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Supporting Australian Mathematics Project
8
A guide for teachers – Years 11 and 12
Algebra and coordinate geometry: Module 6
The binomial theorem
The bionomial theorem – A guide for teachers (Years 11–12)
Principal author: Dr Michael Evans AMSI
Peter Brown, University of NSW Associate Professor David Hunt, University of NSW Dr Daniel Mathews, Monash University
Editor: Dr Jane Pitkethly, La Trobe University
Illustrations and web design: Catherine Tan, Michael Shaw
Full bibliographic details are available from Education Services Australia.
Published by Education Services Australia PO Box 177 Carlton South Vic 3053 Australia
Tel: (03) 9207 9600 Fax: (03) 9910 9800 Email: info@esa.edu.au Website: www.esa.edu.au
© 2013 Education Services Australia Ltd, except where indicated otherwise. You may copy, distribute and adapt this material free of charge for noncommercial educational purposes, provided you retain all copyright notices and acknowledgements.
This publication is funded by the Australian Government Department of Education, Employment and Workplace Relations.
Supporting Australian Mathematics Project
Australian Mathematical Sciences Institute Building 161 The University of Melbourne VIC 3010 Email: enquiries@amsi.org.au Website: www.amsi.org.au
Assumed knowledge 
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Motivation 
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A look at Pascal’s triangle Expansions and the notation ^{} ^{n} The binomial theorem Pascal’s triangle — the observations Applying the binomial theorem Proof of the binomial theorem by mathematical induction . Further identities and results . . . . . ^{} . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . r . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Links forward . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 

A result using complex numbers Series for e . The generalised binomial theorem . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 

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History and applications 
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33 
The binomial theorem
Assumed knowledge
• Basic skills for simplifying algebraic expressions.
• Expanding brackets.
• Factoring linear and quadratic expressions.
• Some experience in working with polynomials.
Motivation
I am the very model of a modern MajorGeneral,
I’ve information vegetable, animal, and mineral,
I know the kings of England, and I quote the ﬁghts historical From Marathon to Waterloo, in order categorical; I’m very well acquainted, too, with matters mathematical,
I understand equations, both the simple and quadratical,
About binomial theorem I’m teeming with a lot o’ news — With many cheerful facts about the square of the hypotenuse.
— Gilbert and Sullivan, Pirates of Penzance.
When you look at the following expansions you can see the symmetry and the emerging patterns. The simple ﬁrst case dates back to Euclid in the third century BCE.
(a +b) ^{2} = (a + b)(a + b)
= a ^{2} +2ab +b ^{2}
A guide for teachers – Years 11 and 12 _{•} {5}
(a +b) ^{3} = (a +b) ^{2} (a +b)
= (a ^{2} +2ab +b ^{2} )(a + b)
= (a ^{3} +2a ^{2} b +ab ^{2} )+(a ^{2} b +2ab ^{2} +b ^{3} )
= a ^{3} +3a ^{2} b +3ab ^{2} +b ^{3}
(a +b) ^{4} = (a +b) ^{3} (a +b)
= +3ab ^{2} +b ^{3} )(a + b)
(a ^{3} +3a ^{2} b
= +3a ^{2} b ^{2} +ab ^{3} )+(a ^{3} b
(a ^{4} +3a ^{3} b
= a ^{4} +4a ^{3} b +6a ^{2} b ^{2} +4ab ^{3} +b ^{4}
Notice that
+3a ^{2} b ^{2} +3ab ^{3} +b ^{4} )
• the expansion of (a + b) ^{2} has three terms and in each term the sum of the indices is 2
• the expansion of (a + b) ^{3} has four terms and in each term the sum of the indices is 3
• the expansion of (a + b) ^{4} has ﬁve terms and in each term the sum of the indices is 4.
We conjecture that the expansion of (a + b ) ^{n} has n + 1 terms and in each term the sum of the indices is n.
The coefﬁcients of the terms follow an interesting pattern. How can we determine this pattern and how can we predict the coefﬁcients of the expansion of (a + b) ^{n} ? The bino mial theorem gives us the general formula for the expansion of (a + b) ^{n} for any positive integer n. It also enables us to determine the coefﬁcient of any particular term of an expansion of (a + b) ^{n} .
In this module, Pascal’s triangle is centre stage. The coefﬁcients of the expansion of (a +b) ^{n} , for a particular positive integer n, are contained in sequence in the nth row of this triangle of numbers. The triangular numbers, the square numbers and the num bers of the Fibonacci sequence can be found from the triangle, and many interesting identities can be established.
For example, the triangular numbers occur in Pascal’s triangle along the diagonal shown in the following diagram. The square numbers can be found by adding pairs of adjacent numbers on this diagonal.
{6} _{•} The binomial theorem
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1 1

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56 
70 
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8 
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The triangular numbers in Pascal’s triangle.
This topic combines combinatoric and algebraic results in a most productive manner.
The relationship between the expansion of (a + b) ^{n} and binomial probabilities is ad
dressed in the module Binomial distribution.
Content
A look at Pascal’s triangle
We begin by looking at the expansions of (1 + x ) ^{n} for n = 0, 1, 2, 3, 4, 5.
(1 + x) ^{0} 
= 1 

(1 + x) ^{1} = 1+x 

(1 + x) ^{2} 
= 1+2x 
+x ^{2} 
(1 + x) ^{3} 
= 1+3x 
+3x ^{2} +x ^{3} 
(1 + x) ^{4} 
= 1+4x 
+6x ^{2} +4x ^{3} +x ^{4} 
(1 + x) ^{5} = 1 + 5x + 10x ^{2} + 10x ^{3} +5x ^{4} +x ^{5}
When the coefﬁcients in the expansions of (1 + x) ^{n} are arranged in a table, the result is
known as Pascal’s triangle.
A guide for teachers – Years 11 and 12 _{•} {7}
Pascal’s triangle
n 
x ^{0} 
x ^{1} 
x ^{2} 
x ^{3} 
x ^{4} 
x ^{5} 
x ^{6} 
x ^{7} 
x ^{8} 
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Pascal’s triangle is often displayed in the following way. Some of the patterns of the tri angle are more apparent in this form.
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By examining Pascal’s triangle, we can make the following observations, which will be proved later in this module.
1 Each number is the sum of the two numbers diagonally above it (with the exception of the 1’s).
2 Each row is symmetric (i.e., the same backwards as forwards).
3 The sum of the numbers in each row is a power of 2.
4 In any row, the sum of the ﬁrst, third, ﬁfth,
numbers is equal to the sum of the
second, fourth, sixth,
numbers. (This is not a totally obvious result.)
{8} _{•} The binomial theorem
We can use Pascal’s triangle to help us expand expressions of the form (1 + x ) ^{n} .
Example
Expand
1 (1 + x) ^{6}
Solution
2
(1 − 2x) ^{6} .
1 The coefﬁcients of (1 + x) ^{6} are given in the sixth row of Pascal’s triangle:
(1 + x) ^{6} = 1 + 6x + 15x ^{2} + 20x ^{3} + 15x ^{4} +6x ^{5} +x ^{6} .
2 The expansion of (1 − 2x) ^{6} can be obtained by replacing (−2x) for x in the expansion of (1 + x) ^{6} :
(1 − 2x) ^{6} = 1 + 6(−2x) + 15(−2x) ^{2} + 20(−2x) ^{3} + 15(−2x) ^{4} + 6(−2x) ^{5} +(−2x) ^{6}
= 1 − 12x + 60x ^{2} − 160x ^{3} + 240x ^{4} − 192x ^{5} + 64x ^{6} .
Expansions and the notation ^{} ^{n}
r
Expansions
We start by looking at the results of multiplying several binomials. With two binomials, we have
(a + b)(c + d ) = a(c + d ) + b(c + d ) = ac + ad + bc + bd .
The expansion is obtained by multiplying each letter in the ﬁrst bracket by each letter in the second and adding them. There are 2 × 2 = 2 ^{2} = 4 terms. Similarly, with three binomials, we have
(a + b)(c + d )(e + f ) = ace + ac f + ade + ad f + bce + bc f + bde + bd f .
There are 2 × 2 × 2 = 2 ^{3} = 8 terms.
Exercise 1
a How many terms are there in the expansion of (a + b + c)(d + e)?
b How many terms are there in the expansion of (a + b)(c + d )(e + f )(g + h)(i + j )?
A guide for teachers – Years 11 and 12 _{•} {9}
In general, the product of any number of polynomials is equal to the sum of all the prod ucts which can be formed by choosing one term from each polynomial and multiplying these terms together.
Example
Find the coefﬁcient of x ^{2} in the expansion of (2x − 1)(3x + 4)(5x − 6).
Solution
If we take the terms containing x from any two of the factors and the constant from the remaining factor and multiply these terms together, we will obtain a term containing x ^{2} in the expansion. If we do this in all possible ways and add, we will ﬁnd the required coefﬁcient.
The required coefﬁcient is
2 × 3 × (−6) + 3 × 5 × (−1) + 2 × 5 × 4 = −36 − 15 + 40
= −11.
Permutations and factorial notation
In how many ways can eight people line up to get into a themepark ride?
We can draw a box diagram for this situation, with each box indicating the number of choices for each position.
So the answer is 8 × 7 × 6 × 5 × 4 × 3 × 2 × 1 = 40 320 ways. The notation for this is 8!. This is read as eight factorial.
Most calculators have a factorial key.
The number of ways to arrange n different objects in a row is n!. It is important to note that n! = n(n − 1)!. For this statement to be true when n = 1, we deﬁne 0! = 1.
If there are eight competitors in a race, in how many ways can the ﬁrst four places be ﬁlled? We can draw a box diagram for this situation, with each box indicating the number of choices for each position.
So the answer is 8 × 7 × 6 × 5 = 1680 ways.
{10} _{•} The binomial theorem
A permutation is an arrangement of elements chosen from a certain set. For example, consider the set {a, b, c, d , e}. Some of the permutations of three letters taken from this set include
abc,
bac,
cab,
eda.
Altogether, there are 5 × 4 × 3 = 60 such permutations.
The symbol ^{n} P _{r} is used to denote the number of permutations of r distinct objects cho sen from n objects. We see that
^{n} P _{r} = n(n − 1) ··· (n − r + 1) =
^{n}^{!}
(n − r )! ^{.}
Example
List all the permutations of the letters in the word CAT.
Solution
There are 3 × 2 × 1 = 6 such permutations: CAT, CTA, TAC, TCA, ACT, ATC.
Example
Seven runners are competing in a race. In how many ways can the gold, silver and bronze medals be awarded?
Solution
The gold medal can be awarded in 7 ways. The silver medal can then be awarded in 6 ways. The bronze medal can then be awarded in 5 ways. The total number of ways of awarding the medals is 7 × 6 × 5 = 210 ways.
The notation ^{} ^{n}
r
Let us return to the set of ﬁve letters {a, b, c, d , e}, but this time we are only interested in choosing three of the letters with no concern for order. The three letters a, b, c can be arranged in six ways:
abc,
acb,
bac,
bca,
cab,
cba.
Similarly, any group of three letters can be arranged in six ways. The number of permuta tions of three letters chosen from ﬁve letters is ^{5} P _{3} = 5×4×3 = 60. Therefore the number
A guide for teachers – Years 11 and 12 _{•} {11}
of ways of choosing three letters from ﬁve letters is ^{6}^{0} = 10. We list them here:
6
{a, b, c}, 
{a, b, d }, 
{a, b, e}, 
{a, c, d }, 
{a, c, e}, 
{a, d , e}, 
{b, c, d }, 
{b, c, e}, 
{b, d , e}, 
{c, d , e}. 
Remember that each set of three elements can be arranged in six ways.
We denote the number of ways of choosing r objects from n objects by ^{n}
as ‘ n choose r ’.
r
In the example above, we found that
5
3
= 5 ^{P} ^{3}
3!
_{=} 60
_{6}
= 10.
In general, we have
^{} n
r
= n ^{P} ^{r} r!
n! (n − r )!r ! ^{.}
_{=}
, which is read
Consider the ﬁveelement set {a, b, c, d , e} again.
There are
^{} 5
1
5
3
= 5 ways of choosing 1 letter,
= 15 ways of choosing 3 letters,
^{} 5 _{5} = 1 way of choosing 5 letters.
5 _{2} = 10 ways of choosing 2 letters,
5 _{4} = 10 ways of choosing 4 letters,
Listing these as a row, including choosing no letters as the ﬁrst entry:
^{} 5 _{0} = 1,
^{5}
1
= 5,
5
_{2} = 10,
This is the ﬁfth row of Pascal’s triangle.
5
3
= 10,
5
_{4} = 5,
^{5} = 1. _{5}
where c _{i} are the coefﬁcients. With
(a +b) ^{6} = (a + b)(a + b)(a + b)(a + b)(a + b)(a + b),
we can use combinations to ﬁnd the coefﬁcients.
For c _{5} , the relevant terms when multiplying out are
abbbbb,
babbbb,
bbabbb,
bbbabb,
bbbbab,
bbbbba.
There are ^{6}
1
= 6 ways of choosing one a from the six brackets. Equivalently, there are
6
5
= 6 ways of choosing ﬁve b’s from the six brackets. Therefore c _{5} = 6.
We can ﬁnd the values of the other coefﬁcients in the same way. This is done in the
following example.
A guide for teachers – Years 11 and 12 _{•} {13}
Example
Write out the expansion of (a + b) ^{1}^{0} .
Solution
The terms are
a ^{1}^{0} ,
c _{6} a ^{4} b ^{6} ,
c _{1} a ^{9} b, 
c _{2} a ^{8} b ^{2} , 
c _{3} a ^{7} b ^{3} , 
c _{4} a ^{6} b ^{4} , 
c _{5} a ^{5} b ^{5} , 
c _{7} a ^{3} b ^{7} , 
c _{8} a ^{2} b ^{8} , 
c _{9} ab ^{9} , 
b ^{1}^{0} , 
where c _{i} are the coefﬁcients.
Using a similar argument to that given above, we have
c
_{1} = ^{1}^{0}
1
,
Therefore
c _{2} = ^{1}^{0} ,
2
c _{3} = ^{1}^{0} ,
3
(a +b) ^{1}^{0} = a ^{1}^{0} + 10a ^{9} b + 45a ^{8} b ^{2} + 120a ^{7} b ^{3} + 210a ^{6} b ^{4} + 252a ^{5} b ^{5}
+ 210a ^{4} b ^{6} + 120a ^{3} b ^{7} + 45a ^{2} b ^{8} + 10ab ^{9} +b ^{1}^{0} .
Exercise 2
Let c _{i} denote the coefﬁcient of the term a ^{1}^{2}^{−}^{i} b ^{i} in the expansion of (a + b) ^{1}^{2} .
Write down the values of the coefﬁcients c _{2} , c _{3} , c _{5} and c _{9} using the notation ^{1}^{2}
evaluate each of these coefﬁcients.
r
The binomial theorem
, and
We are now ready to prove the binomial theorem. We will give another proof later in the
module using mathematical induction.
Theorem (Binomial theorem)
For each positive integer n,
(a +b) ^{n} = a ^{n} + ^{n}
1
a ^{n}^{−}^{1} b + ^{n} a ^{n}^{−}^{2} b ^{2} +···+ ^{n} a ^{n}^{−}^{r} b ^{r} +···+
2
r
n
n
_{−}_{1} ab ^{n}^{−}^{1} +b ^{n} .
{14} _{•} The binomial theorem
Proof
Suppose that we have n factors each of which is a +b. If we choose one letter from
each of the factors of
(a + b)(a + b)(a + b) ··· (a + b)
and multiply them all together, we obtain a term of the product. If we do this in
every possible way, we will obtain all of the terms.
• If we choose a from every one of the factors, we get a ^{n} . This can only be done
in one way.
• We could choose b from one of the factors and choose a from the remaining
n − 1 factors. The number of ways of choosing one b from n factors is ^{n}
the term with b is ^{n}
1
a ^{n}^{−}^{1} b.
1
. So
• We could choose b from two of the factors and choose a from the remaining
n − 2 factors. The number of ways of choosing two b’s from n factors is ^{n}
2
the term with b ^{2} is ^{n}
2
^{} _{a} n−2 _{b} 2 _{.}
. So
• In general, we choose b from r factors and choose a from the remaining n − r
factors. The number of ways of choosing r b’s from n factors is ^{n}
r
term with b ^{r} is ^{n}
r
^{} _{a} n−r _{b} r _{.}
.
So the
• If we choose b from every one of the factors, we get b ^{n} . This can be done in
only one way.
Thus,
(a
+b) ^{n} = a ^{n} + ^{n}
1
a ^{n}^{−}^{1} b + ^{n} a ^{n}^{−}^{2} b ^{2} +···+ ^{n} a ^{n}^{−}^{r} b ^{r} +···+
2
r
n
n
_{−}_{1} ab ^{n}^{−}^{1} +b ^{n} .
The binomial theorem can also be stated using summation notation:
(a +b) ^{n} =
n
r=0 n
r
^{} _{a} n−r _{b} r _{.}
Substituting with a = 1 and b = x gives
(1 + x) ^{n} = ^{n}
0
+ _{n}
1
x + ^{n} x ^{2} +···+ ^{n} x ^{r} +···+
2
r
n
n
−1 ^{} _{x} n−1 _{+} ^{} ^{n}
_{n}
x ^{n} .
We can now display Pascal’s triangle with the notation of the binomial theorem.
A guide for teachers – Years 11 and 12 _{•} {15}
Pascal’s triangle using the binomial theorem
n 
x ^{0} 
x ^{1} 
x ^{2} 
x ^{3} 
x ^{4} 
x ^{5} 
x ^{6} 
x ^{7} 
x ^{8} 

^{} 
0 


0 

0 


1 


_{1} 


1 

0 
1 

^{} 
2 


_{2} 


_{2} 


2 

0 
1 
2 

^{} 
3 


_{3} 


_{3} 


_{3} 


3 

0 
1 
2 
3 

^{} 
4 


_{4} 


_{4} 


_{4} 


_{4} 


4 

0 
1 
2 
3 
4 

^{} 
5 


_{5} 


5 


5 


5 


_{5} 


5 

0 
1 
2 
3 
4 
5 


6 


_{6} 


6 


6 


6 


6 


_{6} 


6 

0 
1 
2 
3 
4 
5 
6 

^{} 
7 


_{7} 


7 


7 


7 


7 


_{7} 


_{7} 


7 

0 
1 
2 
3 
4 
5 
6 
7 


8 


_{8} 


8 


8 


8 


8 


_{8} 


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