# Bessel’s Inequality

Bessel’s inequality is important in studying Fourier series.

Theorem. If $f$ is $2\pi$-periodic and Riemann integrable on $[-\pi,\pi]$ and if the Fourier coefficients $c_n$ are defined by
$$c_n=\frac{1}{2\pi}\int_{-\pi}^{\pi}f(\theta)e^{-in\theta}d\theta,$$
then
\begin{equation}
\label{eq:besselinequality}
\sum_{n=-\infty}^\infty|c_n|^2\leq\frac{1}{2\pi}\int_{-\pi}^\pi|f(\theta)|^2d\theta.
\end{equation}

Proof.
\begin{align*}
0&\leq|f(\theta)-\sum_{-N}^Nc_ne^{in\theta}|^2\\
&=f(\theta)^2-\sum_{-N}^Nf(\theta)[c_ne^{in\theta}+\overline{c_n}e^{-in\theta}]+\sum_{m,n=-N}^Nc_m\overline{c_n}e^{i(m-n)\theta}
\end{align*}
By integrating,
\begin{align*}
\frac{1}{2\pi}\int_{-\pi}^\pi|f(\theta)-\sum_{-N}^Nc_ne^{in\theta}|^2d\theta&=\frac{1}{2\pi}\int_{-\pi}^\pi f(\theta)^2d\theta-\sum_{-N}^N\left[c_n\frac{1}{2\pi}\int_{-\pi}^\pi f(\theta)e^{in\theta}d\theta\right.\\
\left.+\overline{c_n}\frac{1}{2\pi}\int_{-\pi}^\pi f(\theta)e^{-in\theta}d\theta\right]+&\sum_{m,n=-N}^Nc_m\overline{c_n}\frac{1}{2\pi}\int_{-\pi}^\pi e^{i(m-n)\theta}d\theta\\
&=\frac{1}{2\pi}\int_{-\pi}^\pi f(\theta)^2d\theta-\sum_{-N}^N|c_n|^2.
\end{align*}
Hence, for each $N=1,2,\cdots$,
$$\sum_{-N}^N|c_n|^2\leq\frac{1}{2\pi}\int_{-\pi}^\pi f(\theta)^2d\theta.$$
Taking the limit $N\to\infty$, we obtain
$$\sum_{-\infty}^\infty|c_n|^2\leq\frac{1}{2\pi}\int_{-\pi}^\pi f(\theta)^2d\theta.$$

Note that $|a_0|^2=4|c_0|^2$, $|a_n|^2+|b_n|^2=2(|c_n|+|c_{-n}|^2)$, $n\geq 1$. So, in terms of the real coefficients, Bessel’s inequality can be written as
\begin{equation}
\label{eq:besselinequality2}
\frac{1}{4}|a_0|^2+\frac{1}{2}\sum_1^\infty(|a_n|^2+|b_n|^2)\leq\frac{1}{2\pi}\int_{-\pi}^\pi f(\theta)^2d\theta.
\end{equation}
Bessel’s inequality implies that $\sum|a_n|^2$, $\sum|b_n|^2$, $\sum|c_n|^2$ are convergent and hence the series of Fourier coefficients $\sum a_n$, $\sum b_n$, $\sum c_n$ are convergent. As we studied in undergraduate calculus the following corollary holds then.

Corollary. The Fourier coefficients $a_n$, $b_n$, $c_n$ tend to zero as $n\to\infty$ (and also as $n\to -\infty$ for $c_{-n}$).