Thursday, June 15, 2017

How to discover the exponential function

Another article on the "How to discover/guess/prove/..." series written for a high school audience. The basic idea is to find a function whose derivative is itself, and to find the power series which satisfies this. Then messing with it to guess it must be the exponential function. No proofs, in fact, it is outrageously un-rigourous.  I hope the editor allows it.

I try to include only the most beautiful items, and state facts which I feel every high school student should know, even if they doesn't appear formally in the syllabus. 

Update (Nov 2017). The article was published in the November issue of At Right Angles. A nice surprise was Shailesh Shirali's companion article which gives some graphical intuition to complement the algebraic computations in my article. Here is the link to a reprint


If a function is such that its derivative is the function itself, then what would it be? Some interesting mathematical objects  appear while trying to answer this question, including a power series, the irrational number $e$ and the exponential function $e^x$. The article ends with a beautiful formula that  connects $e$, $\pi$, the complex number $i=\sqrt{-1}$, $1$ and $0$.

Update: 15/June/2017. I was wondering what happened to this article, and the editor said he had sent some comments from the referee which were yet to be incorporated. I resent the article after incorporating the referee's comments, and now this article is slated to appear in the November issue of At Right Angles. Time to think about the next article in the series.

Here is a link to the updated preprint. Please do give comments.

Tuesday, May 09, 2017

WP Bailey Lemmas (Elliptic, multivariable)

After many many years, Michael Schlosser and I wrote another joint paper. We first collaborated in 1995-96 when both of us were Ph.D. students or shortly thereafter. Our joint work was part of his thesis, and published in Constructive Approximation. This time around, I was his post-doc in Vienna from Feb 1, 2016 to Feb 28, 2017.

The picture was taken in Strobl, a favorite place for small meetings and conferences for Krattenthaler's group in the University of Vienna.

In this paper, we give multivariable extensions (over root systems) of the elliptic well-poised (WP) Bailey Transform and Lemma. In the classical (i.e. dimension = 1) case, this work was done by Spiridonov, who in turn extended the work of Andrews and Bailey. It is Andrews' exposition which we found very useful while finding generalizations. We used  previous $q$-Dougall summations due to Rosengren, and Rosengren and Schlosser, and found a few of our own along with some new elliptic Bailey $_{10}\phi_9$ transformation formulas, extending some fundamental formulas given in the classical case by Frenkel and Turaev in 1997. Along the way, we discovered a nice trick to generalize the theorem of my advisor, Steve Milne, that  I had named "Fundamental Theorem of $U(n)$ series" in my thesis.

Hopefully, there will be many more collaborative ventures in the near future.

Update (Mar 22, 2018): The paper has been published. Here is the reference and Link:
G. Bhatnagar and  M.J. Schlosser, Elliptic well-poised Bailey transforms and lemmas on root systems, SIGMA, 14 (2018), 025, 44pp.

Friday, April 07, 2017

Spiral Determinants

We consider Spiral Determinants of the kind
where the entries spiral out from the center. Christian Krattenthaler, who is one of the greatest experts on determinants, tells the story of how he came across such determinants and how he went about discovering the formulas for such determinants. The preprint is available on arxiv.

I have wanted to work with Christian ever since my Ph.D. days, when I tried to generalize a matrix inversion due to him. Finally, we have a joint paper. This also means that my Erdos number has come down from 4 to 3.

The picture above is from Christian's course on "Bijections" which I had an opportunity to attend in the University of Vienna during the period October 2016 to January 2017.

Update: April 26, 2017  The paper has been accepted and will appear in Linear Algebra and its Applications. Here is a preprint on arxiv.
Update: May 10, 2017. The paper is published online. The reference is:
G. Bhatnagar and C. Krattenthaler, Spiral Determinants, Linear Algebra Appl., 529 (2017) 374-390.
Here is a link to the publisher's site: