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Concept# Legendre polynomials

Summary

In mathematics, Legendre polynomials, named after Adrien-Marie Legendre (1782), are a system of complete and orthogonal polynomials with a vast number of mathematical properties and numerous applications. They can be defined in many ways, and the various definitions highlight different aspects as well as suggest generalizations and connections to different mathematical structures and physical and numerical applications.
Closely related to the Legendre polynomials are associated Legendre polynomials, Legendre functions, Legendre functions of the second kind, and associated Legendre functions.
In this approach, the polynomials are defined as an orthogonal system with respect to the weight function over the interval . That is, is a polynomial of degree , such that
With the additional standardization condition , all the polynomials can be uniquely determined. We then start the construction process: is the only correctly standardized polynomial of degree 0. must be orthogonal to , leading to , and is determined by demanding orthogonality to and , and so on. is fixed by demanding orthogonality to all with . This gives conditions, which, along with the standardization fixes all coefficients in . With work, all the coefficients of every polynomial can be systematically determined, leading to the explicit representation in powers of given below.
This definition of the 's is the simplest one. It does not appeal to the theory of differential equations. Second, the completeness of the polynomials follows immediately from the completeness of the powers 1, . Finally, by defining them via orthogonality with respect to the most obvious weight function on a finite interval, it sets up the Legendre polynomials as one of the three classical orthogonal polynomial systems. The other two are the Laguerre polynomials, which are orthogonal over the half line , and the Hermite polynomials, orthogonal over the full line , with weight functions that are the most natural analytic functions that ensure convergence of all integrals.

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In mathematics, the Hermite polynomials are a classical orthogonal polynomial sequence. The polynomials arise in: signal processing as Hermitian wavelets for wavelet transform analysis probability, such as the Edgeworth series, as well as in connection with Brownian motion; combinatorics, as an example of an Appell sequence, obeying the umbral calculus; numerical analysis as Gaussian quadrature; physics, where they give rise to the eigenstates of the quantum harmonic oscillator; and they also occur in some cases of the heat equation (when the term is present); systems theory in connection with nonlinear operations on Gaussian noise.

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In mathematics and physical science, spherical harmonics are special functions defined on the surface of a sphere. They are often employed in solving partial differential equations in many scientific fields. Since the spherical harmonics form a complete set of orthogonal functions and thus an orthonormal basis, each function defined on the surface of a sphere can be written as a sum of these spherical harmonics. This is similar to periodic functions defined on a circle that can be expressed as a sum of circular functions (sines and cosines) via Fourier series.

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