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SICP exercise 1.37

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The exercise has two parts.


Problem A

An infinite continued fraction is an expression of the form

<math>f = \frac{N_1}{D_1 + \frac{N_2}{D_2 + \frac{N_3}{D_3 + \cdots}}}</math>

As an example, one can show that the infinite continued fraction expansion with the <math>N_i</math> and the <math>D_i</math> all equal to 1 produces 1/<math>\phi</math>, where <math>\phi</math> is the golden ratio (described in section 1.2.2 of the text). One way to approximate an infinite continued fraction is to truncate the expansion after a given number of terms. Such a truncation -- a so-called k-term finite continued fraction -- has the form

<math>f = \frac{N_1}{D_1 + \frac{N_2}{\ddots + \frac{N_K}{D_K}}}</math>

Suppose that n and d are procedures of one argument (the term index i) that return the <math>N_i</math> and <math>D_i</math> of the terms of the continued fraction. Define a procedure cont-frac such that evaluating (cont-frac n d k) computes the value of the k-term finite continued fraction. Check your procedure by approximating <math>1/\phi</math> using

(cont-frac (lambda (i) 1.0) 
           (lambda (i) 1.0) 

for successive values of k. How large must you make k in order to get an approximation that is accurate to 4 decimal places?

Solution A

Here's a defintion of cont-frac which generates a recusrive process:

(define (cont-frac n d k)
  (define (cont-frac-helper i)
    (if (> i k)
        (/ (n i) (+ (d i) (cont-frac-helper (+ i 1))))))
  (cont-frac-helper 1))

<math>1/\phi</math> is approximately 0.6180 (to 4 decimal places). Our tolerance is 0.0001. Let's find the minimum k for which we get a good-enough approximation using this procedure, which returns the first value of k for which the nested procedure close-enough is true:

(define (find-minimum-k n d answer tolerance)
  (define (close-enough? guess)
    (< (abs (- guess answer)) tolerance))
  (define (iter k)
    (let ((guess (cont-frac n d k)))
      (if (close-enough? guess)
          (iter (+ k 1)))))
  (iter 1))

Now try it using Chicken Scheme 3.1 on a MacBook Pro running Mac OS X 10.5:

(find-minimum-k (lambda (i) 1.0)
                (lambda (i) 1.0)



It requires 10 terms.

Problem B

If your cont-frac procedure generates a recursive process, write one that generates an iterative process. If it generates an iterative process, write one that generates a recursive process.

Solution B

The procedure I used in part A generates a recursive process, so here's an iterative version:

(define (cont-frac n d k)
  (define (cont-frac-iter k result)
    (if (= k 0)
        (cont-frac-iter (- k 1) (/ (n k) (+ (d k) result)))))
  (cont-frac-iter k 0))


(find-minimum-k (lambda (i) 1.0)
                (lambda (i) 1.0)



It's working.

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