Yihui Xie


The Bisection Method for root-finding on an interval

Yihui Xie & Lijia Yu / 2017-04-04

This is a visual demonstration of finding the root of an equation \(f(x) = 0\) on an interval using the Bisection Method.

Suppose we want to solve the equation \(f(x) = 0\). Given two points a and b such that \(f(a)\) and \(f(b)\) have opposite signs, we know by the intermediate value theorem that \(f\) must have at least one root in the interval \([a, b]\) as long as \(f\) is continuous on this interval. The bisection method divides the interval in two by computing \(c = (a + b) / 2\). There are now two possibilities: either \(f(a)\) and \(f(c)\) have opposite signs, or \(f(c)\) and \(f(b)\) have opposite signs. The bisection algorithm is then applied recursively to the sub-interval where the sign change occurs.

During the process of searching, the mid-point of subintervals are annotated in the graph by both texts and blue straight lines, and the end-points are denoted in dashed red lines. The root of each iteration is also plotted in the right margin of the graph.

ani.options(nmax = 30)

## default example
xx = bisection.method()
xx$root  # solution
## [1] 2
## a cubic curve
f = function(x) x^3 - 7 * x - 10
xx = bisection.method(f, c(-3, 5))
## interaction: use your mouse to select the two end-points
if (interactive()) bisection.method(f, c(-3, 5), interact = TRUE)