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# Arithmetic and Geometric Progressions

5-1
Chapter 5
Arithmetic and Geometric Progressions
Arithmetic Progression (A.P.)
An arithmetic progression is a sequence in which the difference between two consecutive terms
like the nth and ( 1) n + th term is a constant. This constant is called the common difference of the
progression. The following sequences are some examples of arithmetic progressions.

(i) 3, 6, 9, 12, 15, (ii)
5 2 1 1
1, , , , ,
6 3 2 3
(iii)
1 1 1
, 1, 1 , 2, 2 ,
2 2 2

The common difference in (i) is 3, in (ii)
1
6
and in (iii) it is
1
2
.

General term of an arithmetic progression
The general or standard form of an arithmetic progression is a, a d + , 2 a d + , 3 a d + ,
where a denotes the first term and d the common difference of the progression.

Let
1
T denote the first term,
2
T the second term,
3
T the third term and
4
T the fourth term of an A.P.

1
T a =

2
T a d = +

3
2 T a d = +

4
3 T a d = +

Notice that the coefficient of d is always one less than the number of the term.

Thus
20
(20 1) T a d = + i.e.
20
19 T a d = +

27
(27 1) T a d = + i.e.
27
26 T a d = +

50
(50 1) T a d = + i.e.
50
49 T a d = +

In general, the nth term of an A.P. is given by

( 1)
n
T a n d = +

and the common difference by

1 n n
d T T

=

Arithmetic and Geometric Progressions
5-2
Example 5-1
Find the 25
th
term of the following arithmetic progressions:
(a) 3, 6, 9, 12, 15, (b)
5 2 1 1
1, , , , ,
6 3 2 3

Solution:
(a) 3, 6, 9, 12, 15, (b)
5 2 1 1
1, , , , ,
6 3 2 3

3 a = , 3 d = , 25 n = 1 a = ,
1
6
d = , 25 n =
( 1)
n
T a n d = + ( 1)
n
T a n d = +

25
3 (25 1)(3) T = +
25
1
1 (25 1)
6
T
| |
= +
|
\

3 72 = + 1 4 =
75 = 3 =
the 25
th
term of the A.P. is 75. the 25
th
term of the A.P. is 3 .

Example 5-2
The fifth term of an arithmetic progression is 10 while the 15
th
term is 40. Write down the first 5
terms of the A.P.

Solution:
Let the A.P. be a , a d + , 2 a d + , 3 a d + , 4 a d + ,

Since the 5
th
term is 10,
5
10 T =
4 10 a d + = (1)
Since the 15
th
term is 40,
15
40 T =
14 40 a d + = (2)
(2) (1) : 10 30 d =
3 d =

Substitute 3 d = into (1): 12 10 a + =
2 a =

the first 5 term of the A.P. are 2 , 2 3 + , 2 2(3) + , 2 3(3) + , 2 3(3) + , 2 4(3) + ,
i.e. 2, 1, 4, 7, 10 .

Arithmetic and Geometric Progressions
5-3
Sum of the first n terms of an arithmetic progression

Given the A.P.: a , a d + , 2 a d + , , ( 2) a n d + , ( 1) a n d + ,

Let
n
S denote the sum of the first n terms of an A.P.
( ) ( 2 ) ... [ ( 2) ] [ ( 1) ]
n
S a a d a d a n d a n d = + + + + + + + + + (1)

Writing the A.P. in reverse order, we have

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

(1) (2) : + 2 [2 ( 1) ] [2 ( 1) ] ... [2 ( 1) ] [2 ( 1) ]
n
S a n d a n d a n d a n d = + + + + + + + + (n times)
2 [2 ( 1) ]
n
S n a n d = +
[2 ( 1) ]
2
n
n
S a n d = +

Example 5-3
Find the sum of the arithmetic progression 3, 8, 13, to 10 terms.

Solution:
3 a = , 5 d = , 10 n =

[2 ( 1) ]
2
n
n
S a n d = +
10
10
[2(3) (10 1)(5)]
2
S = +
5(6 45) = +
255 =

Example 5-4
The sum of the first 8 terms of an arithmetic progression is 56 and the sum of the first 20 terms is
260. Find the first term and the common difference of the A.P.

Solution:
Let a be the first term and d the common difference of the A.P.

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

8
8
[2 (8 1) ]
2
S a d = +
56 4(2 7 ) a d = +
8 28 56 a d + = (1)
Arithmetic and Geometric Progressions
5-4

20
20
[2 (20 1) ]
2
S a d = +
260 10(2 19 ) a d = +
20 190 260 a d + = (2)

(1) 4: 2 7 14 a d + = (3)
(2) 10 : 2 19 26 a d + = (4)

(4) (3) : 12 12 d =
1 d =

Substitute 1 d = into (3): 2 7 14 a + =

7
2
a =
the first term of the A.P. is
1
3
2
and the common difference is 1.

Geometric Progression (G.P.)

A geometric progression is a sequence in which the ratio of each term to the one before it is
constant. The ratio is called the common ratio.

Some examples of geometric progressions are:

(i) 3, 6, 12, 24, 48, ... (ii) 2, 4, 8, 16, 32, ... (iii)
1 1 1
2, 1, , , , ...
2 4 8

The common ratio for (i) is 2, for (ii) 2 and for (iii) it is
1
2
.

General term of a geometric progression

The general or standard form of a geometric progression is
2 3
, , , , ... a ar ar ar

where a denotes the first term of the sequence and r, the common ratio.

Let
1 2 3
, , , ... T T T denote the 1
st
, 2
nd
, 3
rd
, terms of the G.P.

Arithmetic and Geometric Progressions
5-5
Then
1 1
1
T a ar

= =

2 1
2
T ar ar

= =

2 3 1
3
T ar ar

= =

3 4 1
4
T ar ar

= =

Notice that in the nth term, the power of r is ( 1) n , i.e. one less than n.

In general, the nth term of a G.P. is given by

1 n
n
T ar

=

And the common ratio by

1
n
n
T
r
T

=

Example 5-5
The fourth term of a G.P. is 9 and the ninth term is 2,187. Find the first 4 terms of the G.P.

Solution:
Let the G.P. be
2 3
, , , , ... a ar ar ar

3
4
9 T ar = = (1)

8
9
2,187 T ar = = (2)

(2) (1) :
8
3
2,187
9
ar
ar
=

5
243 r =
3 r =

Substitute 3 r = into (1):
3
(3 ) 9 a =

1
3
a =

the first four terms of the G.P. are
2 3
1 1 1 1
, (3), (3) , (3)
3 3 3 3
, i.e.
1
, 1, 3, 9
3

Arithmetic and Geometric Progressions
5-6
Example 5-6
Three consecutive terms of a G.P. are
2 1
3 , 9
x x
and 243. Find the value of x. If 243 is the fifth
term of the G.P., find the seventh term.

Solution:

2 1
9 243
3 9
x
x x
r

= =

2 5
2 1 2
3 3
3 3
x
x x
=

2 (2 1) 5 2
3 3
x x x
=

1 5 2
3 3
x
=
1 5 2x =
2 x =

2
243
9
r =
3 =

4
5
243 T ar = =

4
(3 ) 243 a =

243
3
81
a = =

6 6
7
3(3 ) 2,187 T ar = = =
the seventh term is 2,187.

Sum of a Geometric Progression

Let
n
S denote the sum of the first n terms of the G.P.
2 2 1
, , , ..., ,
n n
a ar ar ar ar

where a is the
first term and r is the common ratio such that 1 r .

2 2 1
...
n n
n
S a ar ar ar ar

= + + + + + (1)

When (1) is multiplied by r throughout, we have

2 3 1
...
n n
n
rS ar ar ar ar ar

= + + + + + (2)

(1) (2) :
n
n n
S rS a ar =
(1 ) (1 )
n
n
S r a r =

(1 )
1
n
n
a r
S
r

## 1 r < 1 1 r < < ( ) I

Arithmetic and Geometric Progressions
5-7

(2) (1) :
n
n n
rS S ar a =
( 1) ( 1)
n
n
S r a r =

( 1)
1
n
n
a r
S
r

## 1 r > 1 r < or 1 r > ( ) II

Both formulae (I) and (II) may be used to find the sum of the first n terms of a G.P. We usually use
formulae (I) when 1 r < and formula (II) when 1 r > .

Example 5-7
Find the sum of the first 8 terms of the G.P.
4 8
3, 2, , , ...
3 9

Solution:
4 8
3, 2, , , ...
3 9

2
3,
3
a r = =
Sum of the first n terms,
(1 )
1
n
n
a r
S
r

8
8
2
3 1
3
8.65
2
1
3
S
(
| |

(
|
\
(

= =
| |

|
\
(correct to 3 significant figures)
the sum of the first 8 terms of the G.P. is 8.65.

Infinite Series
Consider the following geometric series:
(a) 1 2 4 8 ... + + + +
(b)
1 1 1
2 1 ...
2 4 8
+ + + + +

If we keep adding terms to the series indefinitely, we will get an infinite series. Thus an infinite
series is the sum of an unlimited number of terms. We shall now attempt to find the sum of an
infinite series.

In (a), it is obvious that the more terms we take, the larger each term becomes and thus the sum
will increase indefinitely. We say that the sum tends to infinity (represented by the symbol ). We
cannot find a definite sum for this series and the series is said to be divergent.

Arithmetic and Geometric Progressions
5-8
Notes:
For example, if
1
y
x
= , then y becomes indefinitely large, or approaches infinity, as x approaches 0
from the positive side. An infinitely large negative quantity is denoted by and an infinitely
large positive quantity by +.

In (b),
1
2,
2
a r = =
The sum of the first n terms of the series is given by

1
2 1
2
(1 )
1
1
1
2
n
n
n
a r
S
r
(
| |

(
|
\
(

= =

1
4 1
2
n
(
| |
= (
|
\
(

1
4 4
2
n
| |
=
|
\

From the above, we see that as n becomes larger i.e. when there are more and more terms in the
series, the value of
1
2
n
| |
|
\
becomes smaller and smaller until it becomes negligible. We say that as n
tends to infinity,
1
2
n
| |
|
\
tends to zero and
n
S tends to 4.

Symbolically, we write as n ,
1
0
2
n
| |

|
\
and 4
n
S .

We say that the infinite series
1 1 1
2 1 ...
2 4 8
+ + + + + is convergent and converges to a sum of 4. The
value of 4 is called the sum to infinity of the series and we write

1 1 1
2 1 ... 4
2 4 8
+ + + + + =

Arithmetic and Geometric Progressions
5-9
General Case
Consider the geometric progression
2 3
, , , , ... a ar ar ar

The sum to infinity of a G.P. can be found only when 1 r < and is given by the formula

1
a
S
r

, 1 r <

If 1 r > , the series is said to be divergent and the sum to infinity does not exist.

Example 5-8
Determine whether the sum to infinity exists for each of the following geometric progressions
(a) 3, 0.3, 0.03, ... (b)
1 2 8 32
, , , , ...
2 3 9 27
(c)
7 18 108
, 3, , , ...
2 9 49

Solution:
(a)
0.3
3, 0.1
3
a r = = =
1 r < , and hence the sum to infinity exists.

3 10
1 1 0.1 3
a
S
r

= = =

(b)
1 2 1 4
, 1
2 3 2 3
a r = = = >
Hence, the sequence is divergent and the sum to infinity does not exist.

(c)
7 7 6
, 3
2 2 7
a r = = =
1 r < , and hence the sum to infinity exists.

7
49
2
6
1 2
1
7
a
S
r

= = =

Arithmetic and Geometric Progressions
5-10
Exercise 1 (Arithmetic Progression)

1. In each of the following A.P., find
(a) the common difference (b) the 10
th
term (c) the nth term

(i) 1, 3, 5, 7, (ii) 10, 9, 8 , 7,
(iii)
1 1
1, 2 , 4, 5 , ...
2 2
(iv) 20, 18, 16, 14,
(v) -25, -20, -15, -10, (vi)
1 1 3 1
, , , , ...
8 4 8 2

2. The fifth and tenth terms of an A.P. are 8 and -7 respectively. Find the 20
th
and 50
th
terms
of the A.P.

3. The sixth term of an A.P. is 32 while the 10
th
term is 48. Find the common difference and
the 21
st
term.

4. Which term of the A.P. 6, 13, 20, 27, is 111?

5. If 5, a, b, 71, are consecutive terms of an A.P., find the value of a and b.

6. Find the smallest positive number in the A.P. 500, 493, 486, 479,

7. The fifth term of an A.P. is x and the ninth term is y. Find the common difference and the
third term in terms of x and y.

8. Given that the third and sixth terms of an A.P. are 13 and 22 respectively, find the sum of
the first n terms in terms of n.

9. The fourth term of an A.P. is 1 and the sum of the first 8 terms is 24. Find the sum of the
first 3 terms of the progression.

10. In an arithmetic progression whose first term is -27, the tenth term is equal to the sum of the
first 9 terms. Calculate the common difference.

11. The first term of an A.P. is 3 and its nth term is 23. If the sum of the first n terms of the A.P.
is 351, find n.

12. A semicircle is divided into n sectors such that the angles of the sectors form an arithmetic
progression. If the smallest angle is 5 and the largest is 25, calculate n.

13. The sum of the first five terms of an arithmetic progression is 40, and the seventh term is 4
times the second. Find the first term, the common difference, and the sum of the second five
terms.

Arithmetic and Geometric Progressions
5-11
14. The sixth term of an arithmetic progression is 8, and the sum of all the terms from the sixth
to the tenth inclusive is 45. Find the sum of the first five terms.

15. Find the sum of all the positive terms of the arithmetic progression 25 23 21 19 ... + + + +
Find also the values of n for which the sum to n terms is 160.

16. A man who weighs 125 kg is told he must reduce his weight to 80 kg. He goes on a diet and
finds he is losing 1.5 kg in weight every week. Find his weight after 11 weeks, and find how
long it will take him to get his weight down to 80 kg.

17. A piece of rope with a length of k cm is cut into 40 parts such that the length of each
part forms an arithmetic progression. Given that the length of the longest part is 324 cm
and the difference between two consecutive parts is 8 cm. Find

(a) the length of the shortest part,
(b) the value of k,
(c) the part that has a length of 172 cm.

18. On commencing employment a man is paid a salary of 7200 per annum and receives
annual increments of 350. Determine his salary in the 9
th
year and calculate the total he will
have received in the first 12 years.

19. An oil company bores a hold 80 m deep. Estimate the cost of boring if the cost is 30 for
drilling the first metre with an increase in cost of 2 per metre for each succeeding metre.

Exercise 2 (Geometric Progression)

1. In each of the following A.P., find
(a) the common ratio (b) the 10
th
term (c) the nth term

(i) 4, 2, 1,
1
2
, (ii) -2, 4, -8, 16, (iii) 5, 20, 80, 320,
(iv)
1 1 1 1
, , , , ...
3 9 27 81
(v)
8 4
, , 2, 3, ...
9 3
(vi) -5, 25, -125, 625,
2. The second term of a G.P. is 2 and the fifth term is
2
27
. Find the seventh term.

3. The second term of a G.P. is 64 and the fifth term is 27. Find the first 6 terms of the G.P.

4. The sum of the fourth and sixth terms of a G.P. is 90 and the sum of the seventh and ninth
terms is 2,430. Find the sum of the first 17 terms of the G.P.

Arithmetic and Geometric Progressions
5-12
5. Find x if the numbers 3, 5 3 x x + and 7 3 x + are three consecutive terms of a G.P. of
positive terms. With this value of x and given that 3 x + , 5 3 x and 7 3 x + are the third,
fourth, and fifth terms of the G.P., find the sum of the first 8 terms of the progression.

6. Find the sum to infinity of each of the following series:

(a)
4 8
2 ...
3 9
+ + + (b)
1 1 1
2 ...
2 8 32
+ + + +
(c)
2 4
3 ...
3 27
+ + (d) 81 27 9 3 ... + +

7. The third and sixth terms of a geometric progression are 9 and
2
2
3
respectively. Calculate
the common ratio, the first term and the sum to infinity of the progression.

8. The sum of an infinite sequence is 12 and its first term is 3. Find the first 4 terms of the G.P.

9. The sum of the first 3 terms of a G.P. is 27 and the sum of the fourth, fifth and sixth terms is
-1. Find the common ratio and the sum to infinity of the G.P.

10. Given that 18 x + , 4 x + , and 8 x are the first three terms of a geometric progression, find
the value of x. Hence, find
(a) the common ratio,
(b) the fifth term,
(c) the sum to infinity.

11. The fourth term of a geometric progression is 162, and the seventh term is 6. Find the first
term, the sixth term, and the sum of the first 7 terms.

12. The fourth and seventh terms of a geometric progression are respectively 6 and
3
4
.
(a) Find the first and the sixth terms of the progression.
(b) Find the sum of the first 8 terms.

13. If the population of Great Britain is 55 million and is decreasing at 2.4% per annum, what
will be the population in 5 years time?

14. 100 g of a radioactive substance disintegrates at a rate of 3% per annum. How much of the
substance is left after 11 years?

Arithmetic and Geometric Progressions
5-13
Solutions to Exercise 1

1. (i) (a) 2 d = (b)
10
19 T = (c) 2 1
n
T n =
(ii) (a) 1 d = (b)
10
1 T = (c) 11
n
T n =
(iii) (a)
1
1
2
d = (b)
10
1
14
2
T = (c)
3 1
2 2
n
T n =
(iv) (a) 2 d = (b)
10
2 T = (c) 22 2
n
T n =
(v) (a) 5 d = (b)
10
20 T = (c) 30 5
n
T n = +
(vi) (a)
1
8
d = (b)
10
5
4
T = (c)
1
8
n
T n =

2.
20
37 T = ;
50
127 T = 3. 4 d = ;
21
92 T =

4. The 16
th
term. 5. 27 a = ; 49 b =

6. 3 7.
1
( )
4
d y x = ;
3
3 1
2 2
T x y =

8.
2
3 11
2 2
n
S n n = + 9. 21

10. 8 d = 11. 27 n =

12. 12 n = 13. 2 a = ; 3 d = ; Sum of the second five terms = 115

14.
1
32
2
15. 169; 10 n = or 16 n =

16. 110 kg; 31 weeks

17. (a) 12 cm (b) k = 6,720 (c) The 21
st
part.

18. 10,000; 109,500 19. 188

Arithmetic and Geometric Progressions
5-14
Solutions to Exercise 2

1. (i) (a)
1
2
r = (b)
10
1
128
T = (c)
1
8
2
n
n
T
| |
=
|
\

(ii) (a) 2 r = (b)
10
1024 T = (c) ( 2)
n
n
T =
(iii) (a) 4 r = (b)
10
1, 310, 720 T = (c)
5
(4)
4
n
n
T =
(iv) (a)
1
3
r = (b)
10
1
59, 049
T = (c)
1
3
n
n
T
| |
=
|
\

(v) (a)
3
2
r = (b)
10
2,187
64
T = (c)
16 3
27 2
n
n
T
| |
=
|
\

(vi) (a) 5 r = (b)
10
9, 765, 625 T = (c) ( 5)
n
n
T =

2.
7
2
243
T = 3.
256 81
, 64, 48, 36, 27,
3 4

4. 21,523,360.33 5. 3 x = ;
8
765
2
S =

6. (a) 6 S

= (b)
8
3
S

= (c)
27
11
S

= (d)
243
4
S

=

7.
2
3
r = ;
81
4
a = ;
243
4
S

= 8. 3,
9 27 81
, ,
4 16 64

9.
1
3
r = ;
729
28
S

=

10. (a)
6
7
r = (b)
5
2592
49
T = (c) 686 S

=

11.
1
4, 374 T = ;
6
18 T = ;
7
6, 558 S =

12. (a)
1
48 T = ;
6
3
2
T = (b)
8
255
8
S =

13. 48.71 million 14. 71.53 g