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litvis

@import "assets/litvis.less"

Exploring approximations of e

The constant e is defined by the series:

e = 1/0! + 1/1! + 1/2! + 1/3! + ...

To generate a list of these terms we could first create a function to generate a list of consecutive factorials:

eElm : Float
eElm =
    e


scanl : (a -> b -> b) -> b -> List a -> List b
scanl fn b =
    let
        scan a bs =
            case bs of
                hd :: tl ->
                    fn a hd :: bs

                _ ->
                    []
    in
    List.foldl scan [ b ] >> List.reverse
listLength : Int
listLength =
    -- Change this value to see the effect on the accuracy of the approximation.
    10


facList : List Int
facList =
    scanl (*) 1 (List.range 1 listLength)

Using that list we can now easily generate the series that tends towards e as the list grows:

eSeries : List Float
eSeries =
    let
        recips =
            List.map (\x -> 1 / toFloat x) facList
    in
    scanl (+) 0 recips

Replacing scanl with foldl generates the approximated value of e to a precision determined by listLength.

Compare the approximated value ^^^elm r=eApprox^^^ with Elm's constant e: ^^^elm r=eElm^^^.

eApprox : Float
eApprox =
    let
        recips =
            List.map (\x -> 1 / toFloat x) facList
    in
    List.foldl (+) 0 recips
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