How to Solve a Math Pattern

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In order to solve a math pattern, a few numbers of the pattern need to be provided first. Learn about arithmetic and geometric sequences with help from a math teacher in this free video on math lessons.

Part of the Video Series: Math Help
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Video Transcript

So, how do you solve a math pattern? Hi. I'm Jimmy Chang. I've been teaching college mathematics for nearly a decade and we're here to talk about some things to think about when it comes to solving math patterns. Now, with patterns, they have to give you enough to work with. They have to give you the first few numbers of a pattern, the first few shapes of a pattern, so that it's your job to figure out what the next number or shape happens to be. Now, we're here to talk about just a few examples of what some patterns can be. And, often times, patterns and the word sequence go hand in hand. So, we're going to talk about a few sequences and patterns and then we'll talk about how you can find the next terms. Now, the first sequence and pattern that I want to talk about is that of an arithmetic sequence. Now, an arithmetic sequence involves numbers which you can get to the next number by either adding or subtracting by the same number throughout. So, if you look at these first few numbers here, 1, 4, 7 and 10, I think you'll be able to figure out that the pattern here is that the numbers are being added by three. So, the next number you would most likely guess would be 13, which is what the pattern happens to be. Now, a second example of a number pattern is that of a geometric sequence, in that a geometric sequence uses multiplication or division of the same number throughout to figure out the next numbers and their respective pattern. And the example I have here is 64, 32, 16, 8 and blank, which of course is asking you to solve the next number. But, if you look at the numbers more closely, you'll see that to get from one number to the next, you have to divide by two or multiply by one half. So that eight divided by two would give you four, and that would be the next number in the sequence. Now, if you see a sequence that doesn't fit any particular structure, whether it be arithmetic or geometric, then you have to look at the numbers before it and try to detect a pattern on your own. And so, this very last one, 1, 1, 2, 3, 5, 8 and 13, at first doesn't sound like it's very easy, but if you really think about it and look very closely, you'll see a patten. One plus one is two. One plus two is three. Two and three is five. This is an example of a sequence where, to get to the next one, you add the two numbers prior. So, to figure out the blank, just take eight and thirteen, add that and you'll get 21. So, I'm Jimmy Chang and there are some examples on how to solve math patterns.


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