics", $$\int_0^\infty \cos(2x)\prod_{n=1}^\infty \cos\left(\frac{x}{n}\right)dx \quad = \quad \frac{\pi}{8}\color{blue}{-7.407 \times 10^{...
15
votes
2answers
538 views

Intuitively, why is the Euler-Mascheroni constant near sqrt(1/3)?

Questions that ask for "intuitive" reasons are admittedly subjective, but I suspect some people will find this interesting. Some time ago, I was struck by the coincidence that the Euler-Mascheroni ...
15
votes
2answers
212 views

why $ \rm{lcm}[1,2,3,\cdots,n]\in (2^n,4^n)$

Let $n\ge 7$ be positive integers,show that $$f(n)=\rm{lcm}[1,2,3,\cdots,n]\in (2^n,4^n)$$ Anyone know this problem background?or maybe have best proof or best result?
15
votes
1answer
422 views

A cute approximation for $\cot(2\pi x)$(!?)

Numerical calculations and some theory leads to the suggestion that $$\cot(2\pi x) \rightarrow\frac{1}{2\pi}\sum_r \frac{1}{x-r}$$ where $r$ ranges over all the roots of $B_{2n+1}$ (Bernoulli ...
14
votes
1answer
291 views

Showing that $\int_0^\infty x^{-x} \mathrm{d}x \leq 2$.

This integral is very closely related to the sophmores dream that states $$ \int_0^1 x^{-x}\mathrm{d}x = \sum_{n=1}^\infty n^{-n} = 1.27\ldots $$ For example here http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/...
14
votes
1answer
502 views

Why $e^{\pi}-\pi \approx 20$, and $e^{2\pi}-24 \approx 2^9$?

This was inspired by this post. Let $q = e^{2\pi\,i\tau}$. Then, $$x := \left(\frac{\eta(\tau)}{\eta(2\tau)}\right)^{24} = \frac{1}{q} - 24 + 276q - 2048q^2 + 11202q^3 - 49152q^4+ \cdots\tag1$$ ...
14
votes
1answer
485 views

$\pi^4 + \pi^5 \approx e^6$ is anything special going on here?

Saw it in the news: $$(\pi^4 + \pi^5)^{\Large\frac16} \approx 2.71828180861$$ Is this just pigeon-hole? DISCUSSION: counterfeit $e$ using $\pi$'s Given enough integers and $\pi$'s we can ...
14
votes
2answers
929 views

Application de Stone-Weierstrass

Bonjour, J'ai rencontré le problème suivant dans le livre "Real and Functional Analysis" de Lang, au chapitre $3$. J'explique d'abord le contexte, puis j'en viendrai à la question précise. Il faut ...
14
votes
1answer
633 views

Approximation of Semicontinuous Functions

Assume that $k \in \mathbb{N}$ and $f : \mathbb{R}^d \rightarrow [0,\infty)$ is lower semicontinuous, i.e. $f(x) \leq \liminf_{y \rightarrow x} f(y)$ for all $x \in \mathbb{R}^d$. Does there exist a ...
13
votes
8answers
1k views

Approximation of $e$ using $\pi$ and $\phi$?

$$e \approx \frac{4 \phi +3 \pi-5}{4}$$ where $~\phi~$ is a Golden ratio . Is it possible to construct better approximation of $e$ using $\pi$ , $\phi$ and integers ?
13
votes
9answers
13k views

How to calculate $e^x$ with a standard calculator

Is there a simple method for calculating the $e^x$ ($x\in\mathbb{R}$) with a basic add/subtract/multiply/divide calculator that converges in reasonable time, preferably without having to memorize ...
13
votes
9answers
407 views

How do I Approximate $\log{2}\approx 0.693$ without using the Maclaurin series?

How do I approximate the value $\log{2}\approx 0.693$ without using the Maclaurin series? The book gives the hint: consider $f(x)=e^x-e^{-x}-2x$.
13
votes
2answers
2k views

Approximation to the Lambert W function

If: $$x = y + \log(y) -a$$ Then the solution for $y$ using the Lambert W function is: $$y(x) = W(e^{a+x})$$ In a paper I'm reading, I saw an approximation to this solution, due to "Borsch and Supan"(?)...
13
votes
2answers
4k views

Euler's Approximation of pi.

I recently stumbled across the formula: $$\pi=20\arctan\frac{1}{7}+8\arctan\frac{3}{79}$$ developed by Euler, for approximating pi. I evaluated it to several thousand decimal places and up to that ...
13
votes
2answers
427 views

Is $\pi^k$ any closer to its nearest integer than expected?

Particular questions such as Why is $\pi$ so close to $3$? or Why is $\pi^2$ so close to $10$? may be regarded as the first two cases of the question sequence Why is $\pi^k$ so close to its nearest ...