Parseval's identity

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In mathematical analysis, Parseval's identity, named after Marc-Antoine Parseval, is a fundamental result on the summability of the Fourier series of a function. Geometrically, it is the Pythagorean theorem for inner-product spaces.

Informally, the identity asserts that the sum of the squares of the Fourier coefficients of a function is equal to the integral of the square of the function,

where the Fourier coefficients cn of ƒ are given by

More formally, the result holds as stated provided ƒ is square-integrable or, more generally, in L2[−π,π]. A similar result is the Plancherel theorem, which asserts that the integral of the square of the Fourier transform of a function is equal to the integral of the square of the function itself. In one-dimension, for ƒL2(R),

Generalization of the Pythagorean theorem[edit]

The identity is related to the Pythagorean theorem in the more general setting of a separable Hilbert space as follows. Suppose that H is a Hilbert space with inner product 〈•,•〉. Let (en) be an orthonormal basis of H; i.e., the linear span of the en is dense in H, and the en are mutually orthonormal:

Then Parseval's identity asserts that for every x ∈ H,

This is directly analogous to the Pythagorean theorem, which asserts that the sum of the squares of the components of a vector in an orthonormal basis is equal to the squared length of the vector. One can recover the Fourier series version of Parseval's identity by letting H be the Hilbert space L2[−π,π], and setting en = e−inx for nZ.

More generally, Parseval's identity holds in any inner-product space, not just separable Hilbert spaces. Thus suppose that H is an inner-product space. Let B be an orthonormal basis of H; i.e., an orthonormal set which is total in the sense that the linear span of B is dense in H. Then

The assumption that B is total is necessary for the validity of the identity. If B is not total, then the equality in Parseval's identity must be replaced by ≥, yielding Bessel's inequality. This general form of Parseval's identity can be proved using the Riesz–Fischer theorem.

See also[edit]


  • Hazewinkel, Michiel, ed. (2001) [1994], "Parseval equality", Encyclopedia of Mathematics, Springer Science+Business Media B.V. / Kluwer Academic Publishers, ISBN 978-1-55608-010-4
  • Johnson, Lee W.; Riess, R. Dean (1982), Numerical Analysis (2nd ed.), Reading, Mass.: Addison-Wesley, ISBN 0-201-10392-3.
  • Titchmarsh, E (1939), The Theory of Functions (2nd ed.), Oxford University Press.
  • Zygmund, Antoni (1968), Trigonometric series (2nd ed.), Cambridge University Press (published 1988), ISBN 978-0-521-35885-9.