The hypergeometric function is defined by the Gauss series
on the disk , and by analytic continuation elsewhere. In general, does not exist when . The branch obtained by introducing a cut from to on the real -axis, that is, the branch in the sector , is the principal branch (or principal value) of .
For all values of
again with analytic continuation for other values of , and with the principal branch defined in a similar way.
Except where indicated otherwise principal branches of and are assumed throughout the DLMF.
The difference between the principal branches on the two sides of the branch cut (§4.2(i)) is given by
On the circle of convergence, , the Gauss series:
Converges absolutely when .
Converges conditionally when and is excluded.
Diverges when .
For the case see also §15.4(ii).
The principal branch of is an entire function of , , and . The same is true of other branches, provided that , , and are excluded. As a multivalued function of , is analytic everywhere except for possible branch points at , , and . The same properties hold for , except that as a function of , in general has poles at .
Because of the analytic properties with respect to , , and , it is usually legitimate to take limits in formulas involving functions that are undefined for certain values of the parameters.
For example, when , , and , is a polynomial:
This formula is also valid when , , provided that we use the interpretation
which is sometimes used in the literature. (Both interpretations give solutions of the hypergeometric differential equation (15.10.1), as does , which is analytic at .) For illustration see Figures 15.3.6 and 15.3.7.
In the case the right-hand side of (15.2.4) becomes the first terms of the Maclaurin series for .