A periodic function is defined by the property

f(t+T) =f(t)

If the function has an exponential-type power series expansion

f(t) =k=0 ck tkk!

then using the binomial theorem the periodic property translates to

f(t+T) =k=0 ck (t +T)k k! =k=0 ckk! l=0 k (kl) Tk-l tl f(t +T) =l=0 k=l ckl! (k-l)! Tk-l tl =l=0 m=0 cl+m m! Tm tll!

Comparing this to the original power series, one must have in general

ck =m=0 ck+m m! Tm m=1 ck+m m! Tm =0

where the second form removes from first term from both sides of the equivalence. For the fundamental periodic functions with expansions

sint= k=0 (1)k t2k+1 (2k+1)! cost= k=0 (1)k t2k (2k)!

the general result implies

k=1 (1)k (2π )2k (2k)! =0

which can be confirmed with a numerical evaluation.


Derivatives of a periodic function are also periodic, which can be seen by differentiating both sides of the defining equation:

f(n) (t+T) =f(n) (t)

Applying this to the exponential-type power series expansion gives

f(n) (t+T) =k=n ck (t+T )k-n (k-n)!

and comparing this to the original expansion at t=0 leads to

cn =k=n ck Tk-n (k-n)! k=n+1 ck Tk-n (k-n)! =0

Given that this is a set of linear equations for the constants, one might think to stop the expansion at some larger number and solve backward for all of the coefficients of a general periodic function. First compare the equations to a summation formula for Bernoulli numbers:

m=1 N-1 (Nm) Bm =N! m=1 N-1 Bm (N-m)! m! =0

Equating the first factorial in the denominator to the one in the equations above gives the relation m=N+n-k  , so that it is not difficult to see that the recursive solution leading to n=0 is simply

ck=cN TN-k BN-k (N-k)!

Since the factorial increases faster than the Bernoulli number as N , the most general periodic function is a constant. Earth shattering!

The form of the coefficients can be confirmed with the following Mathematica code:

max = 10;
s[n_] := Sum[Subscript[c, n + m] T^m/m!, {m, 1, max - n}]
Solve[Table[s[i] == 0, {i, 0, max - 2}], 
 Table[Subscript[c, i], {i, 1, max - 1}]]

Given the expansion

xcothx =k=0 B2k (2k)! (2x )2k

one has immediately that the coefficients even in the period are identical to an expansion of T2 cothT2  . The linear term for cN-1 is oddly missing...


The nonpathological periodic functions used in physics can always be represented by Fourier series. If a function has the expansion

f(t) =n ancos( 2πntT ) +bnsin( 2πntT )

then consider it term by term:

f(t) =k=0 (1)k t2k [ n an (2πnT )2k ] +(1)k t2k+1 [ n bn (2πnT )2k+1 ]

This is potentially useful in correlating an known Fourier expansion with a power series expression of the same function. The coefficients in brackets are simple linear combinations of the Fourier coefficients.


Gravitational choreographies typically have constraints on the center of mass that leads to relationships of the form

f(t) +f(t+T) +f(t-T) =0

Again using an exponential-type power series expansion for the function, this relationship becomes

k=0 ckk! [tk +(t +T)k +(t -T)k] =0 k=0 ckk! [tk +l=0 k (kl) [1-(1 )k-l] Tk-l tl] =0 k=0 ckk! tk +l=0 k=l ckl! (k-l)! [1-(1 )k-l] Tk-l tl =0 k=0 ckk! tk+ l=0 m=0 cl+m m! [1-(1 )m] Tm tll! =0

Note that the double sum only contains even powers of the period. Repurposing the index, for gravitational choreographies one must have

ck +2 m=0 ck+2m (2m)! T2m =3ck +2 m=1 ck+2m (2m)! T2m =0

This statement holds separately for the coefficients of even and odd powers of the temporal variable.

If one again assumes that the expansion can be stopped at some large number and solved backward for the coefficients of a general gravitational choreography. In this case it is less easy to see the form of the final result, so Mathematica is useful. The code here is

max = 11;
s[k_] := 3 Subscript[c, k] + 
  2 Sum[Subscript[c, k + 2 m]/(2 m)! T^(2 m), {m, 1, (max - k)/2}]
Solve[Table[s[i] == 0, {i, 0, max - 2, 2}], 
 Table[Subscript[c, i], {i, 0, max - 2, 2}]]
Solve[Table[s[i] == 0, {i, 1, max - 2, 2}], 
 Table[Subscript[c, i], {i, 1, max - 2, 2}]]

Even and odd powers have the same numerical coefficients but differ the overall factor is an even or odd highest coefficient as appropriate.

Picking any high numerator and searching on oeis.org reveals that the numerical coefficients have the same absolute value as A279120, which are the numerators in the expansion of 11 +2cosx  . The denominators are in the next sequence A279121 and have a common factor of three that can be removed by simple multiplication. This is an oddly specific function: what could be its significance for gravitational choreographies?


Uploaded 2021.04.30 analyticphysics.com