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SumConvergence still imperfect

  • To: mathgroup at
  • Subject: [mg124498] SumConvergence still imperfect
  • From: Andrzej Kozlowski <akoz at>
  • Date: Sun, 22 Jan 2012 07:18:25 -0500 (EST)
  • Delivered-to:

The function SumConvergence in Mathematica 8 performs much better than 
in 7 (where it first appeared) but it is still not perfect. Consider 
this example:

SumConvergence[(-1)^((1/2)*n*(n + 1))/Log[n], n]


Well, the sum is actually convergent by the Dirichlet test (the sequence 
1/Log[n] is monotonic with limit 0 and the sequence {1,1,-1,-1,1,1,...} 
has bounded partial sums.

Wolfram Alpha also gives the wrong answer.

However, in the next case, where exactly the same argument can be used, 
SumConvergence gets it right:

SumConvergence[(-1)^(1/2 n (n + 1))/n, n]


However Wolfram Alpha still can't do this. Asked to evaluate

Sum[(-1)^(n (n + 1)/2)/n, {n, 1, Infinity}]

it first given an inconclusive answer (claiming to have run out of 
time). Given more time it returns an approximate answer, which is the 
same as the one given by NSum

NSum[(-1)^(n (n + 1)/2)/n, {n, 1, Infinity}]

During evaluation of In[105]:= NSum::emcon: Euler-Maclaurin sum failed 
to converge to requested error tolerance. >>

-1.10245 - 0.268775 I

which is obviously wrong. Unfortunately Wolfram Alpha does not issue the 
warning that the answer is essentially meaningless so some poor soul 
might really believe that the limit of a series of real numbers could be 

One can get a much better approximate answer using Sum with a large 
number of terms, e.g.

N[Sum[(-1)^(n (n + 1)/2)/n, {n, 1, 10^5}], 5]


Andrzej Kozlowski

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