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In an arithmetic sequence, each term is the previous term summed with a constant. The constant we add to each term to get the next term is referred to as the common difference.
The general form of an arithmetic sequence can be expressed as follows:
$a$ is the first term
$d$ is the common difference between the terms
Consider the following arithmetic sequence:
Here we start with 2 and add 4 to get the next term in the arithmetic sequence.
Therefore in terms of the general form of the arithmetic sequence we can say:
$a$ = 2 (first term)
$d$ = 4 (common difference)
Sum of arithmetic series
To compute the sum $S_n$ of an arithmetic series:
We can use the following formula:
Question. To calculate $S_n$:
Solution. Comparing to the general form we can see that $a=2$, $d=4$ and $n=6$. Now plugging these numbers into the formula for sum of arithmetic series:
We can write the equation for sum of an arithmetic series in the following two ways:
Adding the two equations together:
Note that there are $n$ terms altogether so the above simplifies to:
The key is that the red component can be re-written as: