What is Interpolation?

Interpolation in the mathematical field of numerical analysis, is a method of constructing new data points within the range of a discrete set of known data points. In engineering and science, one often has a number of data points, obtained by sampling or experimentation, which represent the values of a function for a limited number of values of the independent variable. It is often required to interpolate (i.e. estimate) the value of that function for an intermediate value of the independent variable. A different problem which is closely related to interpolation is the approximation of a complicated function by a simple function. Suppose the formula for some given function is known, but too complex to evaluate efficiently. A few known data points from the original function can be used to create an interpolation based on a simpler function. Of course, when a simple function is used to estimate data points from the original, interpolation errors are usually present; however, depending on the problem domain and the interpolation method used, the gain in simplicity may be of greater value than the resultant loss in precision.

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