Newton's Method

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Proof Technique

Newton's method is a method of solving an equation expressed as a real function for which there may be no convenient closed form solution.

The derivative of the function has to be known in order to use Newton's method.

Let the equation to be solved be of the form:

$y = \map f x$

Let the value of $x$ be required for a given $y$.

Let $x_1$ be an initial guess.

Then an iterative improvement on $x_1$ is of the form:

$x_2 = x_1 - \dfrac {\map f {x_1} - y} {\map {f'} {x_1} }$

where $\map {f'} {x_1}$ is the derivative of $f$ with respect to $x$ evaluated at $x_1$.


The function $\map f x$ can be expanded about $x_1$ using Taylor's Theorem:

$\map f x = \map f {x_1} + \map {f'} {x_1} \paren {x - x_1} + \dfrac 1 2 \map {f''} {x_1} \paren {x - x_1}^2 + \dotsb$

This series can be rewritten with an error term as follows:

$\map f x = \map f {x_1} + \map {f'} {x_1} \paren {x - x_1} + \epsilon$

This gives:

\(\ds \map f {x_1} + \map {f'} {x_1} \paren {x - x_1} + \epsilon\) \(=\) \(\ds y\)
\(\ds \map {f'} {x_1} \paren {x - x_1}\) \(=\) \(\ds y - \map f {x_1} - \epsilon\)
\(\ds x\) \(=\) \(\ds x_1 + \dfrac {y - \map f {x_1} - \epsilon} {\map {f'} {x_1} }\)
\(\ds \) \(=\) \(\ds x_1 - \dfrac {\map f {x_1} - y + \epsilon} {\map {f'} {x_1} }\)

For $\epsilon$ small enough the final term can be neglected:

$x_2 = x_1 - \dfrac {\map f {x_1} - y} {\map {f'} {x_1} }$



Newton's Method: $x^3 - 2 x - 5 = 0$

The real root of the cubic:

$x^3 - 2 x - 5 = 0$

can be found by using Newton's Method.

Its approximate value is:

$2 \cdotp 09455 \, 1$

Source of Name

This entry was named for Isaac Newton.