Each number in the succession is referred to as a term (or sometimes "element" or "member"), check out Sequences and collection for a much more in-depth discussion.

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Finding missing Numbers

To uncover a lacking number, an initial find a Rule behind the Sequence.

Sometimes we deserve to just look at the numbers and also see a pattern:


Example: 1, 4, 9, 16, ?

Answer: they space Squares (12=1, 22=4, 32=9, 42=16, ...)

Rule: xn = n2

Sequence: 1, 4, 9, 16, 25, 36, 49, ...


We deserve to use a rule to find any kind of term. Because that example, the 25th term have the right to be uncovered by "plugging in" 25 wherever n is.

x25 = 252 = 625

How about another example:


Example: 3, 5, 8, 13, 21, ?

After 3 and 5 every the rest are the sum of the 2 numbers before,

That is 3 + 5 = 8, 5 + 8 = 13 etc, i beg your pardon is part of the Fibonacci Sequence:

3, 5, 8, 13, 21, 34, 55, 89, ...

Which has this Rule:

Rule: xn = xn-1 + xn-2


Now what does xn-1 mean? It way "the vault term" as term number n-1 is 1 less than ax number n.

And xn-2 way the term prior to that one.

Let"s try that preeminence for the sixth term:

x6 = x6-1 + x6-2

x6 = x5 + x4

So ax 6 equals term 5 plus term 4. We already know term 5 is 21 and term 4 is 13, so:

x6 = 21 + 13 = 34

Many Rules

One of the troubles v finding "the next number" in a succession is that math is so an effective we deserve to find an ext than one preeminence that works.


What is the next number in the sequence 1, 2, 4, 7, ?

Here room three remedies (there can be more!):

Solution 1: include 1, then add 2, 3, 4, ...

So, 1+1=2, 2+2=4, 4+3=7, 7+4=11, etc...

Rule: xn = n(n-1)/2 + 1

Sequence: 1, 2, 4, 7, 11, 16, 22, ...

(That preeminence looks a little complicated, but it works)

Solution 2: after 1 and also 2, include the 2 previous numbers, to add 1:

Rule: xn = xn-1 + xn-2 + 1

Sequence: 1, 2, 4, 7, 12, 20, 33, ...

Solution 3: ~ 1, 2 and 4, add the 3 previous numbers

Rule: xn = xn-1 + xn-2 + xn-3

Sequence: 1, 2, 4, 7, 13, 24, 44, ...


So, we have three perfect reasonable solutions, and also they create totally different sequences.

Which is right? They room all right.

And over there are various other solutions ...
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... It might be a list of the winners" numbers ... Therefore the following number can be ... Anything!

Simplest Rule

When in doubt choose the simplest rule that provides sense, but additionally mention that there are other solutions.

Finding Differences

Sometimes it helps to find the differences in between each pair of number ... This can frequently reveal an basic pattern.

Here is a basic case:

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The distinctions are constantly 2, therefore we have the right to guess the "2n" is part of the answer.

Let us try 2n:


n: 1 2 3 4 5 state (xn): 2n: not correct by:
7 9 11 13 15
2 4 6 8 10
5 5 5 5 5

The critical row shows that we are constantly wrong by 5, for this reason just add 5 and we space done:

Rule: xn = 2n + 5

OK, we could have cleared up "2n+5" by simply playing roughly with the number a bit, yet we desire a systematic method to carry out it, for as soon as the assignment get more complicated.

Second Differences

In the sequence 1, 2, 4, 7, 11, 16, 22, ... we need to discover the differences ...


... And then discover the differences of those (called second differences), like this:


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The second differences in this instance are 1.

With second differences us multiply by n22

In our case the difference is 1, for this reason let us shot just n22:


n: 1 2 3 4 5 Terms (xn):n22: dorn by:
1 2 4 7 11
0.5 2 4.5 8 12.5
0.5 0 -0.5 -1 -1.5

We are close, but seem to be drifting by 0.5, for this reason let us try: n22n2


n22n2 not correct by:
0 1 3 6 10
1 1 1 1 1

Wrong by 1 now, so let us include 1:


n22n2 + 1 wrong by:
1 2 4 7 11
0 0 0 0 0

We walk it!

The formula n22n2 + 1 can be streamlined to n(n-1)/2 + 1

So through "trial-and-error" we found a ascendancy that works:

Rule: xn = n(n-1)/2 + 1

Sequence: 1, 2, 4, 7, 11, 16, 22, 29, 37, ...

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Other types of Sequences

Read sequences and series to find out about:

And there room also:

And countless more!

In reality there room too many types of order to cite here, yet if over there is a one-of-a-kind one friend would favor me to include just let me know.