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10.2 Higher Approximations and Taylor Series

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We address the following questions:
What are these higher, non-linear approximations to f in terms of its derivatives?
Why do we do these things?
How accurate are these approximations?
What happens when f is a function of several variables?
The linear approximation to f at x0 is the linear function with value f(x0) and first derivative f '(x0) there.
The quadratic approximation is the quadratic function whose value and first two derivatives agree with those of f at argument x0. Being quadratic it can be written as f(x0) + a(x - x0) + b(x - x0)2.
We determine a and b by applying the condition that its derivatives are those of f at argument x0. Since its first derivative at x0 is a, and second derivative is 2b, we deduce  a = f '(x0), b = f "(x0) / 2 so that the quadratic approximation to f at x0  becomes

We can extend this argument to create the cubic approximation, etc, when f is suitably differentiable by applying the same steps with still higher derivatives. If we do this on forever, we get the "Taylor series expansion of f at argument x0."


10.1 Write down the Taylor series expansion about x0 for a general infinitely differential function f.

10.2 Write down the approximation formula of degree  5 for a general function that is 5 times differentiable, and apply it explicitly for the sine function at x0 = 0. Give the cubic approximation to the sine at x0 = 1.

10.3 The exponential function, being its own derivative, can be factored out of its Taylor series expansion. Apply that expansion around x0, to deduce the relation between exp(x)  and exp(x0).