The Art of Approximating Functions (A.K.A. Getting a "Good Enough" Answer as Quickly as Possible)

S.P.A.M.S., MIT, May 6, 2004



Long ago, in a land far away, there existed a tribe of people who cared about concrete answers. Before the formalization of calculus, these same people played with real (and sometimes imaginary) numbers. Always trying to stay in touch with the "real world," this tribe came across exotic equations that were just too hard to solve by hand. Unfortunately, the computer not having yet been discovered (or just being too lazy to use them), they were forced to come up with creative means of survival.

What they fought were wild functions and untamed differential equations ...
What they did was approximate ...
This is their story ... and the story of their art.