# Questions tagged [numerical-methods]

Questions on numerical methods; methods for approximately solving various problems that often do not admit exact solutions. Such problems can be in various field. Numerical methods provide a way to solve problems quickly and easily compared to analytic solutions.

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### “The Egg:” Bizarre behavior of the roots of a family of polynomials.

In this MO post, I ran into the following family of polynomials: $$f_n(x)=\sum_{m=0}^{n}\prod_{k=0}^{m-1}\frac{x^n-x^k}{x^m-x^k}.$$ In the context of the post, $x$ was a prime number, and $f_n(x)$ ...
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### Proof that ${\left(\pi^\pi\right)}^{\pi^\pi}$ (and now $\pi^{\left(\pi^{\pi^\pi}\right)}$) is a noninteger.

Conor McBride asks for a fast proof that $$x = {\left(\pi^\pi\right)}^{\pi^\pi}$$ is not an integer. It would be sufficient to calculate a very rough approximation, to a precision of less than $1,$ ...
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### Why do we still do symbolic math?

I just read that most practical problems (algebraic equations, differential equations) do not have a symbolic solution, but only a numerical one. Numerical computations, to my understanding, never ...
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### What algorithm is used by computers to calculate logarithms?

I would like to know how are logarithms calculated by computers. The GNU C library, for example, uses a call to the fyl2x() assembler instruction, which means that ...
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### How much does symbolic integration mean to mathematics?

(Before reading, I apologize for my poor English ability.) I have enjoyed calculating some symbolic integrals as a hobby, and this has been one of the main source of my interest towards the vast ...
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### What is the fastest/most efficient algorithm for estimating Euler's Constant $\gamma$?

What is the fastest algorithm for estimating Euler's Constant $\gamma \approx0.57721$? Using the definition: $$\lim_{n\to\infty} \sum_{x=1}^{n}\frac{1}{x}-\log n=\gamma$$ I finally get $2$ decimal ...
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### Finding $1/x^2 + 1/x^3 + 1/x^5 + \dots$

The following function came up in my work: $$f(x)=\sum_{p\text{ prime}}\frac{1}{x^p}=\frac{1}{x^2}+\frac{1}{x^3}+\frac{1}{x^5}+\frac{1}{x^7}+\frac{1}{x^{11}}+\cdots.$$ Naturally, this converges for ...
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### What’s the difference between analytical and numerical approaches to problems?

I don't have much (good) math education beyond some basic university-level calculus. What do "analytical" and "numerical" mean? How are they different?
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### 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 ...
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### Why does Monte-Carlo integration work better than naive numerical integration in high dimensions?

Can anyone explain simply why Monte-Carlo works better than naive Riemann integration in high dimensions? I do not understand how chosing randomly the points on which you evaluate the function can ...
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### What's the most efficient way to mow a lawn?

For $S\subseteq\Bbb R^2$ and $x\in\Bbb R$, define $E_x(S)=\{y\in\Bbb R^2:d(y,S)<x\}$. ($E_x(S)$ represents the expansion of $S$ by $x$.) Given a path $\gamma:[0,1]\to\Bbb R^2$, denote its length as ...
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### Computing (on a computer) the first few (non-trivial) zeros of the zeta function of a number field

If $K$ is a number field, whose Galois closure over the rationals has degree 24 or so, and whose discriminant is around $163^4$, then what is a numerically efficient way of computing the first few ...
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### What is the difference between Finite Difference Methods, Finite Element Methods and Finite Volume Methods for solving PDEs?

Can you help me explain the basic difference between FDM, FEM and FVM? What is the best method and why? Advantage and disadvantage of them?
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### Detecting perfect squares faster than by extracting square root

Given the radix-$r$ representation of a integer $n$, and a small integer constant $k$, there is an $O(\log n)$ algorithm for detecting whether $n$ is a multiple of $k$, namely, division, which ...
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### How do you determine which representation of a function to use for Newton's method?

Take the equation: $$x^2 + 2x = \frac{1}{1+x^2}$$ I subtracted the right term over to form $~f_1(x)~$: $$x^2 + 2x - \frac{1}{1+x^2} = 0$$ I wanted to take the derivative, so I rearranged things ...
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### Determining whether a symmetric matrix is positive-definite (algorithm)

I'm trying to create a program, that will decompose a matrix using the Cholesky decomposition. The decomposition itself isn't a difficult algorithm, but a matrix, to be eligible for Cholesky ...
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### Wiggly polynomials

I'd like to be able to construct polynomials $p$ whose graphs look like this: We can assume that the interval of interest is $[-1, 1]$. The requirements on $p$ are: (1) Equi-oscillation (or roughly ...
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### How to accurately calculate the error function $\operatorname{erf}(x)$ with a computer?

I am looking for an accurate algorithm to calculate the error function $$\operatorname{erf}(x)=\frac{2}{\sqrt{\pi}}\int_0^x e^{-t^2}\ dt$$ I have tried using the following formula, (Handbook of ...
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### In what sense is the derivative the “best” linear approximation?

I am familiar with the definition of the Frechet derivative and it's uniqueness if it exists. I would however like to know, how the derivative is the "best" linear approximation. What does this mean ...
### How to calculate $2^{\sqrt{2}}$ by hand efficiently?
I've been trying to calculate $2^{\sqrt{2}}$ by hand efficiently, but whatever I've tried to do so far fails at some point because I need to use many decimals of $\sqrt{2}$ or $\log(2)$ to get a ...