Office: 4-112 Mathematics Building
Dept. Phone: (631)-632-8290
M-W 2:40-4:00, Math S-235 (computer lab on SL level)
Approximation Theory and Approximation Practice, by
Lloyd N. Trefethen, SIAM, 2013. Extended version published in 2019.
The 2019 version is preferred, but the 2013 version should be OK
for class. The extended version
has some mistakes corrected and has some appendices on Fourier series
and Laurent expansions.
First 6 Chapters of textbook for free. This will be enough for the first few lectures. Look at these to get an idea of what the course will be like.
All chapters of textbook as MATLAB files. You can download each chapter as a MATLAB script and produce a LaTeX file using the publish command in MATLAB. Use publish('chap1','latex') to get the .tex file for Chapter 1. You will then need to use LaTex to produce a PDF file from this.
List of errata ,
SIAM page to purchase textbook
Amazon page to purchase textbook
This is a course about approximating general functions (mostly on the
real line) by polynomials and rational functions. This is an long standing
problem with much history and is still of fundamental importance, since
any computation must be broken down into addition, multiplication and
division, so the
only functions we can really compute are those that can be approximated
by polynomials and rational functions.
The textbook is broken into short chapters with many exercises based on the MATLAB computer language. I will give the initial lectures to introduce the topic and MATLAB. After a few meetings I will assign problems to students to do and present in class. A little later I will start to assign sections of the book to students to present in class. Near the end of the semester, students will choose topic to study and present in class and will prepare a short paper on this topic.
The textbook is unusual in that it combines theorems with calculations and includes many examples computed using MATLAB. The class will meet in a computer lab S-235 in the basement of the math building. MATLAB is available on SINC site computers, online via the Virtual SINC site, or free to download from the SBU DoIT site. The latter is probably the most convenient if you want to work on the class with your own laptop or desktop. The textbook also assumes you have downloaded the program CHEBFUN written by Trefethen and his collaborators and stored it on the machine you are using (or in your SBUfiles if you are using SINC site machines). This is easy to do I will explain in class (also see the class website). Prof Trefethen is a distinguished professor at NYU and is head of the numerical analysis lab at Oxford University.
The basic theme of the course is based on the famous Weierstrass approximation theorem: every continuous function on an interval [1,b] can be uniformly approximated by polynomials, a result often covered in an undergraduate analysis course. But, given the function f how do you find the approximating polynomials on a computer? Some other questions include:
- The space of degree n polynomials is a vector space. What is a "good" basis for this vector space? 1,x,x^2, x^3,... is a basis, but is not "good".
- How large a degree polynomial do we need to approximate f within epsilon? How does this depend on f?
- How large a degree polynomial can we handle on computer? Tens? Hundreds? Thousands?
- What does the approximating polynomial look like off the interval [a,b]?
- Can we do better with rational functions than with polynomials?
- Can we compute the "best" polynomial approximation to a continuous function f? What does "best" mean? Is the best approximation unique?
- Can we approximate discontinuous functions?
Trefethen's book deals with all these questions and much more. I hope to cover about half the book, although we may skip around a bit.
Calculus and linear algebra are definitely needed. The courses on
real analysis (MAT 319 or 320) will be a big help, as will complex
analysis (MAT 342). Knowing MATLAB is not required, as we will go
through basic MATLAB commands in class. (People with more
programming experience will be able to choose more technical
projects if they wish; more theoretical or historical options
will also be available).
Before class begins, it would be a good idea to get the book (there is a link to the first 6 chapters for free on the class webpage). There is a 2013 version and a more recent "extended version". Either is fine, though the extended version would be better. Also try to run MATLAB on the virtual SINC site or download it to your own machine; if you have problems bring your questions to the class.
Grading is based on quizzes, presentations and a final project, and each component is worth one third of the grade. The short quizzes will test the basic MATLAB commands we learn in class and the definitions and theorems from the textbook. Presentations and participation will also count for a third; this is a seminar, so after the initial meetings most material is presented by the students. Near the end of the course, We will reserve about half a lecture for each final report; the written version will also be graded for clarity and correctness. There will not be a final exam.
Projects must be related to the topic of the course and textbook,
but are otherwise quite flexible. One possibility is to summarize
material in sections of the textbook that we will not cover in
class. Another is to read and summarize one of the papers cited
in the textbook, or to investigate the history of some topic
we discuss. Another is to summarize some application of
approximation theory and/or Chebfun: many such applications are
described in the
Chebfun examples page.
I do request that different students choose different topics;
eventually I will post who is doing what on this page (first come,
first serve on topics, so let me know what you are interested in
as soon as possible). Some ideas are listed below, others will be added
Six proofs of the Weiertrass Theorem
The Stone-Weierstrass theorem
Clenshaw-Curtis versus Gauss quadrature
Best polynomial approximation: L^2 versus sup norm
A continuous function with divergent Foruier series
Biography of some mathematician related to approximation
Summary of some paper cited by the textbook
What are wavelets?
Proof that nueral nets can approximate any contnuous function.
Best rational approximation of |x| or x^\alpha (Stahl)
Caratheodory's theorem on approximation by finite Blaschke products
Smoothness and rates of approximation
Weierstrass's nowhere differentiable function
Approximating Brownian motion
The fast Fourier transform
Myths of polynomial interpolation
Zeros of random polynomials
Hilbert's polynomial lemniscate theorem
The polynomial ham sandwich theorem
SIAM 100-digit Challenge . This book describes ten problems, each to solve a certain problem to ten decimal places. Writing a report on one of these problems would be a suitable project for the class.
I will place some MATLAB scripts here, that I have written to illustrate ideas in class. If you have some code you want to share, send it to me to place here.
IEEE journal devoted to the "top ten" algorithms of the 20th centrury. The individual journal articles require a passwork, but many can be found somewhere on the internet.
Eventually, this section will list who is presenting what
material on which day.
Mon Jan 23: First class. Introduction to approximation theory. Discuss textbook, the Weierstrass theorem, different notions of best approximation.
Wed Jan 25: Learning MATLAB, Chapters 1 and 2. Basic MATLAB commands and arrays: arithmetic, built-in functions, plotting, close all, exporting plots, arrays, linear algebra, sparse matrices, logical indexing, rand, randi, strings, vpa, strings, strfind, save,
Mon Jan 30: Learning MATLAB, Chapters 3 and 4: scripts, functions, for, if, switch/case, anonymous functions, clear
Wed Feb 1: First MATLAB Quiz. Chebfun Guide, Chapter 1, introduction
Mon Feb 6 : Chebfun Guide, Chapter 2, integration and differentiation. .
Wed Feb 8: Chebfun Guide, Chapter 3, root finding and extemums
Mon Feb 13 : ATAP Chapter 2. Chebyshev Points and Interpolants
Wed Feb 15: ATAP Chapter 3. Chebyshev Polynomials and Series
Mon Feb 20 : ATAP Chapter 4. Interpolants, Projections, and Aliasing
Wed Feb 22: ATAP Chapter 5. Barycentric Interpolation Formula
Mon Feb 27 : ATAP Chapter 6. Weierstrass Approximation Theorem
Wed Mar 1:
Mon Feb 6 :
Wed Mar 8:
Mon Mar 13 : No Class, Spring Break
Wed Mar 15: No Class, Spring Break
Mon Mar 20 :
Wed Mar 22:
Mon Mar 27 :
Wed Mar 29 :
Mon Apr 3 :
Wed Apr 5 :
Mon Apr 10 :
Wed Apr 12 :
Mon Apr 17 :
Wed Apr 19 :
Mon Apr 24 :
Wed Apr 26 :
Mon May 1 :
Wed May 3 : Last Class
On Wed Jan 25 I assinged one problem in class to each student from Chapter 2 of Driscoll's book, pages 25 and 26. Solutions wil be presented in class on Mon Jan 30.
After class, 4:00-5:30 on Mondays and Wednesdays. I am also happy to make appointments for other times, meet via Zoom, or answer questions via email.
In some unusual circumstances, I may have to hold class online. If this arises, I will send instructions out ahead of time.
It is possible to prepare reports directly in MATLAB in a way that combines text with figures and tables computed in MATLAB. The textbook was prepared this way: each chapter is actaully the output of a MATLAB program. This would be a good way to prepare your own report for the class.
Another report option is LaTeX, a typsetting program that is widely used in mathematics, physics and computer science. If you are planning to go to graduate school in one of these areas, your thesis and published papers will likely be prepared in some version of LaTex (many journals require manuscripts be submitted in this format).
The not too short introduction to LaTex
Link to mathematical biographies
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