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EXPLORING RECURRENT SEQUENCES

EDITED BY BROTHER U. ALFRED, S T . M A R Y ' S COLLEGE,

CALIF.

The following a r t i c l e constitutes the Elementary R e s e a r c h Department of the


p r e s e n t i s s u e of the Fibonacci Quarterly.

R e a d e r s a r e r e q u e s t e d to send their d i s -

c o v e r i e s , q u e r i e s , and suggestions dealing with this portion of the Quarterly

to

B r o t h e r U. Alfred, St. M a r y ' s College, Calif.


Everyone who buys i n s u r a n c e i s urged to r e a d the fine print because it u s u a l ly contains qualifications of an important n a t u r e .

In a s i m i l a r vein the r e a d e r s of

the newly c r e a t e d Fibonacci Quarterly should turn to the inside cover and examine
the sub-title: "A journal devoted to the study of i n t e g e r s with special p r o p e r t i e s . M
This in no way indicates that the editors could not fill the pages of t h e i r magazine
with m a t e r i a l dealing exclusively with Fibonacci sequences.

It does, however, p r o -

vide for a m e a s u r e of latitude and a c e r t a i n variety in the contents while adhering to


the main theme indicated by the title of the magazine.

In this s p i r i t , the

Tt

Fibonacci

e x p l o r e r s ' ' a r e invited to look into a somewhat b r o a d e r topic: R e c u r r e n t Sequences.


The word " r e c u r r e n t " need not frighten anyone.
repetition.

R e c u r r e n c e simply means

A sequence is a set of mathematical quantities that a r e o r d e r e d in the

s a m e way as the i n t e g e r s : 1, 2, 3,"9

Put the two ideas together- and the

result

i s a " r e c u r r e n t sequence. "


P e r h a p s the s i m p l e s t example of such a sequence i s the i n t e g e r s t h e m s e l v e s .
Let us denote the t e r m s of our sequence by T l 5 T 2 , T 3 , e o e , T .

In the case of the

i n t e g e r s , the relation involved i s


T
i

- T
n+l

+ 1
n

that i s , every integer is one m o r e than the integer preceding it. This idea is readily
extended to even i n t e g e r s and odd i n t e g e r s .

If, for example,

the next even integer i s


T

Likewise, if T

, = T + 2
n+1
n

i s an odd i n t e g e r , the next odd integer i s

, = T + 2
n+1
n
81

T n is an even integer

EXPLORING RECURRENT SEQUENCES

82

Now look at the last two laws of r e c u r r e n c e .

[April

They a r e the same! This fact is a

s o u r c e of confusion to students of elementary algebra wTho think that if x and x - 2


r e p r e s e n t consecutive even i n t e g e r s , something else would r e p r e s e n t
odd i n t e g e r s .

consecutive

The answer l i e s , of c o u r s e , in the "if" portion of the proposition. If

x is an odd integer, then x - 2 is also the next odd integer.


The natural extension of such relations which we have been considering is the
arithmetic p r o g r e s s i o n in which each t e r m differs from the preceding t e r m by a
fixed quantity,

a,

called the common difference.

Thus for this type of sequence

we have

- = .T
n+T
n

+ a

,
*

where a can be any r e a l or complex quantity.


Another, well-known type of r e c u r r e n c e sequence is the geometric
sion in which each t e r m is a fixed multiple, r , of the previous t e r m .

progres-

The relation

in this case is
T

= rT
n+1

A simple example i s : 2. 6, 18, 54, 162, , where r = 3, Tj = 2,


We now come to the c o m m e r c i a l .

Recurrent sequences in which each t e r m is

the sum of the two preceding t e r m s a r e known as Fibonacci sequences.

The law of

r e c u r r e n c e for all such sequences is


T .- = T + T - .
n+1
n
n-1
Starting with the values of T t and To, it is possible to build up such a s e q u e n c e .
Thus, if Tj = 3 and T 2 = 1 1 , it follows that T 3 = 14, T 4 = 25,
One can go on to variations of this idea.
T

n+11

= 2T

For example:

+ 3T

,
n-1

or
T

n-1n

- T

+ T

. + T 0
n-1
n-2

T 5 = 395 .

1963J

EXPLORING RECURRENT SEQUENCES

83

Any one such sequence can be the subject of a g r e a t deal of investigation and r e s e a r c h which can lead to many i n t e r e s t i n g mathematical r e s u l t s .
At this juncture it may be well to point out that in some i n s t a n c e s ,

the law

of r e c u r r e n c e i s such that it i s possible to work out an explicit m a t h e m a t i c a l e x p r e s sion f o r

the

nth

term.

In o t h e r s ,

example; if Tx = 1, T 2 = 1,

this i s not convenient o r p o s s i b l e . F o r

and every t e r m i s the sum of all the t e r m s p r e c e d i n g

it, we find directly that T 3 = 2 , T 4 = 4, T 5 = 8, T 6 = 16,

T 7 = 32, . . .

, so that

a p e r s o n not endowed with mathematical genius can see that the nth t e r m i s given
by

?
On the other hand, if Tt = 1, T 2 = 1 and

n+1

n-1

'

we have the well-known Fibonacci sequence: 1, 1, 2, 3, 5, 8, 13, 2 1 , 34, whose


t e r m s a r e such that they a r e not as readily e x p r e s s i b l e by a s i m p l e formula. Hence,
we establish them as a s t a n d a r d sequence which can s e r v e to e x p r e s s r e s u l t s found
in other sequences.
EXPLORATION
A few sequences worthy of exploration have already been indicated.

Other

suggestions follow, and beginning r e a d e r s a r e urged to c r e a t e additional sequences


of t h e i r own.

Interesting mathematical r e s u l t s derived from such work should be

communicated to the Editor of this department of the Fibonacci Quarterly. H e r e a r e


a few suggestions to s t a r t you exploring:
1.

Let Tt = a,

T2 = b ,

w h e r e a and b a r e any positive n u m b e r s , and let the

law of formation in the sequence be that each t e r m i s the quotient of the two p r e ceding t e r m s .
2.

Starting with the s a m e initial t e r m s , let each t e r m be the product of the two
previous t e r m s .

3.

Another law: Let each odd-numbered t e r m be the sum of the two previous t e r m s
and each e v e n - n u m b e r e d t e r m be the difference of the two p r e v i o u s t e r m s .

4.

Let each odd-numbered t e r m be the product of the two preceding t e r m s and each
even-numbered t e r m be the quotient of the two preceding t e r m s .

5.

Starting with Tt = a, T 2 = b , T 3 = c,
T

let the law of formation b e :

., = T + T
- - T 0
n+1
n
n-1
n-2