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Sums of generalized harmonic series for kids from five to fifteen

Sums of generalized harmonic series for kids from five to fifteen

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Published by silagadze
We reexamine remarkable connection, first discovered by Beukers, Kolk and Calabi, between $\zeta(2n)$, the value of the Riemann zeta-function at even positive integer, and the volume of some $2n$-dimensional polytope.
We reexamine remarkable connection, first discovered by Beukers, Kolk and Calabi, between $\zeta(2n)$, the value of the Riemann zeta-function at even positive integer, and the volume of some $2n$-dimensional polytope.

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Published by: silagadze on Mar 19, 2010
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Sums of generalized harmonic series for kidsfrom five to fifteen
Z. K. SilagadzeBudker Institute of Nuclear Physics andNovosibirsk State University, 630 090, Novosibirsk, Russia
Abstract
We reexamine remarkable connection, first discovered by Beuk-ers, Kolk and Calabi, between
ζ 
(2
n
), the value of the Riemann zeta-function at even positive integer, and the volume of some 2
n
-dimensio-nal polytope. It can be shown that this volume equals to the traceof some compact self-adjoint operator. We provide an explicit ex-pression for the kernel of this operator in terms of Euler polynomials.This explicit expression makes it easy to calculate the volume of thepolytope and hence
ζ 
(2
n
). In the case of odd positive integers, theexpression for the kernel enables to rediscover an integral representa-tion for
ζ 
(2
n
+1), obtained originally by different method by Cvijovi´cand Klinowski. Finally, we indicate that the origin of the Beukers-Kolk-Calabi’s miraculous change of variables in the multidimensionalintegral, which is at the heart of all of this business, can be traceddown to the amoeba associated with the certain Laurent polynomial.
1 Introduction
In a nice little book [1] Vladimir Arnold has collected 77 mathematical prob-lems for Kids from 5 to 15 to stimulate the development of a culture of critical thinking in pupils. Problem 51 in this book asks to calculate the sumof inverse squares of the positive integers and prove the Euler’s celebratedformula
n
=1
1
n
2
=
π
2
6
.
(1)1
 
Well, there are many ways to do this (see, for example,[2,3, 4,5, 6,7] and references therein), some maybe even accessible for kids under fifteen.However, in this note we concentrate on the approach of Beukers, Kolk andCalabi [8], further elaborated by Elkies in[9]. This approach incorporates pleasant features which all the kids (and even some adults) adore: simplicity,magic and the depth that allows to go beyond the particular case (1). Thesimplicity, however, is not everywhere explicit in[8] and [9], while the magic longs for explanation after the first admiration fades away. Below we will tryto enhance the simplicity of the approach and somewhat uncover the secretof magic.The paper is organized as follows. In the first two sections we reconsiderthe evaluation of 
ζ 
(2) and
ζ 
(3) in order technical details of the general casenot to obscure the simple underlying ideas. Then we elaborate the generalcase and provide the main result of this work, the formula for the kernelwhich allows to simplify considerably the evaluation of 
ζ 
(2
n
) from [8, 9]and re-derive Cvijovi´c and Klinowski’s integral representation[10] for
ζ 
(2
n
+1). Finally, we ponder over the mysterious relations between the sums of generalized harmonic series and amoebas, first indicated by Passare in [7].This relation enables to somewhat uncover the origin of the Beukers-Kolk-Calabi’s highly non-trivial change of variables.
2 Evaluation of 
ζ 
(2)
Recall the definition of the Riemann zeta function
ζ 
(
s
) =
n
=1
1
n
s
.
(2)The sum (1) is just
ζ 
(2) which we will now evaluate following the methodof Beukers, Kolk and Calabi [8]. Our starting point will be the dilogarithmfunction
Li
2
(
x
) =
n
=1
x
n
n
2
.
(3)Clearly,
Li
2
(0) = 0 and
Li
2
(1) =
ζ 
(2). Differentiating (3), we get
xddxLi
2
(
x
) =
n
=1
x
n
n
=
ln(1
x
)
,
2
 
and, therefore,
ζ 
(2) =
Li
2
(1) =
1
 
0
ln(1
x
)
xdx
=
 
dxdy
1
xy,
(4)where
=
{
(
x,y
) : 0
x
1
,
0
y
1
}
is the unit square. Let us note
 
dxdy
1
xy
+
 
dxdy
1 +
xy
= 2
 
dxdy
1
x
2
y
2
,
(5)and
 
dxdy
1
xy
 
dxdy
1 +
xy
=12
 
dxdy
1
xy,
(6)where the last equation follows from
 
2
xy
1
x
2
y
2
dxdy
=12
 
dx
2
dy
2
1
x
2
y
2
=12
 
dxdy
1
xy.
It follows from equations (5) and (6) that
ζ 
(2) =43
 
dxdy
1
x
2
y
2
.
(7)Now let us make the Beukers-Kolk-Calabi’s magic change of variables in thistwo-dimensional integral [8]
x
=sin
u
cos
v, y
=sin
v
cos
u,
(8)with the Jacobi determinant
∂ 
(
x,y
)
∂ 
(
u,v
)=
cos
u
cos
v
sin
v
sin
u
cos
2
u
sin
u
sin
v
cos
2
v
cos
v
cos
u
= 1
sin
2
u
sin
2
v
cos
2
v
cos
2
u
= 1
x
2
y
2
.
Then miraculously
ζ 
(2) =43
 
dudv
=43
Area
(∆)
,
(9)3

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