This set of notes discusses aspects of one of the oldest questions in Fourier analysis, namely the nature of convergence of Fourier series.

If is an absolutely integrable function, its Fourier coefficients are defined by the formula

If is smooth, then the Fourier coefficients are absolutely summable, and we have the Fourier inversion formula where the series here is uniformly convergent. In particular, if we define the partial summation operators then converges uniformly to when is smooth.What if is not smooth, but merely lies in an class for some ? The Fourier coefficients remain well-defined, as do the partial summation operators . The question of convergence in norm is relatively easy to settle:

Exercise 1

- (i) If and , show that converges in norm to . (
Hint:first use the boundedness of the Hilbert transform to show that is bounded in uniformly in .)- (ii) If or , show that there exists such that the sequence is unbounded in (so in particular it certainly does not converge in norm to . (
Hint:first show that is not bounded in uniformly in , then apply the uniform boundedness principle in the contrapositive.)

The question of pointwise almost everywhere convergence turned out to be a significantly harder problem:

Theorem 2 (Pointwise almost everywhere convergence)

Note from Hölder’s inequality that contains for all , so Carleson’s theorem covers the case of Hunt’s theorem. We remark that the precise threshold near between Kolmogorov-type divergence results and Carleson-Hunt pointwise convergence results, in the category of Orlicz spaces, is still an active area of research; see this paper of Lie for further discussion.

Carleson’s theorem in particular was a surprisingly difficult result, lying just out of reach of classical methods (as we shall see later, the result is much easier if we smooth either the function or the summation method by a tiny bit). Nowadays we realise that the reason for this is that Carleson’s theorem essentially contains a *frequency modulation symmetry* in addition to the more familiar translation symmetry and dilation symmetry. This basically rules out the possibility of attacking Carleson’s theorem with tools such as Calderón-Zygmund theory or Littlewood-Paley theory, which respect the latter two symmetries but not the former. Instead, tools from “time-frequency analysis” that essentially respect all three symmetries should be employed. We will illustrate this by giving a relatively short proof of Carleson’s theorem due to Lacey and Thiele. (There are other proofs of Carleson’s theorem, including Carleson’s original proof, its modification by Hunt, and a later time-frequency proof by Fefferman; see Remark 18 below.)

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