# Sum of rational numbers

The sum of a finite number of rational numbers is of course a rational number, but the sum of an infinite number of rational numbers might be an irrational number. Can someone give me some intuition why this sum might be irrational? I just "don't feel it."

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As Hans observes below, any real number is an infinite sum of rationals, so if you have any intuition for why there are irrational real numbers, there you go. I feel like adding: it is OK not to have intuition about infinite sums. (Maybe even that it is counterproductive to have expectations about what infinite sums ought to do, or ought not to do, until you have a great deal of experience with them.) A lot of stuff about infinite sums cannot be "felt" at first; only learned. If you "don't feel it", that might even be a sign that you understand it better than someone who does :) –  anon Dec 24 '10 at 23:05
Now I most certainly fell it. To be honest I read that sum of rational numbers might be irrational yesterday (I havent thought about it earlier). The example that I found was that $\sum\limits_{i=1}^{\infty}\frac{1}{F_{i}}$, where F means fibonacci number, is irrational. From this example it wasn't clear for me why is it true, but the 'decimal' example that Trevor wrote is convincing. –  Tomek Tarczynski Dec 24 '10 at 23:26
But still some things about rational and irrational numbers are not so obvious. For example: There is a rational number between every two irrational numbers, so how is it possible that there is 'so much more' irrational numbers than rational. –  Tomek Tarczynski Dec 24 '10 at 23:30
Infact, an irrational number or a real number is defined as a limit of a sequence of rational numbers. –  user17762 Jan 8 '11 at 22:23

Look at this.

So: $3.14159 \dots = 3 + \frac{1}{10} + \frac{4}{10^2} +\frac{1}{10^3} + \frac{5}{10^4}+ \frac{9}{10^5} + \dots$

The above expression is $\pi$.

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The problem is psychological: you think of the "infinite sum" of rational numbers as an obvious, intuitive concept, but it's not. It has a precise mathematical meaning, and that precise mathematical meaning only works if you allow the sums to be real numbers (which themselves have a precise mathematical meaning). The definitions which allow these "infinite sums" to make sense are much less trivial than someone who's never worked through them would think.

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Any irrational number $x$ is the limit of a sequence of rational numbers $a_n$ (take for example the decimal expansion truncated after $n$ decimals, for $n=1,2,3,\dots$). Then $$x = a_1 + (a_2-a_1) + (a_3-a_2) + \dots$$ is a sum of rational numbers, but it is irrational by construction.

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Dear I am thinking about it because I am also a student of Mathematics.

We know that $e$ is an irrational number.

The value of $e$ is

$$= 1 + \frac{1}{1} + \frac{1}{2}! + \frac{1}{3}! + \ldots$$

$$= 1 + \frac{1}{1} + \frac{1}{2} + \frac{1}{6} + \frac{1}{24} + \ldots$$

$$= 2.7182 \ldots$$ (Irrational Number)

So sum of infinite rational numbers may be irrational.

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I think there's a formatting error there. Note that usually $\frac{1}{x!}\ne\frac{1}{x}!$ –  Scott Centoni Jul 17 at 19:39