Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)

Semester of Degree Completion


Thesis Director

Duane M. Broline


This expository thesis examines the relationship between finite sums of powers and a sequence of numbers known as the Bernoulli numbers. It presents significant historical events tracing the discovery of formulas for finite sums of powers of integers, the discovery of a single formula by Jacob Bernoulli which gives the Bernoulli numbers, and important discoveries related to the Bernoulli numbers. A method of generating the sequence by means of a number theoretic recursive formula is given. Also given is an application of matrix theory to find a relation, first given by Johannes Faulhaber, between finite sums of odd powers and finite sums of even powers. An approach to finding a formula for sums of powers using integral calculus is also presented. The relation between the Bernoulli numbers and the coefficients of the Maclaurin expansion of f(z) = z /ez - 1, which was first given by Léonard Euler, is considered, as well as the trigonometric series expansions which are derived from the Maclaurin expansion of f(z), and the zeta function. Further areas of research relating to the topic are explored.

Included in

Number Theory Commons