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  Which values of the Riemann zeta funtion at negative arguments come up in physics?

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For my bachelor's thesis, I am investigating Divergent Series. Apart from the mathematical theory behind them (which I find fascinating), I am also interested in their applications in physics.

Currently, I am studying the divergent series that arise when considering the Riemann zeta function at negative arguments. The Riemann zeta function can be analytically continued. By doing this, finite constants can be assigned to the divergent series. For $n \geq 1$, we have the formula:

$$ \zeta(-n) = - \frac{B_{n+1}}{n+1} . $$

This formula can be used to find:

  • $\zeta(-1) = \sum_{n=1}^{\infty} n = - \frac{1}{12} . $ This formula is used in Bosonic String Theory to find the so-called "critical dimension" $d = 26$. For more info, one can consult the relevant wikipedia page.
  • $\zeta(-3) = \sum_{n=1}^{\infty} n^3 = - \frac{1}{120} $ . This identity is used in the calculation of the energy per area between metallic plates that arises in the Casimir Effect.

My first question is: do more of these values of the Riemann zeta function at negative arguments arise in physics? If so: which ones, and in what context?

Furthermore, I consider summing powers of the Riemann zeta function at negative arguments. I try to do this by means of Faulhaber's formula. Let's say, for example, we want to compute the sum of $$p = \Big( \sum_{k=1}^{\infty} k \Big)^3 . $$ If we set $a = 1 + 2 + 3 + \dots + n = \frac{n(n+1)}{2} $, then from Faulhaber's formula we find that $$\frac{4a^3 - a^2}{3} = 1^5 + 2^5 + 3^5 + \dots + n^5 , $$ from which we can deduce that $$ p = a^3 = \frac{ 3 \cdot \sum_{k=1}^{\infty} k^5 + a^2 }{4} .$$ Since we can also sum the divergent series arising from the Riemann zeta function at negative arguments by means of Ramanujan Summation (which produces that same results as analytic continuation) and the Ramanujan Summation method is linear, we find that the Ramanujan ($R$) or regularised sum of $p$ amounts to $$R(p) = R(a^3) = \frac{3}{4} R\Big(\sum_{k=1}^{\infty} k^5\Big) + \frac{1}{4} R(a^2) . $$ Again, we know from Faulhaber's Formula that $a^2 = \sum_{k=1}^{\infty} k^3 $ , so $R(a^2) = R(\zeta(-3)) = - \frac{1}{120} $, so $$R(p) = \frac{3}{4} \Big(- \frac{1}{252} \Big) + \frac{ ( \frac{1}{120} )} {4} = - \frac{1}{1120} . $$

My second (bunch of) question(s) is: Do powers of these zeta values at negative arguments arise in physics? If so, how? Are they summed in a manner similar to process I just described, or in a different manner? Of the latter is the case, which other summation method is used? Do powers of divergent series arise in physics in general? If so: which ones, and in what context?

My third and last (bunch of) question(s) is: which other divergent series arise in physics (not just considering (powers of) the Riemann zeta function at negative arguments) ? I know there are whole books on renormalisation and/or regularisation in physics. However, for the sake of my bachelor's thesis I would like to know some concrete examples of divergent series that arise in physics which I can study. It would also be nice if you could mention some divergent series which have defied summation by any summation method that physicists (or mathematicians) currently employ. Please also indicate as to how these divergent series arise in physics.

I also posted a somewhat more general and improved version of this question on MO.

This post imported from StackExchange Physics at 2014-04-07 13:21 (UCT), posted by SE-user Max Muller
asked Mar 29, 2014 in Mathematics by Max Muller (115 points) [ no revision ]
retagged Apr 7, 2014

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