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Lecture : Infinite Sequences

Lecturer: Ruchi Telang Gode

1 Sequences
Definition 1. A sequence is a list of numbers written in a definite order: {a1 , a2 , . . . , an , an+1 , . . .}

There is a variety of ways of denoting a sequence. The following are equivalent ways of denoting a sequence.

{a1 , a2 , . . . , an , . . .}, {an }, {an }


n=1

Each of a1 , a2 , a3 , . . . and so on represents a number. These are the terms of the sequence. For example, the
sequence {2, 4, 6, 8, 10, 12, ..., 2n, ...} has first term a1 = 2, second term a2 = 4, and n-th term an = 2n.
an denotes the general term of the sequence. The integer n is called the index of an , and indicates where
an occurs in the list. Order is important. The sequence {2, 4, 6, 8...} is not the same as the sequence
{4, 2, 6, 8....}

Remark 1. Here are some general facts about sequences:


1. Order of the terms matter, sequence {1, 2, 3} is not same as sequence {3, 2, 1}.
2. Sequence may have repeated elements.
3. Sequence may have infinite or finite elements.

We can think of the sequence as a function that sends 1 to a1 , 2 to a2 , 3 to a3 , and in general sends the
positive integer n to the nth term an . More precisely an infinite sequence is a function with domain as the
set of positive integers.

EXAMPLE: 1.1. The function associated with the sequence {2, 4, 6, 8, 10, 12, ..., 2n, ...} sends 1 to al = 2,
2 to a2 = 4, and so on. The general behavior of this sequence is described by the formula an = 2n.

EXERCISE: 1.1. Find a formula for the nth term of the sequence.

1. {an } = { 1, 2, 3, . . .}.

2. {an } = {1, 12 , 31 , 14 , . . .}

1.1 Recursive definition


In a recursive formula, each term of the sequence is defined as a function of its preceding term(s).
A recursive formula designates the starting term, a1 , and the n-th term of the sequence, an is an expression
containing the previous terms (the terms before it).

EXAMPLE: 1.2. Find the recursive formula associated with the sequence {0, 1, 1, 2, 3, 5, 8, 13, 21, 34, 55, ...}.

The sequence {0, 1, 1, 2, 3, 5, 8, 13, 21, 34, 55, ...} is a famous sequence called the Fibonacci sequence. After
the first two terms, each term is the sum of the previous two terms.
The recursive formula for the Fibonacci sequence is a1 = 0; a2 = 1; an = an1 + an2 .

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1.2 Limit of a sequence
Given a sequence {an }, one of the questions we try to answer is: what is the behavior of an as n ? Is
an getting closer and closer to a number? In other words, we want to find lim an . Sometimes the numbers
n
in a sequence approach a single value as the index n increases. This happens in the sequence {1, 21 , 13 , 14 , . . .}
whose terms approach 0 as n gets large.

EXAMPLE: 1.3. To which number the sequence {0, 12 , 23 , 34 , . . .} approaching as n is getting larger and
larger.

QUESTION: 1.1. What about the behaviour of the sequences {1, 2, 3, . . .} and {1, 1, 1, 1, . . .} as n
increases.

Definition 2. (Limit of a Sequence) A sequence {an } converges to a number L as n goes to if an can


be made as close as one wants to L, simply by taking n large enough. In this case, we write lim an = L.
n
If L is a finite number, we say that {an } converges. Otherwise, it diverges. Sometimes, we will make the
distinction between diverges to infinity and simply diverges. In the first case, we still know what the sequence
is doing, it is getting large without bounds.

Definition 3. (- concept) The sequence {an } converges to the number L if for every positive number  there
corresponds an integer N such that for all n,

n > N = |an L| < .

If no such number L exists, we say that {an } diverges. If {an } converges to L, we write lim an = L, and
n
call L the limit of the sequence.
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EXAMPLE: 1.4. Show that lim =0
n n
Definition 4. The sequence {an } diverges to infinity if for every number M there is an integer N such that
for all n > N , an > M . If this condition holds we write

lim an =
n

Similarly if for every number m there is an integer N such that for all n > N we have an < m, then we say
{an } diverges to negative infinity and write

lim an =
n

A sequence may diverge without diverging to infinity or negative infinity. The sequences {1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, ...}
and {1, 0, 2, 0, 3, 0, ...} are examples of such divergence.

1.3 Calculating limits of sequences


Theorem 1. Let {an } and {bn } be sequences of real numbers, and let A and B be real numbers. The
following rules hold if lim an = A and lim bn = B. Then
n n
1. Sum Rule:
lim (an + bn ) = A + B
n

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2. Difference Rule:
lim (an bn ) = A B
n

3. Constant Multiple Rule:


lim (k an ) = k A
n

4. Product Rule:
lim (an bn ) = A B
n

5. Quotient Rule:
an A
lim = , if B 6= 0
n bn B
QUESTION: 1.2. Does each of the sequences {an } and {bn } have limits if their sum {an + bn } has a limit.

Remark 2. Every nonzero multiple of a divergent sequence {an } diverges. If {an } does not converge, then
{can } does not converge.

Theorem 2. (The Sandwich Theorem for Sequences)


Let {an }, {bn } and {cn } be sequences of real numbers. If an cn bn holds for all n beyond some index
N and if lim an = lim cn = L then lim bn = L also.
n n n
cos n
EXAMPLE: 1.5. Show that lim =0
n n
Since
1 cos n 1
1 cos n 1
=
n n n
and
1 1
lim = lim =0
n n n n
cos n
By sandwich theorem lim =0
n n
Theorem 3. (The Continuous Theorem for Sequences)
Let {an } be a sequence of real numbers. If an L and if f is a function that is continuous at L and defined
at all an then f (an ) f (L).

EXERCISE: 1.2. Show that the sequence {21/n } converges to 1.

1.4 Bounded Monotonic Sequences


Two concepts that play a key role in determining the convergence of a sequence are those of a bounded
sequence and a monotonic sequence.

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Definition 5. A sequence {an } is bounded from above if there exists a number M such that an M for all
n. The number M is an upper bound for {an }. If M is an upper bound for {an } but no number less than M
is an upper bound for {an }, then M is the least upper bound for {an }.
A sequence {an } is bounded from below if there exists a number m such that an m for all n. The number
m is a lower bound for {an } . If m is a lower bound for {an } but no number greater than m is a lower
bound for {an }, then m is the greatest lower bound for {an }. If {an } is bounded from above and below,
then {an } is bounded. If {an } is not bounded, then we say that {an } is an unbounded sequence

Definition 6. A sequence {an } is non decreasing if an an+1 for all n. The sequence is non increasing if
an an+1 for all n. The sequence {an } is monotonic if it is either non decreasing or non increasing.

EXERCISE: 1.3. Determine if the sequence is monotonic and if it is bounded.



1. {an } = { 1, 2, 3, . . . , }.

2. {an } = {1, 12 , 31 , 14 , . . . , }

3. {an } = {1, 21 , 13 , 41 , . . . , }

4. {an } = { 3n+1
n+1 }

Theorem 4. (The Monotonic Sequence Theorem)


If a sequence {an } is both bounded and monotonic, then the sequence converges .

QUESTION: 1.3. Is every convergent sequence monotonic.

READING ASSIGNMENT: Section 8.1 and 8.2 of Chapter 8 Infinite Series from Thomas Finney Cal-
culus , 9th edition.
Refer Infinite Sequences Reading Material 1.pdf and Infinite Sequences Reading Material 2.pdf on doodle.