2. Geometric Progressions

by M. Bourne

A Geometric Progression (GP) is formed by multiplying a starting number (a1) by a number r, called the common ratio.

Example 1

The progression `5, 10, 20, 40, 80, 160`, has first term `a_1= 5`, and common ratio `r = 2`.

In this example, we started with `5` and multiplied by `2` each time to get the next number in the progression.

Formula for the `n`-th term of a GP

The n-th term of a geometric progression is given by:

an = a1rn−1

Example 2

Find the 50th term of the geometric progression 5, 10, 20, 40, 80, ...

Continues below

The Sum of a Geometric Progression

The sum to n terms of a GP means:

a1 + a1r + a1r2 + a1r3 + ... + a1rn-1

We can show (using Proof by Induction) that this sum is equivalent to:

`S_n=(a_1(1-r^n))/(1-r)\ (r!=1)`

Example 3

(We first saw this story in the Chapter Introduction).

chess pieces
[Image source.]

A king once promised a prince anything he wanted because he saved the princess's life. The prince requested one grain of rice on the first square of a chess board, `2` on the second, `4` on the third, `8` on the fourth square, etc.

How much rice is there if one grain of rice weighs `20\ "mg"`?