In mathematics, an arithmetic progression (AP) or arithmetic sequence is a sequence of numbers such that the difference between the consecutive terms is constant. Difference here means the second minus the first.
For instance, the sequence 5, 7, 9, 11, 13, 15, . . . is an arithmetic progression with common difference of 2.
Visual proof of the derivation of arithmetic progression formulas – the faded blocks are a rotated copy of the arithmetic progression
If the initial term of an arithmetic progression is and the common difference of successive members is d, then the nth term of the sequence () is given by:
and in general
A finite portion of an arithmetic progression is called a finite arithmetic progression and sometimes just called an arithmetic progression. The sum of a finite arithmetic progression is called an arithmetic series.
The behavior of the arithmetic progression depends on the common difference d. If the common difference is:
positive, then the members (terms) will grow towards positive infinity;
negative, then the members (terms) will grow towards negative infinity.
Computation of the sum 2 + 5 + 8 + 11 + 14. When the sequence is reversed and added to itself term by term, the resulting sequence has a single repeated value in it, equal to the sum of the first and last numbers (2 + 14 = 16). Thus 16 × 5 = 80 is twice the sum.
The sum of the members of a finite arithmetic progression is called an arithmetic series. For example, consider the sum:
This sum can be found quickly by taking the number n of terms being added (here 5), multiplying by the sum of the first and last number in the progression (here 2 + 14 = 16), and dividing by 2:
In the case above, this gives the equation:
This formula works for any real numbers and . For example:
The intersection of any two doubly infinite arithmetic progressions is either empty or another arithmetic progression, which can be found using the Chinese remainder theorem. If each pair of progressions in a family of doubly infinite arithmetic progressions have a non-empty intersection, then there exists a number common to all of them; that is, infinite arithmetic progressions form a Helly family. However, the intersection of infinitely many infinite arithmetic progressions might be a single number rather than itself being an infinite progression.
^Duchet, Pierre (1995), "Hypergraphs", in Graham, R. L.; Grötschel, M.; Lovász, L. (eds.), Handbook of combinatorics, Vol. 1, 2, Amsterdam: Elsevier, pp. 381–432, MR1373663. See in particular Section 2.5, "Helly Property", pp. 393–394.