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Power series facts for kids

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In mathematics, a power series (in one variable) is an infinite series of the form

f(x) = \sum_{n=0}^\infty a_n \left( x-c \right)^n = a_0 + a_1 (x-c) + a_2 (x-c)^2 + a_3 (x-c)^3 + \cdots

where an represents the coefficient of the nth term, c is a constant, and x varies around c (for this reason one sometimes speaks of the series as being centered at c). This series usually appears as the Taylor series of some known function; the Taylor series article contains many examples.

In many situations c is equal to zero, for example when considering a Maclaurin series. In those cases, the power series takes the simpler form


f(x) = \sum_{n=0}^\infty a_n x^n = a_0 + a_1 x + a_2 x^2 + a_3 x^3 + \cdots.

These power series appear primarily in analysis, but also appear in combinatorics (under the name of generating functions) and in electrical engineering (under the name of the Z-transform). The familiar decimal notation for integers can also be viewed as an example of a power series, but with the argument x fixed at 10. In number theory, the concept of p-adic numbers is also closely related to that of a power series.

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