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Recursive Formulas

Where a term is based on prior term(s) in a sequence.

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Recursive and Explicit Formulas


Complete the chart.
Word Definition
Sequence ________________________________________________________
______________ a sequence that has a common difference
______________ a sequence that has a common ratio 
Explicit formula ________________________________________________________

Recursive formula

______________ a subset of the integers: {1,2,3,4,5....}


What is the difference between a recursive formula and an explicit formula?

Recursive Formulas

Using the given recursive formulas, identify the next 5 terms in the sequences that follow:

  1. a1=3a2=2  and  an=5an1+an2
  2. a1=3  and  an=4an1
  3. a1=4a2=1  and  an=an1+an2

Given the following sequence of numbers find the recursive formula

  1. 1, 5, 9, 13, 17
  2. -1, 3, 2, 5, 7, 12, 19
  3. -4, 16, -64, 256, -1024


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Explicit Formulas

Given a recursive definition of an arithmetic or geometric sequence, you can always find an explicit formula, or an equation to represent the th term of the sequence. 

What is the equation to find the explicit formula of an arithmetic sequence? ___________________

Geometric sequence? ___________________


Name the sequence as arithmetic, geometric, or neither.

  1. 21,6,18,3,20,2
  2. 0,15,25,35,45,1
  3. 1,3,9,27,81,243
  4. 2,9,2,1,18,2

Write the first 5 terms of the arithmetic sequence(explicit).

  1. an=7+3(n1)
  2. an=1135(n1)
  3. an=1+17(n1)

Write the formula for the explicit (nth) term of the arithmetic sequence.

  1. 7,133,53,1,113,193
  2. 6,4,14,24,34,44
  3. 9,16,23,30,37,44

Convert the explicit and rewrite as recursion:

  1. an=9(43)(n1)
  2. an=6(4)(n1)
  3. an=5(5)(n1)


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