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Previous set of notes: Notes 1. Next set of notes: Notes 3.

In Exercise 5 (and Lemma 1) of 246A Notes 4 we already observed some links between complex analysis on the disk (or annulus) and Fourier series on the unit circle:

  • (i) Functions {f} that are holomorphic on a disk {\{ |z| < R \}} are expressed by a convergent Fourier series (and also Taylor series) {f(re^{i\theta}) = \sum_{n=0}^\infty r^n a_n e^{in\theta}} for {0 \leq r < R} (so in particular {a_n = \frac{1}{n!} f^{(n)}(0)}), where

    \displaystyle  \limsup_{n \rightarrow +\infty} |a_n|^{1/n} \leq \frac{1}{R}; \ \ \ \ \ (1)

    conversely, every infinite sequence {(a_n)_{n=0}^\infty} of coefficients obeying (1) arises from such a function {f}.
  • (ii) Functions {f} that are holomorphic on an annulus {\{ r_- < |z| < r_+ \}} are expressed by a convergent Fourier series (and also Laurent series) {f(re^{i\theta}) = \sum_{n=-\infty}^\infty r^n a_n e^{in\theta}}, where

    \displaystyle  \limsup_{n \rightarrow +\infty} |a_n|^{1/n} \leq \frac{1}{r_+}; \limsup_{n \rightarrow -\infty} |a_n|^{1/|n|} \leq \frac{1}{r_-}; \ \ \ \ \ (2)

    conversely, every doubly infinite sequence {(a_n)_{n=-\infty}^\infty} of coefficients obeying (2) arises from such a function {f}.
  • (iii) In the situation of (ii), there is a unique decomposition {f = f_1 + f_2} where {f_1} extends holomorphically to {\{ z: |z| < r_+\}}, and {f_2} extends holomorphically to {\{ z: |z| > r_-\}} and goes to zero at infinity, and are given by the formulae

    \displaystyle  f_1(z) = \sum_{n=0}^\infty a_n z^n = \frac{1}{2\pi i} \int_\gamma \frac{f(w)}{w-z}\ dw

    where {\gamma} is any anticlockwise contour in {\{ z: |z| < r_+\}} enclosing {z}, and and

    \displaystyle  f_2(z) = \sum_{n=-\infty}^{-1} a_n z^n = - \frac{1}{2\pi i} \int_\gamma \frac{f(w)}{w-z}\ dw

    where {\gamma} is any anticlockwise contour in {\{ z: |z| > r_-\}} enclosing {0} but not {z}.

This connection lets us interpret various facts about Fourier series through the lens of complex analysis, at least for some special classes of Fourier series. For instance, the Fourier inversion formula {a_n = \frac{1}{2\pi} \int_0^{2\pi} f(e^{i\theta}) e^{-in\theta}\ d\theta} becomes the Cauchy-type formula for the Laurent or Taylor coefficients of {f}, in the event that the coefficients are doubly infinite and obey (2) for some {r_- < 1 < r_+}, or singly infinite and obey (1) for some {R > 1}.

It turns out that there are similar links between complex analysis on a half-plane (or strip) and Fourier integrals on the real line, which we will explore in these notes.

We first fix a normalisation for the Fourier transform. If {f \in L^1({\bf R})} is an absolutely integrable function on the real line, we define its Fourier transform {\hat f: {\bf R} \rightarrow {\bf C}} by the formula

\displaystyle  \hat f(\xi) := \int_{\bf R} f(x) e^{-2\pi i x \xi}\ dx. \ \ \ \ \ (3)

From the dominated convergence theorem {\hat f} will be a bounded continuous function; from the Riemann-Lebesgue lemma it also decays to zero as {\xi \rightarrow \pm \infty}. My choice to place the {2\pi} in the exponent is a personal preference (it is slightly more convenient for some harmonic analysis formulae such as the identities (4), (5), (6) below), though in the complex analysis and PDE literature there are also some slight advantages in omitting this factor. In any event it is not difficult to adapt the discussion in this notes for other choices of normalisation. It is of interest to extend the Fourier transform beyond the {L^1({\bf R})} class into other function spaces, such as {L^2({\bf R})} or the space of tempered distributions, but we will not pursue this direction here; see for instance these lecture notes of mine for a treatment.

Exercise 1 (Fourier transform of Gaussian) If {a} is a coplex number with {\mathrm{Re} a>0} and {f} is the Gaussian function {f(x) := e^{-\pi a x^2}}, show that the Fourier transform {\hat f} is given by the Gaussian {\hat f(\xi) = a^{-1/2} e^{-\pi \xi^2/a}}, where we use the standard branch for {a^{-1/2}}.

The Fourier transform has many remarkable properties. On the one hand, as long as the function {f} is sufficiently “reasonable”, the Fourier transform enjoys a number of very useful identities, such as the Fourier inversion formula

\displaystyle  f(x) = \int_{\bf R} \hat f(\xi) e^{2\pi i x \xi} d\xi, \ \ \ \ \ (4)

the Plancherel identity

\displaystyle  \int_{\bf R} |f(x)|^2\ dx = \int_{\bf R} |\hat f(\xi)|^2\ d\xi, \ \ \ \ \ (5)

and the Poisson summation formula

\displaystyle  \sum_{n \in {\bf Z}} f(n) = \sum_{k \in {\bf Z}} \hat f(k). \ \ \ \ \ (6)

On the other hand, the Fourier transform also intertwines various qualitative properties of a function {f} with “dual” qualitative properties of its Fourier transform {\hat f}; in particular, “decay” properties of {f} tend to be associated with “regularity” properties of {\hat f}, and vice versa. For instance, the Fourier transform of rapidly decreasing functions tend to be smooth. There are complex analysis counterparts of this Fourier dictionary, in which “decay” properties are described in terms of exponentially decaying pointwise bounds, and “regularity” properties are expressed using holomorphicity on various strips, half-planes, or the entire complex plane. The following exercise gives some examples of this:

Exercise 2 (Decay of {f} implies regularity of {\hat f}) Let {f \in L^1({\bf R})} be an absolutely integrable function.
  • (i) If {f} has super-exponential decay in the sense that {f(x) \lesssim_{f,M} e^{-M|x|}} for all {x \in {\bf R}} and {M>0} (that is to say one has {|f(x)| \leq C_{f,M} e^{-M|x|}} for some finite quantity {C_{f,M}} depending only on {f,M}), then {\hat f} extends uniquely to an entire function {\hat f : {\bf C} \rightarrow {\bf C}}. Furthermore, this function continues to be defined by (3).
  • (ii) If {f} is supported on a compact interval {[a,b]} then the entire function {\hat f} from (i) obeys the bounds {\hat f(\xi) \lesssim_f \max( e^{2\pi a \mathrm{Im} \xi}, e^{2\pi b \mathrm{Im} \xi} )} for {\xi \in {\bf C}}. In particular, if {f} is supported in {[-M,M]} then {\hat f(\xi) \lesssim_f e^{2\pi M |\mathrm{Im}(\xi)|}}.
  • (iii) If {f} obeys the bound {f(x) \lesssim_{f,a} e^{-2\pi a|x|}} for all {x \in {\bf R}} and some {a>0}, then {\hat f} extends uniquely to a holomorphic function {\hat f} on the horizontal strip {\{ \xi: |\mathrm{Im} \xi| < a \}}, and obeys the bound {\hat f(\xi) \lesssim_{f,a} \frac{1}{a - |\mathrm{Im}(\xi)|}} in this strip. Furthermore, this function continues to be defined by (3).
  • (iv) If {f} is supported on {[0,+\infty)} (resp. {(-\infty,0]}), then there is a unique continuous extension of {\hat f} to the lower half-plane {\{ \xi: \mathrm{Im} \xi \leq 0\}} (resp. the upper half-plane {\{ \xi: \mathrm{Im} \xi \geq 0 \}} which is holomorphic in the interior of this half-plane, and such that {\hat f(\xi) \rightarrow 0} uniformly as {\mathrm{Im} \xi \rightarrow -\infty} (resp. {\mathrm{Im} \xi \rightarrow +\infty}). Furthermore, this function continues to be defined by (3).
Hint: to establish holomorphicity in each of these cases, use Morera’s theorem and the Fubini-Tonelli theorem. For uniqueness, use analytic continuation, or (for part (iv)) the Cauchy integral formula.

Later in these notes we will give a partial converse to part (ii) of this exercise, known as the Paley-Wiener theorem; there are also partial converses to the other parts of this exercise.

From (3) we observe the following intertwining property between multiplication by an exponential and complex translation: if {\xi_0} is a complex number and {f: {\bf R} \rightarrow {\bf C}} is an absolutely integrable function such that the modulated function {f_{\xi_0}(x) := e^{2\pi i \xi_0 x} f(x)} is also absolutely integrable, then we have the identity

\displaystyle  \widehat{f_{\xi_0}}(\xi) = \hat f(\xi - \xi_0) \ \ \ \ \ (7)

whenever {\xi} is a complex number such that at least one of the two sides of the equation in (7) is well defined. Thus, multiplication of a function by an exponential weight corresponds (formally, at least) to translation of its Fourier transform. By using contour shifting, we will also obtain a dual relationship: under suitable holomorphicity and decay conditions on {f}, translation by a complex shift will correspond to multiplication of the Fourier transform by an exponential weight. It turns out to be possible to exploit this property to derive many Fourier-analytic identities, such as the inversion formula (4) and the Poisson summation formula (6), which we do later in these notes. (The Plancherel theorem can also be established by complex analytic methods, but this requires a little more effort; see Exercise 8.)

The material in these notes is loosely adapted from Chapter 4 of Stein-Shakarchi’s “Complex Analysis”.

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