Math  Compound
posted by Anonymous .
If a bank offers interest at a nominal rate of 6%, how much greater is the effective rate if interest is compounded continuously than if the compounding is quarterly?
I don't get this question at all... All I'm given is the rate and how am I suppose to compare compounded continuously and quarterly if I'm not given the initial value, time and so on...

well, lets compare both to compounding once a year for n years.
Once a year
final/original = 1.06^n
Four times a year
6/4 = 1.5% per quarter
final/original = 1.015^4n
Continuously
final/original = e^.06 n
Well, lets see how four times a year compares to once a year
compare 1 = 1.015^4n / 1.06^n
ln compare 1 = 4 n ln 1.015  n ln 1.06
= n(.05955445.0582689) = .0012855419 n
so
compare 1 = e^.0012855419 n
or .12855 % better than once a year
Now do the same for continuous
compare 2 = e^06 n / 1.06^n
ln compare 2 = .06 n  n ln 1.06
= .001731 n
compare 2 = e^.001731 n
or .1731 % better than once a year 
Quarterly componding of interest after one year at 6% annual rate gives you an annual yield of
(1 + 0.06/4)^4  1 = 6.136%
Continuous compounding requires you to consider limits. The answer is
Limit (as n approaches infinity) of
1 + 0.06/n)^n  1
Calculus shows that this equals
e^(0.06) 1 = 6.184%
If you don't understand limits and e, consider the "daily interest" case, with n = 365. In that case the annual yield is 6.183% 
Just do them each for one year
yearly 1.06
quarterly
1.015^4 = 1.06136 or 6.136 % yearly
continuously
e^.06 = 1.06184 or 6.184 % yearly 
thank you both for your help... I like Damon's method as it seems straightforward and I can follow it...
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