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In mathematics, an infinite series used to solve special types of differential equations. It consists of an infinite sum of sines and cosines, and because it is periodic (i.e., its values repeat over fixed intervals), it is a useful tool in analyzing periodic functions. Though investigated by Leonhard Euler, among others, the idea was named for Joseph Fourier, who fully explored its consequences, including important applications in engineering, particularly in heat conduction.
This entry comes from Encyclopædia Britannica Concise. For the full entry on Fourier series, visit Britannica.com.