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# Numerical Analysis

Grinshpan

## THE ORDER OF CONVERGENCE FOR THE SECANT METHOD.

Suppose that we are solving the equation f (x) = 0 using the secant method. Let the
iterations
xn − xn−1
(1) xn+1 = xn − f (xn ) , n = 1, 2, 3, . . . ,
f (xn ) − f (xn−1 )
be successful and approach a solution α, f (α) = 0, as n → ∞. How fast do they
converge? Can we find the exponent p such that
|xn+1 − α| ≈ C|xn − α|p ,
as we did for bisections and Newton’s method?
Yes we can, but the error analysis is a bit more involved.

## Let xn = α + n . Since xn → α, the sequence of errors n approaches 0 as n → ∞. In

terms of α and n the formula becomes
f (α + n )(n − n−1 )
(2) n+1 = n − .
f (α + n ) − f (α + n−1 )
Assume that f (x) is a two times differentiable function and that f 0 (α), f 00 (α) 6= 0.
Write Taylor’s formula:
f 00 (α) 2
f (α + ) = f (α) + f 0 (α) +  + R2 ().
2
Here f (α) = 0,  is small, and R2 () is the remainder term. Recall that R2 () vanishes at
 = 0 at a faster rate than 2 . Neglecting the terms of order higher than 2 in , we have
the approximation
0 f 00 (α) 2
f (α + ) ≈ f (α) + .
2
Set for brevity
f 00 (α)
M= 0 ,
2f (α)
and use the approximate equalities
f (α + n ) ≈ n f 0 (α) 1 + M n




## to simplify equation (2):

n f 0 (α)(1 + M n )(n − n−1 )
n+1 ≈ n − 
f 0 (α)(n − n−1 ) 1 + M (n + n−1 )
n (1 + M n )
= n −
1 + M (n + n−1 )
n−1 n M
=
1 + M (n + n−1 )
≈ n−1 n M.
2

## We have obtained a relation for the errors,

f 00 (α)
(3) n+1 ≈ 0 n−1 n ,
2f (α)
where the terms of order higher than 2 in  are neglected.
Compare (3) to the corresponding formula for Newton’s method:
f 00 (α) 2
n+1 ≈ 0  .
2f (α) n
Formula (3) tells us that, as n → ∞, the error tends to zero faster than a linear function
and yet not quadratically. What exactly is the rule
|n+1 | ≈ C|n |p
determined by (3)? Argue as follows. If |n+1 | ≈ C|n |p then
C|n |p ≈ |M ||n−1 ||n |
|M |
|n |p−1 ≈ |n−1 |
C
  1
|M | p−1 1
|n | ≈ |n−1 | p−1 .
C
 1
 p−1
|M | 1
Therefore, C = C
Because p > 0, the condition on p gives
and p = p−1
.

1+ 5
p= ≈ 1.618.
2
The condition on C then implies that
f (α) p−1
00
p 1/p
C = |M | or C = |M | = 0 .
2f (α)
We conclude that for the secant method
00 √5−1 √
f (α) 2 5+1
|xn+1 − α| ≈ 0
|xn − α| 2 .
2f (α)
Evidently, the order of convergence is generally lower than for Newton’s method.
However the derivatives f 0 (xn ) need not be evaluated, and this is a definite
3

Remark. We can give a linear estimate of the error α − xn in terms of the iterates.
It is valid for both Newton and secant methods. By the mean value theorem,
f (α) − f (xn ) = f 0 (cn )(α − xn ),
where cn lies between xn and α. So, if xn → α, then cn ≈ xn for large n, and we have
f (xn )
α − xn = − 0
f (cn )
f (xn )
≈− 0
f (xn )
xn − xn−1
≈ −f (xn )
f (xn ) − f (xn−1 )
= xn+1 − xn .
Thus
α − xn ≈ xn+1 − xn .
Although this formula is not deep enough to exhibit the order of convergence, it is
simple and allows to judge the absolute error of xn after (n + 1) iterations.