In mathematics, the Euler–Maclaurin formula provides a powerful connection between integrals (see calculus) and sums. It can be used to approximate integrals by finite sums, or conversely to evaluate finite sums and infinite series using integrals and the machinery of calculus. For example, many asymptotic expansions are derived from the formula, and Faulhaber's formula for the sum of powers is an immediate consequence.
The formula was discovered independently by Leonhard Euler and Colin Maclaurin around 1735 (and later generalized as Darboux's formula). Euler needed it to compute slowly converging infinite series while Maclaurin used it to calculate integrals.
If n is a natural number and f(x) is a smooth (meaning: sufficiently often differentiable) function defined for all real numbers x between 0 and n, then the integral
can be approximated by the sum (or vice versa)
(see trapezoidal rule). The Euler–Maclaurin formula provides expressions for the difference between the sum and the integral in terms of the higher derivatives ƒ(k) at the end points of the interval 0 and n. Explicitly, for any natural number p, we have
where B1 = −1/2, B2 = 1/6, B3 = 0, B4 = −1/30, B5 = 0, B6 = 1/42, B7 = 0, B8 = −1/30, ... are the Bernoulli numbers, and R is an error term which is normally small for suitable values of p. (The formula is often written with the subscript taking only even values, since the odd Bernoulli numbers are zero except for B1.)
Hence, we may also write the formula as follows:
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