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# Early Transcendentals

## Author(s): Steven H. Weintraub

Source: The American Mathematical Monthly, Vol. 104, No. 7 (Aug. - Sep., 1997), pp. 623-631
Published by: Mathematical Association of America
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Early Transcendentals
StevenH. Weintraub
Several current calculus texts have '4earlytranscendental"versions, in which the
exponential and logarithm functions are introduced early in the text. These
functions are usuallyjustified by various 4'hand-waving"
arguments.The point of
this article is to show how they may be introducedrigorously.
We proceed in two steps. We begin with the basic existence theorem (BET):
There is a differentiablefunction y = f(x),defined for x 2 0, satisfying

f(o)= 1, f'(X)=f(X)

(8)
derive that there is a unique function f(x),

## for all x 2 0. From the BET we

defined and differentiablefor all real x, that satisfies (e) for all real x. This
functionis of course the exponentialfunction.We then derivethe basic properties
of the exponentialfunction. These derivationsprovide a beautiful illustrationof
some of the basic elements of calculus:the greatest lower bound property,the
intermediatevalue theorem, the mean value theorem, and the chain rule.
We then prove the BET by using power series. At first glance this may seem to
delay the introduction of transcendentalfunctions even more than the usual
approach, as power series are introduced rather late in most calculus courses
(though,logicallyspeaking,it is not necessaryto do so). However,(e ) is carefully
chosen so that we may prove it with only a minimumof the theoryof power series
we need consider only series with all terms non-negative,and the only convergence criterionwe use is comparisonwith a geometric series. Thus this material
may be introducedseparately,near the beginningof the course, and returnedto
later, when power series are considered in detail. This approach has another
advantage.Introducingthe power series for the exponentialfunctionearlynot only
introducesthe exponentialfunction early, but also providesa method for actually
computingit.
1. THE BASICEXISTENCETlIEOREMAND ITS CONSEQUENCES

## Theorem1.1 . (The basicexistence

theorem= BET) Thereis a differentiablefi>nction
y = f (x), defined
forx 2 O,satisfiing

f(O) = 1,

f'(x) =f(x)

(8)

for allx 2 O.
For the remainderof this section we assumethe BET. We proveit in the next
section, as Corollary2.16.
Note that the BET does not tell us that there is such a functionf(x), muchless
a uniquesuch function, defined for all real x. Our first objectiveis to derive this
from the BET. Actually,we prove a slightlymore general result in Theorem 1.4.
Lemma1.2. If f(x) is a functionsatisfying
theBET, thenf(x) > Ofor allx 2 O.
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623

## Proof:Suppose there is an x 2 0 with f(x) < O. Then the set S =

{x 2 0 [ f(x) < O}is non-empty.Since S is bounded from below by 0, S has a
greatest lower bound xO2 O. Then7by the continuityof f, we have t(xo) < O.
Since f(O)= 1, we have xO> O. Then, 1 = f(O)> f(xo), so, by the mean value
theorem,there is an x1 with O < x1 < xO,and such that f'(x1) < O.Thus t(x1) =
t'(x1) < O,and so x1 E S. But x1 < xO,which contradictsxObeing a lower bound
0
of S. We concludethat f(x) > Ofor all x 2 O.
Lemma1.3. Thereis a functione(x) thatsatisfies( *) for allx E X, andfurthermore
hase(x) > Ofor allx E R.

## Proof:Let f(x) be a function satisfyingthe BET. Define e(x) by

e( x) = ( l /f ( -x)

x < O.

## This definitionis consistentfor x = Oas f(O)= 1 = 1/f(O).Note that, by Lemma

1.2, e(x) is defined and positive for all x E , and is alwayspositive. Clearlye(x)
is differentiablefor x > O. As a compositionof differentiablefunctions, e(x) is
differentiablefor x < O.Clearlye'(x) = e(x) for x > O.For x < Owe have, by the
chain rule,

d
d
(1/ft -x)) = ( -f '( -x)/f(
dgC
(e(x)) = d;,C
= f '( -x) /f ( _X)2

* (

-x)2)

f ( -x) /f ( _X)2

-1)

1/f ( -x) = ef x) .

For the same reasons, the derivativefrom the right at x= O exists and has the
value 1, and the derivativefrom the left at x = O exists and has value 1, so e'(O)
exists and has value 1. Thus e'(x) existsfor all x, e'(O)= 1, and e'(x) = e(x) for all
R
x, so e(x) satisfies(* ) for all x E IFR.

g
crandb. Thereexistsa uniquedifferenttablefi>nction
Theorem1.4. Ftxrealnumbers
satisfying
g(O) = b,
forallx

(t *)

g'(x) = seg(x)

R.

## Proof:Let e(x) be any function satisfyingLemma 1.3. Define g(x) by g(x)=

be(agx).Then g(O)= be(O)= b *1 = b and, by the chain rule,
g'(x) = bf e'( ax) *(x) = (x( be'(sxx)) = at( be((xx)) = atg(x)
so g(x) satisfies( * * ).
Now let g(x) be any functionsatisfying(* *). Let h(x) be the quotient
(Note the denominatoris neverzero.) Then h(O)= g(O)/e(O)=
h(x) = g(x)/ef z:xx).
by
the chain rule,
again
b/1 = b and,
h(x) = ef (xx)(aeg(x))-( ore(cxx))g(x)
ee(xx)
for all x, so h(x) is constant. Hence, h(x) = h(O)= b for all x E IFt,i.e., g(x) =
be(agx).Choosing b = 1 and or= 1 shows that g(x) = e(x) in this case, i.e., that
there is a unique functionsatisfyingthe conclusionof Lemma1.3. Letting b and oe
be arbitrarygivesTheorem 1.4 in general.
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d) e)
d)
It limx
For
follows
any
+0O
n,
immediately
exp(x)
limx=+OOexp(x)/xn
+ oo,
from
limx
c) _0O
that
= oo.
exp(x)
limx +OOexp(x)
= O.
= +oo. By the uniqueness

Now that we have uniquefunctions with our desired properties,we can give
them names.
Defilnition1.5. For a fixed real numberog,let expX(x)be the unique differentiable
functionsatisfying
exp (O) = 1,

## exp' ( x) = ogexpa( x) for all x

[FR.

We abbreviateexp1(x)by exp(x).
Corollary1.6. Foranyfiuced
realnumber(x,expX(x)= exp(ogx).

## Proof:exp(ogO)= 1 = expX(O),exp'(ogx)= ogexp(ogx),and exp' (x) - ogexp<>(x)

so, by the uniquenesspart of Theorem 1.4, expfogx)= expX(x)for all x

[FR.

## The next two theoremsgive the basic propertiesof the exponentialfunction.

Theorem1.7. Thefunctionexp(x) has thefollowing
properties:
a) exp(x)>O forallxR.
b) exp(x) is strictly
increasing.
c) exp(x) 2 1 + x for all x E [FR.

Proof:

## a) exp(x) = e(x) is positive for all x E [Ftby Lemma 1.3.

b) exp'(x) = exp(x) > O for all x so, by the mean value theorem, exp(x) is
strictlyincreasing.
c) If x = O then exp(x) = 1 + x. Suppose x > O. Then, by the mean value
theorem, exp(x) - exp(O)= exp'(c)(x - O) for some c with O < c < x. But
exp'(c) = exp(c) > exp(O)= 1, so exp(x) > exp(O)+ exp(c)x > 1 + x for
x > O. A similar application of the mean value theorem shows that
exp(x)> 1 +xforx<O.
of exp(x), and by Lemma 1.3, exp(x) = 1/exp(-x) so limx_OOexp(x)= O.
e) Let f(x) = exp(x)/xn + 1. Then f'(x) = (Xn + 1exp(x)-exp(x)nXn)/x2n
+2 =
(x-n)exp(x)/xn+2 > O for x > n. Hence f(x) > f(n) for x > n, i.e.,
exp(x)/xn +1 > exp(n)/nn+1 for x > n, so exp(x)/xn > x *exp(n)/nn+1 for
x > n, and so limx+OOexp(x)/xn= +oo.
O
Theorem 1.8. For any real number(x, and for any real numbersw and x,
expX(w+ x) = exp(w)exp(x).

## Proof:Fix ogand w and set h(x) = expX(x+ w)/exp<>(w).(Note the denominator

is non-zero.)Then h(O)= 1 and h'(O)= (xh(O).
ComparingDefinition 1.5, we see
that h(x) = expX(x),i.e.,
exp(x)=

expX(x + w)
exp(w)

Corollary1.9. Foranyinteger
n andallx E , expX(nx)= exp(x)n.
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625

exp:
Defilnition
exponential
[Ft (0, 1.12.
function
oo). Theexp:
natural
1R(0,
logarithm
oo) hasfunction
a continuous
ln: (0,co)
inverse.
1Ris the inverse of

Proof:

Inductionand Theorem1.8.

## Defilnition1.10. The real number e is defined by e = exp(1). (Note e = exp(1) >

exp(0)= 1.)
Theorem 1.8 and Corollary1.9 justifythe notation

ex = exptx)

( 1.11)
the usual laws of expo-

## 1 e-1 = 1/e em+n = em .en and emn = (em)n,

nents, for any rationalnumbersry and n.
The continuityof exp(x), and parts b) and d) of Corollary1.7, imply that the

## From Definition 1.2, Theorem 1.8 and Corollary1.9 (with a = 1) it is easy to

derive the usual properties for logarithms:for x, y > 0, ln(y) = ln(x) + ln(y),
ln(1/x) =-ln(x), ln(x4) = nln(x). More interestingare the followingproperties:
Proposition1.13
a) ln(1) = 0.
b) ln(x) is differentiable
for allx

## Proof:Part a) is immediatefrom 1 = exp(0).As for part b), recall a general result

about inverse functions: If f is a differentiable function with inverse g, and
f'(a) + O,then g is differentiableat f(a) and g'(f(a)) = 1/f'(a). We apply this
here with f = exp and g = ln. Then f'(a) = f(a) + 0 for any a. Set a = ln(x).
Then f(a) = x, so g'(x) = g'(f(a)) = 1/f'(a) = 1/f(a) = 1/x.
+
Remark1.14. It is commonto defineln(x) by
ln( x) = | 1/t dt.

( 1.15)

## If we define ln(x) by Definition 1.12, then (1.15) becomes a theoremthat is an

immediateapplicationof Proposition1.13 and the fundamentaltheorem of calculus.

## For any positive numbera, we can now define ax by

ax = expln(d2)(
x) = exp( xln( a) ) .

( 1.16)

## Again ax satisfies the usual laws of exponents (a = 1 a1 = a, am+n

(am)n= amn).Also, by Definition 1.5,

dX( aX)=

(expln(a)(
x) ) = ln( a)expln(a)(x) = aXlnta) .

amAn,

( 1.17)

## 2. PROOFOF TlIE BASICEXISTENCETlIEOREM. In this section we need to

use some basic facts about series. However, we always deal with series with
non-negativeterms, and that simplifiesthe proofs of these facts. For a series with
626

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## non-negativeterms has increasingpartial sums, and it is easy to show that an

increasing sequence that is bounded from above converges to its least upper
bound. Beyond this, all we need is that if Lbnand SCnare series of non-negative
terms that convergeto B and C respectively,then Lbn+ Cnconvergesto B + C,
and Stbnconvergesto tB for t 2 O.If, in addition, bn2 Cnfor all n, we need to
know that B 2 C, and also that S(bn-Cn)convergesto B-C.
We now considerseries of the form
co

anX,

R.

n =O

If, for some value of x, this series convergesto some value S, we say that the sum
of the series is S - S(x). In this way we define a function,and we write
(2.1)

anx .

S( x) - ,
n =O

## Defilnition2.2. S(x) has non-negativecoefficientsif

an

2 0 for all n 2 O.

x2

E(X)=1+X+

X3

X4

2! + 3! + 4! +nn

## We will be interestedonly in series with non-negativecoefficients,and the sums

of these series for values of x 2 0; in particular,we are most interested in the
series E(x), and its values for x 2 O.In this general situationthe partial sums of
S(x) alwaysform an increasingsequence.
Defilnition2.4. A series S(x) with non-negativecoefficientsis eventuallygeometrically dominatedfor x = xO if there is a real number C, a real number r with
< Crnfor all n 2 N.
O < r < 1, and an integer N such that anXon
Defilnition2.5. A series S(x) is called peaceful if
a) S(x) has non-negativecoefficients,and
b) S(x) is eventuallygeometricallydominatedfor every x 2 O.
Every series S(x) is eventually geometricallydominated for x= O (choose
C = O,r = O,and N= 1), so the conditionin Definition 2.5 b) is non-trivialonly
for x > O.
with an 2 0 for all n, and supposethat an
Lemma2.6. Let S(x) = Ln=oanXn
O.ThenS(x) is peaceful.
for n sufficientlylargeand that

>

limnOOan+1/an

Proof: Let x > Obe arbitrary.Choose N so that an > Oand an+l/an < 1/(x + 1)
O.Let r = x/(x + 1) < 1. For any
=
for n 2 N; this is possible as limn<>an+l/an
n 2 N we have
a

Xn =

eX

n )(x

n-l

) *X (x

=
{aNx
r
r
so S(x) is eventuallygeometricallydominated.

<

1997]

aNx

N+l )aNXN

)r,

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627

= anXn
n=O+ anx
.
n=O
-

E .

anXO
n=O < 8/2 + 8/2 = g.

Proof: For E(x),

an =

## Lemma2.8. Let S(x) =

everyx 2 O.

be a peacefulseries.Thenthisseriesconverges
for

Emn=O
anXn

## Proof: Fix x 2 0. Since the coefficients an are all non-negative,and x 2 0, each

term in the series is non-negative,and so the partial sums form an increasing
sequence. S(x) is eventuallygeometricallydominated,so pick C, r, and N as in
Definition 2.4. Then

oo

oo

N- 1

anx

anX

n=O

n=O

## Let us comparethis with the series

oo

N-1
x,

anX

n=N

anxn

Crn.

n=N

n=O

Considerthis second series. Its first summandis a finite summand;denote its sum
by S1. Its second summand is a geometric series with sum CrN/(l
- r); in
particular,this sum is an upper bound of the partialsums. Each term in the first
series is less than or equal to the correspondingterm in the second series, so the
partial sums of the first series are bounded from above by Sl + CrN/(l
- r).
Thus, this series converges.
2
Lemma2.9. Let S(x) bepeaceful. ThenS(x) is an increasingfunction
on [O,oo).
Proof:IfX2>XlS
co

S(x2) - S(xl) = ,

co

anx2 - ,

co

anxl =

an(X2 -X1 ) 2 0,

## i.e., S(x2) 2 S(x1).

Lemma2.10. Let S(x) bepeaceful.ThenS(x) is continuousfor all x 2 0.
Proof: We have to show that for every xO2 0, and for everye > 0, there exists a 8
such that lS(x) - S(xo)l < e whenever lx - xol < 8 and x 2 0. Let x1 = xO+ 1.
Then S(x1) exists,and is the limit of its partialsums,so there is an N such that for
any x ax1,

O<

cc
e anX<

n =N+ 1

Cc

E
n =N+ 1

anXl= S(xl) -

E
n =0

anXl<

s/2.

## Now f(x) = EnN=OanXn is a polynomial,and hence a continuousfunction,so there

exists a 61 > 0 with 0 < f (x) - f (xo) < s/2 for xO< x < x + 61. Thus, if we let
b+= min(1,61), then for xO< x < xO+ b+,
co

O <

S(x)

S(xo)

co

anX

n=O

oo

<

x,

anx

n =O

cc

n=N+l

628

anxO

n=O
N
-

x,

oo

N
anxo

n =0

anX

n =0

n =N+ 1

n=O

n=O

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N
anx

anXO

n =0

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2x

3x2

4X3

## A similar(in fact, easier) argumentfor x < xO(taking x1 = xOthere) shows there

is a b_ with -e < S(x)-S(xO) < O for xO- 6 < x < xO; setting 6 =
min(8+, b_) we see that lS(x) - S(xo)l < e for lx - xol < 6, x 2 O,as required.
.

## Definition 2.11. For a given series S(x) = En=OanXn,

let (x) =
En=0(n
+ l)an+lXn
be the series obtainedby differentiatingS(x) term-by-term.
Example2.12. For the series E(x), we have
E(x) = 1 +-+-+-+
x2

=1+x+
Lemma2.13. Let S(x)

*n
X3

2! + 3! +n

=E(x).

= En=O
anXn
bepeaceful.ThenS(x) is alsopeaceful.

## Proof: Write S(x) = En=obnxnS

so bn= (n + l)an+l 2 0 for all n. Pick an x > O.
Then, since S(x) is peaceful,there are a real numberB, an integerM, and a q < 1
with anXn
< Bqnfor all n 2 M. Choose N 2 max(M,q/(1 - q)). A little algebra
shows that if N 2 q/(1-q), r-q(N + 1)/N < 1. Then, for n 2 N,
bnxn= (n

+ l)an+lXn
< (n + l)Bqn+l/x.

But for n 2 N,
(

) ( n-1

) ( n-2

and, since
n+ 1
n

n
n-1

<

<

*<

<

N+ 1
N '

we have
n+1<

{N+
, N

lAn-N+l

l N J t N J

SO

{/N+
bnxn< ttl N

lil-N

\
aN+
NBq/xJq l N

lin
J

## where C is the expression in braces. Thus, S(x) is eventually geometrically

dominatedfor x.
J
Corollaxy2.14. If S(x) is peaceful, then S(x) is continuousfor all x 2 O.
Proof: If S(x) is peaceful, then S(x) is peaceful by Lemma2.13, and then S(x) is
continuousby Lemma2.8.
a
Theorem 2.15. If S(x) is peaceful, then S(x) is differentiable
for all x 2 O, and
S'(x)

1997]

= S(x).

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629

Proof: We have to show that for everyxO2 0 and everye > 0, there exists a 8 > O
such that
S(x)-S(x0)

S(xO)

<

x-xO

## whenever 0 < Ix - xol < 8 and x 2 0. Since S(x) is continuousat xO,there is a

8 > 0 so that IS(x) - S(xO)l< e whenever Ix - xol < 8 and x 2 0. Now
S(x)X-XO S(xO)

{ n=O
, a

X -Xo
1

n=O

anXO

co

co

x,

xn

an(xn

-Xo

xn+l

x,

Xo n=l

an+l

Xo+

-x

n=O

## W h e the identity xn+1 -xo+1 = (x-xO)(xn +xn-1xO +xn-2xO2+ ... +xO),

so (xn+1-xO+1)/(x-xO) = xn + *n +xO. (There are n + 1 terms.)
Suppose that xO< x. Then we see that, setting Yn= (xn+l- xo+l)/(x - Xo)
(n + 1)Xo < Yn< (n + 1)x,
and so
co

co

(n

co

< E

l)an+lXO

n=O

an+l

Yn

<

n=O

,
n=O

(n

+ 1)an+lxn,

.e.,
(

<

S(x)

S(

<

S(x)S

and so
S(x)-S(x0)

S(xO)

<

S(x)-S(xo)

<

x-xO
(where
x

the

last

inequality

is

true

by

our

choice

of

b).

similar

argument

< xO .

holds

if
0

## We now arriveat our desired conclusion:

Corollary2.16. Let E(x) = 1 + x + (x2/2!) + (x3/3!) + *0 . ThenE(O)= 1 and
E'(x) = E(x) for all x 2 0, i.e., E(x) is a function satisting the basic existence
theorem(BET).
Proof: We see E(O)= 1 by direct substitution.By Theorem2.15, E(x) is differentiable for all x 2 0 and E'(x) = E(x) = E(x).
2
Remark2.17. CombiningDefinition 1.5 and Corollary2.16, we see that
exp(x)=l+x+

x2

X3

2! + 3! +X

forx20

## and exp(x) = 1/exp(-x) for x < 0. This gives us a method of calculatingexp(x).

For example,takingthe sum of the first twelve terms of this series for x = 1 gives
the approximation2.71828182for e.
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## Remark2.18. We may generalizethe results of this section as follows:Let A > 0

and say S(x) is A-peacefulif it satisfies Definition 2.5 a) and Definition 2.5 b)
for 0 < x < A. Then the results of this section all hold for A-peaceful series
with the restriction that 0 < x < A in their conclusions. In Lemma 2.6, the
hypothesis becomes that an 2 0 for all n, a,, > O for n sufficiently large, and
limn 3,an+l/an = 1/A, and the conclusionbecomes that S(x) is A-peaceful.The
proofs are almost the same.
In particularconsiderthe series
XS

X3

L(x) =x + 2 + 3 + *2X.
It is easy to check that L(x) is 1-peaceful.Then L(x) = l + X + X2 + X3 + ***,
and we recognizethis as a geometricseries with sum 1/(1 - x) for 0 < x < 1, i.e.,
L(x) = 1/(1 - x) for 0 < x < 1. Thus we see that L'(x) = L(x) = l/(1 - x) fo1*
0 < x < 1. On the other hand, if f(x) = -ln(1 - x), then, by Proposition1.13 and
the chain rule, f'(x) = 1/(1 - x) for 0 < x < 1. We have two functionswith the
same derivative,so they must differ by a constant (a consequence of the mean
value theorem). But L(0) = 0 = f(0), so we conclude Lf x) = f ( x) = -ln( 1 - x)
for 0 < x < 1.
This gives us a method of computing natural logarithms:For 0 < y < 1, set
x= 1 -y (so y= 1 -x) and then ln(y)= -L(x)= -L(1 -y). We know
ln(1) = 0. For y > 1, set x = (y - 1)/y (so 1 - x = 1/y) and then ln(y) =
-ln(l/y) = L(x) = L((y-1)/y).
Departmentof lkvltathematics
LouisianaState University
BatonRouge,LA 70803-4918
weintr@math.lsu.edu

## In consideringthe epsilon-basedconceptsof limits, continuity,and

convergexlce,it shouldbe remarkedthat the Greek letter e used by
modern mathematicians a notation that Cauchy originated and
applied in several of his proofs probablycomes from the correspondence betweexl 'epszlon' and the initial letter of the French
wordetreur.In laterworkon probabilitytheoIy,Cauchyin fact used
the letter cpsilon to stand for error. The epsilon in a modernproof
may be regardedas an inheritancefrom the dayswhen inequalities
belonged in approxlmations.The epsilon notation is a reminder
that, paradoxically,the developmentof approximationsand estimates of errorbroughtforth manyof the techniquesnecessaryfor
the first exact and rigorous proofs about the concepts of the
calculus.Eighteenth-centutymathematicianswere nevermore exact
than when they were being approximate.
JudithV. Grabiner,7whe
Originsof Cauchy's?igoroasCalculas,
The MITPress,Cambridge,1981,p. 76.
Contributedby JohnP. RoberSon,Anistics/AorlWorldwideResources7NY

1997]

EARLY TRANSCENDENTALS

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