 Sequence

For other uses, see Sequence (disambiguation).
In mathematics, a sequence is an ordered list of objects (or events). Like a set, it contains members (also called elements or terms), and the number of terms (possibly infinite) is called the length of the sequence. Unlike a set, order matters, and exactly the same elements can appear multiple times at different positions in the sequence. A sequence is a discrete function.
For example, (C, R, Y) is a sequence of letters that differs from (Y, C, R), as the ordering matters. Sequences can be finite, as in this example, or infinite, such as the sequence of all even positive integers (2, 4, 6,...). Finite sequences are sometimes known as strings or words and infinite sequences as streams. The empty sequence ( ) is included in most notions of sequence, but may be excluded depending on the context.
Contents
Examples and notation
There are various and quite different notions of sequences in mathematics, some of which (e.g., exact sequence) are not covered by the notations introduced below.
In addition to identifying the elements of a sequence by their position, such as "the 3rd element", elements may be given names for convenient referencing. For example a sequence might be written as (a_{1}, a_{2}, a_{3}, … ), or (b_{0}, b_{1}, b_{2}, … ), or (c_{0}, c_{2}, c_{4}, … ), depending on what is useful in the application.
Finite and infinite
A more formal definition of a finite sequence with terms in a set S is a function from {1, 2, ..., n} to S for some n > 0. An infinite sequence in S is a function from {1, 2, ... } to S. For example, the sequence of prime numbers (2,3,5,7,11, … ) is the function 1→2, 2→3, 3→5, 4→7, 5→11, … .
A sequence of a finite length n is also called an ntuple. Finite sequences include the empty sequence ( ) that has no elements.
A function from all integers into a set is sometimes called a biinfinite sequence or twoway infinite sequence. An example is the biinfinite sequence of all even integers ( … , 4, 2, 0, 2, 4, 6, 8… ).
Multiplicative
Let A = (a sequence defined by a function f:{1, 2, 3, ...} → {1, 2, 3, ...}, such that a _{i} = f(i).
The sequence is multiplicative if f(xy) = f(x)f(y) for all x,y such that x and y are coprime.^{[1]}
Types and properties of sequences
A subsequence of a given sequence is a sequence formed from the given sequence by deleting some of the elements without disturbing the relative positions of the remaining elements.
If the terms of the sequence are a subset of an ordered set, then a monotonically increasing sequence is one for which each term is greater than or equal to the term before it; if each term is strictly greater than the one preceding it, the sequence is called strictly monotonically increasing. A monotonically decreasing sequence is defined similarly. Any sequence fulfilling the monotonicity property is called monotonic or monotone. This is a special case of the more general notion of monotonic function.
The terms nondecreasing and nonincreasing are used in order to avoid any possible confusion with strictly increasing and strictly decreasing, respectively.
If the terms of a sequence are integers, then the sequence is an integer sequence. If the terms of a sequence are polynomials, then the sequence is a polynomial sequence.
If S is endowed with a topology, then it becomes possible to consider convergence of an infinite sequence in S. Such considerations involve the concept of the limit of a sequence.
If A is a set, the free monoid over A (denoted A^{*}) is a monoid containing all the finite sequences (or strings) of zero or more elements drawn from A, with the binary operation of concatenation. The free semigroup A^{+} is the subsemigroup of A^{*} containing all elements except the empty sequence.
Sequences in analysis
In analysis, when talking about sequences, one will generally consider sequences of the form
which is to say, infinite sequences of elements indexed by natural numbers.
It may be convenient to have the sequence start with an index different from 1 or 0. For example, the sequence defined by x_{n} = 1/log(n) would be defined only for n ≥ 2. When talking about such infinite sequences, it is usually sufficient (and does not change much for most considerations) to assume that the members of the sequence are defined at least for all indices large enough, that is, greater than some given N.
The most elementary type of sequences are numerical ones, that is, sequences of real or complex numbers. This type can be generalized to sequences of elements of some vector space. In analysis, the vector spaces considered are often function spaces. Even more generally, one can study sequences with elements in some topological space.
Series
Main article: Series (mathematics)The sum of terms of a sequence is a series. More precisely, if (x_{1}, x_{2}, x_{3}, ...) is a sequence, one may consider the sequence of partial sums (S_{1}, S_{2}, S_{3}, ...), with
Formally, this pair of sequences comprises the series with the terms x_{1}, x_{2}, x_{3}, ..., which is denoted as
If the sequence of partial sums is convergent, one also uses the infinite sum notation for its limit. For more details, see series.
Infinite sequences in theoretical computer science
Infinite sequences of digits (or characters) drawn from a finite alphabet are of particular interest in theoretical computer science. They are often referred to simply as sequences or streams, as opposed to finite strings. Infinite binary sequences, for instance, are infinite sequences of bits (characters drawn from the alphabet {0,1}). The set C = {0, 1}^{∞} of all infinite, binary sequences is sometimes called the Cantor space.
An infinite binary sequence can represent a formal language (a set of strings) by setting the n th bit of the sequence to 1 if and only if the n th string (in shortlex order) is in the language. Therefore, the study of complexity classes, which are sets of languages, may be regarded as studying sets of infinite sequences.
An infinite sequence drawn from the alphabet {0, 1, ..., b−1} may also represent a real number expressed in the baseb positional number system. This equivalence is often used to bring the techniques of real analysis to bear on complexity classes.
Sequences as vectors
Sequences over a field may also be viewed as vectors in a vector space. Specifically, the set of Fvalued sequences (where F is a field) is a function space (in fact, a product space) of Fvalued functions over the set of natural numbers.
In particular, the term sequence space usually refers to a linear subspace of the set of all possible infinite sequences with elements in .
Doubly infinite sequences
Normally, the term infinite sequence refers to a sequence which is infinite in one direction, and finite in the other—the sequence has a first element, but no final element (a singly infinite sequence). A doubly infinite sequence is infinite in both directions—it has neither a first nor a final element. Singly infinite sequences are functions from the natural numbers (N) to some set, whereas doubly infinite sequences are functions from the integers (Z) to some set.
One can interpret singly infinite sequences as elements of the semigroup ring of the natural numbers , and doubly infinite sequences as elements of the group ring of the integers . This perspective is used in the Cauchy product of sequences.
Ordinalindexed sequence
An ordinalindexed sequence is a generalization of a sequence. If α is a limit ordinal and X is a set, an αindexed sequence of elements of X is a function from α to X. In this terminology an ωindexed sequence is an ordinary sequence.
Sequences and automata
Automata or finite state machines can typically be thought of as directed graphs, with edges labeled using some specific alphabet, Σ. Most familiar types of automata transition from state to state by reading input letters from Σ, following edges with matching labels; the ordered input for such an automaton forms a sequence called a word (or input word). The sequence of states encountered by the automaton when processing a word is called a run. A nondeterministic automaton may have unlabeled or duplicate outedges for any state, giving more than one successor for some input letter. This is typically thought of as producing multiple possible runs for a given word, each being a sequence of single states, rather than producing a single run that is a sequence of sets of states; however, 'run' is occasionally used to mean the latter.
Types of sequences
 ±1sequence
 Arithmetic progression
 Cauchy sequence
 Farey sequence
 Fibonacci sequence
 Geometric progression
 Lookandsay sequence
 Thue–Morse sequence
Related concepts
Operations on sequences
See also
 Net (topology) (a generalization of sequences)
 OnLine Encyclopedia of Integer Sequences
 Permutation
 Recurrence relation
 Sequence space
References
External links
Categories: Elementary mathematics
 Sequences and series
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