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Numerical Methods: Bisection Method Using Scilab

Bisection Method of finding the roots of an equation is both simple and straight forward - I really enjoyed playing with bisection back in college (oooh yeah ES84 days) and I decided to make a post and implement bisection in scilab.

I also included a helper function that will plot the equation and will illustrate where the roots are by also plotting [latex] y = 0 [/latex] :)

First lets define bisection, here is what wikipedia has to say
The bisection method in mathematics is a root-finding method which repeatedly bisects an interval and then selects a subinterval in which a root must lie for further processing.

But first! What is a root? Here's how defines it:
A number is called a root of an equation if when the number is substituted into the equation and both sides simplified, the result is an identity, such as 2=2 or 8=8, etc.

I remember roots as the numbers you get when you equate a factor to zero and solve for x, (x-1) will result into a root of 1.

When put into a graphe a root will look like this:
Source: codecogs

The numbers that correspond to a, b, and c above are the roots - it can also be observed that these are the values in which the line (function) crosses zero :) Bisection's root finding is then based on the principle that if there is a root between two points (it passes zero) then multiplying the result of the equation using those two points will result into a negative number!

Here is how bisection goes:

  1. There is a given equation and a range where we want to find the roots

  2. Evaluate the equation on both ends of the range - there must be a change of signs, if there is no change in signs then its either have no roots in the interval or you fell into a bisection pitfall. Note 1.

  3.  If there is a change of sign then it means that there is atleast one root in the interval - lets iterate to find the root. Note 2.

  4. Get the center of the interval.[latex] center = \frac{upperLimit}{lowerLimi}[/latex]

  5. Check the two new sub-ranges, (lowerLimit,center) and (center,upperLimit), do step 2 on the two ranges, if the first subrange results into a change of sign then [latex] upperLimit = center[/latex]

  6. Evaluate the relative error of the result and if the error is with in bounds then [latex] root = center [/latex], if not then repeat step 4 (on the new interval) until error is met.

We now have our algorithm! Lets program! I would like you guys to program this by yourselves, in case your pressed for time you can get the code below to try it out. I also created a helper .sci file so that you can visualize the root and how many roots are there in that interval.

Lets program!

//The Bisectfunction will do bisection method in the expression 'theFunction'
// - using 'xLeft' and 'xRight' as the interval of interest
// - it will use the 'acceptableErrorInPercent' variable as the stopping criterion

//Note: xRight must be greater than xLeft for things to make sense
//PS. Please put us as a source when you use our code below :)

//This function will use plotThatThing which is declareed on a different .sci file please load it first
function [root]=MyOwnBisection(theFunction, xLeft, xRight, acceptableErrorInPercent)

    //plot the function to get a look on how should it look
    plotThatThing(theFunction, xLeft, xRight,0.001);

    x = xRight;
    fOfRight = evstr(theFunction); //Evaluate theFunction using the value at the right for the [xLeft,xRight] pair
    x = xLeft;
    fOfLeft = evstr(theFunction);  //Evaluate theFunction using the value at the right for the [xLeft,xRight] pair

    //Before trying to loop through the values, check first if there is a root in the interval 
    //- please take note that this check may fail when there are even number of roots in the given interval

    if (fOfRight*fOfLeft >= 0) then
        root = "There is no root between " + string(xLeft) + " and " + string(xRight) + "Or there might be an even number of roots in the said interval";
        //There is a root! The number of roots can either be 1 or any odd number
        exactSolution = 'not yet found';
        howFarAreWeInPercent = 100;     //Lets start with 100% away
        midX =(xRight + xLeft)/2;

        //Now lets start the loop - this will search for the root in the given interval
        while howFarAreWeInPercent > acceptableErrorInPercent & exactSolution == 'not yet found',
            x = midX;
            fr = evstr(theFunction);
            x = xLeft;
            fOfLeft = evstr(theFunction);

            //Choose the next subinterval to do bisection
            if(fOfLeft*fr < 0) then
                xRight = midX;                  
            elseif(fOfLeft*fr > 0) then
                xLeft = midX;
            elseif(fOfLeft*fr == 0) then
                root = midX;
                exactSolution = 'found';

            //Check for the darn error!
            previousMidX = midX;
            midX =(xRight + xLeft)/2;
            howFarAreWeInPercent = abs((midX - previousMidX)/midX)*100;

        //the current midX is assumed to be the nearest number to the target value 
        if (exactSolution == 'not yet found') then
            root = midX;

This function uses plotThatThing.sci which is the code below
//this will plot the given function/expression in the given interval
function plotThatThing(theFunction, xLeft, xRight, theStepSize)
    x = xLeft : theStepSize : xRight;
    y = evstr(theFunction);
    plot(x, y, x, 0); 
Pitfalls of the bisection method:

  1. It wont be able to detect roots if there is an even number of roots in the given interval this is Note 1.

  2. When the sign changes in a particular interval there could be more than 1 root, however bisection will only give you one.

  3. Im still thinking if you have more to add please leave a comment and ill add it to the list :)

Featured image is from Code Project

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