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FOURIER SERIES


Introduction
Observe that many phenomena we encounter in the world around us are periodic in nature. That
is, they repeat themselves over and over again. For instance, light, sound, radio waves and x-rays
(to mention only a few) are all periodic.

We say that a function f is periodic of period 0 T > if ( ) ( ) f x T f x + = , for all x in the domain of
f. For example, sin , cos , sin(2 ), cos(2 ), sin(3 ), cos(3 ) x x x x x x and so on are all periodic of
period 2t . For any integer k, let ( ) sin( ) f x kx = . We then have
( 2 ) sin[ ( 2 )] sin( 2 ) sin( ) ( ). f x k x kx k kx f x t t t + = + = + = =
Likewise, you can show that cos( ) kx has period 2t .

A Fourier series decomposes periodic functions of a (possibly infinite) set of simple oscillating
functions, namely sines and cosines (or complex exponentials). The Fourier series is named in
honour of Jean-Baptiste Joseph Fourier (17681830), who made important contributions to the
study of trigonometric series. Fourier introduced the series for the purpose of solving the heat
equation in a metal plate. The heat equation is a partial differential equation.

Prior to Fourier's work, no solution to the heat equation was known in the general case, although
particular solutions were known if the heat source behaved in a simple way, in particular, if the
heat source was a sine or cosine wave. These simple solutions are now sometimes called
eigensolutions. Fourier's idea was to model a complicated heat source as a superposition (or
linear combination) of simple sine and cosine waves, and to write the solution as a superposition
of the corresponding eigensolutions. This superposition or linear combination is called the
Fourier series.


Definition of Fourier series
Theorem
Fourier series of ( ) f x in the interval L x L < < is given by
0
1 1
1
( ) cos sin
2
n n
n n
n x n x
f x a a b
L L
t t

= =
| | | |
= + +
| |
\ . \ .

,
with
}

=
L
L
dx x f
L
a ) (
1
0
,
1
( ) cos
L
n
L
n x
a f x dx
L L
t

| |
=
|
\ .
}
,
1
( )sin
L
n
L
n x
b f x dx
L L
t

| |
=
|
\ .
}
.
The constants
0
, , and
n n
a a b are called the Fourier coefficients of ( ) f x in the interval.
2


Fourier series of even and odd functions
Even and odd functions
A function ( ) f x is said to be
- even if ( ) ( ), f x f x = and the graph of f (x) symmetrical about the y-axis.

- odd if ( ) ( ), f x f x = and the graph of f (x) symmetrical about the origin.


Properties of products of functions
If ( ) f x and ( ) g x are
- both even functions, then ( ) ( ) f x g x is even.

- both odd functions, then ( ) ( ) f x g x is even.

If ( ) f x is an even function and ( ) g x is an odd function, then ( ) ( ) f x g x is odd.

Properties of integration of symmetric functions
- If ( ) f x is an even function, then
0
( ) 2 ( )
L L
L
f x dx f x dx

=
} }
.
- If ( ) f x is an odd function, then ( ) 0
L
L
f x dx

=
}
.

Fourier series of even functions (Fourier cosine series)
0
1
1
( ) cos
2
n
n
n x
f x a a
L
t

=
| |
= +
|
\ .

,
with
0
0
2
( )
L
a f x dx
L
=
}
,
0
2
( ) cos
L
n
n x
a f x dx
L L
t | |
=
|
\ .
}
.




3

Fourier series of odd functions (Fourier sine series)
1
( ) sin
n
n
n x
f x b
L
t

=
| |
=
|
\ .

,
with
0
2
( )sin
L
n
n x
b f x dx
L L
t | |
=
|
\ .
}
.

Fourier series of neither even nor odd function
The Fourier series will contain ALL Fourier coefficients.

Example 1: Determine whether the following functions are even or odd.
(a)
2
( ) f x x = . (b)
3
( ) f x x = . (c) ( ) cos f x x = . (d) ( ) sin f x x = .
Solution:
(a)
2 2
( ) ( ) ( ) f x x x f x = = =
Therefore,
2
( ) f x x = is even function.

(b)
3 3
( ) ( ) ( ) f x x x f x = = =
Therefore,
3
( ) f x x = is odd function.

(c) ( ) cos( ) cos ( ) f x x x f x = = =
Therefore, ( ) cos f x x = is even function.

(d) ( ) sin( ) sin ( ) f x x x f x = = =
Therefore, ( ) sin f x x = is odd function.


4

Example 2: Determine whether each of the following products is even, odd or neither.
(a)
2
sin 2 x x . (b)
3
cos x x . (c) 2sin cos4 x x.
(d)
2
sin cos3 x x . (e) cos2 cos3 x x . (f) (2 3)sin4 x x + .

Solution:
(a)
2
x is an even function,
while sin2x is an odd
function.

(even) (odd) (odd) = .

Therefore,
2
sin 2 x x is an
odd function.

(b)
3
x is an odd function,
while cos x is an even
function.

(odd) (even) (odd) = .

Therefore,
3
cos x x is an
odd function.

(c) 2sin x is an odd function,
while cos 4x is an even
function.

(odd) (even) (odd) = .

Therefore, 2sin cos4 x x
is an odd function.
(d)
2
sin x and cos3x are both
even functions.

(even) (even) (even) = .

Therefore,
2
sin cos3 x x is
an even function.

(e) cos 2x and cos3x are both
even functions.
(even) (even) (even) = .

Therefore, cos2 cos3 x x is
an even function.

(f) (2 3) x + is neither odd nor
even function, while
sin4x is an odd function.

(neither) (odd) (neither) = .

Therefore, (2 3)sin4 x x +
is neither even nor odd
function.


Example 3:
A periodic function is defined by
( ) | |, 1 1, f x x x = s s
( ) ( ) 2 f x f x = + .
(a) Sketch the graph of the function over 3 3 x s s .

(b) Determine whether the function is even, odd or neither.

(c) By putting 0 x =

into the Fourier series, show that
2
2 2 2
1 1 1
1
8 3 5 7
t
= + + + +.



5

Solution:
(a)

(b) Even.
(c) Since ( ) f x

is an even function, 0
n
b =
.
1 1
0
0 0
2
( ) 2 1
1
a f x dx x dx = = =
} }
.

1
1 1
2 0 0
0
2 2
1 3 5
2 2 2
2 4 6
2 sin cos
( ) cos 2 cos 2
1
( )
2 2
(cos 1) [( 1) 1]
( ) ( )
4 4 4
, , , ,
(3 ) (5 )
0.
n
n
x n x n x
a f x n x dx x n x dx
n
n
n
n n
a a a
a a a
t t
t t
t
t
t
t t
t t t
(
= = = +
(
(

= =

= = =

= = = =

} }


Hence, the Fourier series corresponding to the function ( ) f x

is

0
1
0 1 2 3 4 5
0 1 3 5
2 2 2 2
2
1
( ) cos
2
1
cos cos 2 cos3 cos 4 cos5
2
1
cos cos3 cos5
2
1 4 cos cos3 cos5

2 1 3 5
1 4 cos(2 1)

2 (2
n
n
f x a a n x
a a x a x a x a x a x
a a x a x a x
x x x
n x
n
t
t t t t t
t t t
t t t
t
t
t

=
= +
= + + + + + +
= + + + +
| |
= + + +
|
\ .

2
1
.
1)
n




6

When 0 x =
,
2 2
1
2 2
1
2
2 2 2
1 4 1
(0) 0
2 (2 1)
1 4 1

2 (2 1)
1 1 1
1 .
8 3 5 7
n
n
f
n
n
t
t
t

=
= =

= + + + +



Example 4:
A periodic function is defined by

1, 0,
( )
1, 0 ,
x
f x
x
t
t
< <
=

< <


( ) ( ) 2 f x f x t = + .
(a) Sketch the graph of the function over 3 3 x t t s s .

(b) Determine whether the function is even, odd or neither.

(c) Find its Fourier series.

Solution:
(a)

(b) Odd.
(c) Since ( ) f x

is an odd function,
0
0 a =

and 0
n
a =
.
0 0
0
1 3 5 7
2 4 6
2 2 2 cos 2
( ) sin sin (1 cos )
4 4 4 4
, , , , ,
2
[1 ( 1) ] 3 5 7
0.
n
n
nx
b f x nx dx nx dx nx
n nx
b b b b
nx
b b b
t
t t
t t t
t t t t
(
= = = =
(

= = = =

= =

= = = =

} }


Hence, the Fourier series corresponding to the function ( ) f x

is
7

1
1 2 3 4 5 6 7
1 3 5 7
1
( ) sin
sin sin 2 sin3 sin 4 sin5 sin 6 sin 7
sin sin3 sin5 sin 7
4 sin3 sin5 sin 7
sin
3 5 7
4 sin(2 1)
.
2 1
n
n
n
f x b nx
b x b x b x b x b x b x b x
b x b x b x b x
x x x
x
n x
n
t
t

=
=
= + + + + + + +
= + + + +
| |
= + + + +
|
\ .




Example 5:
A periodic function is defined by

2
( ) 4 , 2 2, f x x x = s s
( ) ( ) 4 f x f x = + .
(a) Sketch the graph of the function over 6 6 x s s .

(b) Determine whether the function is even, odd or neither.

(c) Show that its Fourier series is given by
1
2 2
1
8 16 ( 1)
( ) cos
3 2
n
n
n x
f x
n
t
t
+
=
| |
= +
|
\ .

,
and using this result, show that

2 1
2
1
( 1)
.
12
n
n
n
t
+
=



Solution:
(a)

(b) Even.
(c) Since ( ) f x

is an even function, 0
n
b =
.
8

2 2
2
0
0 0
2 16
( ) (4 )
2 3
a f x dx x dx = = =
} }
.

2 2
2
0 0
2
0
1
2 2 2 2
2
( ) cos (4 ) cos
2 2 2
8
sin
2
16 16
cos ( 1) .
n
n
n x n x
a f x dx x dx
n x
n
n
n n
t t
t
t
t
t t
+
| | | |
= =
| |
\ . \ .
( | |
=
| (
\ .
= =
} }

Hence, the Fourier series corresponding to the function ( ) f x

is

1
2 2
1
8 16 ( 1)
( ) cos
3 2
n
n
n x
f x
n
t
t
+
=
| |
= +
|
\ .


Setting 0 x =
,
1
2 2
1
8 16 ( 1)
(0) 4
3
n
n
f
n t
+
=

= = +


2 1
2
1
( 1)
.
12
n
n
n
t
+
=



Example 6:
A periodic function is defined by
( ) , , f x x x t t = < <
( ) ( ) 2 f x f x t = + .
(a) Sketch the graph of the function over 3 3 x t t s s .

(b) Determine whether the function is even, odd or neither.

(c) Find its Fourier series.

Solution:
(a)

9

(b) Odd.
(c) Since ( ) f x

is an odd function,
0
0 a =

and 0
n
a =
.
.

0 0
2
0
1
2 2
( ) sin sin
2 cos sin

2 2
cos ( 1) .
n
n
b f x nx dx x nx dx
x nx nx
n
n
nx
n n
t t
t
t t
t
+
= =
(
= +
(

= =
} }

The first few values for
n
b

are
1 2 3 4 5 6
2 2 2 2 2 2
, , , , , ,
1 2 3 4 5 6
b b b b b b = = = = = =
Hence, the Fourier series corresponding to the function ( ) f x

is
1
1 2 3 4 5 6
1
1
( ) sin
sin sin 2 sin3 sin 4 sin5 sin 6
sin sin 2 sin3 sin 4 sin5 sin 6
2
1 2 3 4 5 6
sin
2 ( 1) .
n
n
n
n
f x b nx
b x b x b x b x b x b x
x x x x x x
n x
n
t

+
=
=
= + + + + + +
| |
= + +
|
\ .
=



Example 7:
A periodic function is defined by
, 0,
( )
, 0 ,
x
f x
x x
t t
t
< <
=

< <


( ) ( ) 2 f x f x t = + .
(a) Sketch the graph of the function over 3 3 x t t < < .

(b) Determine whether the function is even, odd or neither.

(c) Find its Fourier series.





10

Solution:
(a)

(b) Neither.
(c) Find the Fourier coefficients,
{ }
| |
0 0
2
0
0
0
1 1 1 1
( )
2 2
a f x dx dx x dx x x
t
t t
t t t
t
t t
t t t


(
= = + = + =
`
(


)
} } }
.
{ }
0
0
0
2
0
2
1 3 5
2 2 2
2
2 4 6
1 1
( ) cos cos cos
1 sin sin cos

1
(cos 1)
2 2 2
, , , ,
1
[( 1) 1)
1 3 5
0.
n
n
a f x nx dx nx dx x nx dx
nx x nx nx
n n
n
n
n
a a a
n
a a a
t t
t t
t
t
t
t t
t
t
t
t
t t t
t

= = +

( (
= + +
`
(
(


)
=

= = =

= =

= = = =

} } }


{ }
0
0
0
2
0
1 3 5
2 4 6
1 1
( ) cos sin sin
1 cos cos sin 1
= (1 2cos )
3 3 3
, , , ,
1
1 3 5
[1 2( 1) ]
1 1 1
, , , .
2 4 6
n
n
b f x nx dx nx dx x nx dx
nx x nx nx
n
n n n
n
b b b
n
b b b
t t
t t
t
t
t
t t
t
t
t

= = +

( (
= + +
`
( (


)

= = =

= =

= = =

} } }


Hence, the Fourier series corresponding to the function ( ) f x

is
11

0
1
0 1 2 3 4 5 6
1 2 3 4 5 6
0 1 3 5
1
( ) ( cos sin )
2
1
cos cos 2 cos3 cos 4 cos5 cos 6
2
sin sin 2 sin3 sin 4 sin5 sin 6
1
cos cos3 cos5
2
n n
n
f x a a nx b nx
a a x a x a x a x a x a x
b x b x b x b x b x b x
a a x a x a x

=
= + +
= + + + + + + +
+ + + + + + +
= + + + +

1 3 5 2 4 6
2 2 2
2 2 2
( sin sin3 sin5 ) ( sin 2 sin 4 sin 6 )
2 cos cos3 cos5

4 1 3 5
sin sin3 sin5 sin 2 sin 4 sin 6
3
1 3 5 2 4 6

b x b x b x b x b x b x
x x x
x x x x x x
t
t
+ + + + + + + +
| |
= + + +
|
\ .
| | | |
+ + + + + + +
| |
\ . \ .


2
1 1 1
2 cos(2 1) sin(2 1) sin 2
3 .
4 (2 1) 2 1 2
n n n
n x n x nx
n n n
t
t

= = =

= +