Finite Summation of Integer Powers (Part 3)

(Discrete Mathematics Techniques III)

We find a direct closed-form solution, i.e. one that does not require iteration, for the general case of the finite-summation-of-integer-powers problem S_p(N) = \sum_{k=1}^{N} k^p. Having established in Part 2 that the closed-form solution is a polynomial, the summation is here rewritten as the sum of the p+1 independent monomials a_j N^j (1 \leq j \leq p+1), where the a_j are unknown coefficients. Using the recurrence relation S_p(N+1) = S_p(N) + (N+1)^p, we obtain a linear combination of the monomials, which reduces to an easily solvable (p+1)-by-(p+1) triangular linear system in the unknown coefficients a_j of the closed-form polynomial solution. Maxima and Octave/Matlab codes for directly computing the closed-form solutions are included in the Appendices.

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Why Zero Raised to the Zero Power IS One

Updated! February 5, 2017

The value of zero raised to the zero power, (0^0), has been discussed since the time of Euler in the 18th century (1700s). There are three reasonable choices: 1,0, or “indeterminate”. Despite consensus amongst mathematicians that the correct answer is one, computing platforms seem to have reached a variety of conclusions: Google, R, Octave, Ruby, and Microsoft Calculator choose 1; Hexelon Max and TI-36 calculator choose 0; and Maxima and Excel throw an error (indeterminate). In this article, I’ll explain why, for discrete mathematics, the correct answer cannot be anything other than 0^0=1, for reasons that go beyond consistency with the Binomial Theorem (Knuth’s argument).
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