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Many of the series you come across will fall into one of several basic types. Recognizing

these types will help you decide which tests or strategies will be most useful in finding

whether a series is convergent or divergent.

p-Series

1

is

p

n =1 n

Geometric Series

convergent if p > 1

divergent if p 1

ar

is convergent if r < 1

n 1

n =1

divergent if r 1

If a n has a form that is similar to one of the above, see whether you can use the

comparison test:

1

Example: 2

Comparison Test

n =1 n + n

(Warning! This only works if a n and bn are always positive.)

1

Pick bn = 2 (p-series)

n

(i) If a n bn for all n, and bn is convergent, then a n is convergent.

1

1

(ii) If a n bn for all n, and bn is divergent, then a n is divergent.

2 , and

an = 2

n +n n

1

converges, so by

2

n

=1

n

Consider a series bn so that the ratio

1

1

Example: n

(i), 2

converges.

a n bn cancels the dominant terms in

n =1 2 1

n =1 n + n

the numerator and denominator of a n ,

1

Pick bn = n (geometric)

as in the example to the left. If you

2

n

know whether bn converges or not,

a

1 2

lim n = lim n

try using the limit comparison test.

n b

n 2 1 1

n

1

= lim

=1> 0

n 1 1 2 n

Limit Comparison Test

1

converges,

so

n

a

n =1 2

If lim n = c > 0 (and c is finite), then a n and bn either both

n b

1

n

converges.

n

converge

or both diverge.

n =1 2 1

Some series will obviously not

convergerecognizing these can save

you a lot of time and guesswork.

Test for Divergence

If lim a n 0 , then

n

n =1

1

n 1

n2 = 1 0

= lim

lim a n = lim 2

n

n

n n + n

1

1+

n

2

n 1

so 2

is divergent.

n =1 n + n

2

n2 1

2

n =1 n + n

Example:

is divergent.

If a n can be written as a function with a nice

integral, the integral test may prove useful:

Example:

n

n =1

f ( x) =

If f ( x)dx converges, then

1

n =1

1

Example:

(1)

n 1

converges.

= lim tan 1 x

an is divergent.

n =1

n =1

= lim tan 1 t

, so

n

n =1

1

is

+1

If (i) bn +1 bn for all n and (ii)

lim bn = 0 , then

n

1

n2

= lim

=0

3

n n + 1

n n + 1 n 2

(1) n1

(1)

n 1

n =1

bn is

convergent.

(ii) lim

2 4 4

convergent.

n +1

1

1

1

1

(i) = n + 2 , so

= n +1+

> n +1

bn +1

bn

(n + 1) 2

n

1

1

1

1

, so

n+ 2 =

, so bn +1 bn

bn

bn +1 bn

n

n =1

So

1

1

dx

2

1 x 2 + 1 dx = lim

t

1 x +1

1

+1

1

is continuous,

x +1

positive, and decreasing on [1, ) .

Integral Test

If f (n) = a n for all n and f (x) is continuous,

n2

is convergent.

n3 + 1

The following 2 tests prove convergence, but also prove the stronger fact that

Ratio Test

a

If lim n +1 < 1 , then

n a

n

Example:

n

a

a n +1

> 1 or lim n +1 = , then

n a

n a

n

n

nn

1+ 3 n

n =1 3

nn

n

lim 1+3n = lim 1 n 3

n

n

3

3 3

n

n

1

lim 1 n =

27 n 3

nn

So 1+3n is divergent.

n =1 3

=

n!

a n +1

e n 1 (n + 1)!

lim

= lim

n a

n

e n n!

n

is divergent.

= e 1 lim n + 1 = , so

n

a

If lim n +1 = 1 , use another test.

n a

n

Example:

n =1

is absolutely convergent.

If lim

n! is divergent.

n =1

as in the above example, the ratio test is often useful.

Root Test

If lim n a n < 1 , then

n

is absolutely convergent.

a n +1

= , then

n a

n

n

n

is divergent.

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