I have the following alternating series:

$$ \sum_{k=1}^{+\infty} (-1)^{k-1} \dfrac{1}{1 + \alpha{}k^{-1}} $$

with $\alpha<1$, and I'm trying to evaluate the sum. This series arose from a previous question I posted yesterday. Without citing too much from that post, the original expression is bounded, so I think this sum should also be bounded. It seems likely, due to the small coefficient and the inverse power.

I have looked around for some hints on how to proceed, but I didn't find anything useful.

Anything I can use to evaluate this?



As stated by @RobertZ, this sum does not converge. However, one can somehow assign a principal value for it.

Note that $$\frac1{1+ak^{-1}}=1-\frac{a}{k+a}$$

If one accepts that $$\sum^\infty_{k=1} (-1)^k=0$$ it is easy to see your sum equals $$\color{RED}{a\cdot\Phi(-1,1,a)-1}$$ where $\Phi$ is the Lerch transcendent.


  • $\begingroup$ Say if the condition for sum of alternating ones is instead not equal to zero (maybe $1$ or $-1$, that is, if the infinity is a 'relatively large even or odd number'), then would there be any difference in the resulting expression? $\endgroup$ – KaiserHaz May 24 '18 at 10:37
  • $\begingroup$ @KaiserHaz Then of course $\sum(-1)^k$ has a definite value. However, the sum making the Lerch transcendent should remain the same. $\endgroup$ – Szeto May 24 '18 at 10:43
  • $\begingroup$ How does that change the result? Would it be multiplied by $1$ or $-1$? $\endgroup$ – KaiserHaz May 24 '18 at 11:09
  • $\begingroup$ @KaiserHaz The result will be added or subtracted by one. $\endgroup$ – Szeto May 24 '18 at 11:18

I estimated lower and upper limits of the sum:

$S=\sum\limits_{k=1}^{+\infty} (-1)^{k-1} \dfrac{1}{1 + \alpha{}k^{-1}}$

Separate the sum according to the odd and even value of $k$s then

$S=\sum\limits_{i=0}^{+\infty}\big( (-1)^{2i} \dfrac{1}{1 + \frac{\alpha}{2i+1}}-(-1)^{2i+1} \dfrac{1}{1 + \frac{\alpha}{2i+2}}\big)$ performing the possible simplifications I got:

$S=\sum\limits_{i=0}^{+\infty}\dfrac{-\alpha}{(2i+2+\alpha)(2i+1+\alpha)}$ then -S was forced to the following limits:

$\sum\limits_{i=0}^{+\infty}\dfrac{\alpha}{(2i+2+\alpha)^2}\lt -S\lt \sum\limits_{i=0}^{+\infty}\dfrac{\alpha}{(2i+1+\alpha)^2}$

$\frac{\alpha}{4}\sum\limits_{i=0}^{+\infty}\dfrac{1}{(i+\frac{(2+\alpha)}{2})^2}\lt -S\lt \frac{\alpha}{4}\sum\limits_{i=0}^{+\infty}\dfrac{1}{(i+\frac{(1+\alpha)}{2})^2}$

Finally $\frac{\alpha}{4}\zeta(2,\frac{(2+\alpha)}{2})\lt-S \lt \frac{\alpha}{4}\zeta(2,\frac{(1+\alpha)}{2})$ where $\zeta(s,q)$ is the Hurwitz zeta function.


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