For a homework assignment, I am being asked to find and prove (by induction) a simple formula for $\prod_{i=0}^n(1+2^{2^i})$. Plugging in a few small values of $n$ shows that the formula is $2^{2^{n+1}}-1$. However, when I tried to prove it using induction, I ran into some issues. Here is what I have so far:

We will prove using induction that $P(n)$ is true for all positive integers $n$, where $P(n)$ is true exactly when $\prod_{i=0}^n(1+2^{2^i})=2^{2^{n+1}}-1$ and false otherwise.

Base case:

When $n=0$, the left side of $P(n)$ is


and the right side is


Both sides are equal, so $P(n)$ holds for $n=0$.

Induction step:

Let $k\in \mathbb{Z}^+$ and suppose that $P(n)$ is true for $n=k$.
We want to show that $P(n)$ is also true for $n=k+1$; that is, we want to show that $\prod_{i=0}^{k+1}(1+2^{2^i})=2^{2^{k+2}}-1$.

$=(1+2^{2^{k+1}})\prod_{i=0}^{k}(1+2^{2^i})\space\space\space\space\space\space\space$factoring out the $k+1$ term
$=(1+2^{2^{k+1}})(2^{2^{k+1}}-1)\space\space\space\space\space\space\space\space\space\space\space\space\space$ by the inductive hypothesis
$=(2^{2^{k+1}})^2-1\space\space\space\space\space\space\space\space\space\space\space\space\space\space\space\space\space\space\space\space\space\space\space\space\space\space\space\space$ expanding the above
$=2^{2^{2(k+1)}}-1\space\space\space\space\space\space\space\space\space\space\space\space\space\space\space\space\space\space\space\space\space\space\space\space\space\space\space\space\space\space$ by properties of exponents

However, we wanted to show that $\prod_{i=0}^{k+1}(1+2^{2^i})=2^{2^{k+2}}-1$, not $2^{2^{2k+2}}-1$. Clearly these two quantities are not equal. Can anyone spot the bug in this proof? Or perhaps the formula is wrong in the first place?


  • $\begingroup$ $\prod_{i=0}^{k-1} (1+x^{2^i}) = \sum_{m=0}^{2^k-1} x^m$ (any integer $< 2^k$ is a sum of distinct powers of $2$ in a unique way) $\endgroup$
    – reuns
    Jul 4 '19 at 19:03
  • $\begingroup$ @Sil Sorry, that was a typo. I want $2^{2^{k+2}}-1$, but I have $2^{2^{2k+2}}-1$. $\endgroup$
    – user686717
    Jul 4 '19 at 19:10
  • $\begingroup$ I see, well $(2^{2^{k+1}})^2 \neq 2^{2^{2(k+1)}}$, as the answers show. Instead $(2^{2^{k+1}})^2=2^{2\cdot 2^{k+1}}=2^{2^{k+2}}$ $\endgroup$
    – Sil
    Jul 4 '19 at 19:12
  • $\begingroup$ Now I understand. Thank you! $\endgroup$
    – user686717
    Jul 4 '19 at 19:17

You made a mistake just before the last step("by property of exponent"). Note that $$ 2*(2^j) = 2^{(j+1)} $$. And $$ (a^b)^c = a^{bc} $$ not $a^b^c$


$$ (2^{2^{k+1}})^2 = 2^{2^{k+1}} \cdot 2^{2^{k+1}} = 2^{2^{k+1}+2^{k+1}} = 2^{2 \cdot 2^{k+1}} = 2^{2^{k+2}} \text{.} $$


Induction step:


Applied rule:$$\left(a^b\right)^c=a^{bc}$$


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