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Concept# Gaussian quadrature

Summary

In numerical analysis, a quadrature rule is an approximation of the definite integral of a function, usually stated as a weighted sum of function values at specified points within the domain of integration. (See numerical integration for more on quadrature rules.) An n-point Gaussian quadrature rule, named after Carl Friedrich Gauss, is a quadrature rule constructed to yield an exact result for polynomials of degree 2n − 1 or less by a suitable choice of the nodes x_i and weights w_i for i = 1, ..., n. The modern formulation using orthogonal polynomials was developed by Carl Gustav Jacobi in 1826. The most common domain of integration for such a rule is taken as [−1, 1], so the rule is stated as
which is exact for polynomials of degree 2n − 1 or less. This exact rule is known as the Gauss-Legendre quadrature rule. The quadrature rule will only be an accurate approximation to the integral above if f (x) is well-approximated by a polynomial of degree 2n − 1 or less on [−1, 1].
The Gauss-Legendre quadrature rule is not typically used for integrable functions with endpoint singularities. Instead, if the integrand can be written as
where g(x) is well-approximated by a low-degree polynomial, then alternative nodes x_i' and weights w_i' will usually give more accurate quadrature rules. These are known as Gauss-Jacobi quadrature rules, i.e.,
Common weights include (Chebyshev–Gauss) and . One may also want to integrate over semi-infinite (Gauss-Laguerre quadrature) and infinite intervals (Gauss–Hermite quadrature).
It can be shown (see Press, et al., or Stoer and Bulirsch) that the quadrature nodes x_i are the roots of a polynomial belonging to a class of orthogonal polynomials (the class orthogonal with respect to a weighted inner-product). This is a key observation for computing Gauss quadrature nodes and weights.
For the simplest integration problem stated above, i.e., f(x) is well-approximated by polynomials on , the associated orthogonal polynomials are Legendre polynomials, denoted by Pn(x).

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