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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 is the initial term of a geometric sequence and r is the common ratio, the sequence will be

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

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.

Finding common ratios

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

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

Divide each term by the previous term to determine whether a common ratio exists.

  1. 2 1 = 2 4 2 = 2 8 4 = 2 16 8 = 2

    The sequence is geometric because there is a common ratio. The common ratio is 2.

  2. 12 48 = 1 4 4 12 = 1 3 2 4 = 1 2

    The sequence is not geometric because there is not a common ratio.

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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.

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

5 , 10 , 15 , 20 , ...

The sequence is not geometric because 10 5 15 10 .

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

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

The sequence is geometric. The common ratio is 1 5 .

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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 and the common ratio is r = 4, we can find subsequent terms by multiplying 2 4 to get 8 then multiplying the result 8 4 to get 32 and so on.

Questions & Answers

what is a function?
CJ Reply
I want to learn about the law of exponent
Quera Reply
explain this
Hinderson Reply
what is functions?
Angel Reply
A mathematical relation such that every input has only one out.
yes..it is a relationo of orders pairs of sets one or more input that leads to a exactly one output.
Is a rule that assigns to each element X in a set A exactly one element, called F(x), in a set B.
If the plane intersects the cone (either above or below) horizontally, what figure will be created?
Feemark Reply
can you not take the square root of a negative number
Sharon Reply
No because a negative times a negative is a positive. No matter what you do you can never multiply the same number by itself and end with a negative
Actually you can. you get what's called an Imaginary number denoted by i which is represented on the complex plane. The reply above would be correct if we were still confined to the "real" number line.
Suppose P= {-3,1,3} Q={-3,-2-1} and R= {-2,2,3}.what is the intersection
Elaine Reply
can I get some pretty basic questions
Ama Reply
In what way does set notation relate to function notation
is precalculus needed to take caculus
Amara Reply
It depends on what you already know. Just test yourself with some precalculus questions. If you find them easy, you're good to go.
the solution doesn't seem right for this problem
Mars Reply
what is the domain of f(x)=x-4/x^2-2x-15 then
Conney Reply
x is different from -5&3
All real x except 5 and - 3
how to prroved cos⁴x-sin⁴x= cos²x-sin²x are equal
jeric Reply
Don't think that you can.
By using some imaginary no.
how do you provided cos⁴x-sin⁴x = cos²x-sin²x are equal
jeric Reply
What are the question marks for?
Someone should please solve it for me Add 2over ×+3 +y-4 over 5 simplify (×+a)with square root of two -×root 2 all over a multiply 1over ×-y{(×-y)(×+y)} over ×y
Abena Reply
For the first question, I got (3y-2)/15 Second one, I got Root 2 Third one, I got 1/(y to the fourth power) I dont if it's right cause I can barely understand the question.
Is under distribute property, inverse function, algebra and addition and multiplication function; so is a combined question
find the equation of the line if m=3, and b=-2
Ashley Reply
graph the following linear equation using intercepts method. 2x+y=4
ok, one moment
how do I post your graph for you?
it won't let me send an image?
also for the first one... y=mx+b so.... y=3x-2
y=mx+b you were already given the 'm' and 'b'. so.. y=3x-2
Please were did you get y=mx+b from
y=mx+b is the formula of a straight line. where m = the slope & b = where the line crosses the y-axis. In this case, being that the "m" and "b", are given, all you have to do is plug them into the formula to complete the equation.
thanks Tommy
0=3x-2 2=3x x=3/2 then . y=3/2X-2 I think
co ordinates for x x=0,(-2,0) x=1,(1,1) x=2,(2,4)
Practice Key Terms 2

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