Thue-Morse Sequence

The Thue-Morse sequence, also called the Morse-Thue sequence or Prouhet-Thue-Morse sequence (Allouche and Cosnard 2000), is one of a number of related sequences of numbers obtained from the parities of the counts of 1's in the binary representation of the nonnegative integers.

The version obtained by directly taking the parities is

 t_n=s_2(n) (mod 2),

where s_2(n) is the binary digit sum. For n=0, 1, 2, ..., the first few terms are then given by 0, 1, 1, 0, 1, 0, 0, 1, 1, 0, 0, 1, ... (OEIS A010060; Allouche and Shallit 2003, pp. 15 and 153). An alternate form of the sequence obtained by the taking the binary complement is given by 1, 0, 0, 1, 0, 1, 1, 0, 0, 1, ... (OEIS A010059; Wolfram 2002, p. 890).

Interpreting the Thue-Morse sequence as concatenated binary digits gives the Thue-Morse constant.

Thue-Morse sequence recurrence plot

A recurrence plot of the Thue-Morse sequence is illustrated above.

There is an amazing set of products involving the Thue-Morse sequence {t_n} given by


(Allouche and Shallit 2003, pp. 153 and 204, factor of two typos corrected), the first of which is due to Woods (1978) and Robbins (1979) and is the special case b=2 of the digit sum identity due to Sondow (2006).

Amazingly, the Thue-Morse sequence can be generated from the substitution system


to obtain


when starting with 0, and


starting with 1. Interpreting these to sequences as decimal numbers gives the sequences 0, 1, 6, 105, 27030, 1771476585, ... (OEIS A048707) and 1, 2, 9,1 50, 38505, 2523490710, ..., respectively. After the initial generation, each subsequence generation has 2^n 0s and 2^n 1s.

Wolfram (2002) provides various pieces of Wolfram Language code that produce the first 2^k terms of the complemented Thue-Morse sequence 1, 0, 0, 1, 0, 0, 1, ... computed as:

1. A substitution system,

2. The position of the evil numbers, which have an even number of 1's in their binary expansion (OEIS A001969),

3. A generating function, following 0->1, 1->-1,

4. A cellular automaton (Wolfram 2002, p. 1186),

5. An algebraic generating function,

6. A closed-form expression in terms of a hypergeometric function.

  (* 1 *)
  Nest[Join[#, 1 - #]&, {1}, k]
  (* 2 *)
  Table[1 - Mod[DigitCount[n - 1, 2, 1], 2],
    {n, 2^k}]
  (* 3 *)
  (CoefficientList[Product[1 - z^(2^s),
    {s, 0, k - 1}], z] + 1)/2
  (* 4 *)
  Flatten[CellularAutomaton[{69540422, 2, 2},
    {{1}, 0}, 2^k - 1, {All, 0}]]
  (* 5 *)
  Mod[CoefficientList[Series[(1 + Sqrt[(1 - 3 x)/
    (1 + x)])/(2 (1 + x)), {x, 0, 2^k - 1}], x], 2]
  (* 6 *)
  Mod[Table[(-1)^n/2 + (-3)^n Sqrt[Pi] *
    Hypergeometric2F1Regularized[3/2, - n, 3/2 - n, - 1/3]/
      (4 n!), {n, 0, 2^k - 1}], 2]

Writing the sequence as a power series over the finite field GF(2),


then F satisfies the quadratic equation

 (1+x)F^2+F=x/(1+x^2) (mod 2).

This equation has two solutions, F and F^', where F^' is the complement of F, i.e.,


which is consistent with the formula for the sum of the roots of a quadratic. The equality (10) can be demonstrated as follows. Let (abcdef...) be a shorthand for the power series


so F(x) is (0110100110010110...). To get F^2, simply use the rule for squaring power series over GF(2)

 (A+B)^2=A^2+B^2  (mod 2),

which extends to the simple rule for squaring a power series

 (a_0+a_1x+a_2x^2+...)^2=a_0+a_1x^2+a_2x^4+... (mod 2),

i.e., space the series out by a factor of 2, (0 1 1 0 1 0 0 1 ...), and insert zeros in the odd places to get


Then multiply by x (which just adds a zero at the front) to get


Adding to F^2 gives


This is the first term of the quadratic equation, which is the Thue-Morse sequence with each term doubled up. The next term is F, so we have


The sum is the above two sequences XORed together (there are no carries because we're working over GF(2)), giving


We therefore have

 (1+x)F^2+F=x/(1+x^2)=x+x^3+x^5+x^7+x^9+x^(11)+...  (mod 2).

The Thue-Morse words are overlapfree (Allouche and Shallit 2003, p. 15), and therefore also cubefree on two symbols (Morse and Hedlund 1944). The sequence therefore contains no substrings of the form WWW, where W is any word. For example, it does not contain the words 000, 010101 or 010010010. In fact, the following stronger statement is true: the Thue-Morse sequence does not contain any substrings of the form WWa, where a is the first symbol of W. We can obtain a squarefree sequence on three symbols by doing the following: take the Thue-Morse sequence 0110100110010110... and look at the sequence of words of length 2 that appear: 10 01 10 00 01 11 10 .... Replace 01 by 0, 10 by 1, 00 by 2 and 11 by 2 to get the following: 1012021.... Then this sequence is squarefree (Morse and Hedlund 1944).

The Thue-Morse sequence has important connections with the Gray code. Kindermann generates fractal music using the self-similarity of the Thue-Morse sequence.

See also

Evil Number, Digit Count, Gray Code, Mephisto Waltz Sequence, Parity, Rabbit Sequence, Thue-Morse Constant, Thue Sequence

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Allouche, J.-P. and Cosnard, M. "The Komornik-Loreti Constant Is Transcendental." Amer. Math. Monthly 107, 448-449, 2000.Allouche, J.-P. and Shallit, J. "The Ubiquitous Prouhet-Thue-Morse Sequence." In Sequences and Their applications, Proc. SETA'98 (Ed. C. Ding, T. Helleseth, and H. Niederreiter). New York: Springer-Verlag, pp. 1-16, 1999.Allouche, J.-P. and Shallit, J. "Example 5.1.2 (The Thue-Morse Sequence)." Automatic Sequences: Theory, Applications, Generalizations. Cambridge, England: Cambridge University Press, pp. 152-153, 2003.Goldstein, S.; Kelly, K. A.; and Speer, E. R. "The Fractal Structure of Rarefied Sums of the Thue-Morse Sequence." J. Number Th. 42, 1-19, 1992.Kindermann, L. "MusiNum--The Music in the Numbers.", M. (Ed.). Combinatorics on Words. Cambridge, England: Cambridge University Press, 1997.Morse, M. "Recurrent Geodesics on a Surface of Negative Curvature." Trans. Amer. Math. Soc. 22, 84-100, 1921.Morse, M. and Hedlund, G. A. "Unending Chess, Symbolic Dynamics, and a Problem in Semigroups." Duke Math. J. 11, 1-7, 1944.Pickover, C. A. "The Pipes of Papua." Ch. 17 in Wonders of Numbers: Adventures in Mathematics, Mind, and Meaning. Oxford, England: Oxford University Press, pp. 34-38, 2001.Prouhet, E. "Mémoir sur quelques relations entre les puissances des nombres." C. R. Adad. Sci. Paris Sér. 1 33, 225, 1851.Robbins, D. "Solution to Problem E2692." Amer. Math. Monthly 86, 394-395, 1979.Schroeder, M. R. Fractals, Chaos, and Power Laws: Minutes from an Infinite Paradise. New York: W. H. Freeman, 1991.Sloane, N. J. A. Sequences A010060 and A048707 in "The On-Line Encyclopedia of Integer Sequences."Sondow, J. "Problem 11222." Amer. Math. Monthly 113, 459, 2006.Thue, A. "Über unendliche Zeichenreihen." Norske vid. Selsk. Skr. Mat. Nat. Kl. 7, 1-22, 1906. Reprinted in Selected Mathematical Papers of Axel Thue (Ed. T. Nagell). Oslo: Universitetsforlaget, pp. 139-158, 1977.Thue, A. "Über die gegenseitige Lage gleicher Teile gewisser Zeichenreihen." Norske vid. Selsk. Skr. Mat. Nat. Kl. 1, 1-67, 1912. Reprinted in Selected Mathematical Papers of Axel Thue (Ed. T. Nagell). Oslo: Universitetsforlaget, pp. 413-478, 1977.Wolfram, S. A New Kind of Science. Champaign, IL: Wolfram Media, pp. 890 and 1092, 2002.Woods, D. R. "Problem Proposal E2692." Amer. Math. Monthly 85, 48, 1978.

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Thue-Morse Sequence

Cite this as:

Weisstein, Eric W. "Thue-Morse Sequence." From MathWorld--A Wolfram Web Resource.

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