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Sequences and Series 16.1

Introduction
In this block we develop the ground work for later blocks on innite series and on power series.
We begin with simple sequences of numbers and with nite series of numbers. We introduce the
summation notation for the description of series. Finally, we consider arithmetic and geometric
series and obtain expressions for the sum of n terms of both types of series.


understand and be able to use the basic
Prerequisites rules of algebra

Before starting this Block you should . . . be able to nd limits of algebraic


expressions

Learning Outcomes Learning Style


After completing this Block you should be able To achieve what is expected of you . . .
to . . .

check if a sequence of numbers is


allocate sucient study time
convergent

use the summation notation to specify


series briey revise the prerequisite material

recognise arithmetic and geometric series attempt every guided exercise and most
and nd their sums of the other exercises
1. Introduction
A sequence is any succession of numbers. For example the sequence

1, 1, 2, 3, 5, 8, . . .

which is known as the Fibonacci sequence, is formed by adding two consecutive terms together
to obtain the next term. The numbers in this sequence continually increase without bound and
we say this sequence diverges. An example of a convergent sequence is the harmonic sequence
1 1 1
1, , , , ...
2 3 4
Here we see the magnitude of these numbers continually decrease and it is obvious that the
sequence converges to the number zero. The related alternating harmonic sequence
1 1 1
1, , , , . . .
2 3 4
is also convergent to the number zero. Whether or not a sequence is convergent is often easy
to deduce by graphing the individual terms. The following diagrams show how the individual
terms of the harmonic and alternating harmonic series behave as the number of terms increase.

harmonic
1
1/2
1/3
1/4
1 2 3 4 5 term in sequence

alternating harmonic
1

1/3

1 2 3 4 5
1/4 term in sequence
1/2

Now do this exercise


Graph the sequence:
1, 1, 1, 1, . . .
Is this convergent?
Answer
A general sequence is denoted by

a1 , a2 , . . . , an , . . .

in which a1 is the rst term, a2 is the second term and an is the nth term is the sequence. For
example, in the harmonic sequence
1 1
a1 = 1, a2 = , . . . , an =
2 n
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16.1: Power and Taylor Series
whilst for the alternating harmonic sequence the nth term is:

(1)n+1
an =
n
in which (1)n = +1 if n is an even number and (1)n = 1 if n is an odd number.

Denition
The sequence
a1 , a2 , . . . , an , . . .
is said to be convergent if the limit of an as n increases can be found.
(Mathematically we say that lim an exists).
n

If the sequence is not convergent it is said to be divergent

Try each part of this exercise


Verify that the sequence
3 4 5
, , , ...
12 23 34
is convergent.

Part (a) First nd the expression for the nth term.


Answer

Part (b) Now nd the limit of an as n increases.


Answer

2. Arithmetic and Geometric Progressions


Consider the sequences:
1, 4, 7, 10, . . .
and 3, 1, 1, 3, . . .
In both, any particular term is obtained from the previous term by the addition of a constant
value (3 and 2 respectively). Each of these sequences are said to be arithmetic sequences or
arithmetic progressions and have general form:

a, a + d, a + 2d, a + 3d, . . . , a + (n 1)d, . . .

in which a, d are given numbers. In the rst example above a = 1, d = 3 whereas, in the second
example, a = 3, d = 2. The dierence between any two terms of a given arithmetic sequence
gives the value of d.
Two sequences which are not arithmetic sequences are:

1, 2, 4, 8, . . .

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1 1 1
1, , , , . . .
3 9 27
In each case a particular term is obtained from the previous term by multiplying by a con-
stant factor (2 and 13 respectively). Each are examples of geometric sequences or geometric
progressions with the general form:

a, ar, ar2 , ar3 , . . .

where a is the rst term and r is called the common ratio. In the two examples above a = 1,
r = 2 in the rst sequence and a = 1, r = 13 in the second.

Try each part of this exercise

Part (a) Find a, d for the arithmetic sequence 3, 9, 15, . . .


Answer

8
Part (b) Find a, r for the geometric sequence 8, , 8,
7 49
...
Answer

Part (c) Write out the rst four terms of the geometric series with a = 4, r = 2.
. Answer
The reader should note that many sequences (for example the harmonic sequences) are neither
arithmetic or geometric.

3. Series
A series is the sum of the terms of a sequence. For example, the harmonic series is
1 1 1
1+ + + + ...
2 3 4
whilst the alternating harmonic series is
1 1 1
1 + + ...
2 3 4

The Summation Notation


If we consider a general sequence

a1 , a2 , . . . , an , . . .


k
then the sum of the rst k terms a1 + a2 + a3 + . . . + ak is concisely denoted by ap .
p=1
That is,

k
a1 + a 2 + a3 + . . . + a k = ap
p=1

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16.1: Power and Taylor Series

k
When we encounter the expression ap we let the index p in the term ap take, in turn, the
p=1
values 1, 2, . . . , k and then add all these terms together. So, for example


3 
7
ap = a 1 + a 2 + a 3 ap = a 2 + a 3 + a 4 + a 5 + a 6 + a 7
p=1 p=2


6
Note that p is a dummy index; any letter could be used as the index. For example ai , and
i=1

6
am each represent the same collection of terms, being a1 + a2 + a3 + a4 + a5 + a6 .
m=1

In order to be able to use this summation notation we need to obtain a suitable expression for
the typical term in the series. For example, the nite series

12 + 22 + . . . + k 2


k
may be written as p2 since the typical term is clearly p2 in which p = 1, 2, 3, . . . , k in turn.
p=1
In the same way
1 1 1 1  (1)p+1 16
1 + + ... =
2 3 4 16 p=1
p
(1)p+1
since an expression for the typical term in this alternating harmonic series is ap = p
.

Try each part of this exercise

Part (a) Write in summation form the series


1 1 1 1
+ + + ... +
12 23 34 21 22
First nd an expression for the typical term, the pth term. Answer

5
(1)p
Part (b) Write out all the terms of the series .
p=1
(p + 1)2
Answer

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4. Summing Series

The arithmetic series


Consider the nite arithmetic series with 14 terms
1 + 3 + 5 + . . . + 23 + 25 + 27
A simple way of working out the value of the sum is to create a second series which is the rst
written in reverse order. Thus we have two series, each with the same value A:
A = 1 + 3 + 5 + + 23 + 25 + 27
or
A = 27 + 25 + 23 + + 5 + 3 + 1
Now, adding the terms of these series in pairs
2A = 28 + 28 + 28 + + 28 + 28 + 28 = 28(14) = 392 so A = 196
We can use this approach to nd the sum of n terms of a general arithmetic series.
If
A = [a] + [a + d] + [a + 2d] + . . . + [a + (n 2)d] + [a + (n 1)d]
then again simply writing the terms in reverse order:
A = [a + (n 1)d] + [a + (n 2)d] + . . . + [a + 2d] + [a + d] + [a]
Adding these two identical equations together we have
2A = [2a + (n 1)d] + [2a + (n 1)d] + . . . + [2a + (n 1)d]
That is, every one of the n terms on the right-hand side has the same value: [2a + (n 1)d].
Hence
1
2A = n[2a + (n 1)d] so A = n[2a + (n 1)d].
2

Key Point
The arithmetic series

[a] + [a + d] + [a + 2d] + . . . + [a + (n 1)d]

having n terms has sum A where:


1
A = n[2a + (n 1)d]
2

As an example
1 + 3 + 5 + . . . + 27 has a = 1, d = 2, n = 14
So
14
A = 1 + 3 + . . . + 27 = [2 + (13)2] = 196.
2

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16.1: Power and Taylor Series
The geometric series
We can also sum a general geometric series.
Let
G = a + ar + ar2 + . . . + arn1
be a geometric series having exactly n terms. To obtain the value of G in a more convenient
form we rst multiply through by the common ratio r:

rG = ar + ar2 + ar3 + . . . + arn

Now, writing the two series together:

G = a + ar + ar2 + . . . + arn1

rG = ar + ar2 + ar3 + . . . arn1 + arn


Subtracting the second expression from the rst we see that all terms on the right-hand side
cancel out, except for the rst term of the rst expression and the last term of the second
expression so that
G rG = (1 r)G = a arn
Hence (assuming r = 1)
a(1 rn )
G=
1r
(Of course, if r = 1 the geometric series simplies to a simple arithmetic series with d = 0 and
has sum G = na)

Key Point
The geometric series
a + ar + ar2 + . . . + arn1
having n terms has sum G where

a(1 rn )
G= , if r = 1 and G = nr, if r = 1
1r

Try each part of this exercise


Find the sum of each of the following series:

Part (a) 1 + 2 + 3 + 4 + . . . + 100.


Answer

1 1 1 1 1 1
Part (b) + + + + +
2 6 18 54 162 486
Answer

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More exercises for you to try
1. Which of the following sequences is convergent?
2 3 4
(a) sin , sin , sin , sin , . . .
2 2 2 2
sin 2 sin 2
2
sin 3
2
sin 4
2
(b) , 2 , 3 , 4 , ...
2 2 2 2

2. Write the following series in summation form:


ln 1 ln 3 ln 5 ln 27
(a) , , , ...,
21 32 43 15 14
1 1 1 1
(b) , , , ...,
2 (1 + (100) ) 3 (1 (200) )
2 2 4 (1 + (300) )
2 9 (1 (800)2 )
3. Write out the rst three terms and the last term of the following series:

17
3p1 17
(p)p+1
(a) (b)
p=1
p!(18 p) p=4
p(2 + p)

4. Sum the series:


(a) 5 1 + 3 + 7 . . . + 27
(b) 5 9 13 17 . . . 37
1 1 1 1 1 1
(c) + +
2 6 18 54 162 486
Answer

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5. Computer Exercise or Activity

For this exercise it will be necessary for you to


access the computer package DERIVE.

Derive is of some help with sequences and series.


First it can be used to obtain the limits of expressions in n as n . For example to obtain
the limit:
n+2
lim
n n(n + 1)

we would key in (n + 2)/(n(n + 1)). DERIVE responds with


n+2
n (n + 1)
then hit Calculus:Limit to obtain the Calculus limit screen. In the limit Point box choose
(from the list of symbols) and then choose Both in the Approach From section. If you then
hit the OK button DERIVE responds with
n+2
lim
n n (n + 1)

Finally, hit Simplify:Basic to obtain the response


0
which is as expected.
DERIVE will also obtain the sum of nite series. To do this you will need to obtain an expression
for the nth term of the series. For example, to nd

1 + 2 + 3 + . . . + 100

we need to recognise that the nth term is n. Thus


100
1 + 2 + 3 + . . . + 100 = n.
n=1

To obtain this sum using DERIVE, enter the Calculus:Sum box and enter the expression for the
nth term. In this case enter n. Make sure the Variable box contains n. Then choose Denite in
the sum box and choose appropriate limits (1 as the Lower limit and 100 as the Upper limit).
If you then hit the OK button DERIVE responds

100
n
n=1

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16.1: Power and Taylor Series
Finally, hit Simplify:Basic to get the value of the sum:
5050
a result which we have already obtained.
As an exercise you could experiment with the limit and summation capabilities of DERIVE.

DERIVE will also obtain the algebraic expressions for some nite sums:
For example if you key in: p2 then Calculus:Sum as before but this time choosing Variable p
and Upper limit n and then hit the OK button. DERIVE responds

n
p2
p=1

Now hit Simplify:Basic to obtain the expression


n (n + 1) (2 n + 1)
6
5(6)(11)
which is easily checked to be correct (for e.g. 12 + 22 + 32 + 42 + 52 = = 55.)
6

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End of Block 16.1

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1

1 2 3 4 5 term in sequence

Not convergent. The terms in the sequence do not converge to a particular value. The value
oscillates.

Back to the theory

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16.1: Power and Taylor Series
n+2
an = n(n+1)

Back to the theory

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16.1: Power and Taylor Series
 
n+2 1 + n2 1
= 0 as n increases
n(n + 1) n+1 n+1
Hence the sequence is convergent.

Back to the theory

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16.1: Power and Taylor Series
a = 3, d=6

Back to the theory

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16.1: Power and Taylor Series
1
a = 8, r= 7

Back to the theory

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16.1: Power and Taylor Series
4, 8, 16, 32, . . .

Back to the theory

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16.1: Power and Taylor Series
1
ap = p(p+1)

1 1 1  21
1
+ + ... + =
12 23 21 22 p=1
p(p + 1)

Back to the theory

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16.1: Power and Taylor Series
212 + 1
32
1
42
+ 1
52
1
62
.

Back to the theory

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a = 1, d = 1, n = 100.
1 + 2 + 3 + . . . + 100 = 100 + 50(99) = 50(101) = 5050.

Back to the theory

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16.1: Power and Taylor Series
a = 12 , r = 13 , n = 6

1( 13 )
6

  1 6 
1
2
1
+ + ... +
6
1
486
= 1
2 1 13
= 3
4
1 3
= 0.74897

Back to the theory

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1(a) no; this sequence is 1, 0, 1, 0, 1, . . . which does not converge.
1
(b) yes; this sequence is /2 , 0, 3/2
1 1
, 0, 5/2 , . . . which converges to zero.
14
ln(2p 1)  8
(1)p
2. (a) (b)
p=1
(p + 1)(p) p=1
(p + 1)(1 + (1)p+1 p2 104 )
1 2 16
3. (a) , 3 , 3 , ...
17 2!(16) 3!(15)
, 317!
45 56 67 18
(b) (4)(6) , (5)(7) , (6)(8) , 17
. . . , (17)(19)
4. (a) This is an arithmetic series with a = 5, d = 4, n = 9. A = 99
(b) This is an arithmetic series with a = 5, d = 4, n = 9. A = 189
(c) This is a geometric series with a = 12 , r = 13 , n = 6. G 0.3745

Back to the theory

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16.1: Power and Taylor Series