How to Use Series and Summation Notation: Process and Examples

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  • 0:01 Sequences and Series
  • 1:04 Sigma Notation
  • 1:40 Using Sigma Notation
  • 2:35 Another Example
  • 3:19 Lesson Summary
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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Yuanxin (Amy) Yang Alcocer

Amy has a master's degree in secondary education and has taught math at a public charter high school.

Have you ever seen a sideways M on a math test and wondered what it meant? In this video lesson, learn about the notation that we use to show that we want to sum something up. Learn how to use it and see some examples of it in use.

Sequences and Series

Sequences are strings of numbers with a pattern. Examples of sequences include our counting numbers, our even numbers, our odd numbers and so on. Anything with a pattern is a sequence. We can even count by 10s and we would have a sequence because we have a pattern. We can also have a sequence where we multiply each number by the same number, 2, for example, to get to the next number. We write our sequences inside curly brackets with commas between the numbers. For example, we write our odd numbers as {1, 3, 5, 7, . . .} and our multiplication by 2s as {1, 2, 4, 8, . . .}.

If we take the sum of a sequence, we have what is called a series. We take the sum of a sequence when we want to find out the total of a sequence. This sum is useful in terms of statistics. When we take the sum, we are simply adding our numbers in our sequence together. So for our sequence of odd numbers, the series would be 1 + 3 + 5 + 7 and so on.

Sigma Notation

While we can write out our series using addition, it is easier to use the Sigma notation to represent our series. The Sigma notation is another way to say 'sum.' It is also referred to as summation notation. This notation looks like a big sideways M. On the bottom of the symbol, we have little letters that tell us our beginning point. On the top of the symbol, there is a little number that tells us our end point. To the right of the symbol, we have a formula for our sequence. For example, our counting numbers have the simple formula of n.

sigma notation

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