Last summer, Math With Bad Drawings had a nice series on the notion of infinity that I recommend highly. This topic is a perennial struggle for math majors to grasp, and I like the approach that the author uses to sell this difficult notion.

diverges. This is a perennial head-scratcher for students, as the terms become smaller and smaller yet the infinite series diverges.

To show this, notice that

,

,

and so on. Therefore,

,

,

and, in general,

.

Since , we can conclude that the harmonic series diverges.

However, here’s an amazing fact which I hadn’t known before the Math With Bad Drawings post: if you eliminate from the harmonic series all of the fractions whose denominator contains a 9, then the new series converges!

I’ll discuss the proof of this fact in tomorrow’s post. Until then, here’s a copy of the comic used in the Math With Bad Drawings post.

I'm a Professor of Mathematics and a University Distinguished Teaching Professor at the University of North Texas. For eight years, I was co-director of Teach North Texas, UNT's program for preparing secondary teachers of mathematics and science.
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