Mathematics Stack Exchange is a question and answer site for people studying math at any level and professionals in related fields. Join them; it only takes a minute:

Sign up
Here's how it works:
  1. Anybody can ask a question
  2. Anybody can answer
  3. The best answers are voted up and rise to the top

When he proved the relation between $\pi \cot(\pi x)$ and the harmonic series in "Introductio in analysin infinitorum" which states that $$\pi \cot(\pi x)=\sum_{k \to \infty}^{\infty} \frac{1}{x+k}=\frac{1}{x}+\sum_{k=1}^{\infty}\left(\frac{1}{x+n}+\frac{1}{x-n} \right) \text{ for } x\in \mathbb{R} \backslash \mathbb{Z}.$$ It doesn't take a genius to transform this into an infinite product just by knowing the fact that $$\int \pi \cot(\pi x) = \log\left(\sin(\pi x) \right)+C.$$

So my question is, why does every historian/author claim that Euler's first proof of $\displaystyle \zeta (2)=\frac{\pi^2}{6}$ was not rigourous at all because Euler didn't prove his famous infinite product in his lifetime when the proof of the relation between the cotangent and the harmonic series implies directly his infinite product?

EDIT:I'm sorry for doing this but shameless self bump.

I got no answers and once again, I'm sorry.

share|cite|improve this question
I am afraid that in Euler's days integrating those infinite series would be even more striking example of an argument that is not rigorous. Even Cauchy got it wrong the first time round. :) – J.H. Feb 19 '13 at 19:46
Thank you Asaf Karagila. – Kobesky Feb 19 '13 at 19:54
J.H.: I agree but the difference between no rigorous justification of the infinite product and not considering uniform convergence when integrating term by term is a big one. Authors don't even say he proved the product in any way. – Kobesky Feb 19 '13 at 20:37
Do we have a definition for a "rigorous proof"? – Mhenni Benghorbal Feb 19 '13 at 20:50
That's just shifting the semantic burden from the words "rigorous proof" to the words "completely justified". Do you have a definition for "completely justified"? – Greg Martin Feb 20 '13 at 1:23

I am answering the question in the content, the title is asking something about the infinite product.

why does every historian/author claim that Euler's first proof of $\displaystyle \zeta (2)=\frac{\pi^2}{6}$ was not rigorous at all

Euler's first derivation was done by factoring the infinite series for sin, even Euler himself was not satisfied with that method and although that method was correct in finite cases needed to be justified for infinite case, due to that fact later Euler gave alternative (more)rigorous proofs. (rigorous being what was deemed acceptable by other mathematicians of the time.)

After the first proof was deemed not rigorous by the master himself, no other fact/rigorous proof can change the amount of the rigor of that proof. The infinite product was made rigorous by Weierstrass and his treatment of Entire function theory. :

PS: What ever the first proof lacked in rigor it made up in ingenuity.

share|cite|improve this answer

Your Answer


By posting your answer, you agree to the privacy policy and terms of service.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.