Sums are everywhere in mathematics, so we need basic tools to handle them. This chapter develops the notation and general techniques that make summation user-friendly.

In Chapter 1 we encountered the sum of the first n integers, which we wrote out as 1 + 2 + 3 + · · · + (n – 1) + n. The ‘ · · · ’ in such formulas tells us to complete the pattern established by the surrounding terms. Of course we have to watch out for sums like 1 + 7 + · · · + 41.7, which are meaningless without a mitigating context. On the other hand, the inclusion of terms like 3 and (n – 1) was a bit of overkill; the pattern would presumably have been clear if we had written simply 1 + 2 + · · · + n. Sometimes we might even be so bold as to write just ...

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