Hi I recently came across a problem which peaked my interest. The problem was to approximate (or determine the value of):
without the use of a calculator. You are given a table of logs in base e of natural numbers. I am interested to see what various methods of approach there are.
For me, the first approach was to define a function :
and then use Taylor's expansion about the point . Then we obtain:
and put , and which we can determine using the table. The degree of accuracy can be manipulated by changing the number of terms in the expansion we use, and how many decimal places of we use.
The only problem with this is the issue of approximating still remains.
Another approach requires a little bit more work.
Suppose , then we want to approximate
Now for any real
Now by taking the first two terms of the binomial expansion, so:
Now without going into too much detail, we want to minimise to minimise the error term, so we chose
for some large positive integer (the higher the value of , the better the approximation)
Hence, depending on the accuracy of the approximation, we can chose a positive integer appropriately to approximate the original expression. Again, we must estimate the value of as it appears in our approximating expression.
Do comment on any other methods of approximating this value!