_{1}represent the cost of the first dinner, and let a

_{i}represent the cost of the i

^{th}dinner, then we see that a

_{i}= a

_{i-1}+ 20. Sequences like this, where t arise quite often in practice and are called arithmetic sequences. An arithmetic sequence is a list of numbers where the difference between any two consecutive numbers is constant. For the example above, the term a

_{n}will represent the cost of dinner after the n

^{th}employee has joined the company (assuming that no employees have left the company over this time period). Also the term S

_{n}will represent the total cost the company has paid towards these dinners. Before we continue with this example, consider the following table which lists the first five terms of an arithmetic sequence as well as the common difference and the first five sums of this sequence.

term number | term value | diff | sum number | sum value |

a_{1} | 4 | 3 | S_{1} | 4 |

a_{2} | 7 | 3 | S_{2} | 11 |

a_{3} | 10 | 3 | S_{3} | 21 |

a_{4} | 13 | 3 | S_{4} | 34 |

a_{5} | 16 | 3 | S_{5} | 50 |

_{1}) and the common difference (d), then we can easily calculate the terms a

_{n}and S

_{n}for any n with the following formulas: a

_{n}= a

_{1}+ d*(n – 1), where d is the common difference. S

_{n}= n*(a

_{1}+ a

_{n})/2 We can use these formulas to derive more information about the sequence. For example, if my manager wanted to estimate the cost of dinners once we had added 30 new employees, this would be term a

_{30}of the sequence, which we can evaluate with the above formula by a

_{30}= a

_{1}+ d*(n – 1) = 0 + 20*(30 – 1) = 0 + 20 * 29 = 580. The script is available at http://www.learninglover.com/examples.php?id=33. Other Blogs that have covered this topic: Study Math Online

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