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NGUYEN

NEWTON’S BINOMIAL FORMULA

Khoa Anh Vo - Hoai Thanh Nguyen

February 3, 2012

Khoa Anh Vo - Hoai Thanh Nguyen

Vietnam National University

Ho Chi Minh City (HCMC) University of Science

Faculty of Mathematics and Computer Science

227 Nguyen Van Cu Street, District 5, Ho Chi Minh City

Vietnam

2

PREFACE

This book is intended as our ﬁrst English thematic for students who study in high school

or people who want to research into the history of mathematics. In detail, this talks about

the journey of John Wallis (1616 - 1703) from the Alhazen’s formulas (965 - 1040), and

the continuation of Issac Newton’s idea (1643 - 1727). Then we give some mathematical

problems in the educational programs. Therefore, we desire to provide more knownledges

for the positive vision that pure mathemtics bring it.

This book is also a gift which we award to our forum MathScope.Org on New Year 2012

- the Year of Dragon. So we and collaborators send all nice greetings to the readers.

Acknowledgement. We (i.e. Khoa Anh Vo - Hoai Thanh Nguyen) thank the collaborators

for all their helps. These include :

Name High School/ University

Thien Huu Vo Truong HCMC University of Science

Truong Nhat Thanh Mai HCMC University of Science

Quang Dang Nguyen HCMC University of Science

Minh Nhat Vu To HCMC International University

Phong Tran HCMC University of Pedagogy

Tuan Thanh Nguyen HCMC University of Economics and Law

Trang Hien Nguyen Phan Boi Chau High School for The Gifted

Huyen Thanh Thi Nguyen Luong The Vinh High School for The Gifted

Especially, that is the approval of Dr. David Dennis (4249 Cedar Drive, San Bernardino,

USA) for our translation of his documents. Furthermore, this makes “Newton’s Binomial

Formula” strange - looking.

The readers can ﬁnd and download “Newton’s Binomial Formula” at :

http://www.forum.mathscope.org/

or

http://anhkhoavo1210.wordpress.com/

3

Contents

PREFACE 3

WHAT IS THE NEWTON’S BINOMIAL FORMULA? 5

1 THE INTRODUCTION 6

1.1 A FORMULA . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 6

1.2 THREE PROOFS . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 7

1.2.1 INDUCTION PROOF . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 7

1.2.2 COMBINATORIAL PROOF . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 9

1.2.3 DERIVATION USING CALCULUS . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 10

2 THE SENSITIVITY 12

2.1 JOHN WALLIS (1616 - 1703) . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 12

2.2 ISAAC NEWTON (1643 - 1727) . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 13

2.3 A JOURNEY OF JOHN WALLIS . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 14

2.4 THE CONTINUATION OF ISSAC NEWTON’S IDEA . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 25

4

WHAT IS THE NEWTON’S BINOMIAL

FORMULA?

5

1 THE INTRODUCTION

1.1 A FORMULA

As a result, Newton’s Binomial Formula was proved by two scientists : Isaac Newton (1643

- 1727) and James Gregory (1638-1675). This is really a formula which uses for expansion

of a binomial n power(s) that is become a polynomial n + 1 terms.

(x + a)

n

=

n

k=0

C

k

n

a

n−k

x

k

In order to make sense of the theorem we need to agree on some conventions. First, we

deﬁne the binomial coefﬁcients

C

k

n

=

_

n

k

_

=

n!

(n −k)!k!

using the convention that 0! = 1 to cover the cases where either n, n −k or k is 0.

We will also stipulate that x

0

= 1 and a

0

= 1. These are questionable if x = 0 or a = 0, so

those should be dealt with as separate cases. Interpretation of the formula in those cases

gives either a

n

= a

n

or x

n

= x

n

. If all of n = 0, x = 0, and a = 0 then we get the result

0

0

= 0

0

, which is not particularly meaningful, but as long as we agree on what we mean

by 0

0

we are forced to accept the result.

In the generality case, a formula said that : Let r be a real number and z be a complex

number with magnitude modulus of z less than 1, we have

(1 + z)

r

=

∞

k=0

_

r

k

_

z

k

Remark. A general formula for m (a

i

)’s term(s)

_

m

i=1

a

i

_

n

=

n!

n

1

!n

2

!...n

m

!

a

n

1

1

a

n

2

2

...a

n

m

m

where n

1

+ n

2

+ ... + n

m

= n.

6

1 THE INTRODUCTION

1.2 THREE PROOFS

The binomial formula can be thought of as a solution for the problem of ﬁnding an ex-

pression for (x + a)

n

from one for (x + a)

n−1

or as a way to ﬁnd the coefﬁcients of (x + a)

n

directly. In this section, we have three mathematical proofs which are taken from a small

topic Aesthetic Analysis of Proofs of the Binomial Theorem of Lawrence Neff Stout,

Department of Mathematics and Computer Science, Illinois Wesleyan University.

1.2.1 INDUCTION PROOF

Many textbooks in algebra give the binomial formula as an exercise in the use of mathe-

matical induction. The key calculation is in the following lemma, which forms the basis

for Pascal’s triangle.

According to Pascal’s triangle, we can order the binomial coefﬁcients corresponding to n

power(s).

n = 0 1

n = 1 1 1

n = 2 1 2 1

n = 3 1 3 3 1

n = 4 1 4 6 4 1

n = 5 1 5 10 10 5 1

It’s easy to observe that the pattern (4 + 6 = 10) is exactly a case of Pascal’s lemma.

C

k

m

+ C

k−1

m

= C

k

m+1

or

_

m

k

_

+

_

m

k −1

_

=

_

m + 1

k

_

Of course, this lemma can be prove clearly. And the readers can prove it themself.

Lemma. For all 1 ≤ k ≤ m. Prove that

_

m

k

_

+

_

m

k −1

_

=

_

m + 1

k

_

Proof. This is a direct calculation in which we add fractions and simplify.

7

1 THE INTRODUCTION

_

m

k

_

+

_

m

k −1

_

=

m!

(m−k)!k!

+

m!

(m−k + 1)!(k −1)!

=

m!(m−k + 1)!(k −1)! + m!(m−k)!k!

(m−k)!k!(m−k + 1)!(k −1)!

=

m!(k −1)!(m−k)! [k + (m−k + 1)]

(m−k)!k!(m−k + 1)!(k −1)!

=

m! [k + (m−k + 1)]

k!(m−k + 1)!

=

m!(m + 1)

k!(m−k + 1)!

=

(m + 1)!

k!(m−k + 1)!

=

_

m + 1

k

_

We proceed by mathematical induction.

Proof. For the case n = 0, the formula says

(x + a)

0

=

_

0

0

_

x

0

a

0

= 1

Now (x + a)

0

= 1 and

0

k=0

_

0

k

_

a

0−k

x

k

=

_

0

0

_

a

0

x

0

= 1

Here we are using the conventions that

_

0

0

_

= 1

and that any number to the 0 power is 1. Given the artiﬁciality of these assumptions,

we may be happier if the base case for n = 1 is also given.

For the case n = 1 the formula says

(x + a)

1

=

1

k=0

_

1

k

_

a

1−k

x

k

=

_

1

0

_

a

1

x

0

+

_

1

1

_

a

0

x

1

This is equivalent to

x + a =

1!

1!0!

a +

1!

0!1!

x = a + x

which is true. Thus we have the base cases for our induction. For the induction step we

assume that

8

1 THE INTRODUCTION

(x + a)

m

=

m

k=0

_

m

k

_

a

m−k

x

k

and show that the formula is true when n = m + 1.

(x + a)

m+1

= (x + a)

m

(x + a)

=

_

m

k=0

_

m

k

_

a

m−k

x

k

_

(x + a)

=

m

k=0

_

m

k

_

a

m−k

x

k+1

+

m

k=0

_

m

k

_

a

m−k+1

x

k

=

_

m

0

_

a

m+1

x

0

+

m

k=1

__

m

k

_

+

_

m

k −1

__

a

m−k+1

x

k

+

_

m + 1

m + 1

_

a

0

x

m+1

Completing the proof by induction.

1.2.2 COMBINATORIAL PROOF

The combinatorial proof of the binomial formula originates in Jacob Bernoulli’s Ars Con-

jectandi published posthumously in 1713. It appears in many discrete mathematics texts.

Proof. We start by giving meaning to the binomial coefﬁcient

_

n

k

_

=

n!

(n −k)!k!

as counting the number of unordered k−subsets of an n element set. This is done by

ﬁrst counting the ordered k−element strings with no repetitions : for the ﬁrst element we

have n choices; for the second, n − 1; until we get to the k

th

which has n − k + 1 choices.

Since these choices are made in succession, we multiply to get

n(n −1)...(n −k + 1) =

n!

(n −k)!

such ordered k−tuples without repetition. Next we observe that the process of multi-

plying out (x + a)

n

involves adding up 2

n

terms each obtained by making a choice for each

factor too use either the x or the a. The choices which result in k x’s and n−k a’s each give

a term of the form a

n−k

x

k

. There are

_

n

k

_

distinct ways to choose the k element subset

of factors from which to take the x. Thus the coefﬁcient of a

n−k

x

k

is

_

n

k

_

. This tells us

that

(x + a)

n

=

n

k=0

C

k

n

x

n−k

a

k

9

1 THE INTRODUCTION

1.2.3 DERIVATION USING CALCULUS

Newton’s generalization of the binomial formula gives rise to an inﬁnite series. If we

restrict to natural number exponents, the convergence considerations are not necessary

and a proof based on the differentiation of polynomials becomes possible.

Proof. We ﬁrst note that since (x + a) is a polynomial of degree 1, (x + a)

n

will be a poly-

nomial of degree n and will thus be determined once we know what the coefﬁcients of each

of the n + 1 possible powers of x are. For concreteness let us write

(x + a)

n

= p(x) =

n

k=0

b

k

x

k

and show how to determine the coefﬁcients b

k

.

Using the power rule and the chain rule for differentiation, we have

d

dx

(x + a)

n

= n(x + a)

n−1

so that

(x + a)p

(x) = np(x)

with initial condition

p(0) = (0 + a)

n

= a

n

Then we determine what the coefﬁcients b

k

must be to satisfy this equation. The initial

condition p(0) = a

n

tells us that b

0

= a

n

. We can relate later coefﬁcients to earlier ones

using the differentiatl equation :

p

(x) =

n

k=1

kb

k

x

k−1

so

(x + a)p

(x) =

n

k=1

kb

k

x

k

+

n

k=1

akb

k

x

k−1

= ab

1

+

n−1

k=1

[kb

k

+ a(k + 1)b

k+1

] x

k

+ nb

n

x

n

=

n−1

k=0

nb

k

x

k

Since polynomials are equal when their coefﬁcients are equal, this tell us that

10

1 THE INTRODUCTION

ab

1

= nb

0

(1b

1

) + (a2b

2

) = nb

1

.

.

.

.

.

.

(kb

k

) + [a(k + 1)b

k+1

] = nb

k

nb

n

= nb

n

Thus for k = 1, n −1, we get

b

k+1

=

n −k

(k + 1)a

b

k

Moreover, using the face that b

0

= a

n

this gives us

b

0

= a

n

b

1

= na

n−1

b

2

=

n(n −1)

2

a

n−2

=

_

n

2

_

a

n−2

b

3

=

n(n −1)(n −2)

3.2

a

n−3

=

_

n

3

_

a

n−3

.

.

.

.

.

.

b

k

=

n(n −1)...(n −k + 1)

k!

a

n−k

=

_

n

k

_

a

n−k

which proves the formula.

11

2 THE SENSITIVITY

In this chapter, we will take from some knowledges which Dr. David Dennis’ documents

collect. But if the readers have no time and want to study the mathematical problems, you

can see Part II.

2.1 JOHN WALLIS (1616 - 1703)

“It was always my affection, even from a child, not only to learn by rote, but to know the

grounds or reasons of what I learnt; to inform my judgement as well as to furnish my

memory.”

John Wallis was an English mathematician who is given partial credit for the develop-

ment of inﬁnitesimal calculus and was credited with introducing the symbol ∞for inﬁnity.

He was born in 1616, Kent, England, the third of ﬁve children of Reverend John Wallis

and Joanna Chapman. He was initially educated at a local Ashford school, but moved to

James Movat’s school in Tenterden in 1625 following an outbreak of plague. Wallis was

ﬁrst exposed to mathematics in 1631, at Martin Holbeach’s school in Felsted; he enjoyed

it but his study was erratic. In 1632, after decision to be a doctor, Wallis was sent in

1632 to Emmanuel College, Cambridge. While there, he kept an act on the doctrine of the

circulation of the blood; that was said to have been the ﬁrst occasion in Europe on which

this theory was publicly maintained in a disputation. He received a Master’s degree in

1640, afterwards entering the priesthood. Wallis was elected to a fellowship at Queens’

College, Cambridge in 1644, which he however had to resign following his marriage.

Wallis made signiﬁcant contributions to trigonometry, calculus, geometry, and the anal-

ysis of inﬁnite series. Especially, Arithfumetica Inﬁnitorum was the most important of

12

2 THE SENSITIVITY

his works. In this book, the analytic methods of Descartes and Cavalien was extended. In

addition, he also published Algebra, Opera...

2.2 ISAAC NEWTON (1643 - 1727)

“If you ask a good skating how to be successful, he will say to you that fall, get up is a

success.”

Isaac Newton was an English physicist, mathematician, astronomer, natural philoso-

pher, alchemist, and theologian.

He was born in 1643, Lincolnshire, England. The fatherless infant was small enough

at birth. When he was barely three years old Newton’s mother, Hanna, placed her ﬁrst

born with his grandmother in order to remarry and raise a second family with Barnabas

Smith, a wealthy rector from nearby North Witham. Much has been made of Newton’s

posthumous birth, his prolonged separation from his mother, and his unrivaled hatred

of his stepfather. Until Hanna returned to Woolsthorpe in 1653 after the death of her

second husband, Newton was denied his mother’s attention, a possible clue to his complex

character. Newton’s childhood was anything but happy, and throughout his life he verged

on emotional collapse, occasionally falling into violent and vindictive attacks against friend

and foe alike.

In 1665 Newton took his bachelor’s degree at Cambridge without honors or distinction.

Since the university was closed for the next two years because of plague, Newton returned

to Woolsthorpe in midyear. For in those days I was in my prime of age for invention, and

minded mathematics and philosophy more than at any time since. Especially in 1666, he

observed the fall of an apple in his garden at Woolsthorpe, later recalling, ’In the same year

I began to think of gravity extending to the orb of the Moon’. In mathematics, Newton later

became involved in a dispute with Leibniz over priority in the development of inﬁnitesimal

calculus. Most modern historians believe that Newton and Leibniz developed inﬁnitesimal

calculus independently, although with very different notations. Moreover, he found the

generality formula of binomial and give the deﬁnition of light theory.

He published Philosophiae Naturalis Principia Mathematica in 1687 which was

the important book all over the world. In addition, he wrote Opticks.

13

2 THE SENSITIVITY

2.3 A JOURNEY OF JOHN WALLIS

Beginning of Alhazen’s Summation Formulas, Ahazen (965 - 1040) - the Iraqi mathemati-

cian who stated some formulas which affected the later results of Wallis. Ahazen derived

his formulas by laying out a sequence of rectangles whose areas represent the terms of the

sum.

• Look at a rectangle whose length is n+1 and width is n, we divide this rectangle into

several rectangles (see Figure 1). Thus its area must equals to

n(n + 1) =

n

i=1

i +

n

i=1

i

= 2 (1 + 2 + 3 + ... + n)

Hence,

1 + 2 + 3 + ... + n =

1

2

n(n + 1)

Figure 1

• Consider a rectangle whose length is

n

i=1

i and width is n + 1, we also divide this

rectangle into several rectangles (see Figure 2). Apply the above formula (i.e.

n

i=1

i =

1

2

n(n + 1) =

1

2

n

2

+

1

2

n), its area must equals to

14

2 THE SENSITIVITY

_

n

i=1

i

_

(n + 1) =

n

i=1

i

2

+

n

i=1

i

k=1

k

_

1

2

n

2

+

1

2

n

_

(n + 1) =

n

i=1

i

2

+

n

i=1

_

1

2

i

2

+

1

2

i

_

1

2

n

3

+ n

2

+

1

2

n =

n

i=1

i

2

+

1

2

n

i=1

i

2

+

1

2

_

1

2

n

2

+

1

2

n

_

1

2

n

3

+

3

4

n

2

+

1

4

n =

3

2

n

i=1

i

2

Hence,

1

2

+ 2

2

+ 3

2

+ ... + n

2

=

1

3

n

3

+

1

2

n

2

+

1

6

n

Figure 2

• Using this similar method, we can ﬁnd out the sum of the cubes or the fourth powers

or more if we want. Thus we continue to view a rectangle whose length is

n

i=1

i

2

and

width is n + 1, we also divide this rectangle into several rectangles (see Figure 3).

Apply the above formulas (i.e.

n

i=1

i =

1

2

n(n + 1) =

1

2

n

2

+

1

2

n and

n

i=1

i

2

=

1

3

n

3

+

1

2

n

2

+

1

6

n), its area must equals to

15

2 THE SENSITIVITY

_

n

i=1

i

2

_

(n + 1) =

n

i=1

i

3

+

n

i=1

i

k=1

k

2

_

1

3

n

3

+

1

2

n

2

+

1

6

n

_

(n + 1) =

n

i=1

i

3

+

n

i=1

_

1

3

i

3

+

1

2

i

2

+

1

6

i

_

1

3

n

4

+

5

6

n

3

+

2

3

n

2

+

1

6

n =

n

i=1

i

3

+

1

3

n

i=1

i

3

+

1

2

_

1

3

n

3

+

1

2

n

2

+

1

6

n

_

+

1

6

_

1

2

n

2

+

1

2

n

_

1

3

n

4

+

2

3

n

3

+

1

3

n

2

=

4

3

n

i=1

i

3

Hence,

1

3

+ 2

3

+ 3

3

+ ... + n

3

=

1

4

n

4

+

1

2

n

3

+

1

4

n

2

Figure 3

At that time, the deﬁnition of fractional exponents is not correct, people still have a

question for its existence. For example, the concept of this is suggested in various ways in

the works of Oresme (14

th

century), Girard and Stevin (16

th

century).

The Geometry, ﬁrst published in 1638, of René Descartes was the ﬁrst published treatise

to use positive integer exponents written as superscripts. He sawexponents as an index for

repeated multiplication. That is to say he wrote x

3

in place of xxx. Wallis adopted this use

of an index and tried to extend it, and tested its validity across multiple representations.

Wallis took from Fermat the idea of using an equation to generate a curve, which was in

contrast to Descartes’ work which always began with a geometrical construction. Descartes

always constructed a curve geometrically ﬁrst, and then analyzed it by ﬁnding its equa-

tion. Wallis mixed these ideas, so he deﬁned what is the fractional exponents and proved

its existence successful.

And the Arithmetica Inﬁnitorum contains a detailed investigation of the behavior

of sequences and ratios of sequences from which a variety of geometric results are then

concluded. We shall look at one of the most important examples. Consider the ratio of the

sum of a sequence of a ﬁxed power to a series of constant terms all equal to the highest

value appearing in the sum. Wallis researched into ratios of the form :

A =

0

k

+ 1

k

+ 2

k

+ ... + n

k

n

k

+ n

k

+ n

k

+ ... + n

k

16

2 THE SENSITIVITY

For each ﬁxed integer value of k, Wallis investigated the behavior of these ratios as n

increases. When k = 1, he calculates :

0 + 1 + 2

2 + 2 + 2

=

1

2

0 + 1 + 2 + 3

3 + 3 + 3 + 3

=

1

2

0 + 1 + 2 + 3 + 4

4 + 4 + 4 + 4 + 4

=

1

2

... = ...

This can be seen from the well known Alhazen’s fomulas. We have

A =

n

i=1

i

n(n + 1)

=

n(n + 1)

2

n(n + 1)

=

1

2

Then Wallis called

1

2

the characteristic ratio of the index k = 1.

When k = 2, Wallis continued to compute the following ratios :

0

2

+ 1

2

1

2

+ 1

2

=

1

3

+

1

6

0

2

+ 1

2

+ 2

2

2

2

+ 2

2

+ 2

2

=

1

3

+

1

12

0

2

+ 1

2

+ 2

2

+ 3

2

3

2

+ 3

2

+ 3

2

+ 3

2

=

1

3

+

1

18

0

2

+ 1

2

+ 2

2

+ 3

2

+ 4

2

4

2

+ 4

2

+ 4

2

+ 4

2

+ 4

2

=

1

3

+

1

24

0

2

+ 1

2

+ 2

2

+ 3

2

+ 4

2

+ 5

2

5

2

+ 5

2

+ 5

2

+ 5

2

+ 5

2

+ 5

2

=

1

3

+

1

30

... = ...

Wallis claimed that the right hand side is always equals

1

3

+

1

6n

and this can be checked

by Alhazen’s fomulas.

A =

n

i=1

i

2

n

2

(n + 1)

=

1

6

n(n + 1) (2n + 1)

n

2

(n + 1)

=

1

3

+

1

6n

As n increases this ratio approaches

1

3

(we can see lim

n→∞

_

1

3

+

1

6n

_

=

1

3

now), so Wallis

then deﬁned the characteristic ratio of the index k = 2 as equal to

1

3

. In a similar way,

Wallos computed the characteristic ratio of k = 3 as

1

4

, and k = 4 as

1

5

and so forth.

Thus he made the general claim that the characteristic ratio of the index k is

1

k + 1

for all

positive integers.

17

2 THE SENSITIVITY

Next, Wallis show that these characteristic ratios yielded most of the familiar ratios

of area and volume known from geometry. It means he showed that his arithmetic was

consistent with the accepted truths of geometry.

He assumed that an area is a sum of an inﬁnite number of parallel line segments, and

that a volume is a sum of an inﬁnite number of parallel areas, his basis assumptions were

taken from Cavalieri’s Geometria Indivisibilibus Continuorum which was published

in 1635. Wallis ﬁrst considered the area under the curve y = x

k

(see Figure 4). He wanted

to compute the ratio of the shaded area to the area of the rectangle which encloses it.

Figure 4

Wallis claimed that this geometric problem is an example of the characteristic ratio of

the sequence with index k. In speciﬁc, the terms in the numerator are the lengths of the

line segments that make up the shaded area while the terms in the denominator are the

lengths of the line segments that make up the rectangle (hence constant). He imagined

the increment or scale as very small while the number of the terms is very large.

And then this characteristic ratio of

1

3

holds for all parabolas, not just y = x

2

. In detail,

we can use Riemann’s integral for proving that results.

Consider a set [0; 1] and a curve y = 5x

2

, we have an area under this curve (S

1

) which is

calculated :

S

1

=

ˆ

1

0

5x

2

dx = 5

_

x

3

3

_

1

0

=

5

3

An area of a rectangle which encloses this curve (S

2

) equals 5, so that we have

S

1

=

1

3

S

2

This example means that characteristic ratio depends only on the exponent and not on

the coefﬁcient, or we can say that characteristic ratio is not linear.

18

2 THE SENSITIVITY

Figure 5

In addition, that above ratio also shows that the volume of a pyramid is

1

3

of the box that

surrounds it (see Figure 5). Hence Wallis saw this as another example of his computation

of the characteristic ratio for the index k = 2.

These geometric results were not knew. Fermat, Roberval, Cavalieri and Pascal had all

previously made this claim that when k is a positive integer; the area under the curve

y = x

k

had a ratio of

1

k + 1

to the rectangle that encloses it. However, Wallis went on to

assert that if we deﬁne the index of

√

x as

1

2

, the claim remains true. Since the area under

the curve y =

√

x is the complement of the area under y = x

2

(i.e. the unshaded area

in Figure 4), it must have a characteristic ratio of

2

3

=

1

1

2

+ 1

. The same can be seen for

y =

3

√

x, whose characteristic ratio must be

3

4

=

1

1

3

+ 1

...

It was this coordination of two separate representations that gave Wallis the conﬁdence

to claim that the appropriate index of y =

q

√

x

p

must be

p

q

, and that its characteristic ratio

must be

1

p

q

+ 1

. Wallis continued to assert that this claim remained true even when the

index is irrational because he gave

√

3 as an example. But in many cases, Wallis had no

way to directly verify the characteristic ratio of an index, for example : y =

3

√

x

2

.

How can we determine the characteristic ratio of the circle? This is the question that

motivated Wallis to study a particular family of curves from which he could interpolate

the value for circle. He wrote the equation of the circle of radius r, as y =

√

r

2

−x

2

, and

considered it in the ﬁrst quadrant. He wanted to determine the ratio of its area to the r by

square that contains it.

Of course Wallis knew that this ratio is

π

4

, from various geometric constructions going

back to Archimedes, but he wanted to test his theory of index, characteristic ratio and

interpolation by arriving at this result in a new way. Therefore, he considered the family

of curves deﬁned by the equations y = (

q

√

r −

q

√

x)

p

. Its graphs is showed in the unit square

(r = 1) (see Figure 6).

19

2 THE SENSITIVITY

Figure 6

If p and q are both integers, he knew that by expanding the binomial (

q

√

r −

q

√

x)

p

to the

p

th

power and using his rule for characteristic ratios he could determine the ratio for these

curves. For example, when p = q = 2, then : y = (

√

r −

√

x)

2

= r −2

√

r

√

x +x, and so must

have a characteristic ratio of 1 −2.

2

3

+

1

2

=

1

6

.

Figure 7

Next, Wallis, Pascal and others made a table of these ratios after computing it when p

and q are integers. This table records the ratio of the rectangle to the shaded area for each

of the curves y = (

q

√

r −

q

√

x)

p

. (see Table 1)

20

2 THE SENSITIVITY

Table 1

At this point, Wallis temporarily abandoned both the geometric and algebraic represen-

tations and began to work solely in the table representation. The question then became,

how does one interpolate the missing values in this table? Firstly, he worked on the rows

with integer values of q. We can summarize his works :

• When q = 0, we see the constant value of 1.

• When q = 1, we see an arithmetic progression whose common difference is

1

2

.

• In the row q = 2, we have the triangular numbers which are the sums of the integers

in the row q = 1. Thus we can use the formula for the sum of consecutive integers,

s

2

+ s

2

, where s = p + 1. Putting the intermediate values into this formula allows us

to complete the row q = 2. For example, letting s =

3

2

in this formula yields

15

8

, which

becomes the entry where p =

1

2

.

• The numbers in the row q = 3 are the pyramidal numbers each of which is the sum

of integers in the row q = 2. Hence the appropriate formula is found by summing the

formula from the row q = 2. Applying Alhazen’s formulas and then collecting terms,

we gain

1

2

s

i=1

i

2

+ i =

s

3

+ 3s

2

+ 2s

6

, where s = p + 1. For example, letting s =

3

2

, the

formula yields

105

48

, which becomes the table entry where p =

1

2

.

• In a similar fashion, we sum the previous cubic formula to obtain a formula for

the row q = 4. Using the Alhazen’s formulas and then collecting terms, we get

s

4

+ 6s

3

+ 11s

2

+ 6s

24

, where s = p + 1.

Therefore, Wallis built the following table by Ahazen’s formulas and his formulas for in-

terpolation. Since the table is symmetrical this also allows us to ﬁll in the corresponding

columns when p is an integer. (see Table 2)

21

2 THE SENSITIVITY

Table 2

Wallis began to turn his attention to the row q =

1

2

. Each of the entries that now appear

there is calculated by using each of the successive interpolation formulas. And he see that

each of these formulas has a higher algebraic degree.

What pattern exists in the formation of these numbers which will allow us to interpolate

between them to ﬁnd the missing entries? Remember that the ﬁrst missing entry is the

q = p =

1

2

(i.e. the ratio of the square to the area of the quarter circle), we can ﬁnd the

characteristic ratio of this as equals to

4

π

.

Hence Wallis ﬁrst tried to ﬁll in this row with arithmetic averages. The average of 1 and

3

2

is

5

4

, so this is not equal to

4

π

.

Wallis now observed that each of the numerators in these fractions is the product of

consecutive odd integers, while each of the denominators is the product of consecutive even

intergers; this means

15

8

=

3.5

2.4

;

105

48

=

3.5.7

2.4.6

;

945

384

=

3.5.7.9

2.4.6.8

. Hence to move two entries to

the right in this row one multiplies by

n

n −1

.

For the entries that appear so far, n is always odd; so Wallis assumed that to get from

one missing entry to the next one, he should still multiply by

n

n −1

, but this time n would

have to be the intermediate even number. Denoting the ﬁrst missing entry by Ω whose

coefﬁcient is 1, then the next missing entry should be 1.

4

4 −1

=

4

3

, so its result is

4

3

Ω. In a

similar fashion, we get the one after should be

4.6

3.5

Ω =

8

5

Ω, and the one after that should

be

4.6.8

3.5.7

Ω =

64

35

Ω and so forth.

22

2 THE SENSITIVITY

Then the q =

1

2

row becomes :

So the column p =

1

2

can now be ﬁlled in by symmetry. The row q =

3

2

has a similar

pattern (i.e. products of consecutive odd over consecutive enven number) but there the

entries two spaces to the right are always multiply by

n

n −3

(note that we go on n = 6).

We can also double check, as Wallis did, that this law of formation agrees with usual law

for the formation of binomials (i.e. each entry is the sum the entries two up, and two to

the left). The full table now show on Table 3 :

Table 3

Wallis saw that he could evaluate π which is put in Ω. He had to ﬁnd a way to calculate

Ω using his priciple of interpolation so that he could check his value against the one known

from geometry.

Thus returning once again to the row q =

1

2

where moving two spaces to the right from

the n

th

entry multiplies that entry by

n

n −1

, Wallis noted that as n increases the fraction

n

n −1

gets closer and closer to 1

_

i.e. lim

n→∞

n

n −1

= 1

_

. Hence the number two spaces to

the right must change very little as we go further out the sequence. This is true of the

calculated fractions as well as the multiples of Ω.

23

2 THE SENSITIVITY

Wallis argued that since the whole sequence is increasing steadily, that consecutive

terms must also be getting close to 1 as we proceed. Hence he built these terms to be-

come

4.6.8.10...

3.5.7.9...

Ω ≈

3.5.7.9...

2.4.6.8...

Ω ≈

3.3.5.5.7.7.9.9...

2.4.4.6.6.8.8.10...

Because of

4

π

= Ω, hence

π = 2.

2.2.4.4.6.6.8.8...

1.3.3.5.5.7.7.9...

The empirical methods of Wallis led the young Isaac Newton to his ﬁrst profound math-

ematical creation; the expansion of functions in binomial series. Thus Wallis’ method of

interpolation became for Newton the basis of his notion of continuity. So Newton wanted

to generalize the methods of Wallis...

24

2 THE SENSITIVITY

2.4 THE CONTINUATION OF ISSAC NEWTON’S IDEA

In 1661, the nineteen-year-old Isaac Newton read the Arithmetica Inﬁnitorum and was

much impressed. In 1664 and 1665 he made a series of annotations from Wallis which

extended the concepts of interpolation and extrapolation. It was here that Newton ﬁrst

developed his binomial expansions for negative and fractional exponents.

Newton made a series of extensions of the ideas in Wallis. He extended the tables of

areas to the left to include negative powers and found new patterns upon which to base

interpolations. Perhaps his signiﬁcant deviation from Wallis was that Newton abandoned

the use of ratios of areas and instead sought direct expressions which would calculate the

area under a portion of a curve from the value of the abscissa. Using what he knew from

Wallis he could write down area expressions for the integer powers. Referring back to

Figure 4, we have :

_

¸

_

¸

_

Area under x

n

Area of containing rectangle

=

1

n + 1

Area of containing rectangle = x.x

n

= x

n+1

Hence

Area under x

n

=

x

n+1

n + 1

Next, he considered the positive and negative integer powers of 1 + x, that is

... , y =

1

1 + x

, y = 1 , y = 1 + x , y = (1 + x)

2

, y = (1 + x)

3

, y = (1 + x)

4

, ...

Newton drew the following graph of several members of this family of curves (see Figure

8), he found the coefﬁcients in simple binomial.

25

2 THE SENSITIVITY

Figure 8

According to Figure 8, we get CK = CD = 1, letting DE = x, then E (1 + x, 0). This

shows that EB =

1

1 + x

, EF = 1 , EG = 1 + x and EH = (1 + x)

2

. He then wrote down a

series of expressions which calculate areas under the curves over the segment DE as :

S

AFED

= x , S

AGED

= x +

x

2

2

, S

AHED

= x +

2x

2

2

+

x

3

3

So it is easy to verify these results by Riemann’s integral. For example, we look at

S

AHED

:

S

AHED

=

ˆ

x+1

1

t

2

dt =

_

t

3

3

_

x+1

1

=

(x + 1)

3

−1

3

= x +

2x

2

2

+

x

3

3

Although the higher power curves did not appear in the graph, Newton went on to write

down more area expressions for curves in this family. He obtainedd the following area

expressions by ﬁrst expanding and then ﬁnding the area term by term.

• Third power : x +

3x

2

2

+

3x

3

3

+

x

4

4

• Fourth power : x +

4x

2

2

+

6x

3

3

+

4x

4

4

+

x

5

5

• Fifth power : x +

5x

2

2

+

10x

3

3

+

10x

4

4

+

5x

5

5

+

x

6

6

26

2 THE SENSITIVITY

At this point, Newton wanted to ﬁnd a pattern which would which would allow him to

extend his calculations to include the areas under the negative powers of 1 +x. He noticed

that the denominators form an arithmetic sequence while the numerators follow the bino-

mial patterns. He then made the following table of the area expressions for (1 + x)

p

(see

Table 4). And the question becomes : how can one ﬁll in the missing entries?

Table 4

This binomial table is different from Wallis’ table in that the rows are all nudged succes-

sively to the right so that the diagonals of the Wallis’ table become the columns of Newton’s

table. The binomial pattern of formation is now such that each entry is the sum of the en-

try to the left of it and the one above that one. So that we can ﬁnd that the ? must be equal

to −1.

Hence Newton ﬁlled in the table of coefﬁcients for the area expressions under the curves

(1 + x)

p

. (see Table 5)

27

2 THE SENSITIVITY

Table 5

According to Table 5, we can evaluate the area under the hyperbola y =

1

1 + x

what we

now call the natural logarithm of 1 + x, and Newton considered it as S

ABED

.

S

ABED

= x −

x

2

2

+

x

3

3

−

x

4

4

+

x

5

5

−

x

6

6

+

x

7

7

...

_

=

∞

n=0

(−1)

n

x

n+1

n + 1

, −1 < x < 1

_

Next, Newton returned to the table of characteristic ratios made by Wallis (see Table 3).

As discussed previously, Newton abandoned Wallis’ use of area ratios and set out to make

a table of coefﬁcients for a sequence of explicit expressions for calculating areas. He used

the same set of curves whose characteristic ratios Wallis had tabulated in the row q =

1

2

inside a unit square. Hence he saw the areas under the following sequence of curves (see

Figure 9).

... , y = 1 , y =

√

1 −x

2

, y = 1 −x

2

, y =

_

1 −x

2

_ √

1 −x

2

, y =

_

1 −x

2

_

2

, ...

28

2 THE SENSITIVITY

Figure 9

He let AD = DC = 1 and DE = x then E (x, 0); EF, EB, EG, EH, EI, EN are then the

ordinates of his series of curves respectively.

For the integer powers of 1 −x

2

, Newton could write down the areas in Figure 9 as :

S

AFED

= x , S

AGED

= x −

1

2

x

3

, S

AIED

= x −

2

3

x

3

+

1

5

x

5

In a similar fashion, he continued this sequence of area expressions for

_

1 −x

2

_

p

as

follows :

• p = 3 : x −

3

3

x

3

+

3

5

x

5

−

1

7

x

7

• p = 4 : x −

4

3

x

3

+

6

5

x

5

−

4

7

x

7

+

1

9

x

9

• p = 5 : x −

5

3

x

3

+

10

5

x

5

−

10

7

x

7

+

5

9

x

9

−

1

11

x

11

According to the pattern of Table 5 (i.e. each entry is the sum of the entry to the left of it

and the one above that one), he made a table of these results including an extension into

the negative powers. (see Table 6)

29

2 THE SENSITIVITY

Table 6

However, this method is not true when p is not integer. He ﬁrst noted that integer

binomial tables obey the following additive pattern of formation (see Table 7). This pattern

is formed by starting with a constant sequence (a, a, a, ...) and an arbitrary left column

(a, b, c, d, ...); and then forming each entry as the sum of the one to the left and the one

above that. Newton saw that old method is not appropriate for the integers. In speciﬁc,

the entries in the top row must all be 1 in all the interpolated tables (i.e. a = 1) and the

increment fo the second row must be 1. So this is unreasonable because the distance of

coefﬁcients of p = 0 and p = −1 are 1.

Table 7

This forced that Newton must found other methods which ﬁlled in that table. To get

around this difﬁculty, he rewrote this pattern so as to unlink the rows of Table 7. That is

to say, he preserved the pattern within each individual row but he changed the names of

the variables so that each variable appeared in only one row.

As you move down the rows each new row can be described using successively one more

variable. Changing the names of variables so that each row is independent of the others,

the pattern now becomes Table 8.

30

2 THE SENSITIVITY

Table 8

Using this table, if any entry in the ﬁrst row is known the whole row is known. If any

two entries in the second row are known then one can solve for b and c and ﬁll in the entire

row. If any three entries in the third row are known one can solve for d, e and f and ﬁll in

the entire row. Thus with a sufﬁcient number of known values in a given row one could

solve a system of linear equations for all the variables in that row.

For example, we can consider the third row, using the known values where 0, ?, 0, ?, 1.

We have a set of linear equations as follows :

_

¸

¸

¸

_

¸

¸

¸

_

d = 0

f + 2e + d = 0

6f + 4e + d = 1

We obtain

_

¸

¸

¸

_

¸

¸

¸

_

d = 0

f =

1

4

e = −

1

8

We can now complete the entire row using these values, but it should be noted here that

although we used three equations to ﬁnd d, e and f there are actually an inﬁnite number

of equations involving these three variables.

And Newton’s method is satisﬁed because the values he found agree with Wallis and

with the additive pattern of table formation. We can see Table 9 :

31

2 THE SENSITIVITY

Table 9

With the completion of this table, Newton will also obtain a new way to calculate π

which will validate his method in a geometric representation. So the column p =

1

2

gives

an inﬁnite series which calculates the area under any portion of a circle y =

√

1 −x

2

. That

is to say, that S

ABED

we can see it in Figure 9.

S

ABED

= x −

1

2

.

x

3

3

−

1

8

.

x

5

5

−

3

48

.

x

7

7

−

15

384

.

x

9

9

−

105

3840

.

x

11

11

−...

Letting x = 1 in this series, we calculate the area of one quarter of the circle and yield a

new caculation of π :

π

4

= 1 −

1

6

−

1

40

−

1

112

−

5

1152

−

7

2816

−...

32

2 THE SENSITIVITY

Figure 10

Moreover, Newton also pointed out that this series allowed him to compute arcsin x. By

adding a line from D to B in Figure 9 (see Figure 10), and subtracting the area of DBE

from ABED, it obtains the area of the circular sector ABD. So we get

_

_

_

arcsin x =

¯

EBD

EBAD

Hence

arcsin x =

¯

BDA

Since the circular radius is 1, twice the area of sector ABD equals

¯

BDA (i.e. 2S

ABD

=

¯

BDA). According to the area of ABED, we only calculate the area of DBE.

S

BDE

=

1

2

DE.EB =

1

2

x

√

1 −x

2

Thus we can evaluate arcsin x.

Satisﬁed with his interpolation methods Newton began searching for a pattern in the

columns of his table which would allow him to continue each series without having to

repeat his tedious interpolation procedure row by row. Note that some of the fractions

in Table 9 are not reduced. In earlier tabulations Newton reduced the fractions but he

soon became aware that this would only obscure any possible patterns in their formations.

Following the example set by Wallis, he sought a pattern of continued multiplication of

arithmetic sequences. Since the circle was so important to him, he studied the p =

1

2

col-

umn ﬁrst. Factoring the numbers in these fractions, he found that they could be produced

by continued multiplication as :

33

2 THE SENSITIVITY

1

1

.

1

2

.

−1

4

.

−3

6

.

−5

8

.

−7

10

.

−9

12

.

−11

14

...

Similarly, the entries in the p =

3

2

column can be produced by continued multiplication

as :

1

1

.

3

2

.

1

4

.

−1

6

.

−3

8

.

−5

10

.

−7

12

.

−9

14

...

In order to further investigate these patterns, Newton carried out an interpolation of

the binomial table at intervals of

1

3

(see Table 10). Using the patterns from Table 8 and

solving the systems of equations for the variables in each row, he produced the following

interpolated Table 10.

Table 10

For a pattern of repeated multiplication of arithmetic sequences that would generate

the columns of this table, Newton discerned the following pattern for the column p =

1

3

.

1

1

.

1

3

.

−2

6

.

−5

9

.

−8

12

.

−11

15

.

−14

18

.

−17

21

...

Note that the sequence of numerators and denominators both change by increments of

3 (ignoring the ﬁrst term). And the same thing happens where p =

1

2

;

3

2

but by increments

of 2.

At this point, Newton wrote down an explicit formula for the binomial numbers in an

arbitrary column p =

x

y

.

1

1

.

x

y

.

x −y

2y

.

x −2y

3y

.

x −3y

4y

.

x −4y

5y

.

x −5y

6y

...

Or this is equivalent to

p

1

.

p −1

2

.

p −2

3

.

p −3

4

.

p −4

5

.

p −5

6

...

34

2 THE SENSITIVITY

His original interpolations were designed to calculate areas under families of curves but

Newton soon saw that by changing the terms to which the coefﬁcients were applied, he

could see these numbers to calculate the points on the curve as well. This was particularly

useful for root extractions. He simply had to replace the area terms

x

n+1

n + 1

with the original

terms x

n

from which they came. The coefﬁcients in the tables remain the same. So we have

the examples :

• For p =

1

2

in Table 9, we can calculate :

√

1 −x

2

= 1 −

1

2

x

2

−

1

8

x

4

−

1

16

x

6

−

1

128

x

8

−...

• Or p =

1

3

in Table 10, we get :

3

√

1 −x

2

= 1 −

1

3

x

2

−

1

9

x

4

−

5

81

x

6

−

10

243

x

8

−...

3

√

1 + x = 1 +

1

3

x −

1

9

x

2

+

5

81

x

3

−

10

243

x

4

...

These series appear in the form in the letters to Oldenburg in which Newton explained

his binomial series at the request of Liebniz in 1676.

Hence, using the methods of Newton, we can represent the binomial expansion for all

real numbers; this is very important in our life. In detail, this helps us investigate the

graph or the approximately values of more functions, so this is also a basis of all after

series. Newton is such a great mathematician worthy of the naming for this binomial

formula.

35

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