Taylor's theorem
Part of a series of articles about  
Calculus  





Specialized


In calculus, Taylor's theorem gives an approximation of a ktimes differentiable function around a given point by a kth order Taylor polynomial. For analytic functions the Taylor polynomials at a given point are finite order truncations of its Taylor series, which completely determines the function in some neighborhood of the point. The exact content of "Taylor's theorem" is not universally agreed upon. Indeed, there are several versions of it applicable in different situations, and some of them contain explicit estimates on the approximation error of the function by its Taylor polynomial.
Taylor's theorem is named after the mathematician Brook Taylor, who stated a version of it in 1712. Yet an explicit expression of the error was not provided until much later on by JosephLouis Lagrange. An earlier version of the result was already mentioned in 1671 by James Gregory.^{[1]}
Taylor's theorem is taught in introductory level calculus courses and it is one of the central elementary tools in mathematical analysis. Within pure mathematics it is the starting point of more advanced asymptotic analysis, and it is commonly used in more applied fields of numerics as well as in mathematical physics. Taylor's theorem also generalizes to multivariate and vector valued functions on any dimensions n and m. This generalization of Taylor's theorem is the basis for the definition of socalled jets which appear in differential geometry and partial differential equations.
Contents
Motivation
If a realvalued function f is differentiable at the point a then it has a linear approximation at the point a. This means that there exists a function h_{1} such that
Here
is the linear approximation of f at the point a. The graph of y = P_{1}(x) is the tangent line to the graph of f at x = a. The error in the approximation is
Note that this goes to zero a little bit faster than x − a as x tends to a, given the limiting behavior of h_{1}.
If we wanted a better approximation to f, we might instead try a quadratic polynomial instead of a linear function. Instead of just matching one derivative of f at a, we can match two derivatives, thus producing a polynomial that has the same slope and concavity as f at a. The quadratic polynomial in question is
Taylor's theorem ensures that the quadratic approximation is, in a sufficiently small neighborhood of the point a, a better approximation than the linear approximation. Specifically,
Here the error in the approximation is
which, given the limiting behavior of , goes to zero faster than as x tends to a.
Similarly, we might get still better approximations to f if we use polynomials of higher degree, since then we can match even more derivatives with f at the selected base point.
In general, the error in approximating a function by a polynomial of degree k will go to zero a little bit faster than (x − a)^{k} as x tends to a. But this might not always be the case: it is also possible that increasing the degree of the approximating polynomial does not increase the quality of approximation at all even if the function f to be approximated is infinitely many times differentiable. An example of this behavior is given below, and it is related to the fact that unlike analytic functions, more general functions are not (locally) determined by the values of their derivatives at a single point.
Taylor's theorem is of asymptotic nature: it only tells us that the error R_{k} in an approximation by a kth order Taylor polynomial P_{k} tends to zero faster than any nonzero kth degree polynomial as x → a. It does not tell us how large the error is in any concrete neighborhood of the center of expansion, but for this purpose there are explicit formulae for the remainder term (given below) which are valid under some additional regularity assumptions on f. These enhanced versions of Taylor's theorem typically lead to uniform estimates for the approximation error in a small neighborhood of the center of expansion, but the estimates do not necessarily hold for neighborhoods which are too large, even if the function f is analytic. In that situation one may have to select several Taylor polynomials with different centers of expansion to have reliable Taylorapproximations of the original function (see animation on the right.)
There are several things we might do with the remainder term:
 Estimate the error in using a polynomial P_{k}(x) of degree k to estimate f(x) on a given interval (a – r, a + r). (The interval and the degree k are fixed; we want to find the error.)
 Find the smallest degree k for which the polynomial P_{k}(x) approximates f(x) to within a given error (or tolerance) on a given interval (a − r, a + r) . (The interval and the error are fixed; we want to find the degree.)
 Find the largest interval (a − r, a + r) on which P_{k}(x) approximates f(x) to within a given error ("tolerance"). (The degree and the error are fixed; we want to find the interval.)
Taylor's theorem in one real variable
Statement of the theorem
The precise statement of the most basic version of Taylor's theorem is as follows:
Taylor's theorem.^{[2]}^{[3]}^{[4]} Let k ≥ 1 be an integer and let the function f : R → R be k times differentiable at the point a ∈ R. Then there exists a function h_{k} : R → R such that
. This is called the Peano form of the remainder.
The polynomial appearing in Taylor's theorem is the kth order Taylor polynomial
of the function f at the point a. The Taylor polynomial is the unique "asymptotic best fit" polynomial in the sense that if there exists a function h_{k} : R → R and a kth order polynomial p such that
then p = P_{k}. Taylor's theorem describes the asymptotic behavior of the remainder term
which is the approximation error when approximating f with its Taylor polynomial. Using the littleo notation, the statement in Taylor's theorem reads as
Explicit formulas for the remainder
Under stronger regularity assumptions on f there are several precise formulae for the remainder term R_{k} of the Taylor polynomial, the most common ones being the following.
Meanvalue forms of the remainder. Let f : R → R be k + 1 times differentiable on the open interval with f^{(k)} continuous on the closed interval between a and x.^{[5]} Then
for some real number ξ_{L} between a and x. This is the Lagrange form^{[6]} of the remainder. Similarly,
for some real number ξ_{C} between a and x. This is the Cauchy form^{[7]} of the remainder.
These refinements of Taylor's theorem are usually proved using the mean value theorem, whence the name. Also other similar expressions can be found. For example, if G(t) is continuous on the closed interval and differentiable with a nonvanishing derivative on the open interval between a and x, then
for some number ξ between a and x. This version covers the Lagrange and Cauchy forms of the remainder as special cases, and is proved below using Cauchy's mean value theorem.
The statement for the integral form of the remainder is more advanced than the previous ones, and requires understanding of Lebesgue integration theory for the full generality. However, it holds also in the sense of Riemann integral provided the (k + 1)th derivative of f is continuous on the closed interval [a,x].
Integral form of the remainder.^{[8]} Let f^{(k)} be absolutely continuous on the closed interval between a and x. Then
Due to absolute continuity of f^{(k)} on the closed interval between a and x its derivative f^{(k+1)} exists as an L^{1}function, and the result can be proven by a formal calculation using fundamental theorem of calculus and integration by parts.
Estimates for the remainder
It is often useful in practice to be able to estimate the remainder term appearing in the Taylor approximation, rather than having an exact formula for it. Suppose that f is (k + 1)times continuously differentiable in an interval I containing a. Suppose that there are real constants q and Q such that
throughout I. Then the remainder term satisfies the inequality^{[9]}
if x > a, and a similar estimate if x < a. This is a simple consequence of the Lagrange form of the remainder. In particular, if
on an interval I = (a − r,a + r) with some , then
for all x∈(a − r,a + r). The second inequality is called a uniform estimate, because it holds uniformly for all x on the interval (a − r,a + r).
Example
Suppose that we wish to approximate the function f(x) = e^{x} on the interval [−1,1] while ensuring that the error in the approximation is no more than 10^{−5}. In this example we pretend that we only know the following properties of the exponential function:
From these properties it follows that f^{(k)}(x) = e^{x} for all k, and in particular, f^{(k)}(0) = 1. Hence the kth order Taylor polynomial of f at 0 and its remainder term in the Lagrange form are given by
where ξ is some number between 0 and x. Since e^{x} is increasing by (*), we can simply use e^{x} ≤ 1 for x ∈ [−1, 0] to estimate the remainder on the subinterval [−1, 0]. To obtain an upper bound for the remainder on [0,1], we use the property e^{ξ}<e^{x} for 0<ξ<x to estimate
using the second order Taylor expansion. Then we solve for e^{x} to deduce that
simply by maximizing the numerator and minimizing the denominator. Combining these estimates for e^{x} we see that
so the required precision is certainly reached, when
(See factorial or compute by hand the values 9!=362 880 and 10!=3 628 800.) As a conclusion, Taylor's theorem leads to the approximation
For instance, this approximation provides a decimal expression e ≈ 2.71828, correct up to five decimal places.
Relationship to analyticity
Taylor expansions of real analytic functions
Let I ⊂ R be an open interval. By definition, a function f : I → R is real analytic if it is locally defined by a convergent power series. This means that for every a ∈ I there exists some r > 0 and a sequence of coefficients c_{k} ∈ R such that (a − r, a + r) ⊂ I and
In general, the radius of convergence of a power series can be computed from the Cauchy–Hadamard formula
This result is based on comparison with a geometric series, and the same method shows that if the power series based on a converges for some b ∈ R, it must converge uniformly on the closed interval [a − r_{b}, a + r_{b}], where r_{b} = b − a. Here only the convergence of the power series is considered, and it might well be that (a − R,a + R) extends beyond the domain I of f.
The Taylor polynomials of the real analytic function f at a are simply the finite truncations
of its locally defining power series, and the corresponding remainder terms are locally given by the analytic functions
Here the functions
are also analytic, since their defining power series have the same radius of convergence as the original series. Assuming that [a − r, a + r] ⊂ I and r < R, all these series converge uniformly on (a − r, a + r). Naturally, in the case of analytic functions one can estimate the remainder term R_{k}(x) by the tail of the sequence of the derivatives f′(a) at the center of the expansion, but using complex analysis also another possibility arises, which is described below.
Taylor's theorem and convergence of Taylor series
The Taylor series of f will converge in some interval, given that all its derivatives are bounded over it and do not grow too fast as k goes to infinity. (However, it is not always the case that the Taylor series of f, if it converges, will in fact converge to f, as explained below; f is then said to be nonanalytic.)
One might think of the Taylor series
of an infinitely many times differentiable function f : R → R as its "infinite order Taylor polynomial" at a. Now the estimates for the remainder imply that if, for any r, the derivatives of f are known to be bounded over (a − r,a + r), then for any order k and for any r > 0 there exists a constant M_{k,r} > 0 such that
for every x ∈ (a − r,a + r). Sometimes the constants M_{k,r} can be chosen in such way that M_{k,r} is bounded above, for fixed r and all k. Then the Taylor series of f converges uniformly to some analytic function
(One also gets convergence even if M_{k,r} is not bounded above as long as it grows slowly enough.)
However, even though T_{f} is always analytic, the case may be that f is not. That is to say, it may well be that an infinitely many times differentiable function f has a Taylor series at a which converges on some open neighborhood of a, but the limit function T_{f} is different from f. An important example of this phenomenon is provided by
Using the chain rule one can show by mathematical induction that for any order k,
for some polynomial p_{k} of degree 2(k − 1). The function tends to zero faster than any polynomial as x → 0, so f is infinitely many times differentiable and f^{(k)}(0) = 0 for every positive integer k. Now the estimates for the remainder for the Taylor polynomials show that the Taylor series of f converges uniformly to the zero function on the whole real axis. Nothing is wrong in here:
 The Taylor series of f converges uniformly to the zero function T_{f}(x) = 0.
 The zero function is analytic and every coefficient in its Taylor series is zero.
 The function f is infinitely many times differentiable, but not analytic.
 For any k ∈ N and r > 0 there exists M_{k,r} > 0 such that the remainder term for the kth order Taylor polynomial of f satisfies (*), and is bounded above, for all k and fixed r.
Taylor's theorem in complex analysis
Taylor's theorem generalizes to functions f : C → C which are complex differentiable in an open subset U ⊂ C of the complex plane. However, its usefulness is dwarfed by other general theorems in complex analysis. Namely, stronger versions of related results can be deduced for complex differentiable functions f : U → C using Cauchy's integral formula as follows.
Let r > 0 such that the closed disk B(z, r) ∪ S(z, r) is contained in U. Then Cauchy's integral formula with a positive parametrization γ(t)=z + re^{it} of the circle S(z, r) with t ∈ [0, 2π] gives
Here all the integrands are continuous on the circle S(z, r), which justifies differentiation under the integral sign. In particular, if f is once complex differentiable on the open set U, then it is actually infinitely many times complex differentiable on U. One also obtains the Cauchy's estimates^{[10]}
for any z ∈ U and r > 0 such that B(z, r) ∪ S(c, r) ⊂ U. These estimates imply that the complex Taylor series
of f converges uniformly on any open disk B(c, r) ⊂ U with S(c, r) ⊂ U into some function T_{f}. Furthermore, using the contour integral formulae for the derivatives f^{(k)}(c),
so any complex differentiable function f in an open set U ⊂ C is in fact complex analytic. All that is said for real analytic functions here holds also for complex analytic functions with the open interval I replaced by an open subset U ∈ C and acentered intervals (a − r, a + r) replaced by ccentered disks B(c, r). In particular, the Taylor expansion holds in the form
where the remainder term R_{k} is complex analytic. Methods of complex analysis provide some powerful results regarding Taylor expansions. For example, using Cauchy's integral formula for any positively oriented Jordan curve γ which parametrizes the boundary ∂W ⊂ U of a region W ⊂ U, one obtains expressions for the derivatives f^{(j)}(c) as above, and modifying slightly the computation for T_{f}(z) = f(z), one arrives at the exact formula
The important feature here is that the quality of the approximation by a Taylor polynomial on the region W ⊂ U is dominated by the values of the function f itself on the boundary ∂W ⊂ U. Similarly, applying Cauchy's estimates to the series expression for the remainder, one obtains the uniform estimates
Example
The function
is real analytic, that is, locally determined by its Taylor series. This function was plotted above to illustrate the fact that some elementary functions cannot be approximated by Taylor polynomials in neighborhoods of the center of expansion which are too large. This kind of behavior is easily understood in the framework of complex analysis. Namely, the function f extends into a meromorphic function
on the compactified complex plane. It has simple poles at z = i and z = −i, and it is analytic elsewhere. Now its Taylor series centered at z_{0} converges on any disc B(z_{0}, r) with r < z − z_{0}, where the same Taylor series converges at z ∈ C. Therefore, Taylor series of f centered at 0 converges on B(0, 1) and it does not converge for any z ∈ C with z > 1 due to the poles at i and −i. For the same reason the Taylor series of f centered at 1 converges on B(1, √2) and does not converge for any z ∈ C with z − 1 > √2.
Generalizations of Taylor's theorem
Higherorder differentiability
A function f: R^{n} → R is differentiable at a ∈ R^{n} if and only if there exists a linear functional L : R^{n} → R and a function h : R^{n} → R such that
If this is the case, then L = df(a) is the (uniquely defined) differential of f at the point a. Furthermore, then the partial derivatives of f exist at a and the differential of f at a is given by
Introduce the multiindex notation
for α ∈ N^{n} and x ∈ R^{n}. If all the kth order partial derivatives of f : R^{n} → R are continuous at a ∈ R^{n}, then by Clairaut's theorem, one can change the order of mixed derivatives at a, so the notation
for the higher order partial derivatives is justified in this situation. The same is true if all the (k − 1)th order partial derivatives of f exist in some neighborhood of a and are differentiable at a.^{[11]} Then we say that f is k times differentiable at the point a .
Taylor's theorem for multivariate functions
Multivariate version of Taylor's theorem.^{[12]} Let f : R^{n} → R be a k times differentiable function at the point a∈R^{n}. Then there exists h_{α} : R^{n}→R such that
If the function f : R^{n} → R is k + 1 times continuously differentiable in the closed ball B, then one can derive an exact formula for the remainder in terms of (k+1)th order partial derivatives of f in this neighborhood. Namely,
In this case, due to the continuity of (k+1)th order partial derivatives in the compact set B, one immediately obtains the uniform estimates
Example in two dimensions
For example, the thirdorder Taylor polynomial of a smooth function f: R^{2} → R is, denoting x − a = v,
Proofs
Proof for Taylor's theorem in one real variable
Let^{[13]}
where, as in the statement of Taylor's theorem,
It is sufficient to show that
The proof here is based on repeated application of L'Hôpital's rule. Note that, for each j = 0,1,...,k−1, . Hence each of the first k−1 derivatives of the numerator in vanishes at , and the same is true of the denominator. Also, since the condition that the function f be k times differentiable at a point requires differentiability up to order k−1 in a neighborhood of said point (this is true, because differentiability requires a function to be defined in a whole neighborhood of a point), the numerator and its k − 2 derivatives are differentiable in a neighborhood of a. Clearly, the denominator also satisfies said condition, and additionally, doesn't vanish unless x=a, therefore all conditions necessary for L'Hopital's rule are fulfilled, and its use is justified. So
where the second to last equality follows by the definition of the derivative at x = a.
Derivation for the mean value forms of the remainder
Let G be any realvalued function, continuous on the closed interval between a and x and differentiable with a nonvanishing derivative on the open interval between a and x, and define
Then, by Cauchy's mean value theorem,
for some ξ on the open interval between a and x. Note that here the numerator F(x) − F(a) = R_{k}(x) is exactly the remainder of the Taylor polynomial for f(x). Compute
plug it into (*) and rearrange terms to find that
This is the form of the remainder term mentioned after the actual statement of Taylor's theorem with remainder in the mean value form. The Lagrange form of the remainder is found by choosing and the Cauchy form by choosing .
Remark. Using this method one can also recover the integral form of the remainder by choosing
but the requirements for f needed for the use of mean value theorem are too strong, if one aims to prove the claim in the case that f^{(k)} is only absolutely continuous. However, if one uses Riemann integral instead of Lebesgue integral, the assumptions cannot be weakened.
Derivation for the integral form of the remainder
Due to absolute continuity of f^{(k)} on the closed interval between a and x its derivative f^{(k+1)} exists as an L^{1}function, and we can use fundamental theorem of calculus and integration by parts. This same proof applies for the Riemann integral assuming that f^{(k)} is continuous on the closed interval and differentiable on the open interval between a and x, and this leads to the same result than using the mean value theorem.
The fundamental theorem of calculus states that
Now we can integrate by parts and use the fundamental theorem of calculus again to see that
which is exactly Taylor's theorem with remainder in the integral form in the case k=1. The general statement is proved using induction. Suppose that
Integrating the remainder term by parts we arrive at
Substituting this into the formula in (*) shows that if it holds for the value k, it must also hold for the value k + 1. Therefore, since it holds for k = 1, it must hold for every positive integer k.
Derivation for the remainder of multivariate Taylor polynomials
We prove the special case, where f : R^{n} → R has continuous partial derivatives up to the order k+1 in some closed ball B with center a. The strategy of the proof is to apply the onevariable case of Taylor's theorem to the restriction of f to the line segment adjoining x and a.^{[14]} Parametrize the line segment between a and x by u(t) = a + t(x − a). We apply the onevariable version of Taylor's theorem to the function g(t) = f(u(t)):
Applying the chain rule for several variables gives
where is the multinomial coefficient. Since , we get
See also
Footnotes
 ^ Kline 1972, pp. 442,464
 ^ Genocchi, Angelo; Peano, Giuseppe (1884), Calcolo differenziale e principii di calcolo integrale, (N. 67, pp. XVII–XIX): Fratelli Bocca ed.
 ^ Spivak, Michael (1994), Calculus (3rd ed.), Houston, TX: Publish or Perish, p. 383, ISBN 9780914098898
 ^ Hazewinkel, Michiel, ed. (2001) [1994], "Taylor formula", Encyclopedia of Mathematics, Springer Science+Business Media B.V. / Kluwer Academic Publishers, ISBN 9781556080104
 ^ The hypothesis of f^{(k)} being continuous on the closed interval between a and x is not redundant. Although f being k + 1 times differentiable on the open interval between a and x does imply that f^{(k)} is continuous on the open interval between a and x, it does not imply that f^{(k)} is continuous on the closed interval between a and x, i.e. it does not imply that f^{(k)} is continuous at the endpoints of that interval. Consider, for example, the function f : [0,1] → R defined to equal on and with . This is not continuous at 0, but is continuous on . Moreover, one can show that this function has an antiderivative. Therefore that antiderivative is differentiable on , its derivative (the function f) is continuous on the open interval , but its derivative f is not continuous on the closed interval . So the theorem would not apply in this case.
 ^ Kline 1998, §20.3; Apostol 1967, §7.7.
 ^ Apostol 1967, §7.7.
 ^ Apostol 1967, §7.5.
 ^ Apostol 1967, §7.6
 ^ Rudin 1987, §10.26
 ^ This follows from iterated application of the theorem that if the partial derivatives of a function f exist in a neighborhood of a and are continuous at a, then the function is differentiable at a. See, for instance, Apostol 1974, Theorem 12.11.
 ^ Königsberger Analysis 2, p. 64 ff.
 ^ Stromberg 1981
 ^ Hörmander 1976, pp. 12–13
References
 Apostol, Tom (1967), Calculus, Wiley, ISBN 0471000051.
 Apostol, Tom (1974), Mathematical analysis, Addison–Wesley.
 Bartle, Robert G.; Sherbert, Donald R. (2011), Introduction to Real Analysis (4th ed.), Wiley, ISBN 9780471433316.
 Hörmander, L. (1976), Linear Partial Differential Operators, Volume 1, Springer, ISBN 9783540006626.
 Kline, Morris (1972), Mathematical thought from ancient to modern times, Volume 2, Oxford University Press.
 Kline, Morris (1998), Calculus: An Intuitive and Physical Approach, Dover, ISBN 0486404536.
 Pedrick, George (1994), A First Course in Analysis, Springer, ISBN 0387941088.
 Stromberg, Karl (1981), Introduction to classical real analysis, Wadsworth, ISBN 9780534980122.
 Rudin, Walter (1987), Real and complex analysis (3rd ed.), McGrawHill, ISBN 0070542341.
External links
 Proofs for a few forms of the remainder in onevariable case at ProofWiki
 Taylor Series Approximation to Cosine at cuttheknot
 Trigonometric Taylor Expansion interactive demonstrative applet
 Taylor Series Revisited at Holistic Numerical Methods Institute