3
$\begingroup$

According to "Squaring the Circle" by Ernest Hobson, this formula $$\theta =\frac{\sin\theta}{\cos\frac\theta2\cdot \cos\frac\theta4\cdot \cos\frac\theta8\dots}$$ for $\theta<\pi$ is due to Euler. He gives no reference.

Does anyone knows the reference to the original Euler's work?

Comments.

  1. Likely the formula was obtained by applying $$\sin(2{\cdot}x)=2\cdot\sin x\cdot \cos x$$ recursively. (It seems to be the easiest way.) If you plug in $\theta=\tfrac\pi2$ then you get the Vieta's identity $$\frac\pi2= \frac2{\sqrt{2}}\cdot \frac2{\sqrt{2+\sqrt2}}\cdot \frac2{\sqrt{2+\sqrt{2+\sqrt2}}} \ldots$$ This formula seems to be the first known "explicit" expression for $\pi$.

  2. So far it seems that Hobson (and others after Hobson, including Cajori) made a mistake by attributing this formula to Euler.

$\endgroup$
3
$\begingroup$

This formula is an immediate consequence of the product expansion of the sine: $$\frac{\sin x}{x}=\prod_{n=1}^\infty\left(1-\frac{x^2}{\pi^2n^2}\right),$$ and of the well-known fact that every integer is a product of a power of $2$ and an odd integer.

The infinite product formula for the sine was proved by Euler in De summis serierum reciprocarum, Comment. Acad. Sci. Petrop. 7 (1740), 123– 134. (Read Dec. 5, 1735). (Opera Omnia, Series 1, Vol. 14, pp. 73–86.) The formula can be seen in paragraph 5 of Euler's work.

A good source for Euler's work on this subject is the survey of Lagarias Euler's constant: Euler's work and modern development, in the Bulletin AMS. 50, 4 2013, 527-628.

$\endgroup$
  • 2
    $\begingroup$ I doubt that this is correct reference. The formula I am asking about is an immediate consequence of $$\sin (2{\cdot} x)=2\cdot\sin x\cdot\cos x.$$ One should be mad to get the formula the way you suggest. $\endgroup$ – Anton Petrunin Nov 30 '15 at 10:42
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ @Anton Petrunin: Your argument is very close to the original Vieta's proof, which is reproduced on p. 92 of Beckman, Hostory of pi. So perhaps the result should be credited to Vieta rather than Euler. $\endgroup$ – Alexandre Eremenko Nov 30 '15 at 14:32
1
$\begingroup$

The formula Hobson is reporting on is unrelated to Euler's famous infinite product formula for sine. The constants in Hobson's formula vary geometrically whereas in Euler's famous product formula they vary quadratically. The latter result is considerably deeper than the former (though perhaps the former is also due to Euler). A discussion of the famous formula can be found in our Notices article here: http://www.ams.org/notices/201307/rnoti-p886.pdf

$\endgroup$

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

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