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Chemistry LibreTexts

3: Series

  • Page ID
  • Chapter Objectives

    • Learn how to obtain Maclaurin and Taylor expansions of different functions.
    • Learn how to express infinite sums using the summation operator (\( \displaystyle \Sigma\))
    • Understand how a series expansion can be used in the physical sciences to obtain an approximation that is valid in a particular regime (e.g. low concentration of solute, low pressure of a gas, small oscillations of a pendulum, etc).
    • Understand how a series expansion can be used to prove a mathematical relationship.

    • 3.1: Maclaurin Series
      A function f(x) can be expressed as a series in powers of x as long as f(x) and all its derivatives are finite at x=0.
    • 3.2: Linear Approximations
      We can always approximate a function as a line as long as x is small. When we say ‘any function’ we of course imply that the function and all its derivatives need to be finite at x=0 .
    • 3.3: Taylor Series
      Before discussing more applications of Maclaurin series, let’s expand our discussion to the more general case where we expand a function around values different from zero. Let’s say that we want to expand a function around the number h. If h=0, we call the series a Maclaurin series, and if h≠0 we call the series a Taylor series. Because Maclaurin series are a special case of the more general case, we can call all the series Taylor series and omit the distinction.
    • 3.4: Other Applications of Mclaurin and Taylor series
    • 3.5: Problems

    Thumbnail: The graph shows the function \(\displaystyle y=sinx\) and the Maclaurin polynomials \(\displaystyle p_1,p_3\) and \(\displaystyle p_5\). Image used with permission (CC BY-SA 3.0; OpenStax).

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