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Number Patterns

A sequence is a pattern of numbers that are formed in accordance with a definite rule.

We can often describe number patterns in more than one way. To illustrate this, consider the
following sequence of numbers {1, 3, 5, 7, 9, …}.

Clearly, the first term of this number pattern is 1; and the terms after the first term are obtained
by adding 2 to the previous term. We can also describe this number pattern as a set of odd
numbers.

By trial and error, we find that:

By observation, we notice that we can describe this number pattern by the rule

Formula and Tables


A table of values can be generated from the rule

as shown below.

Finding the Algebraic Rule


We use algebra to study rules that describe the behaviour of everyday things. For example, the
behaviour of the height of a ball when it is thrown upward or the amount outstanding for a loan
after a number of regular repayments. By finding a pattern in observed values (i.e.
measurements), we are often able to discover a rule that allows us to make accurate predictions.

Using a Difference Pattern


When we try to discover an algebraic rule for ordered pairs, we can find the difference between
two successive values of y. This allows us to find a rule as illustrated below.

Consider the following table.


We notice that the values of x increase by just one at a time and the difference between the
successive values for y is 2. So, the rule starts off with y = 2x. Will this give a correct answer
from the table? Let us check.

The answer is no. From the table, when x = 1 the value of y should be 5. How do we change
our answer from 2 to 5? We should add 3.

Check the rule to see if it is correct:

Example 5

Discover the rule for the following table of values:

Solution:

In the given table, the x-values increase by 1 for each ordered pair.
Find the difference between the successive values of y. That is:

The difference between successive values of y is always 3. So, the rule is of the form

Check:

Check the rule to see if it is correct:

So, our rule is correct.


Note:

To establish a rule for a number pattern involving ordered pairs of x and y, we can find the
difference between every two successive values of y. If the difference pattern is the same, then
thecoefficient of x in the algebraic rule (or formula) is the same as the difference pattern

Common Number Patterns


Numbers can have interesting patterns.
Here we list the most common patterns and how they are made.

Arithmetic Sequences

An Arithmetic Sequence is made by adding some value each time.

Examples:

1, 4, 7, 10, 13, 16, 19, 22, 25, ...


This sequence has a difference of 3 between each number.
The pattern is continued by adding 3 to the last number each time.

3, 8, 13, 18, 23, 28, 33, 38, ...


This sequence has a difference of 5 between each number.
The pattern is continued by adding 5 to the last number each time.

The value added each time is called the "common difference"

What is the common difference in this example?

19, 27, 35, 43, ...

Answer: The common difference is 8

The common difference could also be negative, like this:

25, 23, 21, 19, 17, 15, ...


This common difference is -2
The pattern is continued by subtracting 2 each time.
Geometric Sequences

A Geometric Sequence is made by multiplying by some value each time.

Examples:

2, 4, 8, 16, 32, 64, 128, 256, ...


This sequence has a factor of 2 between each number.
The pattern is continued by multiplying the last number by 2 each time.

3, 9, 27, 81, 243, 729, 2187, ...


This sequence has a factor of 3 between each number.
The pattern is continued by multiplying the last number by 3 each time.

Special Sequences

Triangular Numbers

1, 3, 6, 10, 15, 21, 28, 36, 45, ...

This Triangular Number Sequence is generated from a pattern of dots which form a triangle.

By adding another row of dots and counting all the dots we can find the next number of the
sequence:

Square Numbers

1, 4, 9, 16, 25, 36, 49, 64, 81, ...


The next number is made by squaring where it is in the pattern.
The second number is 2 squared (22 or 2×2)
The seventh number is 7 squared (72 or 7×7) etc

Cube Numbers

1, 8, 27, 64, 125, 216, 343, 512, 729, ...

The next number is made by cubing where it is in the pattern.


The second number is 2 cubed (2 3 or 2×2×2)
The seventh number is 7 cubed (7 3 or 7×7×7) etc

Fibonacci Numbers

0, 1, 1, 2, 3, 5, 8, 13, 21, 34, ...

The next number is found by adding the two numbers before it together.
The 2 is found by adding the two numbers in front of it (1+1)
The 21 is found by adding the two numbers in front of it (8+13)
The next number in the sequence above would be 55 (21+34)