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Chapter 1

Hypergeometric Series
1.1 The general hypergeometric series
Denition 1.1. A series

k=0
t
k
is called hypergeometric if t
k+1
/t
k
is a rational
function of k.
Denition 1.2. The rising factorial

k1
j=0
(a+j) = a(a+1)(a+2) (a+k1)
is denoted by the Pochhammer symbol (a)
k
.
Note that (a)
0
= 1 and k! = (1)
k
.
As we said hypergeometric series

k=0
t
k
has the property that t
k+1
/t
k
is
a rational function R(k). Without loss of generality, we may write R(k) in the
form
R(k) =
(k + a
1
)(k + a
2
) (k + a
p
)
(k + 1)(k + b
1
) (k + b
q
)
z,
and use this form to motivate the following standard hypergeometric notation:
Denition 1.3.
p
F
q
_
a
1
, a
2
, . . . , a
p
b
1
, b
2
, . . . , b
q
; z
_
:=

k=0
(a
1
)
k
(a
2
)
k
(a
p
)
k
k!(b
1
)
k
(b
q
)
k
z
k
.
We will assume that none of the b
j
is a nonpositive integer, as this would
cause there to be zeros in the denominator.
Example 1.4. 1.
e
z
=

k=0
z
k
k!
=
0
F
0
_

; z
_
.
2.
cos z =

k=0
(1)
k
z
2k
(2k)!
=
0
F
1
_

1
2
;
z
2
4
_
.
1
3.
sinz =

k=0
(1)
k
z
2k+1
(2k + 1)!
= z
0
F
1
_

3
2
;
z
2
4
_
.
4.
sin
1
z = z
2
F
1
_
1
2
,
1
2
3
2
; z
2
_
, |z| < 1
5.
1
1 z
=
1
F
0
_
1

; z
_
, |z| < 1
Notice that if at least one of the a
j
is a negative integer, say n, then for
all k > n, the term t
k
= 0, and thus the series has only nitely many nonzero
terms, so the question of convergence of the series does not arise.
On the other hand, if none of the a
j
is a negative integer and z = 0, then
the series has innitely many nonzero terms.
Theorem 1.5. The series
p
F
q
_
a1,a2,...,ap
b1,b2,...,bq
; z
_
converges absolutely for all z if p < q + 1,
diverges for all z = 0 if p > q + 1,
converges absolutely for |z| < 1 if p = q + 1,
diverges for |z| > 1 if p = q + 1.
Proof. Apply the ratio test from elementary calculus.
The ratio test, however, provides no convergence information when |z| = 1
and p = q + 1.
Let us now turn our attention to the particular case where p = q + 1 = 2.
1.2 Gaus Hypergeometric Series
The hypergeometric series
2
F
1
_
a, b
c
; z
_
(1.1)
was studied extensively by K. F. Gau, and he delivered a famous lecture on
such series in January 1812. By the results of the previous section, we know
that (1.1) converges absolutely when |z| < 1 and diverges for |z| > 1. In order
to study the case where |z| = 1, we will need some background results.
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1.2.1 Background material
Denition 1.6 (Big O notation). Let
1
,
2
,
3
, . . . and z
1
, z
2
, . . . be a pair
of sequences where
k
/z
k
< C for all suciently large k and C is a constant
(independent of k). We then say that the sequence {
k
} is of order z
k
and write

k
= O(z
k
).
Example 1.7.
2
k
3
= O
_
1
k
2
_
because (
2
k
3
)/(
1
k
2
) =
2
k
< 1 for all k > 2.
Proposition 1.8 (The Binomial Series). For p constant and |z| < 1,
(1 + z)
p
= 1 + pz + O(z
2
)
Proof. The Maclaurin series expansion of f(z) is
f(z) =

k=0
f
(k)
(z)
k!
z
k
,
so with f(z) = (1 + z)
p
, we have f(0) = 1, f

(0) = p. The convergence follows


by the ratio test. (Note that if p is a nonnegative integer, then the Maclaurin
series reduces to a nite sum, and thus is valid for all z.)
Theorem 1.9 (De Morgan). Let

k=1
u
k
be a series whose terms satisfy
lim
k

u
k+1
u
k

= 1.
The series

k=1
u
k
converges absolutely if there exists a positive real number C
such that
lim
k
k
_

u
k+1
u
k

1
_
= (1 + C).
Proof. Let v
k
= Ak
(1+c/2)
, where A is a constant. Clearly,

k=1
v
k
is a
convergent series (by the p-series test from elementary calculus). Notice that
v
k+1
v
k
=
_
k
k + 1
_
1+c/2
=
_
1 +
1
k
_
(1+c/2)
= 1
1 + c/2
k
+ O
_
1
k
2
_
,
where the last equality follows from Proposition 1.8 with z = 1/k and p =
(1 + c/2). Thus,
lim
k
k
_
v
k+1
v
k
1
_
=
_
1 +
c
2
_
.
A suitable choice of the constant A will ensure that for all k, |u
k
| < v
k
. Since

v
k
converges, so does

|u
k
|, and thus

u
k
is absolutely convergent.
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Corollary 1.10 (Raabes test). If

u
k+1
u
k

= 1 +
B
k
+ O
_
1
k
2
_
,
(where B is a constant independent of k), then

u
k
is absolutely convergent if
B < 1.
1.2.2 The convergence of Gaus series when |z| = 1.
Consider

k=0
t
k
=
2
F
1
_
a,b
c
; z
_
where |z| = 1. The numbers a, b, and c are
complex; let us write them as a = a
1
+ia
2
, b = b
1
+ib
2
and c = c
1
+ic
2
, where
a
1
, a
2
, b
1
, b
2
, c
1
, c
2
R and i =

1. Then we have

t
k+1
t
k

(k + a)(k + b)
(k + 1)(k + c)

(1 +
a
k
)(1 +
b
k
)

(1 +
1
k
)(1 +
c
k
)

1
=

1 +
a + b
k
+ O
_
1
k
2
_

1
1 + c
k
+ O
_
1
k
2
_

1 +
a + b c 1
k
+ O
_
1
k
2
_

1 +
a
1
+ b
1
c
1
1 + i(a
2
+ b
2
c
2
)
k
+ O
_
1
k
2
_

_
1 +
a
1
+ b
1
c
1
1
k
_
2
+
_
a
2
+ b
2
c
2
k
_
2
+ O
_
1
k
2
_
2
= 1 +
a
1
+ b
1
c
1
1
k
+ O
_
1
k
2
_
.
Thus by Corollary 1.10, the series converges absolutely if (a + b c) < 0,
where z denotes the real part of the complex number z. It turns out that even
more is known than just whether or on the series converges in the z = 1 case.
Gau gave an explicit formula for the sum of the series:
Theorem 1.11 (Gaus Hypergeometric Summation Formula). If (a+
b c) < 0,
2
F
1
_
a, b
c
; 1
_
=
(c)(c a b)
(c a)(c b)
.
Sketch of proof. First, show that
2
F
1
_
a, b
c
; 1
_
=
(c a)(c b)
c(c a b)
2
F
1
_
a, b
c + 1
; 1
_
,
and more generally that
2
F
1
_
a, b
c
; 1
_
=
(c a)
n
(c b)
n
(c)
n
(c a b)
n
2
F
1
_
a, b
c + n
; 1
_
4
for n Z
+
. Then show that
lim
n
(c a)
n
(c b)
n
(c)
n
(c a b)
n
=
(c a)(c b)
(c)(c a b)
and
lim
n
2
F
1
_
a, b
c + n
; 1
_
= 1.
If a = n where n is a positive integer, then Theorem 1.11 simplies to
Corollary 1.12 (Chu-Vandermonde).
2
F
1
_
n, b
c
; 1
_
=
(c b)
n
(c)
n
.
Of course, this result follows easily as a consequence of Theorem 1.11. We
choose to present an independent proof, however.
Proof. Let
F(n, k) :=
_
(n)
k
(b)
k
(c)n
k!(c)
k
(cb)n
if k 0
0, if k < 0
,
let
R(n, k) :=
k(1 c k)
n(n + c 1)
,
let
G(n, k) := F(n, k)R(n, k),
and let
f(n) :=

k=0
F(n, k) =
(c)
n
(c b)
n
2
F
1
_
n, b
c
; 1
_
.
kc + kn kb + nb k
n(n + c 1)
=
kc + kn kb + nb k
n(n + c 1)

(c + n 1)n (n k)(c + n b 1)
n(c + n 1)
=
(b + k)(n k) + k(k 1 + c)
n(n + c 1)
1
(n k)(c + n b 1)
n(c + n 1)
=
(n k)(b + k)(k + 1)(k + c)
n(n + c 1)(k + 1)(k + c)
+
k(k 1 + c)
n(n + c 1)

1 F(n 1, k)
F(n, k)
=
F(n, k + 1)R(n, k + 1)
F(n, k)
R(n, k)
F(n, k) F(n 1, k) = F(n, k + 1)R(n, k + 1) F(n, k)R(n, k)
F(n, k) F(n 1, k) = G(n, k + 1) G(n, k)
=

k=
{F(n, k) F(n 1, k)} =

k=
{G(n, k + 1) G(n, k)}
= f(n) f(n 1) = 0
= f(n) = f(n 1) for n Z
+
.
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Thus f(n) is constant for all n Z
+
, so all we need to do to nd f(n) for
general n is to evaluate it at some particular value of n, say n = 0.
f(n) = f(0) =

k=0
(0)
k
(b)
k
(c)
0
k!(c)
k
(c b)
0
= 1.
Thus,
(c)
n
(c b)
n
2
F
1
_
n, b
c
; 1
_
= 1,
or, equivalently,
2
F
1
_
n, b
c
; 1
_
=
(c b)
k
(c)
k
.
Remark 1.13. The novelty of the preceding proof is that it was produced auto-
matically by a computer programmed to carry out the so-called WZ algorithm
due to Wilf and Zeilberger. Zeilberger is professor here at Rutgers.
Remark 1.14. Corollary 1.12 was discovered in 1770 by the French mathe-
matician Vandermonde and was called Vandermondes sum in the literature
for many years. Recently, however, it was noticed that this identity had been
discovered more than four and a half centuries earlier and had appeared in a
book written in 1303 by the Chinese mathematician Chu Shih-Chieh, so we
now call it the Chu-Vandermonde sum. This same book from 1303 contains
an illustration of what we call Pascals triangle and refers to it as an ancient
method.
1.3 Exercises
1. Prove that
10 + 20k
k
3
= O
_
1
k
2
_
.
2. Consider the series

k=0
k!
()
k
where is a positive real constant. Find the values of for which the
series converges absolutely.
3. Find the Maclaurin series for tan
1
(z), write the series in hypergeomet-
ric
p
F
q
notation, and nd the set of z for which the series converges
absolutely.
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4. Find conditions on the complex numbers a, b, and c which cause
2
F
1
_
a, b
c
; i
_
to be absolutely convergent.
5. Show that
d
2
dz
2
_
2
F
1
_
a, b
c
; z
__
=
a(a + 1)b(b + 1)
c(c + 1)
2
F
1
_
a + 2, b + 2
c + 2
; z
_
.
6. Prove that y =
2
F
1
_
a,b
c
; z
_
is a solution to the dierential equation
z(1 z)
d
2
y
dz
2
+
_
c (a + b + 1)z
_
dy
dz
aby = 0.
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