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Monday, October 15, 2007

Difference sequences

Rather early in our math education we learn about functions and derivative functions.
f'(x) = lim -----------
h-> 0 h

For example:
f(x) = x^n
f'(x) = n*x^(n-1)

Something similar can be defined for sequences, in that case the 'derative' is called the difference sequence.

a_n = {1, 16, 81, 256, ... }
f(n) = n^4
f'(n) = 1 + 4n + 6n^2 + 4n^3
f''(n) = 14 + 24n + 12n^2
f(3)(n) = 36 + 24n
f(4)(n) = 24

For an arbitrary sequence f:
f(m)(n) = Sum[(-1)^(k)*Binomial[m,k]*f[n-k+m],{k,0,m}]

Here also we see that Pascal's Triangle has a crucial meaning.

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