In algebra, a geometric sequence, sometimes called a geometric progression, is a sequence of numbers such that the ratio between any two consecutive terms is constant. This constant is called the common ratio of the sequence.
For example, is a geometric sequence with common ratio and is a geometric sequence with common ratio ; however, and are not geometric sequences, as the ratio between consecutive terms varies.
More formally, the sequence is a geometric progression if and only if . A similar definition holds for infinite geometric sequences. It appears most frequently in its three-term form: namely, that constants , , and are in geometric progression if and only if .
Because each term is a common multiple of the one before it, every term of a geometric sequence can be expressed as the sum of the first term and a multiple of the common ratio. Let be the first term, be the th term, and be the common ratio of any geometric sequence; then, .
A common lemma is that a sequence is in geometric progression if and only if is the geometric mean of and for any consecutive terms . In symbols, . This is mostly used to perform substitutions, though it occasionally serves as a definition of geometric sequences.
A geometric series is the sum of all the terms of a geometric sequence. They come in two varieties, both of which have their own formulas: finitely or infinitely many terms.
A finite geometric series with first term , common ratio not equal to one, and total terms has a value equal to .
Proof: Let the geometric series have value . Then Factoring out , mulltiplying both sides by , and using the difference of powers factorization yields Dividing both sides by yields , as desired.
An infinite geometric series converges if and only if ; if this condition is satisfied, the series converges to .
Proof: The proof that the series convergence if and only if is an easy application of the ratio test from calculus; thus, such a proof is beyond the scope of this article. If one assumes convergence, there is an elementary proof of the formula that uses telescoping. Using the terms defined above, Multiplying both sides by and adding , we find that Thus, , and so .
Here are some problems with solutions that utilize geometric sequences and series.