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# 4.7: Convergence of Fourier series

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The final subject we shall consider is the convergence of Fourier series. I shall show two examples, closely linked, but with radically different behaviour.

1. A square wave,

 $$f(x)= 1$$ for $$-\pi < x < 0$$; $$f(x)= -1$$ for $$0 < x < \pi$$.
2. a triangular wave,

 $$g(x)= \pi/2+x$$ for $$-\pi < x < 0$$; $$g(x)= \pi/2-x$$ for $$0 < x < \pi$$.

Note that $$f$$ is the derivative of $$g$$.

It is not very hard to find the relevant Fourier series, \begin{aligned} f(x) & = & -\frac{4}{\pi} \sum_{m=0}^\infty \frac{1}{2m+1} \sin (2m+1) x,\\ g(x) & = & \frac{4}{\pi} \sum_{m=0}^\infty \frac{1}{(2m+1)^2} \cos (2m+1) x.\end{aligned} Let us compare the partial sums, where we let the sum in the Fourier series run from $$m=0$$ to $$m=M$$ instead of $$m=0\ldots\infty$$. We note a marked difference between the two cases. The convergence of the Fourier series of $$g$$ is uneventful, and after a few steps it is hard to see a difference between the partial sums, as well as between the partial sums and $$g$$. For $$f$$, the square wave, we see a surprising result: Even though the approximation gets better and better in the (flat) middle, there is a finite (and constant!) overshoot near the jump. The area of this overshoot becomes smaller and smaller as we increase $$M$$. This is called the Gibbs phenomenon (after its discoverer). It can be shown that for any function with a discontinuity such an effect is present, and that the size of the overshoot only depends on the size of the discontinuity! A final, slightly more interesting version of this picture, is shown in Fig. $$\PageIndex{3}$$.