Date: Apr 1, 2013 12:45 PM
Author: Timothy Murphy
Subject: Re: 1 + 2 + ... + n a polynomial how?
Jussi Piitulainen wrote:

> Is it obvious that 1 + 2 + ... + n is a polynomial of degree 2? How?

>

> I mean the sum of the first n positive integers. I would like to see

> that it is a polynomial of degree 2 _without using_ the fact that it

> is equal to n(n + 1)/2. Zeilberger (his new Opinion 129) says Gauss

> could have used the polynomiality of the sum to support the equality,

> rather than the other way around.

>

> Thanks for any insight.

I guess Zeilberger was referring to the difference calculus,

as used in numerical analysis.

If you have a sequence a(n) then Da(n) = a(n) - a(n-1).

Also if A(n) = sum_{r<=n} then DA(n) = a(n).

So in this case the second difference D^A(n) = D(n) = 1 is constant,

and it follows that A(n) is a polynomial of degree 2.

This goes back long before Gauss, to Newton at least.

--

Timothy Murphy

e-mail: gayleard /at/ eircom.net

tel: +353-86-2336090, +353-1-2842366

s-mail: School of Mathematics, Trinity College Dublin