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# SHES 2303 MATHEMATICS IN BIOLOGY

## Let us consider a sequence of n numbers

{an } = {a1 , a2 , a3 , · · · , an }.

For example, if an = n, then {an } is just the sequence of positive integers from 1 to n.
We are interested in the behaviour of an when n becomes large. Here are some examples:
an = n becomes arbitrarily large as n tends to infinity; the sequence {an } is therefore
divergent. On the other hand, if an = 1/n2 , which tends to 0 (a constant) as n tends to
infinity, then the sequence {an } is convergent.

## EXAMPLE 1. Is the sequence

 
1 1 1 n+1 1
1, − , , − , · · · , (−1) ,
2 3 4 n

convergent or divergent?

SOLUTION. As n gets larger, the fractional part gets smaller, with its sign oscillating
between +1 and -1. It manages to converge to 0 as n tends to infinity. ♣

## Knowing the convergence or divergence of a sequence of numbers is important for

finding infinite sums. If a sequence is divergent, then the sum of all the elements in this
divergent sequence must also be infinite. On the other hand, if a sequence is convergent,
the sum of all the elements in this convergent sequence may or may not be finite. The
infinite sum of {an } is generally called an infinite series. It is defined as the limit of the
sum of {an } (the partial sum). For example, suppose an = (1/2)n−1 . The sum of all n
terms in {an } is therefore
n  i−1
X 1 1 1 1
Sn = =1+ + 2 + · · · n−1 .
i=1
2 2 2 2

∞  i−1
X 1
lim Sn = ,
n→∞
i=1
2

## with 2 as the answer (geometric series).

1
The geometric series warrants special attention because it appears very often in math-
ematical work. In a general, we write a geometric series as

X
2 n−1
a + ar + ar + · · · + ar + ··· = arn−1 ,
n=1

where a and r are fixed real numbers, with a 6= 0 and r can either be positive or negative.
For |r| ≥ 1, this series diverges, since the nth term increases as n increases. For |r| < 1,
the series converges to a/(1 − r). The proof is left as an exercise.

## 2 Determining Convergence and Divergence of Infi-

nite Series

When we have an infinite series, we are usually concerned with two issues: does it
converge? and if it converges, what is its sum? A test for divergence uses the simple fact
that if a series converges, limn→∞ an must
P be 0.2 So if the latter is not 0 or does not exist,
then the series diverges. For example, ∞ n=1 n diverges because n 2
→ ∞. Also,

X −n
,
n=1
n + 1

X
(−1)n+1 ,
n=1

## which diverges because limn→∞ (−1)n+1 does not exist.

While we can prove divergence by showing that the limit of the nth term as n → ∞
does not exist, or is nonzero, we cannot prove convergence by simply noting that the
limit of the nth term is 0. The latter is a necessary, but not sufficient condition for
convergence. To check convergence, we can use several tests, not all of which will be
covered here.

## 1. The Integral Test: It can be shown that

X Z ∞
an ≤ C + f (x)dx,
n=N N

## where an = f (n), C is some constant, and f is a continuous, positive, decreasing function

of x for all x ≥ N . Because of this, the series and the integral converge or diverge together.
2
EXAMPLE 3. The sum ∞
X 1
,
n=1
n2
converges because
∞ Z ∞
X 1 1
2
<1+ dx.
n=1
n 1 x2
(sketch a graph to show this) The value of the integral is 1, so we know that the sum on
the left-hand side must be less than 2 (i.e. it converges to some value less than 2). It can
be shown using advanced calculus that the exact value is π 2 /6 ≈ 1.644. ♣

## EXAMPLE 4. The sum ∞

X 1
,
n=1
n
diverges because
∞ Z ∞
X 1 1
<1+ dx.
n=1
n 1 x
Since the integral is ∞, the series diverges. ♣

## 2. The Direct Comparison

P Test: P
a) If an ≤ cn and Pcn converges, thenP an converges.
b) If an ≥ dn and dn diverges, then an diverges.

## EXAMPLE 5. Let an = 1/n!. If we choose cn = 1/2n , then an ≤ cn (verify). Since

X 1
= 1,
n=1
2n

The series ∞
X 1
,
n=1
n!
converges, and must be less than 1 (the true value is e − 1 as we shall see later). ♣

3
EXAMPLE 6. Check if the following series converges or not:

X 3
√ .
n=1
n+ n

SOLUTION. Write an = 3/(n + n), and choose dn = 3/(n + n) = 3/(2n). Clearly,
dn > an . Now,

X 3
,
n=1
2n
diverges (see Example 4). This implies that

X 3
√ ,
n=1
n+ n

## 3 Taylor & Maclaurin Series

Have you ever wondered how values of like e and log 0.5 are computed? It turns out that
there is a nice theory that allows us to compute such values to any degree of accuracy
that we need.

## DEFINITION 1 (TC). Let f be a differentiable function with derivatives of all orders

over some interval with a as an interior point. We call the following series

X f (k) (a) f 00 (a) f (n) (a)
(x − a)k = f (a) + f 0 (a)(x − a) + (x − a)2 + · · · + (x − a)n + · · · ,
k=0
k! 2! n!

the Taylor expansion of f (x) about a. The Maclaurin series generated by f is just the
Taylor series with a = 0.

EXAMPLE 7. Suppose we have f (x) = x. To find the Taylor series generated by f
about a = 1, we need to find the nth derivative of f . Now, we know that
1
f 0 (x) = √
2 x
1
f 00 (x) = −
2 · 2x3/2
3
f 000 (x) =
2 · 2 · 2x5/2
3·5
f (4) (x) = −
2 · 2 · 2 · 2x5/2
4
By induction, we know that

(2n − 3)!!
f (n) (x) = (−1)n+1 ,
2n x(2n−3)/2
for n = 2, 3 . . ., where (2n − 3)!! = (2n − 3)(2n − 5) · · · 3 · 1. We can therefore write the
required Taylor series as

√ 1 X (2k − 3)!!
x = 1 + (x − 1) + (−1)k+1 k (2k−3)/2 (x − 1)k .
2 k=2
2 k!x

Suppose we wish to find 1.01. You have already learned how to do this using linearisa-
tion. Actually,
√ the latter is a special case of using only the first two terms of the Taylor
series of x to approximate the true value. The higher order terms can be ignored √ be-
k k
cause (x − 1) = 0.01 ≈ 0. The so-called first order Taylor approximation of 1.01 is
therefore 1.005. The true value is 1.004988 (to 6 decimal places). ♣

In many cases, it is sufficient to just use the Maclaurin series. Below is a list of
Maclaurin series for very commonly encountered functions, from which several other
more series can be derived. You should try to confirm their correctness using Taylor
expansion.

1 X
= 1 + x + x2 + · · · + xn + · · · = xn ; |x| < 1
1−x n=0

x2 xn X xn
ex = 1 + x + + ··· + + ··· = ;
2! n! n=0
n!

x3 x5 x2n+1 X x2n+1
sin x = x − + − · · · + (−1)n + ··· = (−1)n (−1)n .
3! 5! (2n + 1)! n=0
(2n + 1)!

## From the first series, if we replace x with −x, then we have

1 X
= 1 − x + x2 − · · · + (−1)n xn + · · · = (−1)n xn ;
1+x n=0

## if we integrate both sides with respect to x, we obtain

x2 x3 n−1 x
n
n x
n+1 X
n−1 x
n
log(1 + x) = x − + − · · · + (−1) + (−1) + ··· = (−1) ,
2 3 n n+1 n=0
n

which is valid for −1 < x ≤ 1. We can construct Maclaurin series for other functions by
appropriately applying integration or differentiation operation on the three basic expan-
sions given above. These are given as exercises in the tutorial.