In mathematics and especially number theory, the sum of reciprocals generally is computed for the reciprocals of some or all of the positive integers (counting numbers)—that is, it is generally the sum of unit fractions. If infinitely many numbers have their reciprocals summed, generally the terms are given in a certain sequence and the first n of them are summed, then one more is included to give the sum of the first n+1 of them, etc.
If only finitely many numbers are included, the key issue is usually to find a simple expression for the value of the sum, or to require the sum to be less than a certain value, or to determine whether the sum is ever an integer.
For an infinite series of reciprocals, the issues are twofold: First, does the sequence of sums diverge—that is, does it eventually exceed any given number—or does it converge, meaning there is some number that it gets arbitrarily close to without ever exceeding it? (A set of positive integers is said to be large if the sum of its reciprocals diverges, and small if it converges.) Second, if it converges, what is a simple expression for the value it converges to, is that value rational or irrational, and is that value algebraic or transcendental?