Determine whether each sequence is arithmetic, geometric, or neither

Arithmetic and Geometric Sequences
The sequence 5, 7, 9, 11, 13,… , 5+2(n-1), … , where each term after the first is obtained by adding 2 to the preceding term, is an Example of an arithmetic sequence. The sequence 5, 10, 20, 40, 80,… , 5⋅2(n-1), … , Where each term after the first is obtained by multiplying the preceding term by 2, is an Example of a geometric sequence.

Determine whether each sequence is arithmetic, geometric, or neither. Explain.
1). 200, 40, 8, … .
Solution:

pic 1 geometric

Since the ratios are constant, the sequence is geometric. The common ratio is ⅕.

2). 2, 4, 16, … .
Solution:

pic 2 not geometric

The ratios are not constant, so the sequence is not geometric.

pic 3 neither geometric nor arithmetic

There is no common difference, so the sequence is not arithmetic.
Thus, the sequence is neither geometric nor arithmetic.

3). -6, -3, 0, 3, … .
Solution:

pic 4 not geometric

The ratios are not constant, so the sequence is not geometric.

pic 5 arithmetic

Since the differences are constant, the sequence is arithmetic. The common difference is 3.

4). 1,-1,1,-1,…
Solution:

pic 6 geometric

Since the ratios are constant, the sequence is geometric. The common ratio is -1.

5). 4, 1, 2, … .
Solution:
Find the ratios of consecutive terms.

pic 7 not geometric

The ratios are not constant, so the sequence is not geometric.
Find the ratios of the differences of consecutive terms

pic 8 neither geometric nor arithmetic

There is no common difference, so the sequence is not arithmetic.
Thus, the sequence is neither geometric nor arithmetic.

6). 10, 20, 30, 40, … .
Solution:
Find the ratios of consecutive terms.

pic 9 not geometric

The ratios are not constant, so the sequence is not geometric.
Find the differences of consecutive terms.

pic 10 arithmetic

Since the differences are constant, the sequence is arithmetic. The common difference is 10.

7). 4, 20, 100, … .
Solution:
Find the ratios of consecutive terms.

pic 11 geometric

Since the ratios are constant, the sequence is geometric. The common ratio is 5.

8). 212, 106, 53, … .
Solution:
Find the ratios of consecutive terms.

pic 12 geometric

Since the ratios are constant, the sequence is geometric. The common ratio is ½.

9). -10, -8, -6, -4, … .
Solution:
Find the ratios of consecutive terms.

pic 13 not geometric

The ratios are not constant, so the sequence is not geometric.
Find the differences of consecutive terms.

pic 14 arithmetic

Since the differences are constant, the sequence is arithmetic. The common difference is 2.

10). 5, -10, 20, 40, … .
Solution:
Find the ratios of consecutive terms.

pic 15 not geometric

The ratios are not constant, so the sequence is not geometric.
Find the differences of consecutive terms.

pic 16 neither geometric nor arithmetic

There is no common difference, so the sequence is not arithmetic. Thus, the sequence is neither geometric nor arithmetic.

Two kinds of regular sequences occur so often that they have specific names, arithmetic and geometric sequences. We treat them together because some obvi- ous parallels between these kinds of sequences lead to similar formulas. This also makes it easier to learn and work with the formulas. The greatest value in this association is understanding how the ideas are related and how to derive the formulas from fundamental concepts. Anyone learning the formulas this way can recover them whenever needed.
Both arithmetic and geometric sequences begin with an arbitrary first term, and the sequences are generated by regularly adding the same number (the common difference in an arithmetic sequence) or multiplying by the same number (the common ratio in a geometric sequence). Definitions emphasize the parallel features, which examples will clarify.

Definition: arithmetic and geometric sequences
Arithmetic Sequence

a1=a and an=a(n-1)+d for n>1

The sequence {an} is an arithmetic sequence with strong>first term a and common difference d.
Geometric Sequence

a1=a and an=r⋅a(n-1) for n>1

The sequence {an} is a geometric sequence with first term a and common ratio r.

The definitions imply convenient formulas for the nth term of both kinds of sequences. For an arithmetic sequence we get the nth term by adding d to the first term n-1 times; for a geometric sequence, we multiply the first term by r, n-1 times.

Formulae for the nth terms of arithmetic and geometric sequences
For an arithmetic sequence, a formula for the nth term of the sequence is

an=a+(n-1)d. (1)

For a geometric sequence, a formula for the nth term of the sequence is

an=a⋅r(n-1). (2)

The definitions allow us to recognize both arithmetic and geometric sequences. In an arithmetic sequence the difference between successive terms, a(n+1)an, is always the same, the constant d; in a geometric sequence the ratio of successive terms, , is always the same.

Given the structure of arithmetic and geometric sequences, any two terms completely determine the sequence. Using Equation (1) or (2), two terms of the sequence give us a pair of equations from which we can find the first term and either the common difference or common ratio, as illustrated in the next example.

Example 1: Arithmetic or geometric?
The first three terms of a sequence are given. Determine if the sequence could be arithmetic or geometric. If it is an arithmetic sequence, find d; for a geometric sequence, find r.
(a) 2, 4, 8, … (b) ln 2, ln 4, ln 8,… (c) ½,⅓,¼,…
Solution
Strategy: Calculate the dif- ferences and/or ratios of successive terms.
(a) a2a1=4-2=2, and a3a2=8-4=4. Since the differences are not the same, the sequence cannot be arithmetic. Checking ratios, , and , so the sequence could be geometric, with a common ratio r=2. Without a formula for the general term, we cannot say anything more about the sequence.
(b) a2a1=ln 4-ln 2=ln⁡(4/2)=ln 2, and a3a2=ln 8-ln 4=ln⁡(8/4)=ln 2, so the sequence could be arithmetic, with ln 2 as the common difference. As in part (a), we cannot say more because no general term is given.
(c) a2a1=⅓-½=-⅙, and a3a2=¼-⅓=-1/12. The differences are not the same, so the sequence is not arithmetic. , and , so the sequence is not geometric. Note that the sequence in part (a) could be geometric and the sequence in part (b) could be arithmetic, but in part (c) you can conclude unequivocally that the sequence cannot be either arithmetic or geometric.

Example 2: Arithmetic or geometric?
Determine whether the sequence is arithmetic, geometric, or neither.
(a) {3-1.6n} (b) {2n} (c) an=ln n
solution:
(a) a2a1=(3-1.6⋅2)-(3-1.6⋅1)=(-0.2)-1.4=-1.6, and a3a2=(3-1.6⋅3)-(3-1.6⋅2)=-1.6. From the first three terms, this could be an arithmetic sequence with d=-1.6. Check the difference a(n+1)an.
a(n+1)an=[3-1.6(n+1)]-[3-1.6n]=-1.6
The sequence is arithmetic, with d=-1.6.
(b) a2a1=4-2=2, and a3a2=8-4=4, so the sequence is not arithmetic. Using the formula for the general term,


The sequence {2n} is geometric, with 2 as the common ratio.
(c) a(n+1)an=ln⁡(n+1)-ln n=ln⁡[(n+1)/n]. The difference depends on n, so the sequence is not arithmetic. Checking ratios, , so the ratio also changes with n. The sequence is neither arithmetic nor geometric.

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