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In Elias Stein and Rami Shakarchi's Complex Analysis textbook, we have the following exercise:

Show that if $\{a_n\}_{n=0}^\infty$ is a sequence of complex numbers such that $$\lim_{n\to\infty}\frac{|a_{n+1}|}{|a_n|}=L,$$ then $$\lim_{n\to\infty}|a_n|^{1/n}=L.$$

I've been trying to prove this with no luck. The only thing I've thought of doing is $$\lim_{n\to\infty}\left(\frac{|a_{n+1}|^n}{|a_n|^n}\right)^{1/n},$$but this hasn't lead me anywhere except dead ends. Will someone provide a hint for me about how to proceed? Thanks!

Minor update: I don't know if it's helpful yet, but I know we can write the limit as $$\lim_{n\to\infty}\left(\frac{|a_{n+1}a_n\cdots a_0|}{|a_n\cdots a_0|}\cdot\frac{1}{|a_n|}\right).$$This reminds me a lot of the geometric mean, which even has the exponents I'm trying to get...

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As I recall, you divide the $a_n$ into two parts: a final part in which the ratio is within $\epsilon$ of L and an initial part which, because its length is bounded, can be shown to not affect the result. There are a lot of limit-type results which are proved this way. – marty cohen Jan 27 '13 at 7:24
@martycohen: Do you mean something like $|L-|a_{N+1}/a_N|\space |<\varepsilon$? I'm not sure I follow what you mean by dividing $a_n$ into two parts if that isn't what you mean. – Clayton Jan 27 '13 at 7:29
Which question is this? Which number/chapter? – leo May 1 '13 at 2:15
@leo: Chapter $1$, Exercise $17$. – Clayton May 1 '13 at 2:20

1 Answer 1

up vote 11 down vote accepted

By definition of limit, for each $\varepsilon>0$ there exists $N$ s.t. $$n>N \implies \left| \left| \frac{a_{n+1}}{a_n} \right|-L \right|<\varepsilon.$$ So $$|a_n|=\frac{|a_n|}{|a_{n-1}|}\cdots \frac{|a_{N+1}|}{|a_N|} |a_N|<(L+\varepsilon) ^{n-N} |a_N|$$ Take the $n$th root of both sides of the inequality. Then we get $$\sqrt[n]{|a_n|} <(L+\varepsilon)^{1-N/n}\sqrt[n]{|a_N|}.$$ Taking $n\to\infty$ then $$\lim_{n\to\infty}\sqrt[n]{|a_n|} \le L+\varepsilon.$$ Since $\varepsilon$ is arbitrary, we get $\lim_{n\to\infty}\sqrt[n]{|a_n|} \le L.$ Likewise we can get $\lim_{n\to\infty}\sqrt[n]{|a_n|} \ge L.$

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That is excellent! Thanks! – Clayton Jan 27 '13 at 16:04

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