**College Algebra**

**Tutorial 54D: Geometric Sequences and ****Series**

**Learning Objectives**

After completing this tutorial, you should be able to:

- Know what a geometric sequence is.
- Find the nth term of a geometric sequence.
- Write the formula for the nth term of a geometric sequence.
- Calculate a finite geometric series.

**Introduction**

In this tutorial we will mainly be going over geometric sequences and series. We will be going forwards and backwards with this. First we will be given the formula for the nth term and we will be finding specified terms. Then we will turn it around and look at the terms and find the formula for the nth term. We will finish up by looking at geometric series. If you need a review on sequences, feel free to go to Tutorial 54A: Sequences. If you need a review on sequences, feel free to go to Tutorial 54B: Series. I think that you are ready to move ahead.

** Tutorial**

**Geometric Sequence
**

A geometric sequence is a sequence such that each
successive term is obtained from the previous term by multiplying by a
fixed number called a common ratio.

The sequence 5, 10, 20, 40, 80, .... is an example of a geometric sequence. The pattern is that we are always multiplying by a fixed number of 2 to the previous term to get to the next term.

Be careful that you don't think that every sequence that has a pattern in multiplication is geometric. It is geometric if you are always multiplying by the SAME number each time.

If you need a review on sequences, feel free to go to Tutorial 54A: Sequences.

The sequence 5, 10, 20, 40, 80, .... is an example of a geometric sequence. The pattern is that we are always multiplying by a fixed number of 2 to the previous term to get to the next term.

Be careful that you don't think that every sequence that has a pattern in multiplication is geometric. It is geometric if you are always multiplying by the SAME number each time.

If you need a review on sequences, feel free to go to Tutorial 54A: Sequences.

of a Geometric Sequence

where is the first term of the sequence and r is the common ratio.

Since a geometric sequence is a sequence, you find
the terms exactly the same way that you do a sequence. n is our term number and we
plug the term number into the function to find the value of the term.

If you need a review on sequences, feel free to go to Tutorial 54A: Sequences.

Lets see what we get for our first five terms:

If you need a review on sequences, feel free to go to Tutorial 54A: Sequences.

Lets see what we get for our first five terms:

What
would be the common ratio for this problem?

If you said 3 you are correct!

Note that you would have to multiply by 3 to each previous term to get the next term: (15)(3) = 45, (45)(3) = 135, (135)(3) = 405, and (405)(3) = 1215. It has to be consistent throughout the sequence.

Also note that the base that is being raised to a power is 3.

If you said 3 you are correct!

Note that you would have to multiply by 3 to each previous term to get the next term: (15)(3) = 45, (45)(3) = 135, (135)(3) = 405, and (405)(3) = 1215. It has to be consistent throughout the sequence.

Also note that the base that is being raised to a power is 3.

Since a geometric sequence is a sequence, you find
the terms exactly the same way that you do a sequence. n is our term number and we
plug the term number into the function to find the value of the term.

If you need a review on sequences, feel free to go to Tutorial 54A: Sequences.

Lets see what we get for our first five terms:

If you need a review on sequences, feel free to go to Tutorial 54A: Sequences.

Lets see what we get for our first five terms:

What
would be the common ratio for this problem?

If you said -1/2 you are correct!

Note that you would have to multiply by -1/2 each time you go from one term to the next: (1)(-1/2) = -1/2, (-1/2)(-1/2) = 1/4, (1/4)(-1/2) = -1/8, and (-1/8)(-1/2)=1/16. It has to be consistent throughout the sequence.

Also note that the base that is being raised to a power is -1/2.

If you said -1/2 you are correct!

Note that you would have to multiply by -1/2 each time you go from one term to the next: (1)(-1/2) = -1/2, (-1/2)(-1/2) = 1/4, (1/4)(-1/2) = -1/8, and (-1/8)(-1/2)=1/16. It has to be consistent throughout the sequence.

Also note that the base that is being raised to a power is -1/2.

We will use the nth
term formula for a geometric sequence, to help us with this problem.

Basically we need to find two things: the first term of the sequence, and the common ratio, r.

What is , the first term?

If you said 7, give yourself a high five. The first term of this sequence is 7.

What is r, the common ratio?

If you said 4, you are right!! Note that you would have to multiply 4 each time you go from one term to the next: (7)(4) = 28, (28)(4) = 112, and (112)(4) = 448. It has to be consistent throughout the sequence.

Putting in 7 for and 4 for r we get:

Basically we need to find two things: the first term of the sequence, and the common ratio, r.

What is , the first term?

If you said 7, give yourself a high five. The first term of this sequence is 7.

What is r, the common ratio?

If you said 4, you are right!! Note that you would have to multiply 4 each time you go from one term to the next: (7)(4) = 28, (28)(4) = 112, and (112)(4) = 448. It has to be consistent throughout the sequence.

Putting in 7 for and 4 for r we get:

We will use the nth
term formula for a geometric sequence, to help us with
this problem.

Basically we need to find two things: the first term of the sequence, and the common ratio, r.

What is , the first term?

If you said 16, give yourself a high five. The first term of this sequence is 16.

What is r, the common ratio?

If you said -1/4, you are right!! Note that you would have to multiply -1/4 each time you go from one term to the next: (16)(-1/4) = - 4, (- 4)(-1/4) = 1, and (1)(-1/4) = -1/4. It has to be consistent throughout the sequence.

Putting in 16 for and -1/4 for r we get:

Basically we need to find two things: the first term of the sequence, and the common ratio, r.

What is , the first term?

If you said 16, give yourself a high five. The first term of this sequence is 16.

What is r, the common ratio?

If you said -1/4, you are right!! Note that you would have to multiply -1/4 each time you go from one term to the next: (16)(-1/4) = - 4, (- 4)(-1/4) = 1, and (1)(-1/4) = -1/4. It has to be consistent throughout the sequence.

Putting in 16 for and -1/4 for r we get:

This problem has a little twist to it. Now we are
looking for the first term. We can still use the nth term formula for a
geometric sequence, , to help us with this
problem. We will just be looking for .

Plugging in 32 for nth term, 5 for n, and -2 for r we get:

The first term would have to be 2.

Plugging in 32 for nth term, 5 for n, and -2 for r we get:

The first term would have to be 2.

This problem has a little twist to it. Now we are
looking for the common ratio. We can still use the nth term formula for a
geometric sequence, , to help us
with this problem. We will just be looking for r.

Plugging in 3/4 for , 3 for n, and 27/16 for the nth term we get:

The common ratio could be either 3/2 or -3/2.

Plugging in 3/4 for , 3 for n, and 27/16 for the nth term we get:

The common ratio could be either 3/2 or -3/2.

**The
Sum of the First n Terms of a
**

is the first term of the sequence and

r is the common ratio.

If you need a review on series, feel free to go to Tutorial
54B: Series.

We will use the formula for the sum of the first n terms of geometric
sequence, **, **to
help us with this problem.

Basically we need to find three things: the first term of the sequence, the common ratio, and how many terms of the sequence we are adding in the series.

What is , the first term?

If you said 3 you are right!

What is r, the common ratio?

If you said -2, give yourself a pat on the back. Note that you would have to multiply -2 each time you go from one term to the next: (3)(-2) = - 6, (-6)(2) = -12, (-12)(-2) = 24, (24)(-2) = - 48, and (-48)(-4) = -96. It has to be consistent throughout the sequence.

How many terms are we summing up?

If you said 6, you are correct.

Putting in 3 for the first term, -2 for the common ratio, and 6 for n, we get:

Basically we need to find three things: the first term of the sequence, the common ratio, and how many terms of the sequence we are adding in the series.

What is , the first term?

If you said 3 you are right!

What is r, the common ratio?

If you said -2, give yourself a pat on the back. Note that you would have to multiply -2 each time you go from one term to the next: (3)(-2) = - 6, (-6)(2) = -12, (-12)(-2) = 24, (24)(-2) = - 48, and (-48)(-4) = -96. It has to be consistent throughout the sequence.

How many terms are we summing up?

If you said 6, you are correct.

Putting in 3 for the first term, -2 for the common ratio, and 6 for n, we get:

We will use the formula for the sum of the first n terms of geometric
sequence, **, **to
help us with this problem.

Basically we need to find three things: the first term of the sequence, the common ratio, and how many terms of the sequence we are adding in the series.

What is , the first term?

If you said 3 you are right!

Since this summation starts at 0, you need to plug in 0 into the given formula:

What is r, the common ratio?

If you said 1.1, give yourself a pat on the back. Note that 1.1 is the number that is being raised to the exponent. So each time the number goes up on the exponent, in essence you are multiplying it by 1.1

How many terms are we summing up?

If you said 21, you are correct. If you start at 0 and go all the way to 20, there will be 21 terms.

Putting in 3 for the first term, 1.1 for the common ratio, and 21 for n, we get:

Basically we need to find three things: the first term of the sequence, the common ratio, and how many terms of the sequence we are adding in the series.

What is , the first term?

If you said 3 you are right!

Since this summation starts at 0, you need to plug in 0 into the given formula:

What is r, the common ratio?

If you said 1.1, give yourself a pat on the back. Note that 1.1 is the number that is being raised to the exponent. So each time the number goes up on the exponent, in essence you are multiplying it by 1.1

How many terms are we summing up?

If you said 21, you are correct. If you start at 0 and go all the way to 20, there will be 21 terms.

Putting in 3 for the first term, 1.1 for the common ratio, and 21 for n, we get:

If -1 < r < 1 (or ), then the sum of

the infinite geometric series

in which is the first term and

r is the common ratio is given by

.

If ,

the infinite series does NOT have a sum.

We will use the formula for the sum of infinite
geometric sequence, ,** ** to help us with this problem.

Basically we need to find two things: the first term of the sequence and the common ratio.

What is the first term, ?

If you said 2 you are right!

What is the common ratio, r?

If you said 1/3, give yourself a pat on the back. Note that you would have to multiply 1/3 each time you go from one term to the next: (2)(1/3) = 2/3, (2/3)(1/3) = 2/9, (2/9)(1/3) = 2/27. It has to be consistent throughout the sequence.

Putting in 2 for the first term and 1/3 for the common ratio we get:

Basically we need to find two things: the first term of the sequence and the common ratio.

What is the first term, ?

If you said 2 you are right!

What is the common ratio, r?

If you said 1/3, give yourself a pat on the back. Note that you would have to multiply 1/3 each time you go from one term to the next: (2)(1/3) = 2/3, (2/3)(1/3) = 2/9, (2/9)(1/3) = 2/27. It has to be consistent throughout the sequence.

Putting in 2 for the first term and 1/3 for the common ratio we get:

We will use the formula for the sum of infinite
geometric sequence, ,** ** to help us with this problem.

Basically we need to find two things: the first term of the sequence and the common ratio.

What is the first term, ?

If you said 1.5 you are right!

What is the common ratio, r?

If you said 2, give yourself a pat on the back. Note that you would have to multiply 2 each time you go from one term to the next: (1.5)(2) = 3, (3)(2) = 6, (6)(2) = 12. It has to be consistent throughout the sequence.

Since the geometric ratio is 2 and , there is no sum.

Basically we need to find two things: the first term of the sequence and the common ratio.

What is the first term, ?

If you said 1.5 you are right!

What is the common ratio, r?

If you said 2, give yourself a pat on the back. Note that you would have to multiply 2 each time you go from one term to the next: (1.5)(2) = 3, (3)(2) = 6, (6)(2) = 12. It has to be consistent throughout the sequence.

Since the geometric ratio is 2 and , there is no sum.

We will use the formula for the sum of infinite
geometric sequence, ,** ** to help us with this problem.

Basically we need to find two things: the first term of the sequence and the common ratio.

What is the first term, ?

If you said -5 you are right!

Since this summation starts at 0, you need to plug in 0 into the given formula:

What is the common ratio, r?

If you said -.5, give yourself a pat on the back. Note that -.5 is the number that is being raised to the exponent. So each time the number goes up on the exponent, in essence you are multiplying it by -.5.

Putting in -5 for the first term and -.5 for the common ratio we get:

Basically we need to find two things: the first term of the sequence and the common ratio.

What is the first term, ?

If you said -5 you are right!

Since this summation starts at 0, you need to plug in 0 into the given formula:

What is the common ratio, r?

If you said -.5, give yourself a pat on the back. Note that -.5 is the number that is being raised to the exponent. So each time the number goes up on the exponent, in essence you are multiplying it by -.5.

Putting in -5 for the first term and -.5 for the common ratio we get:

** Practice Problems**

These are practice problems to help bring you to the next level.
It will allow you to check and see if you have an understanding of these
types of problems. **Math works just like anything
else, if you want to get good at it, then you need to practice it.
Even the best athletes and musicians had help along the way and lots of
practice, practice, practice, to get good at their sport or instrument.**
In fact there is no such thing as too much practice.

To get the most out of these, **you should work the problem out on
your own and then check your answer by clicking on the link for the answer/discussion
for that problem**. At the link you will find the answer
as well as any steps that went into finding that answer.

Practice Problems 1a - 1b:Find the first five terms and the common ratio of the given geometric sequence.

Practice Problems 2a - 2b:Write a formula for the nth term of the given geometric sequence. Do not use a recursive formula.2a. 125, 25, 5, 1, ...

(answer/discussion to 2a)2b. 4, -12, 36, -108, ...

(answer/discussion to 2b)

Practice Problems 3a - 3b:Find the sum of the given finite geometric series.

3a. 2 + 14 + 98 + 686 + 4802 + 33614 + 235298

(answer/discussion to 3a)

Practice Problems 4a - 4b:Find the sum of the given infinite geometric series,

if possible.

Need Extra Help on these Topics?

There were no good websites found to help us with the topics on this page.

Go to Get Help Outside the Classroom found in Tutorial 1: How to Succeed in a Math Class for some more suggestions.

Last revised on May 17, 2011 by Kim Seward.

All contents copyright (C) 2002 - 2011, WTAMU and Kim Seward. All rights reserved.