Unlocking Unity: The Power of Infinite Series in Mathematics

Infinite Series in Mathematics – infinite sums are among the least understood yet fundamental mathematical concepts that can connect mathematical concepts across the vast maths web.

In terms of pure power, it was difficult for anyone to surpass John von Neumann. The architect to the current computer and creator of the game theory von Neumann was legendary most notably for his quick mental calculation.

The story is that a day, someone asked him to solve a puzzle. Two cyclists begin on opposite sides of a 20 mile road long. Each cyclist rides towards the other at a rate of 10 miles an hour. As they start with a fly at the rear wheel bike begins to fly away and race at 15 miles an hour towards the other bike. 

Once it reaches there, it quickly reverses course and glides back towards the bike and then back to the second and the cycle continues. 


It continues to fly between the two bikes until it’s finally squeezed in between the front tire of both bikes after the bikes meet. What distance was the fly’s flight to the totality before it was squashed?

It’s hard to imagine. The fly’s journey back and forth consists of innumerable parts, each of which is shorter than the previous one. Compiling them all up is an impossible task.

Also Read: Deciphering Genius: Unveiling Einstein’s First Proof

The problem is less difficult when you consider cyclists, instead of the fly. In a roadway that is about 20 miles, two bicycles circling one another at a speed of 10 miles an hour will cross paths at the middle within one hour. In that time regardless of the direction the fly follows it will be traveling 15 miles because it was traveling 15 miles per hour.

If von Neumann heard the puzzle and was asked about it, he immediately answered, “15 miles.” His irritated questioner replied, “Oh, you saw the trick.” “What trick?” said von Neumann. “I just summarised an infinite number of times.”

Infinite Series — the number of infinitely large numbers, variables, or functions that adhere to a specific rules — are a few actors in the grand maths drama. 

While integrals and derivatives dominate the stage however, infinite series are able to stand in the background. If they do show up, they’re nearing the end of the race, and everyone is dragging themselves across the final stretch.

Also Read: Cracking Digits of Pi: The Recipe For Surpassing Records in Calculating its Digits

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Then why should we to study these series? Infinite series can be helpful in providing approximate solutions to complex problems, as well as to illustrate subtle aspects of mathematical precision. However, unless you’re a aspiring scientist, this is an ominous sigh. 

Furthermore infinite series are usually presented without real-world applications. The ones that do show (annuities, mortgages as well as the creation of chemotherapy regimens may seem distant to an audience of teenagers.

The main reason to studying infinite series (or that’s what I tell my kids) is the fact that they’re amazing connecters. They provide connections between different math areas, and reveal surprising connections between all that has gone before. It’s only after you reach this particular part of calculus that the real structure of math — the entire structure of math appears.

Before I get into the details how to solve it, let’s examine another problem that involves infinity. The process of solving it step-by-step will reveal the way von Neumann solved the fly issue, and will give us a foundation to think about infinite series in a more general way.

If you decide to purchase an expensive hat from an unidentified street vendor. He’s offering $24. “How do I get $11?” you say. “Let’s share the difference,”” the man replies, “$18.”

Most of the time, that is what settles it. The idea of splitting the difference is reasonable however it’s not the case for you since you’ve read the bargaining manual, “The Art of Infinite Haggling.” You respond by offering that you split up the differences however, it’s now somewhere between $16 and that most recent number you’ve put on the table: $18. 

“So what’s the deal?” you say, “$15 and it’s a bargain.” “Oh you’re wrong you’re not, so let’s divide the difference once more, $16.50,” says the seller. The process continues until you finally reach the identical price. What is the ultimate price?

The answer is the infinite number of offers. To understand what it is, notice that each offer follows the same order:

24His asking price
12 = 24 – 12Your first offer
18 = 24 – 12 + 6dividing in two
15 = 24 – 12 + 6 – 3dispersing it among 12 and 18

The secret is that figures on the left of the equal sign constructed gradually from the ever-lengthening sequence of the numbers to the right. Each number that appears on the left side of the equal sign (24, -12, 6, 3) …) is the same as the number preceding it, but using an opposite symbol. In the limit, that amount of P which you and your vendor be able to agree on is

P = 24 12 + 6 = 3 + …

The three dots in the picture mean the series will continue for ever.

Instead of seeking to get our brains around this endless phrase, we can use an ingenuous technique that makes the issue simple. This trick lets us remove that confusingly infinitum number of words and leave us with a number that is much easier to work out.

Calculus’ pioneers discovered that the various functions they knew could be transformed to the universal language known as “power series.”

In particular, let’s double specifically, let’s double. It would also double those numbers to the left. Thus,

2P = 48 – 24 + 12 – 6 + ….

What can this do? Take note that the infinite string of terms that is found in 2 is nearly the same as the one within 2 P itself, with the exception that we are given a different lead number (48) and that all the minus and plus symbols for our numerals are reversed. 

If one adds the number for P to the series for 2 P and 24s, then the 24s and the 12s as well as everything else are cancelled in pairs, with the exception of the number 48. It doesn’t have a equivalent to make it cancel. Thus two 2 + P= 48. This means that P = 3 P = 48. Therefore

(P) is $16.

It’s the amount you’d pay for a cap after negotiating for hours.

The issue of the fly and two bicycles is the same mathematical pattern. With a bit of work you can deduce that each part of the fly’s journey back and forth is just one-fifth the length of the preceding one. 

Von Neumann would have found it easy to calculate the result into a “geometric series” which is the kind we’ve been studying that is where each consecutive term has exactly the same proportion. For the fly issue this proportion is 15. For the haggling issue the ratio is 12.

Also Read: Unlocking Wonderland’s Mathematical Secrets: A Beginner’s Guide To Alice in Wonderland

In general, every geometric S series S has the same form.

S = ar, ar2 and ar3 …

where the term r represents the ratio, and the term a is what’s known as”the leading word. In the event that r is between -1 and 1 such as in the two cases the method used in the previous example could be modified using a multiplier that does not multiply by 2 but rather by the number r to demonstrate that the total that the sum is

S = A1-R.

In particular, for the haggling dilemma, a was $24 and r was -12. The addition of these numbers to the formula will give an S = 2432, which is equivalent to $16, which is the same as.

To solve the fly issue we must work little to discover the primary phrase, a. It’s the distance that the fly travels during the initial leg of its back-and-forth travel therefore, in order to calculate it we need to determine the place where a fly that is traveling at 15 miles per hour first encounters the bicycle that is approaching at a speed of 10 miles per hour. 

Since their speeds form the ratio 15:10 which is 3:2. They will meet after the fly has travelled 33+2 miles of the initial 20 mile distance, which is that a equal 35 times 20 equals 12 miles. 

Similar reasoning suggests that legs decrease in a factor that is 15= 15 every time the fly changes direction. Von Neumann saw all of this in a flash and, utilizing the formula a1-r above and calculating the distance that the fly traveled:

S = 120-15 = 1245 x 604 miles.

Then we return to the main question: How can these kinds of series help connect all the different aspects of math? To answer this question we must expand our perspective on formulas that are similar to

1 + R + r2 + r3 + … = 11-r

This is the exact formula that was used before, but that uses that formula containing equal number of. In lieu of thinking about the word r as a number such as 15 or -12 consider the r as an element of. The equation will say something amazing.

It reflects the mathematical alchemy in the sense that lead can be transformed into gold. It suggests that a particular formula for r (here one divided by 1, i.e. the r) can be converted into something simpler that is a mixture of the straightforward powers of the r like r2 or the r3 equation, and so on.

Euler’s formula, created immediately by the infinite series is now a must-have.

It’s amazing that the same can be said for a myriad of other applications that show almost everywhere in engineering and science. Calculus’ pioneers discovered that all the mathematical functions they were familiar withsines and cosines, exponentials and logarithms could be transformed to the universal language known as “power series” an equivalent to a enhanced form of the geometric series in which the coefficients can be changed as well.

As they completed these calculations, they discovered shocking oddities. For instance, here is the power sequence of the sine, cosine as well as exponential function (don’t be concerned about the source simply examine their appearance):

cosx = 1 + 22! + x44! – x66! + …

sinx = x the number 33! + x55! – x77! + …

ex is 1 plus the x plus 22! + x33! + x44! + …

Apart from all the exuberant and well-deserved exclamation marks (which actually refer to factorials, for example 4! is 4 x 3 x 2 1 for instance) Also, note that the ex series is a bit close to being an amalgamation of the two formulas that precede it. 

If only the combination of negative and positive signs in sinx and cosx could somehow be synchronized with the all-positive sign that are ex’s, then everything will line to match.

The coincidence, as well as that sort of wishful thinking was what led Leonhard Euler to discover that one of the amazing and profound formulas ever discovered in mathematicians:

Eix is cosx plus sinx. sinx,

where where i represents the number that is defined by the imaginary number defined as = 1.

Euler’s formula makes an awe-inspiring connection. It affirms that cosines and sines represent wave and cycles, represent hidden cousins of the exponential function.

It is which is the symbol of decay and growth however only when we look at increasing the number of e by an imaginary value (whatever it is). Euler’s formula was created directly through infinite series is vital for electrical engineering, quantum mechanics, as well as all disciplines that deal with cycles and waves.

After this and are now ready to make one more step, leading us to the equation that is called the most beautiful of math, because it is the Euler-like formula in which the equation x = p

E I + 1 = 0. + 1. = 0.

It connects some of the most renowned mathematical numbers that are: 0 1, 1, p, i and e. Each symbolises a different mathematics branch and the equation can be viewed as a magnificent confluence an ode to the unity of mathematics.

Zero is the definition of nothingness, or the absence of any substance, and yet it’s not an absence of numbersit’s an actual number which makes the method of writing numbers work. First, there’s 1. The number that is the first, the basis of counting numbers, and by extension the entire elementary math in school. 

The next is the symbol of circles and perfect however, it has a cryptic dark side that suggests infinity through the obscure pattern of its numbers, endless, elusive. Then there’s the i which is the number that can be imagined, which is an symbol of algebra, expressing the creative leaps that let number transcend the limits of simple magnitude. Then there’s e is the mascot of calculus, is a symbol of movement and change.

As a kid and my dad was a teacher, he told me that math is an edifice. Each thing builds upon the next. Subtraction builds up on addition. Subtraction builds on the concept of addition. Then it continues up through geometry, algebra, trigonometry, and calculus all the way to “higher math” — a fitting term for an edifice that is soaring.

When I first learned about endless series I couldn’t ever see math as the tower. It’s not like a tree in the sense that another metaphor might have it. 

The different parts of it aren’t branches that are split and then go on their own. It is an internet. Every part of it connects to and complement each other. Each part of math is separated from the other. It’s a network, little like an nervous system or, perhaps the brain.


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