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Homework Help: Sequence is convergent if it has a convergent subsequence

  1. Oct 23, 2012 #1
    1. The problem statement, all variables and given/known data
    Show that an increasing sequence is convergent if it has a convergent subsequence.

    3. The attempt at a solution
    Suppose xjn is a subsequence of xn and xjn→x.

    Therefore [itex]\exists[/itex]N such that jn>N implies |xjn-x|<[itex]\epsilon[/itex]
    It follows that n>jn>N implies |xn-x|<[itex]\epsilon[/itex]

    Therefore xn→x

    The solution that I've been given is much more complicated I'm just wondering whether my simpler solution is also correct.
  2. jcsd
  3. Oct 23, 2012 #2


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    It's true, but WHY does it follow? This is the key part of the proof, so you need to be explicit. You need to use the fact that [itex]x_n[/itex] is an increasing sequence. This would not be true for an arbitrary sequence.
  4. Oct 23, 2012 #3
    The original question was an 'if and only if question' which means the reverse also had to be proved ie:

    Show that if xn → x that any subsequence of (xn) also converges to x
    My solution which is simliar to the answer given is

    If xn → x then given any  [itex]\epsilon[/itex]> 0 there is an N such that n > N implies |xn - x| < [itex]\epsilon[/itex] . Now
    consider a subsequence (xjn). Then since jn [itex]\geq[/itex] n > N we have that for any n > N,
    |xjn - x| < [itex]\epsilon[/itex]  and so we conclude that the subsequence has the same limit

    I believe this correct and this raises the question why does logic work in the one direction but no the other.
  5. Oct 23, 2012 #4


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    It does work in both directions. If EVERY subsequence of [itex]x_n[/itex] converges to [itex]x[/itex], then [itex]x_n[/itex] converges to [itex]x[/itex]. This is trivial, because [itex]x_n[/itex] is a subsequence of itself.

    But the hypothesis in the first part is weaker: [itex]x_n[/itex] has *a* convergent subsequence. Without the additional assumption that [itex]x_n[/itex] is increasing, this would not be enough to conclude that [itex]x_n[/itex] converges.

    A general sequence can have some subsequences which converge, and others which do not. For example, let [itex]x_n = 0[/itex] if [itex]n[/itex] is even, and [itex]x_n = n[/itex] if [itex]n[/itex] is odd. The subsequence consisting of even indices converges, and the subsequence consisting of odd indices diverges. And of course the sequence itself does not converge.
  6. Oct 23, 2012 #5
    Thanks it makes sense.
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