For the sine function, most people think about a specific image.
Figure 1. The Sine function
For the expanded Wolfram Functions Site (functions.wolfram.com),
Michael Trott offers many more visualizations. One of Michael's
experiments: show the behavior of Taylor Series as more terms are
The lower part of the picture uses relatively few terms -- the top is
the function value itself, with the sum of all terms. For sine, spirals
approach specific points. The experiment
makes a variety of interesting
behaviors for each function, but hasn't been studied in depth. More
other function visualizations are available, and many more are on the
Complete code is offered for every visualization.
Figure 2. Taylor Series accuracy of the Sine Function, as described at Sin/visualizations/14.html.
Many of these visualizations are new to me. I had seen Weyl
Sums, but didn't know the name. Saunders
Graphics were completely new to me. Integral
curves of Newton's second law for ProductLog gives an unexpected
plots of Padé approximant arguments are gorgeous. Michael's Riemann
Surfaces have won awards. All of these visualizations can add
understanding to properties of a given function.
Figure 3. Saunders Graphic of ArcSin.
I have a tape of Mandelbrot Zooms
that I often lend to parents of young children. A typical comment,
about a six year old. "She called one of them the dancing
elephants, and watched it several times." A good influence, I
think. Of course, the functions site
Mandelbrot-type pictures of each function.
Figure 4. The Mandelbrot visualization of Hyberbolic Sine.
The functions site
isn't just pictures -- almost 90,000 functional identities are
given, including many varieties of Integral forms. Oleg Marichev,
author of a classic 5-volume
integral encyclopedia, has added many
Integral forms to the functions site. More than 18,000 integrals,
in total. His comprehensive study of
Integrals goes well
beyond what could be packed in 20 volumes -- vastly more than the Handbook
of Integer Functions
Abramowitz and Stegun. With the aid of specialized Mathematica programs, Oleg
discovered thousands of new functional identities, many of which have
now been published for
the first time. A handful are classic results, now completely
correct for the first time.
Figure 5. Evolute of Sine.
Algebra and trigonometry provide tools to solve elementary
mathematical problems. For more difficult problems, more
powerful tools are needed. In the world of mathematics, "special
functions" are those functions that show up over and over again, or
which are particularly powerful. In the SIAM $100
challenge, out of ten seemingly impossible math problems,
seven were solvable via well-known special functions.
Here are a few of the special functions covered in depth at the
What else... it's the largest existing MathML site. It's all
free (though citations
are requested). As functional identities, the new discoveries can
used in any language, even COBOL or Jovial. The site is growing. It is
with Mathworld. PDF files
notebooks are offered to summarize every function, and have the same
information as the website.
For more, you can see the news release,
the overview, or
behind it. Or the site
References:Wolfram Research, "The Wolfram Functions Site", functions.wolfram.com.
Complete code (by Michael Trott) for all visualizations is available
Math Games archives.
Comments are welcome. Please send comments to Ed Pegg Jr. at email@example.com.
Ed Pegg Jr. is the webmaster for mathpuzzle.com. He works at Wolfram Research, Inc. as the administrator of the Mathematica Information Center.