All posts by Jean-Pierre Merx

Counterexamples around series (part 1)

The purpose of this article is to provide some basic counterexamples on real series. Counterexamples are provided as answers to questions.

Unless otherwise stated, \((u_n)_{n \in \mathbb{N}}\) and \((v_n)_{n \in \mathbb{N}}\) are two real sequences.

If \((u_n)\) is non-increasing and converges to zero then \(\sum u_n\) converges?

Is not true. A famous counterexample is the harmonic series \(\sum \frac{1}{n}\) which doesn’t converge as \[
\displaystyle \sum_{k=p+1}^{2p} \frac{1}{k} \ge \sum_{k=p+1}^{2p} \frac{1}{2p} = 1/2,\] for all \(p \in \mathbb N\).

If \(u_n = o(1/n)\) then \(\sum u_n\) converges?

Does not hold as can be seen considering \(u_n=\frac{1}{n \ln n}\) for \(n \ge 2\). Indeed \(\int_2^x \frac{dt}{t \ln t} = \ln(\ln x) – \ln (\ln 2)\) and therefore \(\int_2^\infty \frac{dt}{t \ln t}\) diverges. We conclude that \(\sum \frac{1}{n \ln n}\) diverges using the integral test. However \(n u_n = \frac{1}{\ln n}\) converges to zero. Continue reading Counterexamples around series (part 1)

Isomorphism of factors does not imply isomorphism of quotient groups

Let \(G\) be a group and \(H, K\) two isomorphic subgroups. We provide an example where the quotient groups \(G / H\) and \(G / K\) are not isomorphic.

Let \(G = \mathbb{Z}_4 \times \mathbb{Z}_2\), with \(H = \langle (\overline{2}, \overline{0}) \rangle\) and \(K = \langle (\overline{0}, \overline{1}) \rangle\). We have \[
H \cong K \cong \mathbb{Z}_2.\] The left cosets of \(H\) in \(G\) are \[
G / H=\{(\overline{0}, \overline{0}) + H, (\overline{1}, \overline{0}) + H, (\overline{0}, \overline{1}) + H, (\overline{1}, \overline{1}) + H\},\] a group having \(4\) elements and for all elements \(x \in G/H\), one can verify that \(2x = H\). Hence \(G / H \cong \mathbb{Z}_2 \times \mathbb{Z}_2\). The left cosets of \(K\) in \(G\) are \[
G / K=\{(\overline{0}, \overline{0}) + K, (\overline{1}, \overline{0}) + K, (\overline{2}, \overline{0}) + K, (\overline{3}, \overline{0}) + K\},\] which is a cyclic group of order \(4\) isomorphic to \(\mathbb{Z}_4\). We finally get the desired conclusion \[
G / H \cong \mathbb{Z}_2 \times \mathbb{Z}_2 \ncong \mathbb{Z}_4 \cong G / K.\]

An uncountable chain of subsets of the natural numbers

Consider the set \(\mathcal P(\mathbb N)\) of the subsets of the natural integers \(\mathbb N\). \(\mathcal P(\mathbb N)\) is endowed with the strict order \(\subset\). Let’s have a look to the chains of \((\mathcal P(\mathbb N),\subset)\), i.e. to the totally ordered subsets \(S \subset \mathcal P(\mathbb N)\).

Some finite chains

It is easy to produce some finite chains like \(\{\{1\}, \{1,2\},\{1,2,3\}\}\) or one with a length of size \(n\) where \(n\) is any natural number like \[
\{\{1\}, \{1,2\}, \dots, \{1,2, \dots, n\}\}\] or \[
\{\{1\}, \{1,2^2\}, \dots, \{1,2^2, \dots, n^2\}\}\]

Some infinite countable chains

It’s not much complicated to produce some countable infinite chains like \[
\{\{1 \},\{1,2 \},\{1,2,3\},…,\mathbb{N}\}\] or \[
\{\{5 \},\{5,6 \},\{5,6,7\},…,\mathbb N \setminus \{1,2,3,4\} \}\]

Let’s go further and define a one-to-one map from the real interval \([0,1)\) into the set of countable chains of \((\mathcal P(\mathbb N),\subset)\). For \(x \in [0,1)\) let \(\displaystyle x = \sum_{i=1}^\infty x_i 2^{-i}\) be its binary representation. For \(n \in \mathbb N\) we define \(S_n(x) = \{k \in \mathbb N \ ; \ k \le n \text{ and } x_k = 1\}\). It is easy to verify that \(\left(S_n(x))_{n \in \mathbb N}\right)\) is a countable chain of \((\mathcal P(\mathbb N),\subset)\) and that \(\left(S_n(x))\right) \neq \left(S_n(x^\prime))\right)\) for \(x \neq x^\prime\).

What about defining an uncountable chain? Continue reading An uncountable chain of subsets of the natural numbers

Counterexamples on real sequences (part 3)

This article is a follow-up of Counterexamples on real sequences (part 2).

Let \((u_n)\) be a sequence of real numbers.

If \(u_{2n}-u_n \le \frac{1}{n}\) then \((u_n)\) converges?

This is wrong. The sequence
\[u_n=\begin{cases} 0 & \text{for } n \notin \{2^k \ ; \ k \in \mathbb N\}\\
1- 2^{-k} & \text{for } n= 2^k\end{cases}\]
is a counterexample. For \(n \gt 2\) and \(n \notin \{2^k \ ; \ k \in \mathbb N\}\) we also have \(2n \notin \{2^k \ ; \ k \in \mathbb N\}\), hence \(u_{2n}-u_n=0\). For \(n = 2^k\) \[
0 \le u_{2^{k+1}}-u_{2^k}=2^{-k}-2^{-k-1} \le 2^{-k} = \frac{1}{n}\] and \(\lim\limits_{k \to \infty} u_{2^k} = 1\). \((u_n)\) does not converge as \(0\) and \(1\) are limit points.

If \(\lim\limits_{n} \frac{u_{n+1}}{u_n} =1\) then \((u_n)\) has a finite or infinite limit?

This is not true. Let’s consider the sequence
\[u_n=2+\sin(\ln n)\] Using the inequality \(
\vert \sin p – \sin q \vert \le \vert p – q \vert\)
which is a consequence of the mean value theorem, we get \[
\vert u_{n+1} – u_n \vert = \vert \sin(\ln (n+1)) – \sin(\ln n) \vert \le \vert \ln(n+1) – \ln(n) \vert\] Therefore \(\lim\limits_n \left(u_{n+1}-u_n \right) =0\) as \(\lim\limits_n \left(\ln(n+1) – \ln(n)\right) = 0\). And \(\lim\limits_{n} \frac{u_{n+1}}{u_n} =1\) because \(u_n \ge 1\) for all \(n \in \mathbb N\).

I now assert that the interval \([1,3]\) is the set of limit points of \((u_n)\). For the proof, it is sufficient to prove that \([-1,1]\) is the set of limit points of the sequence \(v_n=\sin(\ln n)\). For \(y \in [-1,1]\), we can pickup \(x \in \mathbb R\) such that \(\sin x =y\). Let \(\epsilon > 0\) and \(M \in \mathbb N\) , we can find an integer \(N \ge M\) such that \(0 < \ln(n+1) - \ln(n) \lt \epsilon\) for \(n \ge N\). Select \(k \in \mathbb N\) with \(x +2k\pi \gt \ln N\) and \(N_\epsilon\) with \(\ln N_\epsilon \in (x +2k\pi, x +2k\pi + \epsilon)\). This is possible as \((\ln n)_{n \in \mathbb N}\) is an increasing sequence and the length of the interval \((x +2k\pi, x +2k\pi + \epsilon)\) is equal to \(\epsilon\). We finally get \[ \vert u_{N_\epsilon} - y \vert = \vert \sin \left(\ln N_\epsilon \right) - \sin \left(x + 2k \pi \right) \vert \le \left(\ln N_\epsilon - (x +2k\pi)\right) \le \epsilon\] proving that \(y\) is a limit point of \((u_n)\).

A Commutative Ring with Infinitely Many Units

In a ring \(R\) a unit is any element \(u\) that has a multiplicative inverse \(v\), i.e. an element \(v\) such that \[
uv=vu=1,\] where \(1\) is the multiplicative identity.

The only units of the commutative ring \(\mathbb Z\) are \(-1\) and \(1\). For a field \(\mathbb F\) the units of the ring \(\mathrm M_n(\mathbb F)\) of the square matrices of dimension \(n \times n\) is the general linear group \(\mathrm{GL}_n(\mathbb F)\) of the invertible matrices. The group \(\mathrm{GL}_n(\mathbb F)\) is infinite if \(\mathbb F\) is infinite, but the ring \(\mathrm M_n(\mathbb F)\) is not commutative for \(n \ge 2\).

The commutative ring \(\mathbb Z[\sqrt{2}] = \{a + b\sqrt{2} \ ; \ (a,b) \in \mathbb Z^2\}\) is not a field. However it has infinitely many units.

\(a + b\sqrt{2}\) is a unit if and only if \(a^2-2b^2 = \pm 1\)

For \(u = a + b\sqrt{2} \in \mathbb Z[\sqrt{2}]\) we denote \(\mathrm N(u) = a^2- 2b^2 \in \mathbb Z\). For any \(u,v \in \mathbb Z[\sqrt{2}]\) we have \(\mathrm N(uv) = \mathrm N(u) \mathrm N(v)\). Therefore for a unit \(u \in \mathbb Z[\sqrt{2}]\) with \(v\) as multiplicative inverse, we have \(\mathrm N(u) \mathrm N(v) = 1\) and \(\mathrm N(u) =a^2-2b^2 \in \{-1,1\}\).

The elements \((1+\sqrt{2})^n\) for \(n \in \mathbb N\) are unit elements

The proof is simple as for \(n \in \mathbb N\) \[
(1+\sqrt{2})^n (-1 + \sqrt{2})^n = \left((1+\sqrt{2})(-1 + \sqrt{2})\right)^n=1\]

One can prove (by induction on \(b\)) that the elements \((1+\sqrt{2})^n\) are the only units \(u \in \mathbb Z[\sqrt{2}]\) for \(u \gt 1\).

A strictly increasing continuous function that is differentiable at no point of a null set

We build in this article a strictly increasing continuous function \(f\) that is differentiable at no point of a null set \(E\). The null set \(E\) can be chosen arbitrarily. In particular it can have the cardinality of the continuum like the Cantor null set.

A set of strictly increasing continuous functions

For \(p \lt q\) two real numbers, consider the function \[
f_{p,q}(x)=(q-p) \left[\frac{\pi}{2} + \arctan{\left(\frac{2x-p-q}{q-p}\right)}\right]\] \(f_{p,q}\) is positive and its derivative is \[
f_{p,q}^\prime(x) = \frac{2}{1+\left(\frac{2x-p-q}{q-p}\right)^2}\] which is always strictly positive. Hence \(f_{p,q}\) is strictly increasing. We also have \[
\lim\limits_{x \to -\infty} f_{p,q}(x) = 0 \text{ and } \lim\limits_{x \to \infty} f_{p,q}(x) = \pi(q-p).\] One can notice that for \(x \in (p,q)\), \(f_{p,q}^\prime(x) \gt 1\). Therefore for \(x, y \in (p,q)\) distinct we have according to the mean value theorem \(\frac{f_{p,q}(y)-f_{p,q}(x)}{y-x} \ge 1\).

Covering \(E\) with an appropriate set of open intervals

As \(E\) is a null set, for each \(n \in \mathbb N\) one can find an open set \(O_n\) containing \(E\) and measuring less than \(2^{-n}\). \(O_n\) can be written as a countable union of disjoint open intervals as any open subset of the reals. Then \(I=\bigcup_{m \in \mathbb N} O_m\) is also a countable union of open intervals \(I_n\) with \(n \in \mathbb N\). The sum of the lengths of the \(I_n\) is less than \(1\). Continue reading A strictly increasing continuous function that is differentiable at no point of a null set

A monotonic function whose points of discontinuity form a dense set

Consider a compact interval \([a,b] \subset \mathbb R\) with \(a \lt b\). Let’s build an increasing function \(f : [a,b] \to \mathbb R\) whose points of discontinuity is an arbitrary dense subset \(D = \{d_n \ ; \ n \in \mathbb N\}\) of \([a,b]\), for example \(D = \mathbb Q \cap [a,b]\).

Let \(\sum p_n\) be a convergent series of positive numbers whose sum is equal to \(p\) and define \(\displaystyle f(x) = \sum_{d_n \le x} p_n\).

\(f\) is strictly increasing

For \(a \le x \lt y \le b\) we have \[
f(y) – f(x) = \sum_{x \lt d_n \le y} p_n \gt 0\] as the \(p_n\) are positive and dense so it exists \(p_m \in (x, y]\).

\(f\) is right-continuous on \([a,b]\)

We pick-up \(x \in [a,b]\). For any \(\epsilon \gt 0\) is exists \(N \in \mathbb N\) such that \(0 \lt \sum_{n \gt N} p_n \lt \epsilon\). Let \(\delta > 0\) be so small that the interval \((x,x+\delta)\) doesn’t contain any point in the finite set \(\{p_1, \dots, p_N\}\). Then \[
0 \lt f(y) – f(x) \le \sum_{n \gt N} p_n \lt \epsilon,\] for any \(y \in (x,x+\delta)\) proving the right-continuity of \(f\) at \(x\). Continue reading A monotonic function whose points of discontinuity form a dense set

A normal extension of a normal extension may not be normal

An algebraic field extension \(K \subset L\) is said to be normal if every irreducible polynomial, either has no root in \(L\) or splits into linear factors in \(L\).

One can prove that if \(L\) is a normal extension of \(K\) and if \(E\) is an intermediate extension (i.e., \(K \subset E \subset L\)), then \(L\) is a normal extension of \(E\).

However a normal extension of a normal extension may not be normal and the extensions \(\mathbb Q \subset \mathbb Q(\sqrt{2}) \subset \mathbb Q(\sqrt[4]{2})\) provide a counterexample. Let’s prove it.

As a short lemma, we prove that a quadratic extension \(k \subset K\) , i.e. an extension of degree two is normal. Suppose that \(P\) is an irreducible polynomial of \(k[x]\) with a root \(a \in K\). If \(a \in k\) then the degree of \(P\) is equal to \(1\) and we’re done. Otherwise \((1, a)\) is a basis of \(K\) over \(k\) and there exist \(\lambda, \mu \in k\) such that \(a^2 = \lambda a +\mu\). As \(a \notin k\), \(Q(x)= x^2 – \lambda x -\mu\) is the minimal polynomial of \(a\) over \(k\). As \(P\) is supposed to be irreducible, we get \(Q = P\). And we can conclude as \[
Q(x) = (x-a)(x- \lambda +a).\]

The entensions \(\mathbb Q \subset \mathbb Q(\sqrt{2})\) and \(\mathbb Q(\sqrt{2}) \subset \mathbb Q(\sqrt[4]{2})\) are quadratic, hence normal according to previous lemma and \(\sqrt[4]{2}\) is a root of the polynomial \(P(x)= x^4-2\) of \(\mathbb Q[x]\). According to Eisenstein’s criterion \(P\) is irreducible over \(\mathbb Q\). However \(\mathbb Q(\sqrt[4]{2}) \subset \mathbb R\) while the roots of \(P\) are \(\pm \sqrt[4]{2}, \pm i \sqrt[4]{2}\) and therefore not all real. We can conclude that \(\mathbb Q \subset \mathbb Q(\sqrt[4]{2})\) is not normal.

The image of an ideal may not be an ideal

If \(\phi : A \to B\) is a ring homomorphism then the image of a subring \(S \subset A\) is a subring \(\phi(A) \subset B\). Is the image of an ideal under a ring homomorphism also an ideal? The answer is negative. Let’s provide a simple counterexample.

Let’s take \(A=\mathbb Z\) the ring of the integers and for \(B\) the ring of the polynomials with integer coefficients \(\mathbb Z[x]\). The inclusion \(\phi : \mathbb Z \to \mathbb Z[x]\) is a ring homorphism. The subset \(2 \mathbb Z \subset \mathbb Z\) of even integers is an ideal. However \(2 \mathbb Z\) is not an ideal of \(\mathbb Z[x]\) as for example \(2x \notin 2\mathbb Z\).

A function whose Maclaurin series converges only at zero

Let’s describe a real function \(f\) whose Maclaurin series converges only at zero. For \(n \ge 0\) we denote \(f_n(x)= e^{-n} \cos n^2x\) and \[
f(x) = \sum_{n=0}^\infty f_n(x)=\sum_{n=0}^\infty e^{-n} \cos n^2 x.\] For \(k \ge 0\), the \(k\)th-derivative of \(f_n\) is \[
f_n^{(k)}(x) = e^{-n} n^{2k} \cos \left(n^2 x + \frac{k \pi}{2}\right)\] and \[
\left\vert f_n^{(k)}(x) \right\vert \le e^{-n} n^{2k}\] for all \(x \in \mathbb R\). Therefore \(\displaystyle \sum_{n=0}^\infty f_n^{(k)}(x)\) is normally convergent and \(f\) is an indefinitely differentiable function with \[
f^{(k)}(x) = \sum_{n=0}^\infty e^{-n} n^{2k} \cos \left(n^2 x + \frac{k \pi}{2}\right).\] Its Maclaurin series has only terms of even degree and the absolute value of the term of degree \(2k\) is \[
\left(\sum_{n=0}^\infty e^{-n} n^{4k}\right)\frac{x^{2k}}{(2k)!} > e^{-2k} (2k)^{4k}\frac{x^{2k}}{(2k)!} > \left(\frac{2kx}{e}\right)^{2k}.\] The right hand side of this inequality is greater than \(1\) for \(k \ge \frac{e}{2x}\). This means that for any nonzero \(x\) the Maclaurin series for \(f\) diverges.