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Arithmetic Sequence
The arithmetic sequence is the sequence where the common difference remains constant between any two successive terms. Let us recall what is a sequence. A sequence is a collection of numbers that follow a pattern. For example, the sequence 1, 6, 11, 16, … is an arithmetic sequence because there is a pattern where each number is obtained by adding 5 to its previous term. We have two arithmetic sequence formulas.
 The formula for finding n^{th} term of an arithmetic sequence
 The formula to find the sum of first n terms of an arithmetic sequence
If we want to find any term in the arithmetic sequence then we can use the arithmetic sequence formula. Let us learn the definition of an arithmetic sequence and arithmetic sequence formulas along with derivations and a lot more examples for a better understanding.
What is an Arithmetic Sequence?
An arithmetic sequence is defined in two ways. It is a "sequence where the differences between every two successive terms are the same" (or) In an arithmetic sequence, "every term is obtained by adding a fixed number (positive or negative or zero) to its previous term". The following is an arithmetic sequence as every term is obtained by adding a fixed number 4 to its previous term.
Arithmetic Sequence Example
Consider the sequence 3, 6, 9, 12, 15, .... is an arithmetic sequence because every term is obtained by adding a constant number (3) to its previous term.
Here,
 The first term, a = 3
 The common difference, d = 6  3 = 9  6 = 12  9 = 15  12 = ... = 3
Thus, an arithmetic sequence can be written as a, a + d, a + 2d, a + 3d, .... Let us verify this pattern for the above example.
a, a + d, a + 2d, a + 3d, a + 4d, ... = 3, 3 + 3, 3 + 2(3), 3 + 3(3), 3 + 4(3),... = 3, 6, 9, 12,15,....
A few more examples of an arithmetic sequence are:
 5, 8, 11, 14, ...
 80, 75, 70, 65, 60, ...
 π/2, π, 3π/2, 2π, ....
 √2, 2√2, 3√2, 4√2, ...
Arithmetic Sequence Formula
The first term of an arithmetic sequence is a, its common difference is d, n is the number of terms. The general form of the AP is a, a+d, a+2d, a+3d,......up to n terms. We have different formulas associated with an arithmetic sequence used to calculate the n^{th} term, the sum of n terms of an AP, or the common difference of a given arithmetic sequence.
The arithmetic sequence formula is given as,
 N^{th} Term: a_{n} = a + (n1)d
 S_{n} = (n/2) [2a + (n  1)d]
 d = a_{n}  a_{n1}
Nth Term of Arithmetic Sequence
The n^{th} term of an arithmetic sequence a_{1}, a_{2}, a_{3}, ... is given by a_{n} = a_{1} + (n  1) d. This is also known as the general term of the arithmetic sequence. This directly follows from the understanding that the arithmetic sequence a_{1}, a_{2}, a_{3}, ... = a_{1}, a_{1} + d, a_{1} + 2d, a_{1} + 3d,... The following table shows some arithmetic sequences along with the first term, the common difference, and the n^{th} term.
Arithmetic Sequence  First Term (a) 
Common Difference (d) 
n^{th} term 

80, 75, 70, 65, 60, ...  80  5  80 + (n  1) (5) = 5n + 85 
π/2, π, 3π/2, 2π, ....  π/2  π/2  π/2 + (n  1) (π/2) = nπ/2 
√2, 2√2, 3√2, 4√2, ... 
√2  √2  √2 + (n  1) (√2) = √2 n 
Arithmetic Sequence Recursive Formula
The above formula for finding the n^{t}^{h }term of an arithmetic sequence is used to find any term of the sequence when the values of 'a_{1}' and 'd' are known. There is another formula to find the n^{th} term which is called the "recursive formula of an arithmetic sequence" and is used to find a term (a_{n}) of the sequence when its previous term (a_{n1}) and 'd' are known. It says
a_{n} = a_{n1} + d
This formula just follows the definition of the arithmetic sequence.
Example: Find a_{21} of an arithmetic sequence if a_{19} = 72 and d = 7.
Solution:
By using the recursive formula,
a_{20} = a_{19} + d = 72 + 7 = 65
a_{21} = a_{20} + d = 65 + 7 = 58
Therefore, a_{21} = 58.
Arithmetic Series
The sum of the arithmetic sequence formula is used to find the sum of its first n terms. Note that the sum of terms of an arithmetic sequence is known as arithmetic series. Consider an arithmetic series in which the first term is a_{1} (or 'a') and the common difference is d. The sum of its first n terms is denoted by S_{n}. Then
 When the n^{th} term is NOT known: S_{n}= n/2 [2a_{1} + (n1) d]
 When the n^{th} term is known: S_{n} = n/2 [a_{1} + a_{n}]
Example
Ms. Natalie earns $200,000 per annum and her salary increases by $25,000 per annum. Then how much does she earn at the end of the first 5 years?
Solution:
The amount earned by Ms. Natalie for the first year is, a = 2,00,000. The increment per annum is, d = 25,000. We have to calculate her earnings in the first 5 years. Hence n = 5. Substituting these values in the sum sum of arithmetic sequence formula,
S_{n}= n/2 [2a_{1} + (n1) d]
⇒ S_{n} = 5/2(2(200000) + (5  1)(25000))
= 5/2 (400000 +100000)
= 5/2 (500000)
= 1250000
She earns $1,250,000 in 5 years. We can use this formula to be more helpful for larger values of 'n'.
Sum of Arithmetic Sequence
Let us take an arithmetic sequence that has its first term to be a_{1} and the common difference to be d. Then the sum of the first 'n' terms of the sequence is given by
S_{n} = a_{1} + (a_{1} + d) + (a_{1} + 2d) + … + a_{n} ... (1)
Let us write the same sum from right to left (i.e., from the n^{th} term to the first term).
S_{n} = a_{n} + (a_{n} – d) + (a_{n} – 2d) + … + a_{1} ... (2)
Adding (1) and (2), all terms with 'd' get canceled.
2S_{n} = (a_{1} + a_{n}) + (a_{1} + a_{n}) + (a_{1} + a_{n}) + … + (a_{1} + a_{n})
2S_{n} = n (a_{1} + a_{n})
S_{n} = [n(a_{1} + a_{n})]/2
By substituting a_{n} = a_{1} + (n – 1)d into the last formula, we have
S_{n} = n/2 [a_{1} + a_{1} + (n – 1)d] (or)
S_{n} = n/2 [2a_{1} + (n – 1)d]
Thus, we have derived both formulas for the sum of the arithmetic sequence.
Difference Between Arithmetic Sequence and Geometric Sequence
Here are the differences between arithmetic and geometric sequence:
Arithmetic Sequence  Geometric Sequence 

In this, the differences between every two consecutive numbers are the same.  In this, the ratios of every two consecutive numbers are the same. 
It is identified by the first term (a) and the common difference (d).  It is identified by the first term (a) and the common ratio (r). 
There is a linear relationship between the terms.  There is an exponential relationship between the terms. 
Important Notes on Arithmetic Sequence:
 In arithmetic sequences, the difference between every two successive numbers is the same.
 The common difference of an arithmetic sequence a_{1}, a_{2}, a_{3}, ... is, d = a_{2}  a_{1} = a_{3}  a_{2} = ...
 The n^{th} term of an arithmetic sequence is a_{n} = a_{1} + (n−1)d.
 The sum of the first n terms of an arithmetic sequence is S_{n} = n/2[2a_{1} + (n − 1)d].
 The common difference between arithmetic sequences can be either positive or negative or zero.
☛ Related Topics:
Arithmetic Sequence Examples

Example 1: Find the n^{th }term of the arithmetic sequence 5, 7/2, 2, ....
Solution:
The given sequence is 5, 7/2, 2, ...
Here, the first term is a = 5, and the common difference is, d = (7/2)  (5) = 2  (7/2) = ... = 3/2.
The n^{th} term of an arithmetic sequence is given by
a_{n} = a_{1} + (n−1)d
a_{n} = 5 +(n  1) (3/2)
= 5+ (3/2)n  3/2
= 3n/2  13/2
Answer: The n^{th} term of the given arithmetic sequence is, a_{n} = 3n/2  13/2.

Example 2: Which term of the arithmetic sequence 3, 8, 13, 18,... is 248?
Solution:
The given arithmetic sequence is 3, 8, 13, 18,...
The first term is, a = 3
The common difference is, d = 8  (3) = 13  (8) = ... = 5.
It is given that the n^{th} term is, a_{n} = 248.
Substitute all these values in the n^{th} term of an arithmetic sequence formula,
a_{n} = a_{1} + (n−1)d
⇒ 248 = 3 + (5)(n  1)
⇒ 248 = 3 5n + 5
⇒ 248 = 2  5n
⇒ 250 = 5n
⇒ n = 50Answer: 248 is the 50^{th} term of the given sequence.

Example 3: Find the sum of the arithmetic sequence 3, 8, 13, 18,.., 248.
Solution:
This sequence is the same as the one that is given in Example 2.
There we found that a = 3, d = 5, and n = 50.
So we have to find the sum of the 50 terms of the given arithmetic series.
S_{n} = n/2[a_{1} + a_{n}]
S_{50} = [50 (3  248)]/2 = 6275
Answer: The sum of the given arithmetic sequence is 6275.
FAQs on Arithmetic Sequence
What is an Arithmetic Sequence in Algebra?
An arithmetic sequence in algebra is a sequence of numbers where the difference between every two consecutive terms is the same. Generally, the arithmetic sequence is written as a, a+d, a+2d, a+3d, ..., where a is the first term and d is the common difference.
What are Arithmetic Sequence Formulas?
Here are the formulas related to an arithmetic sequence where a₁ (or a) is the first term and d is a common difference:
 The common difference, d = a_{n}  a_{n1}.
 n^{th} term of sequence is, a_{n} = a + (n  1)d
 Sum of n terms of sequence is , S_{n} = [n(a_{1} + a_{n})]/2 (or) n/2 (2a + (n  1)d)
What is the Definition of an Arithmetic Sequence?
A sequence of numbers in which every term (except the first term) is obtained by adding a constant number to the previous term is called an arithmetic sequence. For example, 1, 3, 5, 7, ... is an arithmetic sequence as every term is obtained by adding 2 (a constant number) to its previous term.
How to Identify An Arithmetic Sequence?
If the difference between every two consecutive terms of a sequence is the same then it is an arithmetic sequence. For example, 3, 8, 13, 18 ... is arithmetic because the consecutive terms have a fixed difference.
 83 = 5
 138 = 5
 1813 = 5 and so on.
What is the n^{th} term of an Arithmetic Sequence?
The n^{th} term of arithmetic sequences is given by a_{n} = a + (n – 1) × d. Here 'a' represents the first term and 'd' represents the common difference.
What is an Arithmetic Series?
An arithmetic series is a sum of an arithmetic sequence where each term is obtained by adding a fixed number to each previous term.
What is the Arithmetic Series Formula?
The sum of the first n terms of an arithmetic sequence (arithmetic series) with the first term 'a' and common difference 'd' is denoted by Sₙ and we have two formulas to find it.
 S_{n} = n/2[2a + (n  1)d]
 S_{n} = n/2[a + a_{n}].
What is the Formula to Find the Common Difference in Arithmetic sequence?
The common difference of an arithmetic sequence, as its name suggests, is the difference between every two of its successive (or consecutive) terms. The formula for finding the common difference of an arithmetic sequence is, d = a_{n}  a_{n1}.
How to Find n in Arithmetic Sequence?
When we have to find the number of terms (n) in arithmetic sequences, some of the information about a, d, a_{n} or S_{n} might have been given in the problem. We will just substitute the given values in the formulas of a_{n} or S_{n} and solve it for n.
How To Find the First Term in Arithmetic sequence?
The first term of an arithmetic sequence is the number that occurs in the first position from the left. It is denoted by 'a'. If 'a' is NOT given in the problem, then some information about d (or) a_{n} (or) S_{n} might be given in the problem. We will just substitute the given values in the formulas of a_{n} or S_{n} and solve it for 'a'.
What is the Difference Between Arithmetic Sequence and Arithmetic Series?
An arithmetic sequence is a collection of numbers in which all the differences between every two consecutive numbers are equal to a constant whereas an arithmetic series is the sum of a few or more terms of an arithmetic sequence.
What are the Types of Sequences?
There are mainly 3 types of sequences in math. They are:
 Arithmetic sequence
 Geometric sequence
 Harmonic sequence
What are the Applications of Arithmetic Sequence?
Here are some applications: the salary of a person which is increased by a constant amount by each year, the rent of a taxi which charges per mile, the number of fishes in a pond that increase by a constant number each month, etc.
How to Find the n^{th} Term in Arithmetic Sequence?
Here are the steps for finding the n^{th} term of arithmetic sequences:
 Identify its first term, a
 Common difference, d
 Identify which term you want. i.e., n
 Substitute all these into the formula a_{n} = a + (n – 1) × d.
How to Find the Sum of n Terms of Arithmetic Sequence?
To find the sum of the first n terms of arithmetic sequences,
 Identify its first term (a)
 Common difference (d)
 Identify which term you want (n)
 Substitute all these into the formula S_{n}= (n/2)(2a + (n  1)d)
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