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the full question is

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I equated each equation to f(n) and ended up with four equations and four unknowns. However I dont seem to be getting anywhere

Also does anyone know if this method will work for the series sum of r^3 ?

any help is hugely appreciated! thank you :)

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Presumably you got the following system of equations:

$$\left\{\begin{align*} &d=0\\ &a+b+c+d=1\\ &8a+4b+2c+d=5\\ &27a+9b+3c+d=14\;, \end{align*}\right.$$

which immediately reduces to

$$\left\{\begin{align*} &a+b+c=1\\ &8a+4b+2c=5\\ &27a+9b+3c=14\;. \end{align*}\right.$$

Eliminate $c$ by subtracting multiples of the first equation from the other two:

$$\left\{\begin{align*} &6a+2b=3\\ &24a+6b=11\;. \end{align*}\right.$$

Subtracting the second equation from $4$ times the first yields $2b=1$, so $b=\frac12$, and $6a+1=3$, or $a=\frac13$. Finally, from $a+b+c=1$ we have $c=\frac16$, and the cubic polynomial is


Now you have only to prove by induction that


for $n\ge 0$.

Yes, this approach will work to find a closed form for $\sum_{k=0}^nk^m$ for any positive integer $a$, though it’s pretty tedious if $a$ is much bigger than $2$; $m=3$ is quite feasible, however.

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Hi brian, thanks for that :) I think I made an error in my calculations because my second set of equations do not match yours. can i ask, if i were to come up with an algebraic expression in terms of n for the series 1^3 + 2^3+...+n^3 , and to prove by induction that it holds, the same method would work? – Anona anon Dec 30 '12 at 10:29
Brian, correct me if I am wrong. You can form a $ (4 \times 4) $-Vandermonde matrix using the initial four equations. Then there should be some closed formula for the inverse of this matrix that you can use to compute $ (a,b,c,d) $. This method can be extended to the case of higher exponents. – Haskell Curry Dec 30 '12 at 10:30
@Anonaanon: Yes, it would work; that’s what I was saying in the last sentence of my answer. – Brian M. Scott Dec 30 '12 at 10:33
@Haskell: Something like that should work, though it’s not at all the way I think about it. (I tend to think of it in terms of finite calculus or, for the general case, exponential generating functions.) – Brian M. Scott Dec 30 '12 at 10:43
@Anonaanon: No, it’s equal to $S(2)=\sum_{k=0}^2k^2=0^2+1^2+2^2=5$. – Brian M. Scott Dec 30 '12 at 10:53

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