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Homework Help: Orthogonal projecitons, minimizing difference

  1. Nov 30, 2013 #1
    1. The problem statement, all variables and given/known data
    Determine the polynomial p of degree at most 1 that minimizes

    [tex]\int_0^2 |e^x - p(x)|^2 dx[/tex]

    Hint: First find an orthogonal basis for a suitably chosen space of polynomials of degree at most 1

    3. The attempt at a solution

    I assumed what I wanted was a p(x) of the form
    p(x) = \frac{<e^x, 1>}{<1,1>} + \frac{<e^x, x>}{<x,x>}x

    where the inner product is

    [tex]<f, g> = \int_0^2 f(x)\bar{g(x)} dx[/tex]

    But this fails just for the first term, ie

    [tex]\frac{<e^x, 1>}{<1,1>} = \frac{e^2-1}{2}[/tex] does not coincide with the correct answer

    Correct answer:
    [tex]p(x) = 3x + \frac{1}{2}(e^2 - 7)[/tex]
  2. jcsd
  3. Nov 30, 2013 #2


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    Do you understand why the hint says you should find orthogonal polynomials first? And do you know if 1 and x are orthogonal?
  4. Nov 30, 2013 #3
    For the first question, yeah I believe so. Thinking in 'normal' linear algebra with a vector u in R^3 the best approximation of that vector in any plane in R^3 will be the orthogonal projection of u onto that plane, and you need an orthogonal basis to find that. Applying the same principle here, or that's what I think anyway.
    As for the second, err, I automatically assumed so for whatever reason. Checking now I see that's clearly not the case. I suppose I have to tinker a bit to find a basis that's actually an orthogonal set. Perhaps the inner product shouldn't be what it is too.
    Last edited: Nov 30, 2013
  5. Nov 30, 2013 #4


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    A good way to find an orthogonal set is to use Gram Schmidt orthogonalization. Admittedly in the two dimensional case you can just figure it out by staring for a while/solving explicitly the equation for two polynomials to be orthogonal, but it's good practice anyway, and you'll feel smarter for doing it :tongue:
  6. Nov 30, 2013 #5
    Obviously, Christ, should be the same as always except it's not a dot product anymore. Didn't feel like it was even part of my toolbox for some inexplicable reason.

    Should be able to figure out the rest now, thank you.
    Last edited: Nov 30, 2013
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