Bug persisting through 10.4.1

I claim that the series $\sum_{n=2}^{\infty}\frac{(-1)^n}{\sqrt{n}+(-1)^n}$ diverges. To see this, rewrite the $n^{th}$ term as follows: \begin{equation*} \frac{(-1)^n}{\sqrt{n}+(-1)^n} = \frac{(-1)^n}{\sqrt{n}+(-1)^n} \times \frac{\sqrt{n}+(-1)^{n+1}}{\sqrt{n}+(-1)^{n+1}} \end{equation*} \begin{equation*} = \frac{(-1)^n\sqrt{n}+(-1)^{2n+1}}{n+(-1)^{2n+1}} = \frac{(-1)^n\sqrt{n}}{n-1} + \frac{-1}{n-1} \end{equation*} Thus, \begin{equation*} \sum_{n=2}^{\infty}\frac{(-1)^n}{\sqrt{n}+(-1)^n} = \sum_{n=2}^{\infty}\frac{(-1)^n\sqrt{n}}{n-1} - \sum_{n=1}^{\infty}\frac{1}{n} \end{equation*} Now, we have the difference of two series. The first series, by the Alternating Series Test, is convergent, and the second is the well known divergent harmonic series.


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

returns True, and

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

returns -2.70244.

To add some evidence for the divergence of the series, the code

    pow10 = 10;
    expo = 1;
    While[ expo <= 6,
      Print [N[Sum[((-1)^n)/(Sqrt[n] + (-1)^n), {n, 2, pow10}]]];
      pow10 *= 10;



I see in another post that there was an issue with SumConvergence in version, but I am using Version 10.2. Any insights here?

  • 1
    $\begingroup$ I believe you are right. I note that NSum using the AlternatingSigns method yields a slightly different result as the one above for Sum: NSum[((-1)^n)/(Sqrt[n] + (-1)^n), {n, 2, Infinity}, Method -> "AlternatingSigns"] ==> -2.67892. Sum with a finite limit yields the same set of results as your loop does. $\endgroup$ – Sjoerd C. de Vries Mar 17 '16 at 20:20
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ But if a sum is conditionally convergent (which if that sum converges, it will be conditionally convergent), if you rearrange the sum, you can get a different value for the limit (and you can rearrange it to get infinity), so rearranging it and getting infinity is not evidence for that sum not converging. $\endgroup$ – march Mar 17 '16 at 20:39
  • $\begingroup$ In fact, maybe I'm thinking about this wrong, but doesn't this sum also converge by the Alternating Series Test? Maybe it's the decreasing monotonically part that's missing... $\endgroup$ – march Mar 18 '16 at 6:49
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ @march It is missing that. Without rearranging, but just grouping the elements of the series pairwise we find a[2n]+a[2n+1] to be negative for all natural n, the partial sums very quickly get below -2.67892, and the positive element of the pair of two neighboring elements is never sufficient to bring it even close to the supposed limit. $\endgroup$ – LLlAMnYP Mar 18 '16 at 9:16
  • $\begingroup$ By the way, OP did not rearrange the sum either. He did put it in a more convenient form. I'm not sure if splitting a series Sum[a[n] + b[n]] into Sum[a[n]] and Sum[b[n]] qualifies as rearrangement. $\endgroup$ – LLlAMnYP Mar 18 '16 at 9:18

another way to rewrite the series:

Sum[((-1)^n)/(Sqrt[n] + (-1)^n), {n, 2, 1001}] ==
 Sum[1/(Sqrt[2 n] + 1) - 1/(Sqrt[2 n + 1] - 1), {n, 1, 500}]


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


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


( v 10.1 )

This is not rearranging terms, but grouping in pairs, the series are the same:

enter image description here

| improve this answer | |
  • $\begingroup$ So, I assume you conclude that we see a bug here? $\endgroup$ – Sjoerd C. de Vries Mar 17 '16 at 20:56
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ Rearranging terms is a big no-no for infinite sums though. Like @march said, the series might be conditionally convergent, although the OP is rather convincing. $\endgroup$ – LLlAMnYP Mar 17 '16 at 21:04
  • $\begingroup$ beyond my expertise to prove or disprove (at least in a few minutes). I concur the OP's argument looks convincing. $\endgroup$ – george2079 Mar 17 '16 at 21:20
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    $\begingroup$ @Sjoerd C. de Vries I would conclude that there is a bug here. By the way, this is a problem from Tom Apostol's excellent, but nowadays out of favor (due to it's rigor) "Calculus, 2e". The answer for the problem is "divergent." $\endgroup$ – clburchard Mar 18 '16 at 13:17
  • $\begingroup$ @clburchard When there is agreement about this we can add the "bugs" tag to your question. Done now. $\endgroup$ – Sjoerd C. de Vries Mar 18 '16 at 13:20

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