8
$\begingroup$

Find the sum to n terms of the series $\frac{1} {1\cdot2\cdot3\cdot4} + \frac{1} {2\cdot3\cdot4\cdot5} + \frac{1} {3\cdot4\cdot5\cdot6}\ldots $

Please suggest an approach for this task.

$\endgroup$
1
  • 3
    $\begingroup$ Type "sum 1/(n(n+1)(n+2)(n+3))" into wolfram alpha. $\endgroup$ Sep 27, 2010 at 13:34

3 Answers 3

12
$\begingroup$

$\dfrac{1}{k(k+1)(k+2)(k+3)} = \dfrac{1}{3} (\dfrac{k+3}{k(k+1)(k+2)(k+3)} - \dfrac{k}{k(k+1)(k+2)(k+3)})$ $ = \dfrac{1}{3}(\dfrac{1}{k(k+1)(k+2)} - \dfrac{1}{(k+1)(k+2)(k+3)})$

$\sum_{k=1}^{\infty}\dfrac{1}{k(k+1)(k+2)(k+3)} = \dfrac{1}{3} \dfrac{1}{2*3} = \dfrac{1}{18}$

@moron Yes, you are right. For the first n terms:

$\sum_{k=1}^{n}\dfrac{1}{k(k+1)(k+2)(k+3)} = \dfrac{1}{3} (\dfrac{1}{1*2*3} - \dfrac{1}{(n+1)(n+2)(n+3)})$

[edit] more details

$\sum_{k=1}^{n}\dfrac{1}{k(k+1)(k+2)(k+3)} = \sum_{k=1}^{n} \dfrac{1}{3} (\dfrac{1}{k(k+1)(k+2)} - \dfrac{1}{(k+1)(k+2)(k+3)})$ $= \dfrac{1}{3} [\sum_{k=1}^{n} \dfrac{1}{k(k+1)(k+2)} - \sum_{k=1}^{n} \dfrac{1}{(k+1)(k+2)(k+3)}]$ $= \dfrac{1}{3} [\sum_{k=0}^{n-1} \dfrac{1}{(k+1)(k+2)(k+3)} - \sum_{k=1}^{n} \dfrac{1}{(k+1)(k+2)(k+3)}]$ $= \dfrac{1}{3} (\dfrac{1}{1*2*3} - \dfrac{1}{(n+1)(n+2)(n+3)})$

$\endgroup$
8
  • 2
    $\begingroup$ +1: Even though the question says first n terms, this can easily be adapted for that. $\endgroup$
    – Aryabhata
    Sep 27, 2010 at 14:09
  • $\begingroup$ @Moron Thank for your comment $\endgroup$
    – Branimir
    Sep 27, 2010 at 14:15
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ @Branimir: You are welcome! And I see you joined today, welcome to this site :-) $\endgroup$
    – Aryabhata
    Sep 27, 2010 at 14:20
  • $\begingroup$ so tricky!!! :) $\endgroup$
    – BBischof
    Sep 27, 2010 at 14:21
  • $\begingroup$ Say n = 2, then 1/24 + 1/180 = 1/20 where as your solution is giving 1/18 - 1/72 = 1/24 ?! $\endgroup$
    – Quixotic
    Sep 27, 2010 at 14:49
9
$\begingroup$

This is similar to what has been said by Branimir, but shows how we can extend the result to $$\sum_{k=1}^n {1 \over k(k+1) \cdots (k+m)}, \qquad m \in \mathbb{N}.$$

We can build up the result from the identities $${1 \over k(k+1)} = {1 \over k} - { 1 \over k+1}, \qquad (1)$$ $${1 \over k(k+1)(k+2)} = {1 \over 2} \left( {1 \over k(k+1)} - { 1 \over (k+1)(k+2)} \right),$$ $${1 \over k(k+1)(k+2)(k+3)} = {1 \over 3} \left( {1 \over k(k+1)(k+2)} - { 1 \over (k+1)(k+2)(k+3)} \right), \quad \textrm{ etc...}$$

Write $S_1 = \sum_{k=1}^n {1 \over k(k+1)},$ $S_2 = \sum_{k=1}^n {1 \over k(k+1)(k+2)},$ etc

Summing for $S_1$ using (1) all terms on RHS cancel to get the classic $$S_1 = \sum_{k=1}^n {1 \over k(k+1)} = 1 – {1 \over n+1} = {n \over n+1}.$$ We then sum the series for $S_2$ using this result obtained for $S_1,$ and so on.

$\endgroup$
1
  • 2
    $\begingroup$ This can be expressed by saying that "negative falling powers behave nicely with respect to the difference operator". See p.53 in "Concrete Mathematics" by Graham, Knuth & Patashnik. $\endgroup$ Sep 27, 2010 at 15:22
5
$\begingroup$

HINT $\rm\displaystyle\ \frac{1}{(k+1)(k+2)(k+3)(k+4)} = \frac{1}{6(k+1)} - \frac{1}{2(k+2)}+\frac{1}{2(k+3)}-\frac{1}{6(k+4)}$

$\rm\ f(k+1)-f(k)\: = $ above $\rm\displaystyle\ \Rightarrow\ f(k) \:=\: c_0 + \frac{c_1}{k+1}\ \:+\:\ \frac{c_2}{k+2}\ \:+\:\ \frac{c_3}{k+3}$

Calculating yields $\rm\ c_0,c_1,c_2,c_3 \ =\ 1/18,\ -1/6,\ 1/3,\ -1/6$.

For remarks on the group theory behind rational indefinite summation see my post here

$\endgroup$

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.