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College Algebra

9.3 Geometric Sequences

College Algebra9.3 Geometric Sequences
  1. Preface
  2. 1 Prerequisites
    1. Introduction to Prerequisites
    2. 1.1 Real Numbers: Algebra Essentials
    3. 1.2 Exponents and Scientific Notation
    4. 1.3 Radicals and Rational Exponents
    5. 1.4 Polynomials
    6. 1.5 Factoring Polynomials
    7. 1.6 Rational Expressions
    8. Key Terms
    9. Key Equations
    10. Key Concepts
    11. Review Exercises
    12. Practice Test
  3. 2 Equations and Inequalities
    1. Introduction to Equations and Inequalities
    2. 2.1 The Rectangular Coordinate Systems and Graphs
    3. 2.2 Linear Equations in One Variable
    4. 2.3 Models and Applications
    5. 2.4 Complex Numbers
    6. 2.5 Quadratic Equations
    7. 2.6 Other Types of Equations
    8. 2.7 Linear Inequalities and Absolute Value Inequalities
    9. Key Terms
    10. Key Equations
    11. Key Concepts
    12. Review Exercises
    13. Practice Test
  4. 3 Functions
    1. Introduction to Functions
    2. 3.1 Functions and Function Notation
    3. 3.2 Domain and Range
    4. 3.3 Rates of Change and Behavior of Graphs
    5. 3.4 Composition of Functions
    6. 3.5 Transformation of Functions
    7. 3.6 Absolute Value Functions
    8. 3.7 Inverse Functions
    9. Key Terms
    10. Key Equations
    11. Key Concepts
    12. Review Exercises
    13. Practice Test
  5. 4 Linear Functions
    1. Introduction to Linear Functions
    2. 4.1 Linear Functions
    3. 4.2 Modeling with Linear Functions
    4. 4.3 Fitting Linear Models to Data
    5. Key Terms
    6. Key Concepts
    7. Review Exercises
    8. Practice Test
  6. 5 Polynomial and Rational Functions
    1. Introduction to Polynomial and Rational Functions
    2. 5.1 Quadratic Functions
    3. 5.2 Power Functions and Polynomial Functions
    4. 5.3 Graphs of Polynomial Functions
    5. 5.4 Dividing Polynomials
    6. 5.5 Zeros of Polynomial Functions
    7. 5.6 Rational Functions
    8. 5.7 Inverses and Radical Functions
    9. 5.8 Modeling Using Variation
    10. Key Terms
    11. Key Equations
    12. Key Concepts
    13. Review Exercises
    14. Practice Test
  7. 6 Exponential and Logarithmic Functions
    1. Introduction to Exponential and Logarithmic Functions
    2. 6.1 Exponential Functions
    3. 6.2 Graphs of Exponential Functions
    4. 6.3 Logarithmic Functions
    5. 6.4 Graphs of Logarithmic Functions
    6. 6.5 Logarithmic Properties
    7. 6.6 Exponential and Logarithmic Equations
    8. 6.7 Exponential and Logarithmic Models
    9. 6.8 Fitting Exponential Models to Data
    10. Key Terms
    11. Key Equations
    12. Key Concepts
    13. Review Exercises
    14. Practice Test
  8. 7 Systems of Equations and Inequalities
    1. Introduction to Systems of Equations and Inequalities
    2. 7.1 Systems of Linear Equations: Two Variables
    3. 7.2 Systems of Linear Equations: Three Variables
    4. 7.3 Systems of Nonlinear Equations and Inequalities: Two Variables
    5. 7.4 Partial Fractions
    6. 7.5 Matrices and Matrix Operations
    7. 7.6 Solving Systems with Gaussian Elimination
    8. 7.7 Solving Systems with Inverses
    9. 7.8 Solving Systems with Cramer's Rule
    10. Key Terms
    11. Key Equations
    12. Key Concepts
    13. Review Exercises
    14. Practice Test
  9. 8 Analytic Geometry
    1. Introduction to Analytic Geometry
    2. 8.1 The Ellipse
    3. 8.2 The Hyperbola
    4. 8.3 The Parabola
    5. 8.4 Rotation of Axes
    6. 8.5 Conic Sections in Polar Coordinates
    7. Key Terms
    8. Key Equations
    9. Key Concepts
    10. Review Exercises
    11. Practice Test
  10. 9 Sequences, Probability, and Counting Theory
    1. Introduction to Sequences, Probability and Counting Theory
    2. 9.1 Sequences and Their Notations
    3. 9.2 Arithmetic Sequences
    4. 9.3 Geometric Sequences
    5. 9.4 Series and Their Notations
    6. 9.5 Counting Principles
    7. 9.6 Binomial Theorem
    8. 9.7 Probability
    9. Key Terms
    10. Key Equations
    11. Key Concepts
    12. Review Exercises
    13. Practice Test
  11. Answer Key
    1. Chapter 1
    2. Chapter 2
    3. Chapter 3
    4. Chapter 4
    5. Chapter 5
    6. Chapter 6
    7. Chapter 7
    8. Chapter 8
    9. Chapter 9
  12. Index

Learning Objectives

In this section, you will:
  • Find the common ratio for a geometric sequence.
  • List the terms of a geometric sequence.
  • Use a recursive formula for a geometric sequence.
  • Use an explicit formula for a geometric sequence.

Many jobs offer an annual cost-of-living increase to keep salaries consistent with inflation. Suppose, for example, a recent college graduate finds a position as a sales manager earning an annual salary of $26,000. He is promised a 2% cost of living increase each year. His annual salary in any given year can be found by multiplying his salary from the previous year by 102%. His salary will be $26,520 after one year; $27,050.40 after two years; $27,591.41 after three years; and so on. When a salary increases by a constant rate each year, the salary grows by a constant factor. In this section, we will review sequences that grow in this way.

Finding Common Ratios

The yearly salary values described form a geometric sequence because they change by a constant factor each year. Each term of a geometric sequence increases or decreases by a constant factor called the common ratio. The sequence below is an example of a geometric sequence because each term increases by a constant factor of 6. Multiplying any term of the sequence by the common ratio 6 generates the subsequent term.

A sequence , {1, 6, 36, 216, 1296, ...} that shows all the numbers have a common ratio of 6.

Definition of a Geometric Sequence

A geometric sequence is one in which any term divided by the previous term is a constant. This constant is called the common ratio of the sequence. The common ratio can be found by dividing any term in the sequence by the previous term. If a 1 a 1 is the initial term of a geometric sequence and r r is the common ratio, the sequence will be

{ a 1 ,  a 1 r, a 1 r 2 , a 1 r 3 ,...}. { a 1 ,  a 1 r, a 1 r 2 , a 1 r 3 ,...}.

How To

Given a set of numbers, determine if they represent a geometric sequence.

  1. Divide each term by the previous term.
  2. Compare the quotients. If they are the same, a common ratio exists and the sequence is geometric.

Example 1

Finding Common Ratios

Is the sequence geometric? If so, find the common ratio.

  1. 1,2,4,8,16,... 1,2,4,8,16,...
  2. 48,12,42,... 48,12,42,...

Analysis

The graph of each sequence is shown in Figure 1. It seems from the graphs that both (a) and (b) appear have the form of the graph of an exponential function in this viewing window. However, we know that (a) is geometric and so this interpretation holds, but (b) is not.

Graph of two sequences where graph (a) is geometric and graph (b) is exponential.
Figure 1

Q&A

If you are told that a sequence is geometric, do you have to divide every term by the previous term to find the common ratio?

No. If you know that the sequence is geometric, you can choose any one term in the sequence and divide it by the previous term to find the common ratio.

Try It #1

Is the sequence geometric? If so, find the common ratio.

5,10,15,20,... 5,10,15,20,...
Try It #2

Is the sequence geometric? If so, find the common ratio.

100,20,4, 4 5 ,... 100,20,4, 4 5 ,...

Writing Terms of Geometric Sequences

Now that we can identify a geometric sequence, we will learn how to find the terms of a geometric sequence if we are given the first term and the common ratio. The terms of a geometric sequence can be found by beginning with the first term and multiplying by the common ratio repeatedly. For instance, if the first term of a geometric sequence is a 1 =2 a 1 =2 and the common ratio is r=4, r=4, we can find subsequent terms by multiplying 24 24 to get 8 8 then multiplying the result 84 84 to get 32 32 and so on.

a 1 =2 a 2 =(24)=8 a 3 =(84)=32 a 4 =(324)=128 a 1 =2 a 2 =(24)=8 a 3 =(84)=32 a 4 =(324)=128

The first four terms are {–2–8–32–128}. {–2–8–32–128}.

How To

Given the first term and the common factor, find the first four terms of a geometric sequence.

  1. Multiply the initial term, a 1 , a 1 , by the common ratio to find the next term, a 2 . a 2 .
  2. Repeat the process, using a n = a 2 a n = a 2 to find a 3 a 3 and then a 3 a 3 to find a 4, a 4, until all four terms have been identified.
  3. Write the terms separated by commons within brackets.

Example 2

Writing the Terms of a Geometric Sequence

List the first four terms of the geometric sequence with a 1 =5 a 1 =5 and r=–2. r=–2.

Try It #3

List the first five terms of the geometric sequence with a 1 =18 a 1 =18 and r= 1 3 . r= 1 3 .

Using Recursive Formulas for Geometric Sequences

A recursive formula allows us to find any term of a geometric sequence by using the previous term. Each term is the product of the common ratio and the previous term. For example, suppose the common ratio is 9. Then each term is nine times the previous term. As with any recursive formula, the initial term must be given.

Recursive Formula for a Geometric Sequence

The recursive formula for a geometric sequence with common ratio r r and first term a 1 a 1 is

a n =r a n1 ,n2 a n =r a n1 ,n2

How To

Given the first several terms of a geometric sequence, write its recursive formula.

  1. State the initial term.
  2. Find the common ratio by dividing any term by the preceding term.
  3. Substitute the common ratio into the recursive formula for a geometric sequence.

Example 3

Using Recursive Formulas for Geometric Sequences

Write a recursive formula for the following geometric sequence.

{6913.520.25...} {6913.520.25...}

Analysis

The sequence of data points follows an exponential pattern. The common ratio is also the base of an exponential function as shown in Figure 2

Graph of the geometric sequence.
Figure 2

Q&A

Do we have to divide the second term by the first term to find the common ratio?

No. We can divide any term in the sequence by the previous term. It is, however, most common to divide the second term by the first term because it is often the easiest method of finding the common ratio.

Try It #4

Write a recursive formula for the following geometric sequence.

{2 4 3 8 9 16 27 ...} {2 4 3 8 9 16 27 ...}

Using Explicit Formulas for Geometric Sequences

Because a geometric sequence is an exponential function whose domain is the set of positive integers, and the common ratio is the base of the function, we can write explicit formulas that allow us to find particular terms.

a n = a 1 r n1 a n = a 1 r n1

Let’s take a look at the sequence {183672144288...}. {183672144288...}. This is a geometric sequence with a common ratio of 2 and an exponential function with a base of 2. An explicit formula for this sequence is

a n =18· 2 n1 a n =18· 2 n1

The graph of the sequence is shown in Figure 3.

Graph of the geometric sequence.
Figure 3

Explicit Formula for a Geometric Sequence

The nnth term of a geometric sequence is given by the explicit formula:

a n = a 1 r n1 a n = a 1 r n1

Example 4

Writing Terms of Geometric Sequences Using the Explicit Formula

Given a geometric sequence with a 1 =3 a 1 =3 and a 4 =24, a 4 =24, find a 2 . a 2 .

Analysis

The common ratio is multiplied by the first term once to find the second term, twice to find the third term, three times to find the fourth term, and so on. The tenth term could be found by multiplying the first term by the common ratio nine times or by multiplying by the common ratio raised to the ninth power.

Try It #5

Given a geometric sequence with a 2 =4 a 2 =4 and a 3 =32 a 3 =32 , find a 6 . a 6 .

Example 5

Writing an Explicit Formula for the nnth Term of a Geometric Sequence

Write an explicit formula for the nth nth term of the following geometric sequence.

{21050250...} {21050250...}
Try It #6

Write an explicit formula for the following geometric sequence.

{–13–927...} {–13–927...}

Solving Application Problems with Geometric Sequences

In real-world scenarios involving geometric sequences, we may need to use an initial term of a 0 a 0 instead of a 1 . a 1 . In these problems, we can alter the explicit formula slightly by using the following formula:

a n = a 0 r n a n = a 0 r n

Example 6

Solving Application Problems with Geometric Sequences

In 2013, the number of students in a small school is 284. It is estimated that the student population will increase by 4% each year.

  1. Write a formula for the student population.
  2. Estimate the student population in 2020.
Try It #7

A business starts a new website. Initially the number of hits is 293 due to the curiosity factor. The business estimates the number of hits will increase by 2.6% per week.

  1. Write a formula for the number of hits.
  2. Estimate the number of hits in 5 weeks.

Media

Access these online resources for additional instruction and practice with geometric sequences.

9.3 Section Exercises

Verbal

1.

What is a geometric sequence?

2.

How is the common ratio of a geometric sequence found?

3.

What is the procedure for determining whether a sequence is geometric?

4.

What is the difference between an arithmetic sequence and a geometric sequence?

5.

Describe how exponential functions and geometric sequences are similar. How are they different?

Algebraic

For the following exercises, find the common ratio for the geometric sequence.

6.

1,3,9,27,81,... 1,3,9,27,81,...

7.

0.125,0.25,0.5,1,2,... 0.125,0.25,0.5,1,2,...

8.

2, 1 2 , 1 8 , 1 32 , 1 128 ,... 2, 1 2 , 1 8 , 1 32 , 1 128 ,...

For the following exercises, determine whether the sequence is geometric. If so, find the common ratio.

9.

6,12,24,48,96,... 6,12,24,48,96,...

10.

5,5.2,5.4,5.6,5.8,... 5,5.2,5.4,5.6,5.8,...

11.

1, 1 2 , 1 4 , 1 8 , 1 16 ,... 1, 1 2 , 1 4 , 1 8 , 1 16 ,...

12.

6,8,11,15,20,... 6,8,11,15,20,...

13.

0.8,4,20,100,500,... 0.8,4,20,100,500,...

For the following exercises, write the first five terms of the geometric sequence, given the first term and common ratio.

14.

a 1 =8, r=0.3 a 1 =8, r=0.3

15.

a 1 =5, r= 1 5 a 1 =5, r= 1 5

For the following exercises, write the first five terms of the geometric sequence, given any two terms.

16.

a 7 =64, a 10 =512 a 7 =64, a 10 =512

17.

a 6 =25, a 8 =6.25 a 6 =25, a 8 =6.25

For the following exercises, find the specified term for the geometric sequence, given the first term and common ratio.

18.

The first term is 2, 2, and the common ratio is 3. 3. Find the 5th term.

19.

The first term is 16 and the common ratio is 1 3 . 1 3 . Find the 4th term.

For the following exercises, find the specified term for the geometric sequence, given the first four terms.

20.

a n ={ 1,2,4,8,... }. a n ={ 1,2,4,8,... }. Find a 12 . a 12 .

21.

a n ={ 2, 2 3 , 2 9 , 2 27 ,... }. a n ={ 2, 2 3 , 2 9 , 2 27 ,... }. Find a 7 . a 7 .

For the following exercises, write the first five terms of the geometric sequence.

22.

a 1 =486, a n = 1 3 a n1 a 1 =486, a n = 1 3 a n1

23.

a 1 =7, a n =0.2 a n1 a 1 =7, a n =0.2 a n1

For the following exercises, write a recursive formula for each geometric sequence.

24.

a n ={ 1,5,25,125,... } a n ={ 1,5,25,125,... }

25.

a n ={ 32,16,8,4,... } a n ={ 32,16,8,4,... }

26.

a n ={ 14,56,224,896,... } a n ={ 14,56,224,896,... }

27.

a n ={ 10,3,0.9,0.27,... } a n ={ 10,3,0.9,0.27,... }

28.

a n ={ 0.61,1.83,5.49,16.47,... } a n ={ 0.61,1.83,5.49,16.47,... }

29.

a n ={ 3 5 , 1 10 , 1 60 , 1 360 ,... } a n ={ 3 5 , 1 10 , 1 60 , 1 360 ,... }

30.

a n ={ 2, 4 3 , 8 9 , 16 27 ,... } a n ={ 2, 4 3 , 8 9 , 16 27 ,... }

31.

a n ={ 1 512 , 1 128 , 1 32 , 1 8 ,... } a n ={ 1 512 , 1 128 , 1 32 , 1 8 ,... }

For the following exercises, write the first five terms of the geometric sequence.

32.

a n =4 5 n1 a n =4 5 n1

33.

a n =12 ( 1 2 ) n1 a n =12 ( 1 2 ) n1

For the following exercises, write an explicit formula for each geometric sequence.

34.

a n ={ 2,4,8,16,... } a n ={ 2,4,8,16,... }

35.

a n ={ 1,3,9,27,... } a n ={ 1,3,9,27,... }

36.

a n ={ 4,12,36,108,... } a n ={ 4,12,36,108,... }

37.

a n ={ 0.8,4,20,100,... } a n ={ 0.8,4,20,100,... }

38.

a n ={1.25,5,20,80,...} a n ={1.25,5,20,80,...}

39.

a n ={ 1, 4 5 , 16 25 , 64 125 ,... } a n ={ 1, 4 5 , 16 25 , 64 125 ,... }

40.

a n ={ 2, 1 3 , 1 18 , 1 108 ,... } a n ={ 2, 1 3 , 1 18 , 1 108 ,... }

41.

a n ={ 3,1, 1 3 , 1 9 ,... } a n ={ 3,1, 1 3 , 1 9 ,... }

For the following exercises, find the specified term for the geometric sequence given.

42.

Let a 1 =4, a 1 =4, a n =3 a n1 . a n =3 a n1 . Find a 8 . a 8 .

43.

Let a n = ( 1 3 ) n1 . a n = ( 1 3 ) n1 . Find a 12 . a 12 .

For the following exercises, find the number of terms in the given finite geometric sequence.

44.

a n ={ 1,3,9,...,2187 } a n ={ 1,3,9,...,2187 }

45.

a n ={ 2,1, 1 2 ,..., 1 1024 } a n ={ 2,1, 1 2 ,..., 1 1024 }

Graphical

For the following exercises, determine whether the graph shown represents a geometric sequence.

46.
Graph of a scattered plot with labeled points: (1, -3), (2, -1), (3, 1), (4, 3), and (5, 5). The x-axis is labeled n and the y-axis is labeled a_n.
47.
Graph of a scattered plot with labeled points: (1, -0.5), (2, 0.25), (3, 1.375), (4, 3.0625), and (5, 5.5938). The x-axis is labeled n and the y-axis is labeled a_n.

For the following exercises, use the information provided to graph the first five terms of the geometric sequence.

48.

a 1 =1, r= 1 2 a 1 =1, r= 1 2

49.

a 1 =3, a n =2 a n1 a 1 =3, a n =2 a n1

50.

a n =27 0.3 n1 a n =27 0.3 n1

Extensions

51.

Use recursive formulas to give two examples of geometric sequences whose 3rd terms are 200. 200.

52.

Use explicit formulas to give two examples of geometric sequences whose 7th terms are 1024. 1024.

53.

Find the 5th term of the geometric sequence {b,4b,16b,...}. {b,4b,16b,...}.

54.

Find the 7th term of the geometric sequence {64a(b),32a(3b),16a(9b),...}. {64a(b),32a(3b),16a(9b),...}.

55.

At which term does the sequence {10,12,14.4,17.28, ...} {10,12,14.4,17.28, ...} exceed 100? 100?

56.

At which term does the sequence { 1 2187 , 1 729 , 1 243 , 1 81  ... } { 1 2187 , 1 729 , 1 243 , 1 81  ... } begin to have integer values?

57.

For which term does the geometric sequence a n =36 ( 2 3 ) n1 a n =36 ( 2 3 ) n1 first have a non-integer value?

58.

Use the recursive formula to write a geometric sequence whose common ratio is an integer. Show the first four terms, and then find the 10th term.

59.

Use the explicit formula to write a geometric sequence whose common ratio is a decimal number between 0 and 1. Show the first 4 terms, and then find the 8th term.

60.

Is it possible for a sequence to be both arithmetic and geometric? If so, give an example.

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