Implementation and Analysis of Polynomial Interpolation

Polynomial interpolation works fundamentally by determining the value of an interpolating polynomial at a number of desired points. To obtain this polynomial, first we must determine its coefficients by computing divided differences.

The interpol operation begins by allocating space for the divided differences as well as for the coefficients to be determined (see Example 13-1). Note that since the entries in each row in a divided-difference table depend only on the entries computed in the row before it (see Figure 13.2 and Figure 13.3), we do not have to keep all of the table around at once. Thus, we allocate space only for the largest row, which has n entries. Next, we initialize the first row in the table with the values in fx. This is so that we are ready to compute what equates to the third row of the divided-difference table. (Nothing needs to be done for the first two rows because these entries are already stored in x and fx.) The final initialization step is to store the value of fx[0] in coeff[0] since this is the first coefficient of the interpolating polynomial.

The process of computing divided differences revolves around a single nested loop, which uses the formula for divided differences discussed earlier in the chapter. In terms of Figure 13.2 and Figure 13.3, the outer loop, k, counts the number of rows for which entries must be computed (excluding the rows for x and fx). The inner loop, i, controls which entry ...

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