I'm trying to integrate a function that involves a finite sum:

$$\int_{-\infty}^{\infty}\sum_{j=1}^n (e^{-b t^2}r_j) \,dt$$

I think it should be possible to take the exponent outside the sum:

$$\int_{-\infty}^{\infty}\left(e^{-b t^2} \sum_{j=1}^n r_j \right)dt=\sum_{j=1}^n r_j \times \int_{-\infty}^{\infty}e^{-b t^2} dt$$

I write it in Mathematica like this:

Integrate[Sum[Exp[-b t^2]*r[j],{j,1,n}],{t,-\[Infinity],+\[Infinity]}]

This, however, simply returns the integral unchanged:

$$\int_{-\infty }^{\infty } \left(\sum _{j=1}^n e^{-b t^2} r(j)\right)\, dt$$

If I specify a number for $n$, I get the expected result:

$$\frac{\sqrt{\pi } (r(1)+r(2)+r(3)+r(4)+r(5))}{\sqrt{b}}$$

How do I extract $e^{-bt^2}$ outside the sum? Alternatively, how do I bring the integral inside the sum? More generally, how do I integrate this?

  • $\begingroup$ Why don't you move it outside yourself? Sum[r[j], {j, 1, n}]*Integrate[Exp[-b t^2], {t, -\[Infinity], +\[Infinity]}] $\endgroup$
    – Domen
    Jan 20 at 16:36
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ @Domen, this is a simplified example. I actually have a bigger expression that'll get really long if I extract everything manually. I could probably integrate this by hand, but I was hoping that Mathematica can automate this for me. $\endgroup$
    – ForceBru
    Jan 20 at 16:38
  • $\begingroup$ Simplify and FullSimplify also can't bring a constant factor outside the sum: FullSimplify[Sum[a*Indexed[r, j], {j, 1, n}]] returns the sum of a*r_j (as opposed. to a times the sum of r_j), but specifying a number instead of n correctly produces a*(r_1+r_2+...) $\endgroup$
    – ForceBru
    Jan 20 at 16:45
  • $\begingroup$ I think the reason is that you can exchange sum and integrate if the sum is known to be finite. See when-can-a-sum-and-integral-be-interchanged and here Mathematica does not know the sum is finite of not, because it does not know r[j] is finite. For example, if you replace r[j] with just j then it works. ClearAll[b,n,j,r,t]; f[t_]:=Sum[Exp[-b t^2]*j,{j,1,n}]; Assuming[Element[b,Reals]&&b>0,Integrate[f[t],t]] and gives (n*(1 + n)*Sqrt[Pi]*Erf[Sqrt[b]*t])/(4*Sqrt[b]) ... $\endgroup$
    – Nasser
    Jan 20 at 17:42
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ This is a Mathematica limitation. Sorry. $\endgroup$
    – bbgodfrey
    Jan 20 at 19:43

2 Answers 2


Using linearExpand from How to do algebra on unevaluated integrals? :

linearExpand[e_, x_, head_] := 
  e //. {op : head[arg_Plus, __] :> Distribute[op], 
    head[arg1_Times, rest__] :> 
     With[{dependencies = Internal`DependsOnQ[#, x] & /@ List @@ arg1}, 
      Pick[arg1, dependencies, False] head[
        Pick[arg1, dependencies, True], rest]]};

linearExpand[Sum[Exp[-b t^2]*r[j], {j, 1, n}], j, Sum]
Assuming[b > 0,
  linearExpand[Sum[Exp[-b t^2]*r[j], {j, 1, n}], j, Sum],
  {t, -\[Infinity], +\[Infinity]}]

Use a replacement Rule to swap the order when appropriate.


swap = Integrate[Sum[f_, iter1_, opts1___], iter2_, opts2___] :> 
   Sum[Integrate[f, iter2, opts2], iter1, opts1];

expr[n_Integer?Positive] = Assuming[b > 0, (Integrate[
     Sum[Exp[-b t^2]*r[j], {j, 1, n}], {t, -∞, +∞}] /. swap)]

(* Sum[(Sqrt[Pi]*r[j])/Sqrt[b], {j, 1, n}] *)

expr[5] // Simplify

(* (Sqrt[π] (r[1] + r[2] + r[3] + r[4] + r[5]))/Sqrt[b] *)

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