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Concept# Limit of a sequence

Summary

As the positive integer becomes larger and larger, the value becomes arbitrarily close to . We say that "the limit of the sequence equals ."
In mathematics, the limit of a sequence is the value that the terms of a sequence "tend to", and is often denoted using the symbol (e.g., ). If such a limit exists, the sequence is called convergent. A sequence that does not converge is said to be divergent. The limit of a sequence is said to be the fundamental notion on which the whole of mathematical analysis ultimately rests.
Limits can be defined in any metric or topological space, but are usually first encountered in the real numbers.
The Greek philosopher Zeno of Elea is famous for formulating paradoxes that involve limiting processes.
Leucippus, Democritus, Antiphon, Eudoxus, and Archimedes developed the method of exhaustion, which uses an infinite sequence of approximations to determine an area or a volume. Archimedes succeeded in summing what is now called a geometric series.
Grégoire de Saint-Vincent gave the first definition of limit (terminus) of a geometric series in his work Opus Geometricum (1647): "The terminus of a progression is the end of the series, which none progression can reach, even not if she is continued in infinity, but which she can approach nearer than a given segment."
Pietro Mengoli anticipated the modern idea of limit of a sequence with his study of quasi-proportions in Geometriae speciosae elementa (1659). He used the term quasi-infinite for unbounded and quasi-null for vanishing.
Newton dealt with series in his works on Analysis with infinite series (written in 1669, circulated in manuscript, published in 1711), Method of fluxions and infinite series (written in 1671, published in English translation in 1736, Latin original published much later) and Tractatus de Quadratura Curvarum (written in 1693, published in 1704 as an Appendix to his Optiks). In the latter work, Newton considers the binomial expansion of , which he then linearizes by taking the limit as tends to .

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