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Communications of the ACM

The logarithmic error and Newton's method for the square root


The problem of obtaining optimal starting values for the calculation of the square root using Newton's method is considered. It has been pointed out elsewhere that if relative error is used as the measure of goodness of fit, optimal results are not obtained when the inital approximation is a best fit. It is shown here that if, instead, the so-called logarithmic error is used, then a best initial fit is optimal for both types of error. Moreover, use of the logarithmic error appears to simplify the problem of determining the optimal initial approximation.

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