# A for effort! Math is (NOT) for me.

Posted by in Social

Sometime ago, in one of newsletters I came across a question to find next number in series. The series was 3, 11, 20, 27, 29, 23. The next number in series needed to be found. Well, I tried as much as I can and stopped when my brain gave up on me. I was never too bright as math. I wasn’t too bad but I wasn’t this old either at that time.

So can you help me find answer?

A for effort was given to a colleague who answer this correctly and I can clearly see why. He answered it very thoroughly and I am going to publish it with due credits to him (name not published for privacy).

As he wrote:

“The series given was 3, 11, 20, 27, 29, 23

The solution, the way I saw it was to find some function, f(x) that would equal:

f(1) = 3, f(2) = 11, f(3) = 20, etc

so that I could predict the value of f(7).

I found the differences between each set of answers to go down 3 levels, with a shared difference of -3.  Three levels means I need to find a third degree polynomial  f(x) = ax^3 + bx^2 + cx + d.

I then needed to find the values for a, b, c and d.  There are 4 unknowns, so I need 4 equations.

The four equations are:

f(1) = a(1)^3 + b(1)^2 + c(1) + d = 3

f(2) = a(2)^3 + b(2)^2 + c(2) + d = 11

f(3) = a(3)^3 + b(3)^2 + c(3) + d = 20

f(4) = a(4)^3 + b(4)^2 + c(4) + d = 27

Using linear algebra and putting these into a matrix and reducing to echelon form, I solved for a, b, c and d.

a=-1/2, b=7/2, c=1, d=-1

That makes f(x) = -1/2 x^3 + 7/2 x^2 + x – 1

Calculating out f(x):

 X -1/2 x^3 7/2 x^2 X -1 f(x) 0 0 0 0 -1 -1 1 -0.5 3.5 1 -1 3 2 -4 14 2 -1 11 3 -13.5 31.5 3 -1 20 4 -32 56 4 -1 27 5 -62.5 87.5 5 -1 29 6 -108 126 6 -1 23 7 -171.5 171.5 7 -1 6 8 -256 224 8 -1 -25 9 -364.5 283.5 9 -1 -73

Finally, the answer to the question is 6, highlighted above in red.”