Show Summary Details

p. 1127. Estimates and approximationslocked

  • Timothy Gowers

Abstract

For many problems it would be miraculous and totally unexpected if somebody were to find a precise formula for the solution. ‘Estimates and approximations’ shows that most of the time one must settle for a rough estimate instead. The ways of approximating are outlined using an example of creating a simple formula to approximate a sequence of numbers. The concept of approximate logarithms and square roots is introduced to ease mathematical calculations and enable comparisons to be made. The prime number theorem is then discussed followed by sorting algorithms of computer programs, such as Quicksort, which is another area of mathematics that is full of rough estimates.

Access to the complete content on Very Short Introductions online requires a subscription or purchase. Public users are able to search the site and view the abstracts and keywords for each book and chapter without a subscription.

Please subscribe or login to access full text content.

If you have purchased a print title that contains an access token, please see the token for information about how to register your code.

For questions on access or troubleshooting, please check our FAQs, and if you can't find the answer there, please contact us.