Asee peer logo

Gibbs Phenomenon In Engineering Systems

Download Paper |


2005 Annual Conference


Portland, Oregon

Publication Date

June 12, 2005

Start Date

June 12, 2005

End Date

June 15, 2005



Conference Session

Mathematics Potpourri

Page Count


Page Numbers

10.666.1 - 10.666.11



Permanent URL

Download Count


Request a correction

Paper Authors

author page

Josue Njock-Libii

Download Paper |

NOTE: The first page of text has been automatically extracted and included below in lieu of an abstract

Gibbs Phenomenon and its Applications in Science and Engineering

Josué Njock Libii

Engineering Department Indiana University-Purdue University Fort Wayne Fort Wayne, Indiana, 46805-1499


Gibbs phenomenon arises in many applications. In this article, the author first discusses a brief history of this phenomenon and several of its applications in science and engineering. Then, using the Fourier series of a square-wave function and computer software in a classroom exercise, he illustrates how Gibbs phenomenon can be used to illustrate to undergraduate students the concept of nonuniform convergence of successive partial sums over the interval from 0 to B.

1. Introduction

Gibbs Phenomenon is intimately related to the study of Fourier series. When a periodic function f(x) with a jump discontinuity is represented using a Fourier series, for example, it is observed that calculating values of that function using a truncated series leads to results that oscillate near the discontinuity [12]. As one includes more and more terms into the series, the oscillations persist but they move closer and closer to the discontinuity itself. Indeed, it is found that the series representation yields an overshoot at the jump, a value that is consistently larger in magnitude than that of the actual function at the jump. No matter how many terms one adds to the series, that overshoot does not disappear. Thus, partial sums that approximate f(x) do not approach f(x) uniformly over an interval that contains a point where the function is discontinuous [23]. This behavior, which appears in many practical applications, is known as Gibbs Phenomenon; it is a common example that is used to illustrate how nonuniform convergence can arise [3]. Detailed proofs and demonstrations of Gibbs phenomenon using square waves are found in the literature [2, 3, 22] and on web sites [1, 24, 25, 26].

2. History and applications

This phenomenon is not new. Indeed, an important body of knowledge already exists that relates the history and theory of Gibbs phenomenon to various applications in science and engineering. Such work can be used to enhance the education of engineering students. Gibbs phenomenon was

“Proceedings of the 2005 American Society for Engineering Education Annual Conference & Exposition Copyright © 2005, American Society for Engineering Education”

Njock-Libii, J. (2005, June), Gibbs Phenomenon In Engineering Systems Paper presented at 2005 Annual Conference, Portland, Oregon. 10.18260/1-2--15299

ASEE holds the copyright on this document. It may be read by the public free of charge. Authors may archive their work on personal websites or in institutional repositories with the following citation: © 2005 American Society for Engineering Education. Other scholars may excerpt or quote from these materials with the same citation. When excerpting or quoting from Conference Proceedings, authors should, in addition to noting the ASEE copyright, list all the original authors and their institutions and name the host city of the conference. - Last updated April 1, 2015