In mathematics, the useful concept of a process with no end. As represented by the symbol , it is often mistakenly thought to be the largest number or a place on the real number line. Instead, it is the idea of a limit, as in the expression x , which suggests that the variable x increases without bound. For example, the function f(x) = 1/x, or the reciprocal of x, tends toward 0 as x approaches infinity as a limit. This process of approaching is crucial to the definition of the derivative and the integral in calculus, as well as to many other concepts of mathematical analysis.

This entry comes from Encyclopædia Britannica Concise.
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