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I have a solution to a recurrence $g(n)=f(n) + g(n-1)$, and I'd like to solve the recurrence $h(n) = \alpha[f(n) + h(n-1)]$. I guessed the solution was $h(n) = \alpha^ng(n)$, but it turns out this holds iff $\alpha = 1$ or $f \equiv 0$.

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When you write that you have a solution to $g(n)=f(n)+g(n-1)$, do you mean that you have a formula for $g(n)$ in terms of $f(n)$? –  Gerry Myerson Feb 25 '13 at 5:04
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up vote 2 down vote accepted

The solution to $g(n)=f(n)+g(n-1)$ (treating $g$ as unknown and $f$ as known) is $g(n)=f(n)+f(n-1)+\cdots+f(1)+g(0)$.

The solution to $h(n)=\alpha(f(n)+h(n-1))$ is $h(n)=\alpha f(n)+\alpha^2f(n-1)+\cdots+\alpha^nf(1)+\alpha^nh(0)$.

So it seems that you are asking, if you know $f(n)+f(n-1)+\cdots+f(1)$, can you work out $\alpha f(n)+\alpha^2f(n-1)+\cdots+\alpha^nf(1)$.

And the answer is, surely not.

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If you have the repective generating functions, however... –  vonbrand Feb 25 '13 at 5:40
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Suppose we know $s(n) = \sum_{k=1}^n f(k)$, and we want to know $r(n, x) = \sum_{k=1}^n x^{n+1-k}f(k)$.

$f(n) = s(n)-s(n-1)$, so

$\begin{align} r(n, x) &= \sum_{k=1}^n x^{n+1-k}f(k) \\ &= \sum_{k=1}^n x^{n+1-k} (s(k)-s(k-1)) \\ &= \sum_{k=1}^n x^{n+1-k} s(k)-\sum_{k=1}^n x^{n+1-k}s(k-1) \\ &= \sum_{k=1}^n x^{n+1-k} s(k)-\sum_{k=0}^{n-1} x^{n-k}s(k) \\ &= x s(n) - x^n s(0) + \sum_{k=1}^{n-1} s(k)(x^{n+1-k} -x^{n-k}) \\ &= x s(n) + (x-1)\sum_{k=1}^{n-1} x^{n-k}s(k) \\ \end{align} $

Not sure whether this helps or not, but it is a formula.

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