Let $N,K$ be non-negative integers. What's the value of the following sum?

$$S(N,K) = \sum_{i = 1}^N \sum_{j = i + 1}^N \mathbb{I} (j - i \leqslant K)$$

where $\mathbb{I}(\mathcal P)=1$ if $\mathcal P$ is a true proposition and $\mathbb{I}(\mathcal P)=0$ otherwise.

For example, if $N=K$, then $S(N,N)$ simply counts the number of pairs $(i,j)$ with $i,j\in\{1,\dots,N\}$ such that $i<j$, which is easily seen to be


Also it is easy to see that $S(N,K)=S(N,N)$ whenever $K\ge N$. I'm only having trouble with the case where $K<N$.

  • $\begingroup$ It would be nice if your progress so far is demonstrated. $\endgroup$ – Lee David Chung Lin Apr 18 at 13:33
  • $\begingroup$ Can you solve the problem for $K = N$? $\endgroup$ – John Hughes Apr 18 at 13:39
  • $\begingroup$ @JohnHughes Yes, see edit. $\endgroup$ – becko Apr 18 at 13:44
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    $\begingroup$ @LeeDavidChungLin I added some edits. Note that this is not homework, so I can't be 100% sure that an analytical solution exists. I just ran into this sum solving a different problem (also not homework). $\endgroup$ – becko Apr 18 at 13:45

Split the sum on $i$ until $N-K$, and from $N-K+1$ to $N$ respectively, call them $S_1, S_2$, where we assume $1\le K < N$ as the other cases have been dealt with in the post.

If $i\le N-K$, the sum on $j$ has all its $K$ terms, so $S_1=K(N-K)$

If $i> N-K$, the second sum has only $N-i$ terms, so $S_2=\sum_{i=N-K+1}^{i=N}{(N-i)}=\sum_{k=0}^{k=K-1}k=\frac{K(K-1)}{2}$

Putting it together:

$\sum_{i = 1}^N \sum_{j = i + 1}^N \mathbb{I} (j - i \leqslant K)= KN-\frac{K(K+1)}{2}=\frac{K(2N-K-1)}{2}$

  • $\begingroup$ To be a bit more general, $S(K,N)=\min(K,N)\times[2N-\min(K,N)-1]$. $\endgroup$ – becko Apr 18 at 14:26
  • $\begingroup$ That's the general form for all $N,K$ indeed $\endgroup$ – Conrad Apr 18 at 14:29
  • $\begingroup$ I forgot to divide by 2 in my comment. $\endgroup$ – becko Apr 28 at 8:12

Hint: Just a manipulation $$S(N,K)=\sum _{i=1}^N\sum _{j=i+1}^N\mathbb{I}(j-i\leq K)=\sum _{i=1}^N\sum _{j=i+1}^N\mathbb{I}(j\leq K+i)=\sum _{i=1}^N\sum _{j=i+1}^{\min \{K+i,N\}}1\qquad\qquad\qquad$$$$\qquad\qquad\qquad\qquad\qquad\qquad\qquad=\sum _{i=1}^{N-K}\sum _{j=i+1}^{K+i}1+\sum _{i=N-K+1}^N\sum _{j=i+1}^N1.$$ Can you finish?


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