# 2008 iTest Problems/Problem 68

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## Problem

Let $u_n$ be the $n^\text{th}$ term of the sequence

$$1,\,\,\,\,\,\,2,\,\,\,\,\,\,5,\,\,\,\,\,\,6,\,\,\,\,\,\,9,\,\,\,\,\,\,12,\,\,\,\,\,\,13,\,\,\,\,\,\,16,\,\,\,\,\,\,19,\,\,\,\,\,\,22,\,\,\,\,\,\,23,\ldots,$$

where the first term is the smallest positive integer that is $1$ more than a multiple of $3$, the next two terms are the next two smallest positive integers that are each two more than a multiple of $3$, the next three terms are the next three smallest positive integers that are each three more than a multiple of $3$, the next four terms are the next four smallest positive integers that are each four more than a multiple of $3$, and so on:

$$\underbrace{1}_{1\text{ term}},\,\,\,\,\,\,\underbrace{2,\,\,\,\,\,\,5}_{2\text{ terms}},\,\,\,\,\,\,\underbrace{6,\,\,\,\,\,\,9,\,\,\,\,\,\,12}_{3\text{ terms}},\,\,\,\,\,\,\underbrace{13,\,\,\,\,\,\,16,\,\,\,\,\,\,19,\,\,\,\,\,\,22}_{4\text{ terms}},\,\,\,\,\,\,\underbrace{23,\ldots}_{5\text{ terms}},\,\,\,\,\,\,\ldots.$$

Determine $u_{2008}$.

## Solution

First, observe that the difference between consecutive terms within a grouping will always equal $3.$ Second, since all terms in a group with $n$ terms are congruent to $n$ modulo $3$ and all terms in a group with $n+1$ terms are congruent to $n+1$ modulo $3,$ the difference between the first term of the group with $n+1$ terms and the last term of the group with $n$ terms is $1.$ This means that the difference between the last terms of a grouping $(1,5,12,22 \cdots)$ have the same second difference, so the series of numbers can be modeled by a quadratic function.

Let $n$ be the number of terms in a group, and let $f(n)$ be the last term in a group with $n$ terms. We can write a system of equations to find a quadratic function. \begin{align*} a+b+c &= 1 \\ 4a+2b+c &= 5 \\ 9a+3b+c &= 12 \end{align*} Solving the system yields $a=\tfrac32, b=-\tfrac12, c=0,$ making the function $f(n) = \tfrac32 x^2 - \tfrac12 x = \tfrac{x(3x-1)}{2}.$

Note that the last term of the group with $n$ terms is term $\tfrac{n(n+1)}{2}$ in the sequence. The largest $n$ such that $\tfrac{n(n+1)}{2} \le 2008$ is $62,$ and $f(62) = \tfrac{62 \cdot 185}{2} = 5735.$ Since $\tfrac{62 \cdot 63}{2} = 1953,$ the $1953^\text{th}$ term of the sequence is $5735.$ This means the $1954^\text{th}$ term is $5736,$ and with some basic algebra (or skip counting), the $2008^\text{th}$ term is $\boxed{5898}.$

## See Also

 2008 iTest (Problems) Preceded by:Problem 67 Followed by:Problem 69 1 • 2 • 3 • 4 • 5 • 6 • 7 • 8 • 9 • 10 • 11 • 12 • 13 • 14 • 15 • 16 • 17 • 18 • 19 • 20 • 21 • 22 • 23 • 24 • 25 • 26 • 27 • 28 • 29 • 30 • 31 • 32 • 33 • 34 • 35 • 36 • 37 • 38 • 39 • 40 • 41 • 42 • 43 • 44 • 45 • 46 • 47 • 48 • 49 • 50 • 51 • 52 • 53 • 54 • 55 • 56 • 57 • 58 • 59 • 60 • 61 • 62 • 63 • 64 • 65 • 66 • 67 • 68 • 69 • 70 • 71 • 72 • 73 • 74 • 75 • 76 • 77 • 78 • 79 • 80 • 81 • 82 • 83 • 84 • 85 • 86 • 87 • 88 • 89 • 90 • 91 • 92 • 93 • 94 • 95 • 96 • 97 • 98 • 99 • 100