In mathematics, a series is often represented as the sum of a sequence of terms. That is, a series is represented as a list of numbers with addition operations between them, for example this arithmetic sequence:
1 + 2 + 3 + 4 + 5 + ... + 99 + 100.
In most cases of interest the terms of the sequence are produced according to a certain rule, such as by a formula, by an algorithm, by a sequence of measurements, or even by a random number generator.
A series may be finite or infinite. Finite series may be handled with elementary algebra, but infinite series require tools from mathematical analysis if they are to be applied in anything more than a tentative way.
Examples of simple series include the arithmetic series which is a sum of an arithmetic progression, written as:
and finite geometric series, a sum of a geometric progression, which can be written as:
Mathematicians usually study a series as a pair of sequences: the sequence of terms of the series: a0, a1, a2, … and the sequence of partial sums S0, S1, S2, …, where Sn = a0 + a1 + … + an. The notation
represents then a priori this pair of sequences, which is always well defined, but which may or may not converge. In the case of convergence, i.e., if the sequence of partial sums SN has a limit, the notation is also used to denote the limit of this sequence. To make a distinction between these two completely different objects (sequence vs. numerical value), one may sometimes omit the limits (atop and below the sum's symbol) in the former case, although it is usually clear from the context which one is meant.
Also, different notions of convergence of such a sequence do exist (absolute convergence, summability, etc). In case the elements of the sequence (and thus of the series) are not simple numbers, but, for example, functions, still more types of convergence can be considered (pointwise convergence, uniform convergence, etc.; see below).
Mathematicians extend this idiom to other, equivalent notions of series. For instance, when we talk about a recurring decimal, we are talking, in fact, just about the series for which it stands (0.1 + 0.01 + 0.001 + …). But because these series always converge to real numbers (because of what is called the completeness property of the real numbers), to talk about the series in this way is the same as to talk about the numbers for which they stand. In particular, it should offend no sensibilities if we make no distinction between 0.111… and /9. Less clear is the argument that 9 × 0.111… = 0.999… = 1, but it is not untenable when we consider that we can formalize the proof knowing only that limit laws preserve the arithmetic operations. See 0.999... for more.
History of the theory of infinite series
The idea of an infinite series expansion of a function was first conceived in India by Madhava in the 14th century, who also developed the concepts of the power series, the Taylor series, the Maclaurin series, rational approximations of infinite series, and infinite continued fractions. He discovered a number of infinite series, including the Taylor series of the trigonometric functions of sine, cosine, tangent and arctangent, the Taylor series approximations of the sine and cosine functions, and the power series of the radius, diameter, circumference, angle θ, π and π/4. His students and followers in the Kerala School further expanded his works with various other series expansions and approximations, until the 16th century.
In the 17th century, James Gregory also worked on infinite series and published several Maclaurin series. In 1715, a general method for constructing the Taylor series for all functions for which they exist was provided by Brook Taylor. Leonhard Euler in the 18th century, developed the theory of hypergeometric series and q-series.
Development of infinite series
The study of the convergence criteria of a series began with Madhava in the 14th century, who developed tests of convergence of infinite series, which his followers further developed at the Kerala School.
In Europe however, the investigation of the validity of infinite series is considered to begin with Gauss in the 19th century. Euler had already considered the hypergeometric series
on which Gauss published a memoir in 1812. It established simpler criteria of convergence, and the questions of remainders and the range of convergence.
Cauchy (1821) insisted on strict tests of convergence; he showed that if two series are convergent their product is not necessarily so, and with him begins the discovery of effective criteria. The terms convergence and divergence had been introduced long before by Gregory (1668). Leonhard Euler and Gauss had given various criteria, and Colin Maclaurin had anticipated some of Cauchy's discoveries. Cauchy advanced the theory of power series by his expansion of a complex function in such a form.
Abel (1826) in his memoir on the binomial series
corrected certain of Cauchy's conclusions, and gave a completely scientific summation of the series for complex values of m and x. He showed the necessity of considering the subject of continuity in questions of convergence.
Cauchy's methods led to special rather than general criteria, and the same may be said of Raabe (1832), who made the first elaborate investigation of the subject, of De Morgan (from 1842), whose logarithmic test DuBois-Reymond (1873) and Pringsheim (1889) have shown to fail within a certain region; of Bertrand (1842), Bonnet (1843), Malmsten (1846, 1847, the latter without integration); Stokes (1847), Paucker (1852), Tchebichef (1852), and Arndt (1853).
General criteria began with Kummer (1835), and have been studied by Eisenstein (1847), Weierstrass in his various contributions to the theory of functions, Dini (1867), DuBois-Reymond (1873), and many others. Pringsheim's (from 1889) memoirs present the most complete general theory.
The theory of uniform convergence was treated by Cauchy (1821), his limitations being pointed out by Abel, but the first to attack it successfully were Seidel and Stokes (1847-48). Cauchy took up the problem again (1853), acknowledging Abel's criticism, and reaching the same conclusions which Stokes had already found. Thomae used the doctrine (1866), but there was great delay in recognizing the importance of distinguishing between uniform and non-uniform convergence, in spite of the demands of the theory of functions.
A series is said to be semi-convergent (or conditionally convergent) if it is convergent but not absolutely convergent.
Semi-convergent series were studied by Poisson (1823), who also gave a general form for the remainder of the Maclaurin formula. The most important solution of the problem is due, however, to Jacobi (1834), who attacked the question of the remainder from a different standpoint and reached a different formula. This expression was also worked out, and another one given, by Malmsten (1847). Schlömilch (Zeitschrift, Vol.I, p. 192, 1856) also improved Jacobi's remainder, and showed the relation between the remainder and Bernoulli's function
Genocchi (1852) has further contributed to the theory.
Among the early writers was Wronski, whose "loi suprême" (1815) was hardly recognized until Cayley (1873) brought it into prominence.
Fourier series were being investigated as the result of physical considerations at the same time that Gauss, Abel, and Cauchy were working out the theory of infinite series. Series for the expansion of sines and cosines, of multiple arcs in powers of the sine and cosine of the arc had been treated by Jakob Bernoulli (1702) and his brother Johann Bernoulli (1701) and still earlier by Viète. Euler and Lagrange simplified the subject, as did Poinsot, Schröter, Glaisher, and Kummer.
Fourier (1807) set for himself a different problem, to expand a given function of x in terms of the sines or cosines of multiples of x, a problem which he embodied in his Théorie analytique de la Chaleur (1822). Euler had already given the formulas for determining the coefficients in the series; Fourier was the first to assert and attempt to prove the general theorem. Poisson (1820-23) also attacked the problem from a different standpoint. Fourier did not, however, settle the question of convergence of his series, a matter left for Cauchy (1826) to attempt and for Dirichlet (1829) to handle in a thoroughly scientific manner (see convergence of Fourier series). Dirichlet's treatment (Crelle, 1829), of trigonometric series was the subject of criticism and improvement by Riemann (1854), Heine, Lipschitz, Schläfli, and DuBois-Reymond. Among other prominent contributors to the theory of trigonometric and Fourier series were Dini, Hermite, Halphen, Krause, Byerly and Appell.
In general, the geometric series
converges if and only if |z| < 1.
converges if r > 1 and diverges for r ≤ 1, which can be shown with the integral criterion described below in convergence tests. As a function of r, the sum of this series is Riemann's zeta function.
converges if the sequence bn converges to a limit L as n goes to infinity. The value of the series is then b1 − L.
A geometric series is one where each successive term is produced by multiplying the previous term by a constant number. Example:
The harmonic series is the series
An alternating series is a series where terms alternate signs. Example:
A telescoping series Some types of infinite series
Main article: absolute convergence.
is said to converge absolutely if the series of absolute values
converges. In this case, the original series, and all reorderings of it, converge, and converge towards the same sum.
The Riemann series theorem says that if a series converges, but not absolutely, then one can always find a reordering of the terms so that the reordered series diverges. Moreover, if the an are real and S is any real number, one can find a reordering so that the reordered series converges with limit S.