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Homework Help: Proving a sequence (defined recursively) is monotonically decreasing

  1. Apr 27, 2015 #1
    1. The problem statement, all variables and given/known data
    A sequence (an) of real numbers is defined by a(1) = 6, a(n) = (1/4)(2*a(n−1) − 3) for n >= 2. where n is a natural number

    show the sequence is monotonically decreasing
    2. Relevant equations

    3. The attempt at a solution

    I tried to prove it by induction.
    Let P(n) be the predicate that a(n) < a(n-1)

    base case


    a(1) = 6
    a(2) = (1/4)*(2*6-3) = 9/4
    a(2) < a(1) ..... base case is true

    induction step

    assume p(k) to be true

    a(k) < a(k-1)

    now we try to prove p(k+1) is true using or assumption about p(k)

    a(k+1) = (1/4)*(2(k) - 3)


    a(k) = 2*a(k+1) - 3

    using our assumption

    a(k-1) < 2*a(k+1) - 3

    I'm not sure where to go from here I can't think of anyway of relating a(k) and a(k+1) with an inequality.
    any help would be appreciated.
  2. jcsd
  3. Apr 27, 2015 #2


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    Consider the recurrence [itex]b_n = \frac12 b_{n-1}[/itex] with [itex]b_1 > 0[/itex]. Is that sequence monotonic decreasing?

    Unfortunately your recurrence [itex]a_n = \frac12 a_{n-1} - \frac34[/itex] has an extra term on the right, but a linear change of variable to [itex]b_n = a_n + C[/itex] for some constant [itex]C[/itex] should remove it.
  4. Apr 27, 2015 #3
    so if we go back to a(k+1) = a(k)/2 - 3/4

    let b(n) = a(k) - 3/2

    so that a(k+1) = (1/2)*b(n)

    b(n) is greater than a(k+1)

    a(k)/2 - 3/4 > a(k+1)

    so I've got the an inequality in terms of the two terms of the sequence I need


    a(k) - 2a(k+1) > 3/2

    i.e a(k) > 2a(k+1)

    a(k+1) is positive

    so a(k) > a(k+1)

    would this be correct?
    Last edited: Apr 27, 2015
  5. Apr 27, 2015 #4


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    I think you mean b(k) = a(k)-3/2, and the next line should be a recurrence relation on the b's, no a terms in sight.
  6. Apr 27, 2015 #5
    I tried getting rid of the a's

    b(k) = a(k)-3/2

    b(k+1) = a(k+1) - 3/2

    b(k+1) = (1/4)(2*a(k) -3) -3/2

    b(k+1) = (1/2)*b(n) -3/2

    I've got a recurrence relation in b now but I'm not sure where to go from here other than saying

    2*b(k+1) = b(n) -3

    b(n) - 2*b(k+1) = 3
  7. Apr 28, 2015 #6


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    You've chosen the wrong C. Start again, substituting bn-C for an everywhere in the recurrence relation for an (being careful not switch between k and n this time) and post the equation you get for the b sequence (with C still in it).
  8. Apr 28, 2015 #7


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    I don't see any good reason to introduce this new "b" sequence. To show that a sequence is increasing, it is enough to show that [itex]a_{n+1}- a_n> 0[/itex].
    Last edited by a moderator: Apr 28, 2015
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