724 words - 3 pages

An Interesting Equality for Sum of Reciprocals of the Squares

∑∞

k=1 1/k

2

= pi2/6

March 28, 2007

Overview

Some History about the Sum

Review: Maclaurin Series

Euler’s “Proof”

Expanding sin−1 x (or arcsinx)

Choe’s Proof

Sources for Further Reading

Some History about the Sum

Let I denote the sum

∑

∞

k=1

1/k2

Jakob Bernoulli (1654–1705) proved that I < 2. Although he and

his brother (Johann) tried very hard, they were not able to find the

exact value of I

Jakob said, “if anybody has discovered the answer that makes us

feel so defeated, please contact us, we will be very grateful.”

Leonard Euler (1707–1783) gave a “proof” that I = pi2/6 in 1734

In fact, he continued to produce the sum of reciprocals of the

positive even powers

Here, we will look at an alternative proof by Boo Rim Choe in 1987

Maclaurin Series

Theorem (Maclaurin Series)

The function, f(x), can be expressed by

f(x) = f(0) + f ′(0)x +

f ′′(0)

2!

x2 + · · · + f

(k)(0)

k!

xk + · · ·

How to prove?

Given f(x), can we find its constant term?

Can we find the coefficient of its x term?

In general, what should be the coefficient of its xk term?

Euler’s Proof

Euler observed that the function

sinx

has roots at x = 0,±pi,±2pi,±3pi, . . .

Next, he observed that the infinite product

x

(

1− x

2

(pi)2

)(

1− x

2

(2pi)2

)(

1− x

2

(3pi)2

)

· · ·

also has roots at x = 0,±pi,±2pi,±3pi, . . .

Euler believed that these two functions are equivalent

By Maclaurin series on sinx, we find that the coefficient of the x3

term = −1/6

On the other hand, for the infinite product, the coefficient of the x3

term = −I/pi2 = −∑∞

k=1

1/(k2pi2)

Thus, Euler concluded that I = pi2/6

Expanding Inverse of Sine (1)

Fact

For |x| < 1, ∫

1√

1−...

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