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Notes on series in Calculus 2

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Mnemonic: PARTING CC

P-series, Alternating Series Test, Ratio and Root Tests, Telescoping Series, Integral Test, iNdividual Term Test for

Divergence, Geometric Series Test, Comparison Test, Limit Comparison Test

p-Series

Form:

X

1

p

n

n=1

Converges: If p > 1.

Diverges: If p 1.

P

P

P

Let b be any real number. Remember that n=1 ban = b n=1 an if n=1 an is convergent, so series like

P b

n=1 np are also convergent if p > 1. In particular, remember to look for constant multiples of the pseries

they come up a lot and are often useful for the Comparison Test.

Form:

(1)n bn or

n=1

(1)n+1 bn

n=1

n

This test applies only to alternating series. Also, note that we only need that {bn } is eventually a decreasing

sequence since a finite number of terms does not affect convergence.

Ratio Test

Suppose we have the series

an+1

.

an . Define L = lim

n

an

(2) If L > 1 the series is divergent.

(3) If L = 1 the test is inconclusive.

Use this test when the series contains factorials or other products (including a constant raised to the

nth power).

Root Test

Suppose we have the series

an . Define L = lim

p

n

n

(2) If L > 1 the series is divergent.

(3) If L = 1 the test is inconclusive.

Try this test when an = (bn )n .

Telescoping Series

A telescoping series is a series whose partial sums SN eventually only have a fixed number of terms after

cancellation. You can then evaluate the limit lim SN to determine whether the series converges or diverges.

N

1

Integral Test

Suppose that f (x) is (a) continuous, (b) positive, (c) decreasing function on the interval [k, ) and that

(d) f (n) = an then

f (x) dx is convergent so is

(1) If

k

Z

(2) If

f (x) dx is divergent so is

k

an .

n=k

an .

n=k

This test applies only to series that have positive terms. Try this test when f (x) is easy to integrate.

If lim an 6= 0 then

an diverges.

Look for the same degree in the numerator and denominator. This works for any series, including alternating

series.

Remember: If lim an = 0 then we know nothing.

n

Geometric Series

Form:

arn1

n=1

Diverges: If |r| 1.

The form of the series is particularly important here. The sum must start at 1, and r must be to the

(n 1)th power. Some algebraic manipulation is often required to get a geometric series into the correct

form.

Comparison Test

Suppose that

an and

P

P

(1) If P bn is convergent and an bn for all n, thenP an is also convergent.

(2) If

bn is divergent and an bn for all n, then

an is also divergent.

Use this test if the given series is similar to a p-series or geometric series. Remember, the terms of the series

being tested must be smaller than a convergent series or larger than a divergent series. It is often

useful to bound the numerator; for example, for n 1 we have arctan(n) /2, ln(n) n, en n, and

e1/n e. Weve seen all of these used in class.

P

P

Suppose that

an and

bn are series with positive terms:

an

If lim

= C, where C > 0 is a finite number, then either both series converge or both series diverge.

n bn

Try this test if an is a rational expression involving only polynomials or

This

Ppolynomials under radicals. P

test is often easier to apply than the Comparison Test if you are given

an which reminds you of

bn

but cannot find a relationship between the individual terms (i.e., which is bigger termwise).

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