Department of Mathematics 
University of Nebraska Lincoln 


Fall 2009 CSE/Math 441 Home PageWelcome to the CSE/Math 441, Approximation Theory, home page. You're probably here for information, so let's start with the vital statistics of the course.Essential Information
Approximation Theory Resources
AnnouncementsNotes and FAQ8/20/09:(Just to get the FAQ started) About significant digits... I've been asked to explain what "significant digits of an approximation" to a (nonzero) number means. There are several interpretations that one commonly sees. The "absolute" definition, which is perhaps more intuitive, goes as follows: to get the number of significant digits, first *subtract* (rather than just looking at the numbers) the two (may as well be larger  smaller), then find the position of the leading digit of the error relative to the position of leading digit of the exact answer. If the difference in that position is less than 5, then number of significant digits is one less than the difference, else two less. For example if 3.14 and 3.15 are used to approximate 3.14159, calculate 3.14159  3.14 = 0.00159 and 3.15  3.14159 = 0.00841. Notice I put a zero in front of the decimal to start counting from the right position. There is a nonzero digit at the 4th position with each approximation, counting from the (base 10) position of the leading digit of 3.14159. The size of this digit is at most 5 in the first case, so this approximation has 3 significant digits. In the second case, the digit is larger than 5, so the approximation only has 2 significant digits. The "relative" definition is usually preferred in numerical analysis and it goes as follows: if xapprox is used to approximate xtrue, the number of significant digits is largest integer n such that the relative error, (xapproxxtrue)/xtrue) is no larger than 5x10^(n1). In our previous example the relevant quotients are 0.000506 and 0.002677, respectively. The best bound in both cases is 5x10^(3). Thus, this definition will give only 2 significant digits in both cases. In general, the "relative" definition is stingier than the "absolute" one. Hope this helps. Class Policy Statement
Course: CSE/Math 441, Approximation Theory Place/Time: AvH 12, 3:304:45 TR, Fall 2009 Preq: CSE/Math 340, Math 221 and 314 or equivalent, or permission. Objectives: To help students achieve competence in the following areas:
Telephone: Office 4727233 Home 4890560 Email: tshores1@math.unl.edu Web Home Page: http://www.math.unl.edu/~tshores1/
Office Hours: Monday 10:0012:00, Tuesday 1:303:00, Wednesday 2:004:00, Thursday 9:0010:30, Friday 9:3010:30, and by appointment. Office: 229 AvH
Class Attendance: Is required. If absent, it is incumbent upon the student to determine what has been missed as soon as possible. It is advisable to consult with the instructor. Homework/Projects: Homework will be assigned in class and collected in accordance with the syllabus, and will be usually returned within one week. Although collaboration in solving most problems is allowed, it is strictly forbidden to copy someone else's homework. It is expected that cocollaborators and other sources for the homework will be duly acknowledged. Assignments will be due approximately every two weeks, for a total of six assignments. For some specified problems no collaboration will be allowed. Matlab (Octave) is the official programming language for this course. Prior programming experience with it is not required. Current information about the course will be available through Blackboard and the 441 homepage. Using the web is strongly recommended for keeping track of current activities in the course. Reading Assignment: Read the sections of the texts as, or before, they are covered in class lectures. This is a standing assignment throughout the semester. Grade: One midterm will be given and will account for 130 points. The final exam will count 140 points. Each exam may have a take home component. Inclass exams are closed book with calculators. Homework will count 230 points. The final grade will be based on these 500 points. Final Exam: To be given on Tuesday, December 15, 8:30  10:30 pm in AvH 12. Grades of "I", "W" or "P": These grades will be given in strict accordance with University policy. (See any Schedule of Classes for the relevant information and dates.)
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