The Unapologetic Mathematician

Mathematics for the interested outsider

Commutativity in Series II

We’ve seen that commutativity fails for conditionally convergent series. It turns out, though, that things are much nicer for absolutely convergent series. Any rearrangement of an absolutely convergent series is again absolutely convergent, and to the same limit.

Let \sum_{k=0}^\infty a_k be an absolutely convergent series, and let p:\mathbb{N}\rightarrow\mathbb{N} be a bijection. Define the rearrangement b_k=a_{p(k)}.

Now given an \epsilon>0, absolute convergence tells us we can pick an N so that any tail of the series of absolute values past that point is small. That is, for any n\geq N we have


Now for 0\leq n\leq N, the function p^{-1} takes only a finite number of values (the inverse function exists because p is a bijection). Let M be the largest such value. Thus if m>M we will know that p(m)>N. Then for any such m we have


and we know that the sum on the right is finite by the assumption of absolute convergence. Thus the tail of the series of b_j — and thus the series itself — must converge. Now a similar argument to the one we used when we talked about associativity for absolutely convergent series shows that the rearranged series has the same sum as the original.

This is well and good, but it still misses something. We can’t handle reorderings that break up the order structure. For example, we might ask to add up all the odd terms, and then all the even terms. There is no bijection p that handles this situation. And yet we can still make it work.

Unfortunately, I arrive in Maryland having left my references back in New Orleans. For now, I’ll simply assert that for absolutely convergent series we can perform these more general rearrangements, though I’ll patch this sometime.


May 9, 2008 - Posted by | Analysis, Calculus


  1. […] in Series III Okay, here’s the part I promised I’d finish last Friday. How do we deal with rearrangements that “go to infinity” more than once? That is, we […]

    Pingback by Commutativity in Series III « The Unapologetic Mathematician | May 12, 2008 | Reply

  2. […] series converges absolutely, we can adjust the order of summations freely. Indeed, we’ve seen examples of other rearrangements that all go through as soon as the convergence is […]

    Pingback by Translating Power Series « The Unapologetic Mathematician | September 16, 2008 | Reply

  3. […] going to sort of wave my hands here, motivating it by the fact that absolute convergence makes things […]

    Pingback by Products of Power Series « The Unapologetic Mathematician | September 22, 2008 | Reply

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: