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Unformatted text preview: Arithmetic and Geometric Sequences
Felix Lazebnik This collection of problems1 is for those who wish to learn about arithmetic
and geometric sequences, or to those who wish to improve their understanding
of these topics, and practice with related problems. The attempt was made to
illustrate some ties between these and other notions of mathematics. The problems are divided (by horizontal lines) into three groups according to diﬃculty:
easier, average, and harder. Of course, the division is very subjective. The
collection is aimed to freshmen and sophomores college students, to good high
school students, and to their teachers.
∗∗∗
An inﬁnite sequence of numbers {an }n≥1 is called an arithmetic sequence,
if there exists an number d, such that for every n ≥ 1, an+1 = an + d:
∃d ∀n ∈ N (an+1 = an + d).
The number d is called the common diﬀerence, or just the diﬀerence of the
arithmetic sequence.
Examples:
a1
a1
a1
a1 = 1, d = 1 :
= 12, d = 8.5 :
= 5, d = −1 :
= 2, d = 0 : 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, . . .;
12, 20.5, 29, 37.5, . . .;
5, 1, −3, −7, . . .;
2, 2, 2, 2, . . .. An inﬁnite sequence of numbers {bn }n≥1 is called a geometric sequence, if
there exists an number r, such that for every n ≥ 1, bn+1 = bn r:
∃r ∀n ∈ N (bn+1 = bn r).
The number r is called the common ratio, or just the ratio of the geometric
sequence.
Examples:
b1
b1
b1
b1 = 2, r = 1 :
= 1, r = 2 :
= 3, r = 5 :
= −3, r = −1/2 : 1 Last 2, 2, 2, 2, . . .;
1, 2, 4, 8, . . .;
3, 15, 75, 375, . . .;
−3, 3/2, −3/4, 3/8, . . .. revision: December 20, 2008. 1 Often an arithmetic (a geometric) sequence is called an arithmetic (a geometric) progression. The term comes from Latin progredior – ‘walk forward’;
progressio – ‘movement forward’, ‘success’. Problems about progressions go back
to Rhind Papyrus, c. 1550 BC and Babylonian astronomical tables, c. 25002000
BC.
1. Let {an }n≥1 be an arithmetic sequence with diﬀerence d. Prove that
(a) an = a1 + (n − 1)d, for all n ≥ 2 (b) a1 + an = a2 + an−1 = a3 + an−2 = . . .
(c) Sn = a1 + a2 + · · · + an = a1 +an n =
2
for n = 1, if we assume S1 = a1 ). 2a1 +(n−1)d
n
2 for all n ≥ 2 (and 2. Let {bn }n≥1 be a geometric sequence with ratio r. Prove that
(a) bn = b1 rn−1 , for all n ≥ 2 (b) b1 bn = b2 bn−1 = b3 bn−2 = . . . (c) Let n ≥ 2, and Sn = b1 + b2 + · · · + bn . Then
n
b1 (1−r n )
b1 −bn r
, if r = 1
1−r =
1−r
Sn =
bi =
nb1 ,
if r = 1.
i=1
The formula also holds for n = 1, if we assume S1 = b1 . (d) If r < 1, then limn→∞ rn = 0, and
∞
i=1 bi = b1
.
1−r 3. Given that each sum below is the sum of a part of an arithmetic or geometric progression, ﬁnd (or simplify) each sum.
(a) 75 + 71 + 67 + · · · + (−61). (b) 75 + 15 + 3 + ... + 3
57 . (c) 1 + 2 + 3 + . . . + (n − 1) + n. (d) i + (i + 1) + (i + 2) + · · · + j , where i, j ∈ Z, i < j .
(e) 1 + 3 + 5 + · · · + (2n − 1), where n ∈ N. (f) xi + xi+1 + xi+2 + · · · + xj , where i, j ∈ Z, i < j , x = 1. 4. Suppose that the sum of the ﬁrst n terms of an arithmetic sequence is
given by the formula Sn = 4n2 − 3n for every n ≥ 1. Find three ﬁrst
terms of the arithmetic sequence and its diﬀerence.
The content of the following two problems explain the terms ‘arithmetic’
and ‘geometric in the context of sequences.
2 5. Given two numbers a, b, the number (a + b)/2 is called their arithmetic
average.
(a) Show that every term of an arithmetic sequence, except the ﬁrst term
and the last term (in case of a ﬁnite sequence), is the arithmetic
average of the preceding term and the following term.
(b) Show that if a sequence has the property above, it must be an arithmetic sequence.
(c) Generalize the statement in (a) by proving that the k th term is the
arithmetic average of the (k − i)th term and the (k + i)th term for
all i such that these terms exist.
√
6. Given two numbers a, b, ab ≥ 0, the number ab is called their geometric
average.
(a) Show that every term of a geometric sequence with nonnegative
terms, except the ﬁrst term and the last term (in case of a ﬁnite
sequence), is the geometric average of the preceding term and the
following term.
(b) Show that if a sequence has the property above, it must be a geometric sequence.
(c) Generalize the statement in (a) by proving that the k th term is the
geometric average of the (k − i)th term and the (k + i)th term for all
i such that these terms exist.
7. In a tournament with n ≥ 2 players every person meets with every other
person exactly once. Prove that the number of games played is n(n − 1)/2.
8. Prove that if numbers a2 , b2 , c2 are distinct and form an arithmetic se1
1
1
quence, then the numbers b+c , c+a , a+b also form an arithmetic sequence.
9. Simplify the ratio of a + a2 + · · · + a100 and a−1 + a−2 + · · · + a−100 .
10. Use the formula for the sum 1+ x + x2 + · · · + xm−1 to establish the following
factorizations of polynomials: for all integer n ≥ 2, and all integer k ≥ 1,
an − bn = (a − b)(an−1 + an−2 b + an−3 b2 + · · · + abn−2 + bn−1 )
and
a2k+1 + b2k+1 = (a + b)(a2k − a2k−1 b + a2k−2 b2 − · · · − ab2k−1 + b2k ).
Write these formuli (with all terms present) for n = 2, 3, 4, 5, and k =
1, 2, 3. As you see, the formuli generalize the wellknown ones: a2 − b2 =
(a − b)(a + b), and a3 ± b3 = (a ± b)(a2 ∓ ab + b2 ).
√
√
√
√
11. Is number a = 1 + 5 2 + 5 4 + 5 8 + 5 16 rational or irrational?
3 12. Represent the following repeating decimal as the ratio of two integers.
For example,
0.3333333 . . . 0.(3) = 1/3,
0.14285714285714285714 = 0.(142857) = 1/7,
0.285714285714285714 . . . = 0.(285714) = 2/7,
0.09090909090909090909 . . . = 0.(09) = 1/11,
0.076923076923076923076 . . . = 0.(076923) = 1/13,
0.058823529411764705882 . . . = 0.(0588235294117647) = 1/17,
(a) 1.2525252525 . . .
(b) 0.127791791791 . . .
(c) 4.031313131 . . .
Comment. From the examples above, one can see that, when p is prime,
the length of the principal period in the decimal expansion of 1/p is p − 1
(p = 7, 17), or smaller (p = 3, 11, 13). It is an unsolved problem whether
there are inﬁnitely many primes p such that the principal period in the
decimal expansion of 1/p has exactly p − 1 digits.
13. A positive integern is called a perfect number, if it is equal to the sum
of all its positive divisors smaller than n. For example, 6 = 1 + 2 + 3,
28 = 1 + 2 + 4 + 7 + 14, so 6 and 28 are perfect numbers.
Euclid proved that the formula 2k−1 (2k − 1) gives an even perfect number
whenever 2k − 1 is prime. Prove this result. Over a millennium after Euclid (c. 325 BC), Ibn alHaytham (Alhazen)
(c. 1000 AD) realized that every even perfect number is of the form
2k−1 (2k − 1) where 2k − 1 is prime, but he was not able to prove this
result. It was not until the 18th century that L. Euler (1707  1783)
proved that the formula 2k−1 (2k − 1), with 2k − 1 prime, will yield all even
perfect numbers. Primes of the form 2k − 1 are called Mersenne primes
(in honor of M. Mersenne (1588  1648)). Only 46 Mersenne primes are
known as of October 2008, so only 46 perfect numbers are known. We
do not know whether there are other Mersenne primes and how many of
them exist. Nor we know whether there exists an odd perfect number.
These are old unsolved problems. 14. Find the sum of all numbers of the form m/3, m is a positive integer not
divisible by 3, such that 4 (a) ∈ [5, 9].
So we are asked to ﬁnd the sum
m
3 16 17 19 20 22
26
+
+
+
+
+ ··· + .
3
3
3
3
3
3
(b) ∈ [a, b], where a, b ∈ N and a < b. Simplify your answer as much
as you can. Check that for a = 5, b = 9, the result coincides with
the one of part (a).
m
3 (c) Let p be a ﬁxed positive prime. Generalize the result of part (b) to
the sum of all fractions m/p ∈ [a, b], where m, a, b ∈ Z, and a < b.
Simplify your answer as much as you can. Check that for p = 3, and
a, b ∈ N, the result coincides with the one of part (b).
15. Consider a tournament which begins with n ≥ 1 teams. In the ﬁrst round,
all teams are divided into pairs if n is even, and the winner in each pair
passes to the next round (no ties). If n is odd, then one random (lucky)
team passes to the next round without playing. The second round proceeds
similarly. At the end, only one team is left – the winner.
Examples:
If n = 7, then 1 + 6/2 = 4 teams go to the second round, 4/2 = 2 teams
go to the third round, 2/2 = 1 team is the winner. The total number of
games played is 3 + 2 + 1 = 6.
Check that if n = 2k , the number of games is 2k − 1. Find a (simple!) formula for the total number of games played in the
tournament (and prove it, of course).
16. Consider an n by n square table, with the ﬁrst row
1
n+1
2n + 1
...
(n − 1)n + 1 2
n+2
2n + 2
...
(n − 1)n + 2 3
n+3
2n + 3
...
(n − 1)n + 3 ... n
. . . 2n
. . . 3n
... ...
. . . n2 Pick a number a1 from this table, and delete the row and the column it
stands in. From the remaining (n − 1) by (n − 1) table, pick a number
a2 , and delete the row and the column it stands. Continue until only one
number, an , is left.
Show that the sum a1 + a2 + · · · + an is always the same and ﬁnd a simple
expression for it.
17. Find the sum and simplify your answer:
Sn = 1 · x + 2 · x2 + · · · + n · xn .
5 18. (a) Find the sum 1
1
1
+
+ ···
.
3 · 7 7 · 11
103 · 107
(b) Numbers a1 , a2 , . . . , an , all nonzero, form an arithmetic sequence.
Prove that
1
1
1
n−1
+
+ ···
=
.
a1 a2
a2 a3
an−1 an
a1 an
(c) If the equality above holds for all n ≥ 2, does it imply that {an }n≥1 is
an arithmetic sequence? 19. Find a simple expression the sum of all entries of the table
1
2
3
2
3
4
3
4
5
...
...
...
k k+1 k+2 ...
k
... k + 1
... k + 2
...
...
. . . 2k − 1 20. Find a simple expression for the sum
1 − 4 + 9 − 16 + · · · + (−1)n−1 n2 .
21. One wants to chose numbers from the inﬁnite sequence
1, 111
1
,
,
, ... n,...
2 22 23
2 which form an inﬁnite geometric sequence with the sum equal
(i) 1
5 (ii) 1
15 Can this be done? Prove your answer.
22. Three prime numbers greater than 10 form an arithmetic sequence. Prove
that the common diﬀerence is divisible by 6.
23. Let a1 , a2 , . . . , an , . . . be an arithmetic sequence with a nonzero common
diﬀerence, and let b1 , b2 , . . . , bn , . . . be a geometric sequence with a positive
common ratio. Prove that there exists numbers x and y such that
bn = xy an for all n ≥ 1. (So, the arithmetic and geometric progressions are related after all!).
24. Two trains are 100 miles apart on the same track heading towards each
other, one at at 10 mph, and another at 15 mph. At the same time,
a SupperBee takes oﬀ from the nose of one train at 20 miles per hour,
towards the other train. As soon as the bee reaches the other train, it
turns around and heads oﬀ (at 20 miles per hour) back towards the ﬁrst
train. It continues to do this until the trains collide, killing the bee. What
distance does the bee ﬂy before the collision?
6 25. The following construction leads to the object called the Koch snowﬂake.
Begin with an equilateral triangle K1 having unit side lengths. Then divide
each side into three congruent segments, and build an equilateral triangle
on the middle segment as the base in the exterior of the original triangle.
Then delete the base. We obtain a 12gon K2 with every side having
length 1/3. We continue by dividing each side of K2 into three congruent
segments, and building an equilateral triangle on the middle segment as
the base in the exterior of K2 . Then we delete the base, obtaining a
polygon K3 . Applying a similar procedure to K3 , leads to a polygon K4 ,
and so on. See Figure 1 for the ﬁrst four polygons K1 , K2 , K3 , and K4 ,
and Figure 2 – for K4 enlarged. Figure 1: Ki , i = 1, 2, 3, 4. Figure 2: K4 Compute the following:
(a) the number of sides of Kn
(b) the perimeter pn of Kn
(c) the area an of Kn
(d) limn→∞ pn and limn→∞ an .
It can be argued that the sequence of ﬁgures Kn “approaches” a certain
set of points of the plane, and this set is call the Koch snowﬂake, in honor
of N. F. H. von Koch (1870  1924).
26. The construction of the Sierpinski triangle begins with an equilateral
triangle the unit side length, which we denote by T1 . The riangle is cut into
4 congruent equilateral triangles , and the central subtriangle is removed.
We denote the obtained ﬁgure by T2 . The same procedure is then applied
to the remaining 3 subtriangles, leading to a ﬁgure T3 , and so on. See
Figure 3. 7 Figure 3: Ti , i = 1, . . . , 5. It can be argued that the sequence Tn “approaches” a certain set of
points of the plane, and this set is call the Sierpinski triangle, in honor of
W. Sierpi´ski (1882 – 1969).
n
Compute the area of Tn , and show that it tend to zero when n increases.
Comment. The sets of points like Koch snowﬂake or Sierpinski triangle
are examples of objects called fractals. Informally a fractal is a ﬁgure
that can be split into parts, each of which is a reducedsize copy of the
whole, a property called selfsimilarity. Fractallike objects are present
in nature. For more on fractals, including beautiful pictures, see
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fractal.
27. Let x1 , x2 , . . . , xn , . . . be a sequence of distinct number from [0, 1]. Let Bi
denote the interval [xi − 2i1 , xi + 2i1 ], i ∈ N. Prove that [0, 1] is not a
+2
+2
subset of the union of all Bi ’s.
Comment. If you are familiar with the notion of cardinality of a set,
this statement immediately implies that the set of all points of [0, 1] is
uncountable. It provides an alternative to the “diagonal method” for
proving this celebrated theorem of G. Cantor (1845 – 1918). 28. Let d ≥ 1 be the diﬀerence in an arithmetic sequence with n ≥ 3 positive
integer terms. Prove that d is divisible by each prime number less than n.
Examples:
3, 5, 7
5, 11, 17, 23
5, 11, 17, 23, 29
7, 37, 67, 97, 127, 157
7, 157, 307, 457, 607, 757 8 29. Prove that there is no inﬁnite arithmetic sequence with positive diﬀerence
having all its terms being prime numbers.
Comment. But for every n ≥ 2, there exist an nterm arithmetic progression consisting of primes only! This remarkable result was proved recently
by B. Green and T. Tao, in the paper “The primes contain arbitrarily long
arithmetic progressions”, Annals of Math. 167 (2008), 481547.
30. Given n inﬁnite (from both sides) arithmetic sequences with integer terms
such that, every two of them share a common term. Prove that all these
sequences share a common term. 9 Hints and Answers.
1. (a) and (b) are straightforward. For (c), add Sn with itself (maybe written
as Sn = an + an−1 + . . . + 1), and use (b).
2. (a) and (b) are straightforward. For (c), consider Sn − rSn .
3. Answers: (a) 245 (b) 93.7499904 (d) (i + j )(j − i + 1)/2 (e) n (c) (n + 1)n/2
(f) xi (1 − xj −i+1 )/(1 − x) 2 4. Answer: 1, 9, 17. d = 8.
5. Straightforward.
6. Straightforward.
7. One can do it in many ways. One way is to reduce the problem to the
sum of an arithmetic progression.
8. Straightforward.
9. a101
10. Rewrite 1 + x + x2 + · · · + xm−1 = (1 − xm )/(1 − x), x = 1, as xm − 1 =
(x − 1)(xm−1 + xm−2 + · · · + x + 1), substitute x = a/b for m = n, or
x = −a/b for m = 2k + 1, and eliminate the denominators.
11. It is rational. Add the geometric progression.
12. Answers: (a) 124/99 (b) 31916/24975 (c) 3991/990. 13. Hint: If p is prime, consider all distinct divisors of 2a p. 14. Answers: (a) 56 (b) b2 − a2 (c) (p − 1)(b2 − a2 )/2. 15. Answer: n − 1. Hint: For an arbitrary n ∈ N, it is easier to solve the
problems without reducing it to a geometric sequence.
16. The element in the ith row and the j th column can be written as (i−1)n+j .
The sum is n(n2 + 1)/2.
17. Use a method similar to the one which gives a formula for the sum of
a geometric progression. Another idea is to relate Sn to a derivative of
another sum, viewed as a function of x.
18. (a) Answer: 26/107. Hint: 1
3 ·7 = 1 ( 1 − 1 ), . . .,
43
7 (b) Generalize the idea of the hint to part (a).
(c) Yes.
10 1
103·107 1
= 1 ( 103 −
4 1
107 ). 19. n3
20. Consider two cases: n is even, and n is odd. Group the terms in pairs.
21. (i) No. (ii) Yes.
22. Hint: show that d is divisible by both 2 and 3.
23. Hint: begin with numerical examples, and then generalize. x and y are
deﬁned completely by considering the ﬁrst two conditions (n = 1, 2). Show
that x and y found this way “work” also for all n ≥ 3.
24. 80 miles
25. Answers: (a) 3 · 4n−1 sides (b) 3 · (4/3)n−1
√
(c) An = [8/5 − (3/5)(4/9)n−1 ]( 3/4)
√
(d) limn→∞ pn = ∞, and limn→∞ an = 2 3/5 26. Area of Tn = ( 3 )n−1 (
4 √ 3
4 ). 27. Note that the length of Bi is 1/2i+1 . 28. Let a1 = a, a2 = a + d, . . . , an = a + (n − 1)d be the arithmetic sequence
with diﬀerence d, all ai are primes, and let p be a prime number less than
n. Prove that p divides d.
29. Use the result of Problem 28.
30. Hint: use induction on n. 11 ...
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