Finding the Rule or nth Terms of Quadratic Sequences
An example of a quadratic sequence is: 2, 4, 8, 14, 22
When we find the difference line we obtain
The difference line is not constant so it cannot be an arithmetic sequence. However we can construct a second difference line – the difference between the differences:
Now we have a list of constants. If the first difference line is not constant but the second difference line is, the sequence is a quadratic sequence
We start by find the first coefficient, ofThis is equal to the second difference line divided by 2:
We now know the sequence isWe Form anline (1 4 9 16 25) and find the difference between the original sequence and the terms of this line. This will give us another sequence: an arithmetic sequence.
The difference is
The common difference is -1:
Because the common difference is -1 we know this sequence is asequence. We construct a -1 times table and compare it with the arithmetic sequence (1):
To get the sequence (1) from the -1 times table we have to add 2 so the arithmetic sequence isWe add this to theto get the n th term or rule for the quadratic sequence:
Example: Find the rule for the sequence: 5, 9, 17, 29, 45
Construct a first and second difference lines:
The second difference line is 4 so we know it is a 4 oversequence. Form aline and find the difference between this and the original quadratic sequence.
the difference is
This is an arithmetic or simple sequence. The common difference for this line is -2 so we have a sequence. Form a -2 times table and find the difference between it and the arithmetic sequence.
The difference is 5 so the arithmetic sequence isAdd this to theto get the formula for the n th term: