Previous: Introduction to Fourier Series. Fourier Series List.
Next: The Complex Fourier Coefficients. Let's start by looking at a one term approximation of the above: [Equation 2] Here we have a one-term approximation of the function. What is the best value for a0 that we can choose in this case?
Without proof which will come later , the optimal value is: [Equation 3] How do we get this? Well, to answer intuitively, the integral of the function over the period is a formal mathematical way of writing "the average value".
So the first term in the Fourier series is a constant, and it is the average value of the function. For the square wave of Figure 1 on the previous page , the average value is 0.
The square waveform and the one term constant expansion. Let's take another term, say the b1 term, so that now we have a two term expansion of the Fourier Series: [Equation 4] What is the optimal value of b1? In a sense, we want to correlate the function f t and this basis sine function.
It turns out the optimal value for b1 is given by: [Equation 5] This is the mathematical way of writing the correlation between two functions over the interval [0, T] the derivation for the factor of 2 will be shown later. Working through the math of the above equation, the optimal value for b1 is: [Equation 6] The first two terms from equation , evaluated with the optimal values for a0 and b1 now add together to produce: Figure 3.
The square waveform and the two term expansion. It turns out that g t is an odd function , and the cosine functions are all even function click the links for the definition of even and odd functions.
Hence, all the values a1, a2, The first three non-zero term expansion a0, b1, b3 is given in Figure 4: Figure 4. The square waveform and the three term expansion. It looks like the whole Fourier Series concept is working.
Here is a 7-term expansion a0, b1, b3, b5, b7, b9, b11 : Figure 5. The square waveform and the seven term expansion. The most important equation of this page is Equation 7 - the formulas for the Fourier Series coefficients.
These equations give the optimal values for any periodic function. The main takeaway point from this page is to understand that any periodic function it should be somewhat continuous can be represented by the sum of sinusoidal functions, each with a frequency some integer multiple of the fundamental period T.
Fourier Series Coefficient Problem Example
In the next section, we'll look at the complex form of the Fourier Series.