NE406 Radiation
Protection and Shielding

Lesson 5Representations of angular dependenceThis reading concerns the representation of current and flux angular dependence with approximate polynomials. In the practice of nuclear engineering, however, the most common use of angular polynomial approximations is in the representation of scattering cross section distributions. That is, if we have a scatteringtype interaction of some particle with a stationary nucleus, the particle will deflect by some angle :
Nuclear cross section experimentalists will develop data for particular particles, target nucleus, and particle energy. The resulting function then must be expressed as some function of deflection angle; the method generally used is to present the data, , in the form of Legendre expansion coefficients in the cosine, , using the approximation:
The are the Legendre Polynomials that are discussed in Appendix B.4, which you read. The Legendre polynomials are just fancy combinations of the regular algebraic function series . In that case, you might ask, why bother? Why not just present the data as a "straight" algebraic expansion: ?
The answer is that the Legendre polynomials offer several useful advantages:
The last point is the most important, so let me elaborate on it. If the data is fit to a Legendre expansion to, say, 5th order:
and the user decided that the current application only required a 2nd order expansion, the user could just use the first 3 coefficients, i.e.,
This is NOT true for the algebraic series. One must use the whole series every time, which can unnecessarily add to the time and expense of an analysis.

Return to Course Outline © 1998 by Ronald E. Pevey. All rights reserved. 