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**Pascal Sebah and Xavier Gourdon
**

numbers.computation.free.fr/Constants/constants.html

February 4, 2002

Abstract

An elementary introduction to the celebrated gamma function Γ(x)

and its various representations. Some of its most important properties

are described.

1 Introduction

The gamma function was ﬁrst introduced by the Swiss mathematician Leon-

hard Euler (1707-1783) in his goal to generalize the factorial to non integer

values. Later, because of its great importance, it was studied by other eminent

mathematicians like Adrien-Marie Legendre (1752-1833), Carl Friedrich Gauss

(1777-1855), Christoph Gudermann (1798-1852), Joseph Liouville (1809-1882),

Karl Weierstrass (1815-1897), Charles Hermite (1822-1901), ... as well as many

others.

The gamma function belongs to the category of the special transcendental

functions and we will see that some famous mathematical constants are occur-

ring in its study.

It also appears in various area as asymptotic series, deﬁnite integration,

hypergeometric series, Riemann zeta function, number theory ...

Some of the historical background is due to Godefroy’s beautiful essay on

this function [9] and the more modern textbook [3] is a complete study.

2 Deﬁnitions of the gamma function

2.1 Deﬁnite integral

During the years 1729 and 1730 ([9], [12]), Euler introduced an analytic function

which has the property to interpolate the factorial whenever the argument of the

function is an integer. In a letter from January 8, 1730 to Christian Goldbach

he proposed the following deﬁnition :

Deﬁnition 1 (Euler, 1730) Let x > 0

Γ(x) =

1

0

(−log(t))

x−1

dt. (1)

1

By elementary changes of variables this historical deﬁnition takes the more

usual forms :

Theorem 2 For x > 0

Γ(x) =

∞

0

t

x−1

e

−t

dt, (2)

or sometimes

Γ(x) = 2

∞

0

t

2x−1

e

−t

2

dt. (3)

Proof. Use respectively the changes of variable u = −log(t) and u

2

=

−log(t) in (1).

From this theorem, we see that the gamma function Γ(x) (or the Eulerian

integral of the second kind) is well deﬁned and analytic for x > 0 (and more

generally for complex numbers x with positive real part).

The notation Γ(x) is due to Legendre in 1809 [11] while Gauss expressed it

by Π(x) (which represents Γ(x + 1)).

The derivatives can be deduced by diﬀerentiating under the integral sign of

(2)

Γ

′

(x) =

∞

0

t

x−1

e

−t

log(t)dt,

Γ

(n)

(x) =

∞

0

t

x−1

e

−t

log

n

(t)dt.

2.1.1 Functional equation

We have obviously

Γ(1) =

∞

0

e

−t

dt = 1 (4)

and for x > 0, an integration by parts yields

Γ(x + 1) =

∞

0

t

x

e

−t

dt = [−t

x

e

−t

]

∞

0

+ x

∞

0

t

x−1

e

−t

dt = xΓ(x), (5)

and the relation Γ(x + 1) = xΓ(x) is the important functional equation.

For integer values the functional equation becomes

Γ(n + 1) = n!,

and it’s why the gamma function can be seen as an extension of the factorial

function to real non null positive numbers.

A natural question is to determine if the gamma function is the only solution

of the functional equation ? The answer is clearly no as may be seen if we

consider, for example, the functions cos(2mπx)Γ(x), where m is any non null

integer and which satisfy both (4) and (5). But the following result states that

under an additional condition the gamma function is the only solution of this

equation.

2

Theorem 3 (Bohr-Mollerup, 1922, [6]) There is a unique function f : ]0, +∞[→

]0, +∞[ such as log(f(x)) is convex and

f(1) = 1,

f(x + 1) = xf(x).

Proof. An elementary one is given in [2].

Other conditions may also work as well, see again [2].

It’s also possible to extend this function to negative values by inverting the

functional equation (which becomes a deﬁnition identity for −1 < x < 0)

Γ(x) =

Γ(x + 1)

x

,

and for example Γ(−1/2) = −2Γ(1/2). Reiteration of this identity allows to

deﬁne the gamma function on the whole real axis except on the negative integers

(0, −1, −2, ...). For any non null integer n, we have

Γ(x) =

Γ(x + n)

x(x + 1)...(x + n −1)

x + n > 0. (6)

Suppose that x = −n + h with h being small, then

Γ(x) =

Γ(1 + h)

h(h −1)...(h −n)

∼

(−1)

n

n!h

when h →0,

so Γ(x) possesses simple poles at the negative integers −n with residue (−1)

n

/n!

(see the plot of the function 2.1.1).

In fact, also by mean of relation (6), the gamma function can be deﬁned in

the whole complex plane.

–4

–3

–2

–1

0

1

2

3

4

–4 –3 –2 –1 1 2 3 4

x

3

Γ(x) function

2.2 Another deﬁnition by Euler and Gauss

In another letter written in October 13, 1729 also to his friend Goldbach, Euler

gave another equivalent deﬁnition for Γ(x).

Deﬁnition 4 (Euler, 1729 and Gauss, 1811) Let x > 0 and deﬁne

Γ

p

(x) =

p!p

x

x(x + 1)...(x + p)

=

p

x

x(1 + x/1)...(1 + x/p)

, (7)

then

Γ(x) = lim

p→∞

Γ

p

(x). (8)

(Check the existence of this limit). This approach, using an inﬁnite product,

was also chosen, in 1811, by Gauss in his study of the gamma function [8].

Clearly

Γ

p

(1) =

p!

1(1 + 1)...(1 + p)

p =

p

p + 1

, and

Γ

p

(x + 1) =

p!p

x+1

(x + 1)...(x + p + 1)

=

p

x + p + 1

xΓ

p

(x),

hence

Γ(1) = 1,

Γ(x + 1) = xΓ(x).

We retrieve the functional equation veriﬁed by Γ(x).

It’s interesting to observe that the deﬁnition is still valid for negative values

of x, except on the poles (0, −1, −2, ...). Using this formulation is often more

convenient to establish new properties of the gamma function.

2.3 Weierstrass formula

The relation

p

x

= e

x log(p)

= e

x(log(p)−1−1/2−...−1/p)

e

x+x/2+...+x/p

,

entails

Γ

p

(x) =

1

x

1

x + 1

2

x + 2

...

p

x + p

p

x

=

e

x(log(p)−1−1/2−...−1/p)

e

x+x/2+...+x/p

x(1 + x)(1 + x/2)...(1 + x/p)

,

Γ

p

(x) = e

x(log(p)−1−1/2−...−1/p)

1

x

e

x

1 + x

e

x/2

1 + x/2

· · ·

e

x/p

1 + x/p

.

4

Now Euler’s constant is deﬁned by

γ = lim

p→∞

1 +

1

2

+ ... +

1

p

−log(p)

= 0.5772156649015328606...,

and therefore follows the Weierstrass form of the gamma function.

Theorem 5 (Weierstrass) For any real number x, except on the negative inte-

gers (0, −1, −2, ...), we have the inﬁnite product

1

Γ(x)

= xe

γx

∞

¸

p=1

1 +

x

p

e

−x/p

. (9)

From this product we see that Euler’s constant is deeply related to the

gamma function and the poles are clearly the negative or null integers. Ac-

cording to Godefroy [9], Euler’s constant plays in the gamma function theory a

similar role as π in the circular functions theory.

It’s possible to show that Weierstrass form is also valid for complex numbers.

3 Some special values of Γ(x)

Except for the integer values of x = n for which

Γ(n) = (n −1)!

some non integers values have a closed form.

The change of variable t = u

2

gives

Γ(1/2) =

∞

0

e

−t

√

t

dt = 2

∞

0

e

−u

2

du = 2

√

π

2

=

√

π.

The functional equation (5) entails for positive integers n (see [1])

Γ

n +

1

2

=

1.3.5...(2n −1)

2

n

√

π, (10)

Γ

n +

1

3

=

1.4.7...(3n −2)

3

n

Γ

1

3

,

Γ

n +

1

4

=

1.5.9...(4n −3)

4

n

Γ

1

4

,

and for negative values

Γ

−n +

1

2

=

(−1)

n

2

n

1.3.5...(2n −1)

√

π.

No basic expression is known for Γ(1/3) or Γ(1/4), but it was proved that

those numbers are transcendental (respectively by Le Lionnais in 1983 and

Chudnovsky in 1984).

5

Up to 50 digits, the numerical values of some of those constants are :

Γ(1/2) = 1.77245385090551602729816748334114518279754945612238...

Γ(1/3) = 2.67893853470774763365569294097467764412868937795730...

Γ(1/4) = 3.62560990822190831193068515586767200299516768288006...

Γ(1/5) = 4.59084371199880305320475827592915200343410999829340...

.

For example, thanks to the very fast converging formula (which is based on the

expression (34) and uses the Arithmetic-Geometric Mean AGM, [7] )

Γ

2

(1/4) =

(2π)

3/2

AGM(

√

2, 1)

,

this constant was computed to more than 50 millions digits by P. Sebah and M.

Tommila [10]. Similar formulae are available for other fractional arguments like

Γ(1/3) ...

4 Properties of the gamma function

4.1 The complement formula

There is an important identity connecting the gamma function at the comple-

mentary values x and 1 − x. One way to obtain it is to start with Weierstrass

formula (9) which yields

1

Γ(x)

1

Γ(−x)

= −x

2

e

γx

e

−γx

∞

¸

p=1

¸

1 +

x

p

e

−x/p

1 −

x

p

e

x/p

.

But the functional equation gives Γ(−x) = −Γ(1−x)/x and the equality writes

as

1

Γ(x)Γ(1 −x)

= x

∞

¸

p=1

1 −

x

2

p

2

,

and using the well-known inﬁnite product :

sin(π x) = π x

∞

¸

p=1

1 −

x

2

p

2

ﬁnally gives

Γ(x)Γ(1 −x) =

π

sin πx

. (11)

Relation (11) is the complement (or reﬂection) formula and is valid when x

and 1 −x are not negative or null integers and it was discovered by Euler.

6

For example, if we apply this formula for the values x = 1/2, x = 1/3,

x = 1/4 we ﬁnd

Γ

1

2

=

√

π,

Γ

1

3

Γ

2

3

=

2π

√

3

3

,

Γ

1

4

Γ

3

4

= π

√

2.

4.2 Duplication and Multiplication formula

In 1809, Legendre obtained the following duplication formula [11].

Theorem 6 (Legendre, 1809)

Γ(x)Γ(x + 1/2) =

√

π

2

2x−1

Γ(2x). (12)

Proof. Hint : an easy proof can lie on the expression of Γ

p

(x) and Γ

p

(x+1/2)

from (7), then make the product and ﬁnd the limit as p →∞.

Notice that by applying the duplication formula for x = 1/2, we retrieve the

value of Γ(1/2), while x = 1/6 permits to compute

Γ

1

6

= 2

−1/3

3

π

Γ

2

1

3

.

This theorem is the special case when n = 2 of the more general result known

as Gauss multiplication formula :

Theorem 7 (Gauss)

Γ(x) Γ

x +

1

n

Γ

x +

2

n

...Γ

x +

n −1

n

= (2π)

(n−1)/2

n

1/2−nx

Γ(nx)

Proof. Left as exercise.

Corollary 8 (Euler)

Γ

1

n

Γ

2

n

...Γ

n −1

n

=

(2π)

(n−1)/2

√

n

Proof. Set x = 1/n in the Gauss multiplication formula.

7

4.3 Stirling’s formula

It’s of interest to study how the gamma function behaves when the argument x

becomes large. If we restrict the argument x to integral values n, the following

result, due to James Stirling (1692-1730) and Abraham de Moivre (1667-1754)

is famous and of great importance :

Theorem 9 (Stirling-De Moivre, 1730) If the integer n tends to inﬁnite we

have the asymptotic formula

Γ(n + 1) = n! ∼

√

2πnn

n

e

−n

. (13)

Proof. See [2] for a complete proof. You may obtain a weaker approxima-

tion by observing that the area under the curve log(x) with x ∈ [1, n] is well

approximated by the trapezoidal rule, therefore

n

1

log(x)dx = nlog(n) −n + 1

=

n−1

¸

k=1

log(k) + log(k + 1)

2

+ R

n

= log((n −1)!) +

1

2

log(n) + R

n

and because R

n

= O(1) (check this!), we ﬁnd

log(n!) ≈ nlog(n) +

1

2

log(n) −n + C

which gives this weaker result

n! ≈ e

C

n

n

√

ne

−n

.

Stirling’s formula is remarkable because the pure arithmetic factorial func-

tion is equivalent to an expression containing important analytic constants like

(

√

2, π, e).

There is an elementary way to improve the convergence of Stirling’s formula.

Suppose you can write

n! =

√

2πnn

n

e

−n

1 +

a

1

n

+

a

2

n

2

+ ...

,

then this relation is still valid for n + 1

(n + 1)! =

2π(n + 1)(n + 1)

(n+1)

e

−(n+1)

1 +

a

1

n + 1

+

a

2

(n + 1)

2

+ ...

(14)

but we also have (n + 1)! = (n + 1)n! giving

(n + 1)! = (n + 1)

√

2πnn

n

e

−n

1 +

a

1

n

+

a

2

n

2

+ ...

. (15)

8

We now compare relations (14) and (15) when n becomes large. This gives after

some simpliﬁcations and classical series expansions

1 +

a

1

n

+

a

2

n

2

+ ...

=

1 +

1

n

n+1/2

e

−1

1 +

a

1

n + 1

+

a

2

(n + 1)

2

+ ...

= 1 +

a

1

n

+

a

2

−a

1

+

1

12

n

2

+

13

12

a

1

−2a

2

+ a

3

−

1

12

n

3

+ ...

and after the identiﬁcation comes

−a

1

+

1

12

= 0,

13

12

a

1

−2a

2

−

1

12

= 0,

...

Therefore we found, by elementary means, the ﬁrst correcting terms of the

formula to be : a

1

= 1/12, a

2

= 1/288, ... A more eﬃcient (but less elementary)

way to ﬁnd more terms is to use the Euler-Maclaurin asymptotic formula.

In fact the following theorem is a generalization of Stirling’s formula valid

for any real number x :

Theorem 10 When x →∞, we have the famous Stirling’s asymptotic formula

[1]

Γ(x + 1) =

√

2πxx

x

e

−x

1 +

1

12x

+

1

288x

2

−

139

51840x

3

−

571

2488320x

4

...

. (16)

For example here are some approximations of the factorial using diﬀerent

values for n :

n n! Stirling formula + correction 1/ (12n)

5 120 118 119

10 3628800 3598695 3628684

20 2432902008176640000 2422786846761133393 2432881791955971449

5 Series expansion

To estimate the gamma function near a point it’s possible to use some series

expansions at this point. Before doing this we need to introduce a new function

which is related to the derivative of the gamma function.

5.1 The digamma and polygamma functions

Many of the series involving the gamma function and its derivatives may be

derived from the Weierstrass formula. By taking the logarithm on both sides of

9

the Weierstrass formula (9) we ﬁnd the basic relation

−log(Γ(x)) = log(x) + γx +

∞

¸

p=1

log

1 +

x

p

−

x

p

. (17)

5.1.1 Deﬁnition

Deﬁnition 11 The psi or digamma function denoted Ψ(x) is deﬁned for any

non nul or negative integer by the logarithmic derivative of Γ(x), that is :

Ψ(x) =

d

dx

(log(Γ(x))) .

By diﬀerentiating the series (17) we ﬁnd

Ψ(x) =

Γ

′

(x)

Γ(x)

= −γ −

1

x

+

∞

¸

p=1

1

p

−

1

x + p

,

= −γ +

∞

¸

p=1

1

p

−

1

x + p −1

x = 0, −1, −2, ... (18)

= −γ +

∞

¸

p=1

x −1

p(x + p −1)

x = 0, −1, −2, ...

and those series are slowly converging for any non negative integer x.

5.1.2 Properties

Polygamma functions Now if we go on diﬀerentiating relation (18) several

times, we ﬁnd

Ψ

′

(x) =

Γ(x)Γ

′′

(x) −Γ

′

2

(x)

Γ

2

(x)

=

∞

¸

p=1

1

(p + x −1)

2

, (19)

Ψ

′′

(x) = −

∞

¸

p=1

2

(p + x −1)

3

,

Ψ

(n)

(x) =

∞

¸

p=1

(−1)

n+1

n!

(p + x −1)

n+1

, (20)

and the Ψ

n

= Ψ

(n)

functions are the polygamma functions :

Ψ

n

(x) =

d

n+1

dx

n+1

(log(Γ(x))) ,

Ψ

0

(x) = Ψ(x).

Observe from (19) that for x > 0, Ψ

′

(x) > 0 so it’s a monotonous function

on the positive axis and therefore the function log(Γ(x)) is convex when x > 0.

10

Recurrence relations The structure of the series expansion (18) suggests

to study

Ψ(x + 1) −Ψ(x) =

∞

¸

p=1

1

x + p −1

−

1

x + p

**which gives, just like for the gamma function, the recurrence formulae
**

Ψ(x + 1) = Ψ(x) +

1

x

,

Ψ(x + n) = Ψ(x) +

1

x

+

1

x + 1

+ ... +

1

x + n −1

n ≥ 1,

and by diﬀerentiating the ﬁrst of those relations we deduce

Ψ

n

(x + 1) = Ψ

n

(x) +

(−1)

n

n!

x

n+1

. (21)

Complement and duplication formulae By logarithmic diﬀerentiation of

the corresponding complement (11) and duplication (12) formulae for the gamma

function we ﬁnd directly :

Theorem 12

Ψ(1 −x) = Ψ(x) + π cot πx,

Ψ(2x) =

1

2

Ψ(x) +

1

2

Ψ

x +

1

2

+ log(2).

5.1.3 Special values of the Ψ

n

Values at integer arguments From the relations (18) and (20) comes

Ψ(1) = −γ,

Ψ

1

(1) = ζ(2) = π

2

/6,

Ψ

2

(1) = −2ζ(3),

Ψ

n

(1) = (−1)

n+1

n!ζ(n + 1), (22)

where ζ(k) is the classical Riemann zeta function. Using the recurrence rela-

tions (21) allow to compute those values for any other positive integer and, for

example, we have

Ψ(n) =

Γ

′

(n)

Γ(n)

= −γ +

n−1

¸

p=1

1

p

(23)

= −γ + H

n−1

.

11

Values at rational arguments The value Ψ(1/2) can be computed directly

from (18) or from the psi duplication formula with x = 1/2 :

Ψ

1

2

= −γ −2 + 2

∞

¸

p=1

1

2p

−

1

2p + 1

,

= −γ −2 + 2 (1 −log(2)) = −γ −2 log(2).

To end this section we give the interesting identities

Ψ

1

3

= −γ −

3

2

log(3) −

√

3

6

π,

Ψ

1

4

= −γ −3 log(2) −

π

2

,

Ψ

1

6

= −γ −2 log(2) −

3

2

log(3) −

√

3

2

π.

which are consequences of a more general and remarkable result :

Theorem 13 (Gauss) Let 0 < p < q being integers

Ψ

p

q

= −γ −

π

2

cot

πp

q

−log (2q) +

q−1

¸

k=1

cos

2πkp

q

log

sin

πk

q

.

Proof. See [2] for a proof.

From this aesthetic relation, we see that the computation of Ψ(p/q) for any

rational argument always involves the three fundamental mathematical con-

stants : π, γ, log(2) !

5.1.4 Series expansions of the digamma function

The following series expansions are easy consequences of relations (22) and of

the series

1

1 + x

−1 = −

∞

¸

k=2

(−1)

k

x

k−1

.

Theorem 14 (Digamma series)

Ψ(1 + x) = −γ +

∞

¸

k=2

(−1)

k

ζ(k)x

k−1

|x| < 1, (24)

Ψ(1 + x) = −

1

1 + x

−(γ −1) +

∞

¸

k=2

(−1)

k

(ζ(k) −1) x

k−1

|x| < 1. (25)

12

5.1.5 Zeros of the digamma function

The zeros of the digamma function are the extrema of the gamma function.

From the two relations

Ψ(1) = −γ < 0

Ψ(2) = 1 −γ > 0,

and because Ψ

′

(x) > 0, we see that the only positive zero x

0

of the digamma

function is in ]1, 2[ and its ﬁrst 50 digits are :

x

0

= 1.46163214496836234126265954232572132846819620400644...

Γ(x

0

) = 0.88560319441088870027881590058258873320795153366990...,

it was ﬁrst computed by Gauss, Legendre [11] and given in [13]. On the negative

axis, the digamma function has a single zero between each consecutive negative

integers (the poles of the gamma function), the ﬁrst one up to 50 decimal places

are

x

1

= −0.504083008264455409258269304533302498955385182368579...

x

2

= −1.573498473162390458778286043690434612655040859116846...

x

3

= −2.610720868444144650001537715718724207951074010873480...

x

4

= −3.635293366436901097839181566946017713948423861193530...

x

5

= −4.653237761743142441714598151148207363719069416133868...

and Hermite (1881) observed that when n becomes large [1]

x

n

= −n +

1

log(n)

+ o

1

log

2

(n)

.

–4

–3

–2

–1

0

1

2

3

4

–4 –3 –2 –1 1 2 3 4

x

13

Ψ(x) function (digamma)

5.2 Series expansion of the gamma function

Finding series expansions for the gamma function is now an easy consequence

of the series expansions for the digamma function.

Theorem 15

log(Γ(1 + x)) = −γx +

∞

¸

k=2

(−1)

k

ζ(k)

k

x

k

, |x| < 1, (26)

log(Γ(1 + x)) = −log(1 + x) −(γ −1)x +

∞

¸

k=2

(−1)

k

(ζ(k) −1)

k

x

k

, |x| < 1.

(27)

Proof. Use the term by term integration of the Taylor series (24) and (25).

We may observe that the Riemann zeta function at integer values appears in

the series expansion of the logarithm of the gamma function. The convergence

of the series can be accelerated by computing

1

2

(log(Γ(1 + x)) −log(Γ(1 −x))) = −

1

2

log

1 + x

1 −x

−(γ−1)x−

∞

¸

k=2

(ζ(2k + 1) −1)

2k + 1

x

2k+1

,

We now observe that the complement formula (11) becomes

Γ(1 + x)Γ(1 −x) =

πx

sin πx

and by taking the logarithms ﬁnally

1

2

log (Γ(1 + x)) +

1

2

(log Γ(1 −x)) =

1

2

log

πx

sin πx

**and therefore we obtain the fast converging series due to Legendre :
**

log (Γ(1 + x)) =

1

2

log

πx

sin πx

−

1

2

log

1 + x

1 −x

−(γ−1)x−

∞

¸

k=1

(ζ(2k + 1) −1)

2k + 1

x

2k+1

,

(28)

valid for |x| < 1.

Gauss urged to his calculating prodigy student Nicolai (1793-1846) to com-

pute tables of log (Γ(x)) with twenty decimal places [8]. More modern tables

related to Γ(x) and Ψ(x) are available in [1].

14

6 Euler’s constant and the gamma function

For x = 1 the formula (23) for Ψ(n) yields

Ψ(1) = Γ

′

(1) = −γ −1 + H

1

= −γ,

so Euler’s constant is the opposite of the derivative of the gamma function at

x = 1.

6.1 Euler-Mascheroni Integrals

Using the integral representation of Γ

′

(x) gives the interesting integral formula

for Euler’s constant

Γ

′

(1) =

∞

0

e

−t

log(t)dt = −γ

and from (19) comes

Ψ

′

(1)Γ

2

(1) + Γ

′

2

(1) = Γ(1)Γ

′′

(1)

hence

Γ

′′

(1) =

∞

0

e

−t

log

2

(t)dt = γ

2

+

π

2

6

.

We may go on like this and compute the Euler-Mascheroni integrals

Γ

(3)

(1) = −γ

3

−

1

2

π

2

γ −2ζ(3),

Γ

(4)

(1) = γ

4

+ π

2

γ

2

+ 8ζ(3)γ +

3

20

π

4

,

Γ

(5)

(1) = −γ

5

−

5

3

π

2

γ

3

−20ζ(3)γ

2

−

3

4

π

4

γ −24ζ(5) −

10

3

ζ(3)π

2

,

...

6.2 Euler’s constant and the zeta function at integer val-

ues

Series formulas involving ζ(k) can also be deduced from formula (26). Taking

x = 1 gives

log(Γ(2)) = −γ +

∞

¸

k=2

(−1)

k

ζ(k)

k

,

thus

γ =

∞

¸

k=2

(−1)

k

ζ(k)

k

,

which is due to Euler. Setting x = 1/2 into (26) gives

log

Γ

3

2

= log(

√

π/2) = −

γ

2

+

∞

¸

k=2

(−1)

k

ζ(k)

k

1

2

k

,

15

therefore

γ = log

4

π

+ 2

∞

¸

k=2

(−1)

k

ζ(k)

2

k

k

.

It is of interest to use the series expansion (28) at x = 1/2,

log (Γ(3/2)) =

1

2

log

π

2

−

1

2

log (3) −

1

2

(γ −1) −

∞

¸

k=1

(ζ(2k + 1) −1)

2k + 1

1

2

2k+1

.

It follows a fast converging expansion for γ

γ = 1 −log

3

2

−

∞

¸

k=1

(ζ(2k + 1) −1)

(2k + 1)4

k

.

and for large values of k, we have

ζ(2k + 1) −1 =

1

2

2k+1

+

1

3

2k+1

+· · · ∼

1

2

2k+1

hence

ζ(2k + 1) −1

4

k

∼

1

2

1

16

k

.

This expression was used by Thomas Stieltjes (1856-1894) in 1887 to compute

Euler’s constant up to 32 decimal places [14]. In the same article he also com-

puted ζ(2) up to ζ(70) with 32 digits.

7 The gamma function and the Riemann Zeta

function

The integral deﬁnition of the gamma function

Γ(x) =

∞

0

t

x−1

e

−t

dt,

together with the change of variables t = ku (with k a positive integer) yields

Γ(x) =

∞

0

(ku)

x−1

e

−ku

k du = k

x

∞

0

u

x−1

e

−ku

du.

We write this in the form

1

k

x

=

1

Γ(x)

∞

0

u

x−1

e

−ku

du,

hence by summation

∞

¸

k=1

1

k

x

=

1

Γ(x)

∞

0

u

x−1

∞

¸

k=1

e

−ku

du

=

1

Γ(x)

∞

0

u

x−1

1

1 −e

−u

−1

du.

16

We have obtained the beautiful formula

ζ(x)Γ(x) =

∞

0

t

x−1

e

t

−1

dt (29)

and, for example, for x = 2, (29) becomes

π

2

6

=

∞

0

t

e

t

−1

dt.

There is another celebrated and most important functional equation between

those two functions, the Riemann zeta function functional equation :

Theorem 16 (Riemann, 1859) Let

Λ(s) = π

−s/2

Γ

s

2

ζ(s),

an analytic function except at poles 0 and 1, then

Λ(s) = Λ(1 −s).

Proof. Several proofs may be found in [15]. Euler demonstrated it for

integer values of s.

This equation allows to extend the deﬁnition of the Zeta function to negative

values of the arguments.

8 The Beta function

Let us now consider the useful and related function to the gamma function

which occurs in the computation of many deﬁnite integrals. It’s deﬁned, for

x > 0 and y > 0 by the two equivalent identities :

Deﬁnition 17 The beta function (or Eulerian integral of the ﬁrst kind) is given

by

B(x, y) =

1

0

t

x−1

(1 −t)

y−1

dt (30)

= 2

π/2

0

sin(t)

2x−1

cos(t)

2y−1

dt = 2

π/2

0

sin(t)

2y−1

cos(t)

2x−1

dt,

(31)

= B(y, x).

This deﬁnition is also valid for complex numbers x and y such as ℜ(x) >

0 and ℜ(y) > 0 and Euler gave (30) in 1730. The name beta function was

introduced for the ﬁrst time by Jacques Binet (1786-1856) in 1839 [5] and he

made various contributions on the subject.

The beta function is symmetric and may be computed by mean of the gamma

function thanks to the important property :

17

Theorem 18 Let ℜ(x) > 0 and ℜ(y) > 0, then

B(x, y) =

Γ(x)Γ(y)

Γ(x + y)

= B(y, x). (32)

Proof. We use the deﬁnite integral (3) and form the following product

Γ(x)Γ(y) = 4

∞

0

u

2x−1

e

−u

2

du

∞

0

v

2y−1

e

−v

2

dv

= 4

∞

0

∞

0

e

−(u

2

+v

2

)

u

2x−1

v

2y−1

dudv,

we introduce the polar variables u = r cos θ, v = r sin θ so that

Γ(x)Γ(y) = 4

∞

0

π/2

0

e

−r

2

r

2(x+y)−1

cos

2x−1

θ sin

2y−1

θdrdθ

= 2

∞

0

r

2(x+y)−1

e

−r

2

dr.2

π/2

0

cos

2x−1

θ sin

2y−1

θdθ

= Γ(x + y)B(y, x).

From relation (32) follows

B(x + 1, y) =

Γ(x + 1)Γ(y)

Γ(x + y + 1)

=

xΓ(x)Γ(y)

(x + y)Γ(x + y)

=

x

x + y

B(x, y),

this is the beta function functional equation

B(x + 1, y) =

x

x + y

B(x, y). (33)

8.1 Special values

B

1

2

,

1

2

= π,

B

1

3

,

2

3

=

2

√

3

3

π,

B

1

4

,

3

4

= π

√

2,

B(x, 1 −x) =

π

sin(πx)

,

B(x, 1) =

1

x

,

B(x, n) =

(n −1)!

x.(x + 1)...(x + n −1)

n ≥ 1,

B(m, n) =

(m−1)!(n −1)!

(m + n −1)!

m ≥ 1, n ≥ 1.

18

8.2 Wallis’s integrals

For example the following integrals (Wallis’s integrals)

W

n

=

π/2

0

sin

n

θdθ =

π/2

0

cos

n

θdθ,

may be computed by mean of the beta and gamma functions. Thanks to the

relation (31), we have

W

n

=

1

2

B

n + 1

2

,

1

2

,

and come naturally the two cases n = 2p +1 and n = 2p. For the odd values of

the argument n :

W

2p+1

=

1

2

B

p + 1,

1

2

=

Γ(p + 1)Γ(1/2)

2Γ(p + 3/2)

=

p!Γ(1/2)

(2p + 1)Γ(p + 1/2)

and using formula (10) produces the well-known result

W

2p+1

=

2

p

p!

1.3.5...(2p + 1)

=

4

p

p!

2

(2p + 1)!

.

The same method permits to compute the integrals for the even values

W

2p

=

1

2

B

p +

1

2

,

1

2

=

Γ(p + 1/2)Γ(1/2)

2Γ(p + 1)

and ﬁnally

W

2p

=

1.3.5...(2p −1)

2

p+1

p!

π =

(2p)!

4

p

p!

2

π

2

.

Observe that it’s easy to see that

W

n+2

=

1

2

B

n + 2 + 1

2

,

1

2

=

1

2

B

n + 1

2

+ 1,

1

2

=

(n + 1)/2

n/2 + 1

W

n

=

n + 1

n + 2

W

n

thanks to the beta function functional equation (33).

It’s interesting to notice that

W

α

=

1

2

B

α + 1

2

,

1

2

**also works for any real number α > −1 and therefore we may deduce using (30)
**

and (31) that (respectively with α = −1/2 and α = 1/2)

π/2

0

dθ

√

sin θ

=

1

0

2dt

√

1 −t

4

=

Γ

2

(1/4)

2

√

2π

, (34)

π/2

0

√

sin θdθ =

1

0

2t

2

dt

√

1 −t

4

=

(2π)

3/2

Γ

2

(1/4)

.

Consequently the product of those two integrals permits to derive the relation

due to Euler

1

0

dt

√

1 −t

4

1

0

t

2

dt

√

1 −t

4

=

π

4

.

19

References

[1] M. Abramowitz and I. Stegun, Handbook of Mathematical Functions, Dover,

New York, (1964)

[2] G.E. Andrews, R. Askey and R. Roy, Special functions, Cambridge Univer-

sity Press, Cambridge, (1999)

[3] E. Artin, The Gamma Function, New York, Holt, Rinehart and Winston,

(1964)

[4] E.W. Barnes, The theory of the gamma function, Messenger Math. (2),

(1900), vol. 29, p. 64-128.

[5] J.P.M Binet, Journal ´ecole polyt., (1839), vol. 16, p. 131

[6] H. Bohr and I. Mollerup, Loerbog I matematisk Analyse, Kopenhagen,

(1922), vol. 3

[7] J.M. Borwein and I.J. Zucker, Elliptic integral evaluation of the Gamma

function at rational values of small denominator, IMA J. of Numer Anal-

ysis, (1992), vol. 12, p .519-526

[8] C.F. Gauss, Werke, G¨ottingen, (1866-1933), vol. 3

[9] M. Godefroy, La fonction Gamma ; Th´eorie, Histoire, Bibliographie,

Gauthier-Villars, Paris, (1901)

[10] X. Gourdon and P. Sebah, Numbers, Constants and

Computation, World Wide Web site at the adress :

http://numbers.computation.free.fr/Constants/constants.html,

(1999)

[11] A.M. Legendre, M´emoires de la classe des sciences math´ematiques et

physiques de l’Institut de France, Paris, (1809), p. 477, 485, 490

[12] N. Nielsen, Handbuch der Theorie der Gammafunktion, Leipzig, (1906)

[13] W. Sibagaki, Theory and applications of the gamma function, Iwanami

Syoten, Tokyo, Japan, (1952)

[14] T.J. Stieltjes, Tables des valeurs des sommes S

k

=

¸

∞

n=1

n

−k

,Acta Math-

ematica, (1887), vol. 10, p. 299-302

[15] E.C. Titchmarsh, The theory of the Riemann Zeta-function, Oxford Science

publications, second edition, revised by D.R. Heath-Brown (1986)

20

**By elementary changes of variables this historical deﬁnition takes the more usual forms : Theorem 2 For x > 0 Γ(x) =
**

0 ∞

tx−1 e−t dt,

∞

(2)

or sometimes Γ(x) = 2

0

t2x−1 e−t dt.

2

(3)

Proof. Use respectively the changes of variable u = − log(t) and u2 = − log(t) in (1). From this theorem, we see that the gamma function Γ(x) (or the Eulerian integral of the second kind ) is well deﬁned and analytic for x > 0 (and more generally for complex numbers x with positive real part). The notation Γ(x) is due to Legendre in 1809 [11] while Gauss expressed it by Π(x) (which represents Γ(x + 1)). The derivatives can be deduced by diﬀerentiating under the integral sign of (2)

∞

Γ′ (x) =

0 ∞

**tx−1 e−t log(t)dt, tx−1 e−t logn (t)dt.
**

0

Γ 2.1.1

(n)

(x) =

Functional equation

∞

**We have obviously Γ(1) =
**

0

e−t dt = 1

(4)

**and for x > 0, an integration by parts yields
**

∞ ∞

Γ(x + 1) =

0

tx e−t dt = [−tx e−t ]∞ + x 0

tx−1 e−t dt = xΓ(x),

0

(5)

and the relation Γ(x + 1) = xΓ(x) is the important functional equation. For integer values the functional equation becomes Γ(n + 1) = n!, and it’s why the gamma function can be seen as an extension of the factorial function to real non null positive numbers. A natural question is to determine if the gamma function is the only solution of the functional equation ? The answer is clearly no as may be seen if we consider, for example, the functions cos(2mπx)Γ(x), where m is any non null integer and which satisfy both (4) and (5). But the following result states that under an additional condition the gamma function is the only solution of this equation. 2

(x + n − 1) x + n > 0. also by mean of relation (6). Proof. the gamma function can be deﬁned in the whole complex plane. It’s also possible to extend this function to negative values by inverting the functional equation (which becomes a deﬁnition identity for −1 < x < 0) Γ(x) = Γ(x + 1) . Other conditions may also work as well... An elementary one is given in [2]. see again [2]. x and for example Γ(−1/2) = −2Γ(1/2). +∞[→ ]0. f (x + 1) = xf (x). −1.1)..).1. .Theorem 3 (Bohr-Mollerup. Reiteration of this identity allows to deﬁne the gamma function on the whole real axis except on the negative integers (0. [6]) There is a unique function f : ]0.. then Γ(x) = (−1)n Γ(1 + h) ∼ h(h − 1). we have Γ(x) = Γ(x + n) x(x + 1). 1922. −2. (6) Suppose that x = −n + h with h being small.(h − n) n!h when h → 0. In fact.. For any non null integer n. 4 3 2 1 –4 –3 –2 –1 0 –1 –2 –3 –4 1 2 x 3 4 3 .. so Γ(x) possesses simple poles at the negative integers −n with residue (−1)n /n! (see the plot of the function 2. +∞[ such as log(f (x)) is convex and f (1) = 1.

+x/p .−1/p) ex+x/2+.(x + p) x(1 + x/1). was also chosen..(1 + x/p) ex/p 1 ex ex/2 ··· ..(x + p + 1) x+p+1 Γp (1) = hence Γ(1) = 1.. in 1811.(1 + p) p+1 p p!px+1 = xΓp (x). This approach.−1/p) 4 . Deﬁnition 4 (Euler.....Γ(x) function 2.. −2.... 1729 and Gauss. x 1 + x 1 + x/2 1 + x/p Γp (x) = ex(log(p)−1−1/2−. by Gauss in his study of the gamma function [8]... −1.... Clearly p! p p= . The relation entails Γp (x) = 1 1 2 p ex(log(p)−1−1/2−... .. xx+1x+2 x+p x(1 + x)(1 + x/2). Γp (x + 1) = (x + 1). 1729 also to his friend Goldbach. 2. We retrieve the functional equation veriﬁed by Γ(x). 1811) Let x > 0 and deﬁne Γp (x) = then Γ(x) = lim Γp (x).. It’s interesting to observe that the deﬁnition is still valid for negative values of x.).3 Weierstrass formula px = ex log(p) = ex(log(p)−1−1/2−.. using an inﬁnite product.. p→∞ p!px px = .2 Another deﬁnition by Euler and Gauss In another letter written in October 13. except on the poles (0.−1/p) ex+x/2+.+x/p . and 1(1 + 1). Using this formulation is often more convenient to establish new properties of the gamma function.(1 + x/p) (7) (8) (Check the existence of this limit)... px = . Γ(x + 1) = xΓ(x). Euler gave another equivalent deﬁnition for Γ(x). x(x + 1).

.. Theorem 5 (Weierstrass) For any real number x... except on the negative integers (0.5.7. and therefore follows the Weierstrass form of the gamma function..3.)..9. + − log(p) 2 p = 0. It’s possible to show that Weierstrass form is also valid for complex numbers.Now Euler’s constant is deﬁned by γ = lim p→∞ 1+ 1 1 + ....(2n − 1) √ π. No basic expression is known for Γ(1/3) or Γ(1/4). we have the inﬁnite product x 1 1+ = xeγx Γ(x) p p=1 ∞ e−x/p . According to Godefroy [9]....5. The change of variable t = u2 gives ∞ Γ(1/2) = 0 e−t √ dt = 2 t ∞ e 0 −u2 du = 2 √ π √ = π.4. 2 The functional equation (5) entails for positive integers n (see [1]) 1 2 1 Γ n+ 3 1 Γ n+ 4 Γ n+ and for negative values Γ −n + 1 2 = √ (−1)n 2n π.5772156649015328606. 3 Some special values of Γ(x) Γ(n) = (n − 1)! Except for the integer values of x = n for which some non integers values have a closed form.. . . Euler’s constant plays in the gamma function theory a similar role as π in the circular functions theory. −2.(2n − 1) 1. 5 ..(3n − 2) Γ = n 3 3 1. −1. (9) From this product we see that Euler’s constant is deeply related to the gamma function and the poles are clearly the negative or null integers. but it was proved that those numbers are transcendental (respectively by Le Lionnais in 1983 and Chudnovsky in 1984).. 1.5.(4n − 3) 1 = Γ 4n 4 = (10) . 2n 1 1.3.

. Γ(x)Γ(1 − x) = ﬁnally gives 6 . AGM ( 2. [7] ) Γ2 (1/4) = (2π)3/2 √ .59084371199880305320475827592915200343410999829340. (11) sin πx Relation (11) is the complement (or reﬂection) formula and is valid when x and 1 − x are not negative or null integers and it was discovered by Euler. Γ(x)Γ(1 − x) p p=1 and using the well-known inﬁnite product : ∞ sin(π x) = π x p=1 1− x2 p2 π ... Similar formulae are available for other fractional arguments like Γ (1/3) . 4 4. Γ (1/4) = 3.. Γ (1/5) = 4. One way to obtain it is to start with Weierstrass formula (9) which yields 1 1 = −x2 eγx e−γx Γ(x) Γ(−x) p=1 ∞ 1+ x p e−x/p 1 − x p ex/p . For example. . Tommila [10].67893853470774763365569294097467764412868937795730.62560990822190831193068515586767200299516768288006. Γ (1/3) = 2... Sebah and M.77245385090551602729816748334114518279754945612238.. 1) this constant was computed to more than 50 millions digits by P... the numerical values of some of those constants are : Γ (1/2) = 1.Up to 50 digits. But the functional equation gives Γ(−x) = −Γ(1 − x)/x and the equality writes as ∞ 1 x2 =x 1− 2 .1 Properties of the gamma function The complement formula There is an important identity connecting the gamma function at the complementary values x and 1 − x. thanks to the very fast converging formula (which is based on the expression (34) and uses the Arithmetic-Geometric Mean AGM..

. while x = 1/6 permits to compute Γ 1 6 = 2−1/3 3 2 Γ π 1 3 . we retrieve the value of Γ(1/2). Theorem 6 (Legendre. Corollary 8 (Euler) Γ 1 n Γ 2 n . 7 . Left as exercise. Set x = 1/n in the Gauss multiplication formula.Γ x + n−1 n = (2π)(n−1)/2 n1/2−nx Γ (nx) Proof. Hint : an easy proof can lie on the expression of Γp (x) and Γp (x+1/2) from (7). √ 2π 3 = . = 4. then make the product and ﬁnd the limit as p → ∞. x = 1/3. 3 √ = π 2. 2 (12) Proof. if we apply this formula for the values x = 1/2. Notice that by applying the duplication formula for x = 1/2. Legendre obtained the following duplication formula [11].2 Duplication and Multiplication formula In 1809..For example.. 1809) √ π Γ(x)Γ(x + 1/2) = 2x−1 Γ(2x)..Γ n−1 n = (2π)(n−1)/2 √ n Proof. x = 1/4 we ﬁnd Γ Γ Γ 1 3 1 4 Γ Γ 1 2 2 3 3 4 √ π. This theorem is the special case when n = 2 of the more general result known as Gauss multiplication formula : Theorem 7 (Gauss) Γ (x) Γ x + 1 n Γ x+ 2 n .

. n n 8 (15) . (13) Proof. See [2] for a complete proof.4.3 Stirling’s formula It’s of interest to study how the gamma function behaves when the argument x becomes large. You may obtain a weaker approximation by observing that the area under the curve log(x) with x ∈ [1. n + 1 (n + 1)2 (14) but we also have (n + 1)! = (n + 1)n! giving √ a1 a2 (n + 1)! = (n + 1) 2πnnn e−n 1 + + 2 + . If we restrict the argument x to integral values n. .. 1 log(n) − n + C 2 Stirling’s formula is remarkable because the pure arithmetic factorial function is equivalent to an expression containing important analytic constants like √ ( 2.. e). n] is well approximated by the trapezoidal rule.. π. due to James Stirling (1692-1730) and Abraham de Moivre (1667-1754) is famous and of great importance : Theorem 9 (Stirling-De Moivre. therefore n 1 log(x)dx = n log(n) − n + 1 n−1 = k=1 1 log(k) + log(k + 1) + Rn = log((n − 1)!) + log(n) + Rn 2 2 and because Rn = O(1) (check this!). Suppose you can write n! = √ 2πnnn e−n 1 + a2 a1 + 2 + . the following result. .. There is an elementary way to improve the convergence of Stirling’s formula. n n then this relation is still valid for n + 1 (n + 1)! = 2π(n + 1)(n + 1)(n+1) e−(n+1) 1 + a2 a1 + + . we ﬁnd log(n!) ≈ n log(n) + which gives this weaker result √ n! ≈ eC nn ne−n .. 1730) If the integer n tends to inﬁnite we have the asymptotic formula √ Γ(n + 1) = n! ∼ 2πnnn e−n .

.. and after the identiﬁcation comes 1 = 0.. This gives after some simpliﬁcations and classical series expansions 1+ a1 a2 + 2 + . = n n 1+ 1 n n+1/2 e−1 1 + 1 12 a2 a1 + + . we have the famous Stirling’s asymptotic formula [1] Γ(x + 1) = √ 2πxxx e−x 1 + 1 139 571 1 + − − . 5.. Before doing this we need to introduce a new function which is related to the derivative of the gamma function... the ﬁrst correcting terms of the formula to be : a1 = 1/12.. 12 12 . In fact the following theorem is a generalization of Stirling’s formula valid for any real number x : Theorem 10 When x → ∞. by elementary means.1 The digamma and polygamma functions Many of the series involving the gamma function and its derivatives may be derived from the Weierstrass formula. 12 1 13 a1 − 2a2 − = 0. .We now compare relations (14) and (15) when n becomes large. By taking the logarithm on both sides of 9 . n + 1 (n + 1)2 13 12 a1 =1+ a2 − a1 + a1 + n n2 + − 2a2 + a3 − n3 1 12 + .. a2 = 1/288. (16) 2 3 12x 288x 51840x 2488320x4 For example here are some approximations of the factorial using diﬀerent values for n : n 5 10 20 n! 120 3628800 2432902008176640000 Stirling formula 118 3598695 2422786846761133393 + correction 1/ (12n) 119 3628684 2432881791955971449 5 Series expansion To estimate the gamma function near a point it’s possible to use some series expansions at this point.... A more eﬃcient (but less elementary) way to ﬁnd more terms is to use the Euler-Maclaurin asymptotic formula... −a1 + Therefore we found.

. (p + x − 1)n+1 p=1 ∞ and the Ψn = Ψ(n) functions are the polygamma functions : Ψn (x) = dn+1 (log(Γ(x))) . Observe from (19) that for x > 0. x = 0.. (17) Deﬁnition 11 The psi or digamma function denoted Ψ(x) is deﬁned for any non nul or negative integer by the logarithmic derivative of Γ(x). 10 .1 Deﬁnition log 1 + p=1 x p − x p .. dxn+1 Ψ0 (x) = Ψ(x).the Weierstrass formula (9) we ﬁnd the basic relation ∞ − log(Γ(x)) = log(x) + γx + 5.1.. that is : Ψ(x) = d (log(Γ(x))) . −1. dx By diﬀerentiating the series (17) we ﬁnd Ψ(x) = Γ′ (x) 1 = −γ − + Γ(x) x p=1 ∞ ∞ 1 1 − p x+p . Γ2 (x) (p + x − 1)2 p=1 2 . Ψ′ (x) > 0 so it’s a monotonous function on the positive axis and therefore the function log(Γ(x)) is convex when x > 0. −2. (p + x − 1)3 p=1 (20) ∞ 2 ∞ Polygamma functions times.. −1. . −2.2 Properties Now if we go on diﬀerentiating relation (18) several Γ(x)Γ′′ (x) − Γ′ (x) 1 = . p=1 and those series are slowly converging for any non negative integer x.1. 5. (18) = −γ + = −γ + p=1 ∞ 1 1 − p x+p−1 x−1 p(x + p − 1) x = 0. we ﬁnd Ψ′ (x) = (19) Ψ′′ (x) = − Ψ(n) (x) = (−1)n+1 n! .

. 11 . x 1 1 1 + . Ψ(2x) = 5. + Ψ(x + n) = Ψ(x) + + x x+1 x+n−1 Ψ(x + 1) = Ψ(x) + and by diﬀerentiating the ﬁrst of those relations we deduce Ψn (x + 1) = Ψn (x) + (−1)n n! . for example. Using the recurrence relations (21) allow to compute those values for any other positive integer and. just like for the gamma function.. (22) Ψ(1) = −γ. Special values of the Ψn From the relations (18) and (20) comes Values at integer arguments Ψ1 (1) = ζ(2) = π 2 /6.1. xn+1 (21) n ≥ 1. Ψn (1) = (−1)n+1 n!ζ(n + 1). Ψ2 (1) = −2ζ(3).3 1 1 1 Ψ(x) + Ψ x + 2 2 2 + log(2). where ζ(k) is the classical Riemann zeta function. we have Ψ(n) = Γ′ (n) 1 = −γ + Γ(n) p p=1 n−1 (23) = −γ + Hn−1 . the recurrence formulae 1 . Complement and duplication formulae By logarithmic diﬀerentiation of the corresponding complement (11) and duplication (12) formulae for the gamma function we ﬁnd directly : Theorem 12 Ψ(1 − x) = Ψ(x) + π cot πx.Recurrence relations to study The structure of the series expansion (18) suggests ∞ Ψ(x + 1) − Ψ(x) = p=1 1 1 − x+p−1 x+p which gives.

See [2] for a proof. log(2) ! 5. (24) (25) 1 − (γ − 1) + 1+x k=2 (−1)k (ζ(k) − 1) xk−1 12 . From this aesthetic relation. To end this section we give the interesting identities √ 1 3 3 Ψ π. = −γ − log(3) − 3 2 6 π 1 = −γ − 3 log(2) − .4 Series expansions of the digamma function The following series expansions are easy consequences of relations (22) and of the series ∞ 1 −1=− (−1)k xk−1 . |x| < 1. γ. Ψ 6 2 2 which are consequences of a more general and remarkable result : Theorem 13 (Gauss) Let 0 < p < q being integers Ψ p q = −γ − π cot 2 πp q q−1 − log (2q) + cos k=1 2πkp q log sin πk q .1.Values at rational arguments The value Ψ(1/2) can be computed directly from (18) or from the psi duplication formula with x = 1/2 : Ψ 1 2 ∞ = −γ − 2 + 2 p=1 1 1 − 2p 2p + 1 . = −γ − 2 + 2 (1 − log(2)) = −γ − 2 log(2). Proof. 1+x k=2 Theorem 14 (Digamma series) ∞ Ψ(1 + x) = −γ + Ψ(1 + x) = − (−1)k ζ(k)xk−1 k=2 ∞ |x| < 1. we see that the computation of Ψ(p/q) for any rational argument always involves the three fundamental mathematical constants : π. Ψ 4 2 √ 3 3 1 = −γ − 2 log(2) − log(3) − π.

..46163214496836234126265954232572132846819620400644... the digamma function has a single zero between each consecutive negative integers (the poles of the gamma function).. 1 +o log(n) 4 3 2 1 Ψ(1) = −γ < 0 and Hermite (1881) observed that when n becomes large [1] xn = −n + 1 log2 (n) .88560319441088870027881590058258873320795153366990. –4 –3 –2 –1 0 –1 –2 –3 –4 1 2 x 3 4 13 . Legendre [11] and given in [13]. the ﬁrst one up to 50 decimal places are x1 x2 x3 x4 x5 = −0. and because Ψ′ (x) > 0.653237761743142441714598151148207363719069416133868.635293366436901097839181566946017713948423861193530.. Γ(x0 ) = 0.5... = −3..573498473162390458778286043690434612655040859116846. = −4. On the negative axis.. 2[ and its ﬁrst 50 digits are : x0 = 1. = −1.. From the two relations Ψ(2) = 1 − γ > 0.5 Zeros of the digamma function The zeros of the digamma function are the extrema of the gamma function...504083008264455409258269304533302498955385182368579. we see that the only positive zero x0 of the digamma function is in ]1..1. it was ﬁrst computed by Gauss. = −2..610720868444144650001537715718724207951074010873480.

2k + 1 k=1 (28) ∞ πx sin πx valid for |x| < 1. The convergence of the series can be accelerated by computing 1 1 (log(Γ(1 + x)) − log(Γ(1 − x))) = − log 2 2 1+x −(γ−1)x− 1−x ∞ k=2 (ζ(2k + 1) − 1) 2k+1 x . k |x| < 1. (27) log(Γ(1 + x)) = − log(1 + x) − (γ − 1)x + k=2 (−1)k (ζ(k) − 1) k x .2 Series expansion of the gamma function Finding series expansions for the gamma function is now an easy consequence of the series expansions for the digamma function. We may observe that the Riemann zeta function at integer values appears in the series expansion of the logarithm of the gamma function. Theorem 15 ∞ log(Γ(1 + x)) = −γx + k=2 (−1)k ζ(k) k x . 2k + 1 We now observe that the complement formula (11) becomes Γ(1 + x)Γ(1 − x) = and by taking the logarithms ﬁnally 1 πx 1 1 log (Γ(1 + x)) + (log Γ(1 − x)) = log 2 2 2 sin πx and therefore we obtain the fast converging series due to Legendre : 1 πx 1 log (Γ(1 + x)) = log − log 2 sin πx 2 1+x −(γ−1)x− 1−x (ζ(2k + 1) − 1) 2k+1 x . More modern tables related to Γ(x) and Ψ(x) are available in [1]. ∞ (26) |x| < 1. 14 . Use the term by term integration of the Taylor series (24) and (25). Gauss urged to his calculating prodigy student Nicolai (1793-1846) to compute tables of log (Γ(x)) with twenty decimal places [8]. k Proof.Ψ(x) function (digamma) 5.

6 Euler’s constant and the gamma function Ψ(1) = Γ′ (1) = −γ − 1 + H1 = −γ. 2 Γ(4) (1) = γ 4 + π 2 γ 2 + 8ζ(3)γ + 3 4 π . For x = 1 the formula (23) for Ψ(n) yields so Euler’s constant is the opposite of the derivative of the gamma function at x = 1. 6 We may go on like this and compute the Euler-Mascheroni integrals 1 Γ(3) (1) = −γ 3 − π 2 γ − 2ζ(3). 6. k 2k ..1 Euler-Mascheroni Integrals Using the integral representation of Γ′ (x) gives the interesting integral formula for Euler’s constant ∞ Γ′ (1) = 0 e−t log(t)dt = −γ 2 and from (19) comes Ψ′ (1)Γ2 (1) + Γ′ (1) = Γ(1)Γ′′ (1) hence Γ′′ (1) = 0 ∞ e−t log2 (t)dt = γ 2 + π2 . k which is due to Euler. Taking x = 1 gives ∞ (−1)k ζ(k) log(Γ(2)) = −γ + . 6. k k=2 thus γ= ∞ k=2 (−1)k ζ(k) . Setting x = 1/2 into (26) gives log Γ 3 2 √ γ = log( π/2) = − + 2 15 ∞ k=2 (−1)k ζ(k) 1 . 20 3 10 5 Γ(5) (1) = −γ 5 − π 2 γ 3 − 20ζ(3)γ 2 − π 4 γ − 24ζ(5) − ζ(3)π 2 .2 Euler’s constant and the zeta function at integer values Series formulas involving ζ(k) can also be deduced from formula (26).. 3 4 3 .

In the same article he also computed ζ(2) up to ζ(70) with 32 digits. 1 − e−u ux−1 0 16 . together with the change of variables t = ku (with k a positive integer) yields ∞ ∞ Γ(x) = 0 (ku)x−1 e−ku k du = k x 0 ux−1 e−ku du. log (Γ(3/2)) = 1 π 1 1 log − log (3) − (γ − 1) − 2 2 2 2 ∞ k=1 (ζ(2k + 1) − 1) 1 . we have ζ(2k + 1) − 1 = 1 1 1 + 2k+1 + · · · ∼ 2k+1 22k+1 3 2 hence ζ(2k + 1) − 1 1 1 ∼ .therefore γ = log 4 π ∞ +2 k=2 (−1)k ζ(k) . 2k k It is of interest to use the series expansion (28) at x = 1/2. 0 k=1 1 1 = kx Γ(x) = 1 Γ(x) ∞ ∞ ux−1 0 ∞ k=1 e−ku du 1 − 1 du. (2k + 1)4k and for large values of k. 2k + 1 22k+1 It follows a fast converging expansion for γ γ = 1 − log 3 2 ∞ − k=1 (ζ(2k + 1) − 1) . 4k 2 16k This expression was used by Thomas Stieltjes (1856-1894) in 1887 to compute Euler’s constant up to 32 decimal places [14]. 7 The gamma function and the Riemann Zeta function ∞ The integral deﬁnition of the gamma function Γ(x) = 0 tx−1 e−t dt. We write this in the form 1 1 = x k Γ(x) hence by summation ∞ ∞ ux−1 e−ku du.

x). Several proofs may be found in [15]. Euler demonstrated it for integer values of s. (29) becomes π2 = 6 ∞ 0 et t dt. for example. This deﬁnition is also valid for complex numbers x and y such as ℜ(x) > 0 and ℜ(y) > 0 and Euler gave (30) in 1730. then Λ(s) = Λ(1 − s). for x = 2.We have obtained the beautiful formula ∞ ζ(x)Γ(x) = 0 tx−1 dt et − 1 (29) and. for x > 0 and y > 0 by the two equivalent identities : Deﬁnition 17 The beta function (or Eulerian integral of the ﬁrst kind) is given by 1 B(x. 1859) Let Λ(s) = π −s/2 Γ s ζ(s). The name beta function was introduced for the ﬁrst time by Jacques Binet (1786-1856) in 1839 [5] and he made various contributions on the subject. 2 an analytic function except at poles 0 and 1. It’s deﬁned. This equation allows to extend the deﬁnition of the Zeta function to negative values of the arguments. 0 =2 0 sin(t)2x−1 cos(t)2y−1 dt = 2 (31) = B(y. Proof. −1 There is another celebrated and most important functional equation between those two functions. The beta function is symmetric and may be computed by mean of the gamma function thanks to the important property : 17 . y) = 0 tx−1 (1 − t)y−1 dt π/2 π/2 (30) sin(t)2y−1 cos(t)2x−1 dt. the Riemann zeta function functional equation : Theorem 16 (Riemann. 8 The Beta function Let us now consider the useful and related function to the gamma function which occurs in the computation of many deﬁnite integrals.

.. B(x. v = r sin θ so that ∞ π/2 0 ∞ Γ(x)Γ(y) = 4 0 e−r r2(x+y)−1 cos2x−1 θ sin2y−1 θdrdθ 2 2 π/2 0 =2 0 r2(x+y)−1 e−r dr. √ 2 3 = π. 2 =4 0 e −(u2 +v 2 ) 2x−1 2y−1 we introduce the polar variables u = r cos θ. 4 4 = π. From relation (32) follows B(x + 1.(x + 1). y). 2 2 1 2 . Γ(x + y) ∞ (32) Proof. n) = n ≥ 1. x (n − 1)! B(x. y).2 cos2x−1 θ sin2y−1 θdθ = Γ(x + y)B(y.(x + n − 1) (m − 1)!(n − 1)! B(m. Γ(x + y + 1) (x + y)Γ(x + y) x+y this is the beta function functional equation x B(x. y) = Γ(x)Γ(y) = B(y. y) = Γ(x + 1)Γ(y) xΓ(x)Γ(y) x = = B(x. then B(x. y) = x+y (33) 8. 1 − x) = π . B(x + 1. x. 3 3 1 3 .1 Special values B B B 1 1 . n ≥ 1. x). sin(πx) 1 B(x.Theorem 18 Let ℜ(x) > 0 and ℜ(y) > 0. We use the deﬁnite integral (3) and form the following product ∞ Γ(x)Γ(y) = 4 0 ∞ u2x−1 e−u du 0 ∞ 0 2 v 2y−1 e−v dv u v dudv. 3 √ = π 2. x). n) = m ≥ 1. (m + n − 1)! 18 . 1) = .

3. 4 1 − t4 0 1 − t4 0 dθ √ = sin θ √ 19 π/2 1 . It’s interesting to notice that Wα = 1 B 2 α+1 1 .3. 2 2 = 1 B 2 1 n+1 + 1.. Thanks to the relation (31). 2 2 = p!Γ(1/2) Γ(p + 1)Γ(1/2) = 2Γ(p + 3/2) (2p + 1)Γ(p + 1/2) and using formula (10) produces the well-known result W2p+1 = 4p p!2 2p p! = .(2p − 1) π= p 2 . we have 1 n+1 1 Wn = B . sin θdθ = Γ (1/4) 1 − t4 0 0 Consequently the product of those two integrals permits to derive the relation due to Euler 1 1 π dt t2 dt √ √ = ..(2p + 1) (2p + 1)! Γ(p + 1/2)Γ(1/2) 2Γ(p + 1) The same method permits to compute the integrals for the even values W2p = and ﬁnally (2p)! π 1..2 Wallis’s integrals π/2 π/2 For example the following integrals (Wallis’s integrals) Wn = 0 sinn θdθ = 0 cosn θdθ. 1. 2 2 2 = thanks to the beta function functional equation (33).. (34) 4 2 2π 1−t 0 0 1 π/2 √ (2π)3/2 2t2 dt √ = 2 . For the odd values of the argument n : W2p+1 = 1 1 B p + 1.5. 2 2 also works for any real number α > −1 and therefore we may deduce using (30) and (31) that (respectively with α = −1/2 and α = 1/2) Γ2 (1/4) 2dt = √ .5. 2 2 2 and come naturally the two cases n = 2p + 1 and n = 2p.8. . 2 2 = (n + 1)/2 Wn = n/2 + 1 n+1 n+2 Wn 1 1 1 B p+ . may be computed by mean of the beta and gamma functions. 2p+1 p! 4 p! 2 Observe that it’s easy to see that W2p = Wn+2 = 1 B 2 n+2+1 1 .

Numbers. p . 477. 485. R. New York. of Numer Analysis.J. revised by D. Iwanami Syoten. Sebah. second edition. Borwein and I. vol. Cambridge University Press. 131 e [6] H.. The Gamma Function. Journal ´cole polyt. Kopenhagen. vol. Zucker. Histoire. Bibliographie. (1964) [4] E. New York. (1900).M.519-526 o [8] C. 3 [7] J. p. (2). Stegun. M´moires de la classe des sciences math´matiques et e e physiques de l’Institut de France. Th´orie. Theory and applications of the gamma function. Holt.computation. Leipzig. Roy. Artin.E. Andrews. G¨ttingen.C. Tokyo. vol. Bohr and I. Askey and R. 64-128. Handbook of Mathematical Functions. Paris. (1901) [10] X. (1952) [14] T. Werke. 3 [9] M. Special functions. Elliptic integral evaluation of the Gamma function at rational values of small denominator. p. 29. Cambridge. 490 [12] N. (1809). Sibagaki. (1999) [3] E.J. The theory of the Riemann Zeta-function.html. Tables des valeurs des sommes Sk = ematica. Godefroy. (1906) [13] W. e Gauthier-Villars. IMA J. vol. Paris. (1992). Mollerup. The theory of the gamma function. World Wide Web site at the adress : http://numbers.W. 10. La fonction Gamma .fr/Constants/constants. Stieltjes. Oxford Science publications.M Binet. (1839).P. (1999) [11] A. Dover. Titchmarsh. Rinehart and Winston. Gauss. (1887). 12. p. Nielsen. Legendre. Barnes. Japan. (1922). p. Gourdon and P.F. Heath-Brown (1986) 20 . Handbuch der Theorie der Gammafunktion.M. Abramowitz and I.Acta Math- [15] E.R. Loerbog I matematisk Analyse. Constants and Computation.free. vol.References [1] M. (1866-1933). 16. (1964) [2] G. 299-302 ∞ n=1 n−k . vol. Messenger Math. [5] J.

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