Here’s a question that the folks who run the NCTM facebook page posed this week:
Find the next three terms of the sequence 2, 8, 4, 10, 5, 11, 5.5, …
Feel free to work it out. I’ll give you a minute.
still need more time?
Okay. The answer is 11.5, 5.75, 11.75.
The pattern is interesting. Informally, we might say “add 6, divide by 2.” This is an atypical kind of sequence, in which it seems as though we have two different rules at work in the same sequence. Let’s call this an Arithmetic/Geometric Hybrid Sequence. (Does anyone have a better name for these kinds of sequences?)
But a deeper question came out in the comments: Someone asked for the explicit rule. After a little work, I came up with one. I’ll give you my explicit rule, but you’ll have to figure out where it came from yourself:
More generally, if we have a sequence in which we add , then multiply by repeatedly, beginning with , the explicit rule is
And if instead we multiply first and then add, we have the following similar rule.
And there you have it! The explicit formulas for an Arithmetic/Geometric Hybrid Sequence.
(Perhaps another day I’ll show my work. For now, I leave it the reader to verify these formulas.)