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Geometric series word problems: swing

The length a monkey passes when swinging from a tree can be modeled by a geometric series! Finding an expression for the total length and calculating it for a specific number of swings.

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  • hopper cool style avatar for user User
    if you swing a pendulum, and each time it swings 1/2 of the distance, would it go on forever?
    Thanks in advance!
    (26 votes)
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  • male robot johnny style avatar for user Mohamed Ibrahim
    Physically, isn't 0.5 of the distance of the previous swing impossible ?
    (7 votes)
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    • boggle green style avatar for user A B
      I think so too. 1/2 the distance of the previous swing means the pendulum would come to a stop exactly at the bottom of the swing. You'd only get that if you move a wall at that position to crash into after the first swing, or if you have some external force acting on the pendulum.
      (4 votes)
  • leaf blue style avatar for user shishir
    please help me with this question:- A swinging pendulum covers 32 centimetres in the first swing, 24 centimetres in the second swing and 18 centimetres in the third and so on. what is the total distance it swings before coming to rest?
    (4 votes)
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    • hopper cool style avatar for user obiwan kenobi
      You can create a geometric series based on this. a1 is 32 centimeters, r = 0.75. Now you need to sum the series up. I believe that you need to treat this as an infinite geometric series and use the formula for an infinite geometric series. a1/(1-r). So plug in the values and see what the answer is. This is my understanding and I hope this helps you!
      (4 votes)
  • blobby green style avatar for user Suzi Park
    What if we were given the final distance the monkey traveled but we weren't given the nth term. How would we solve for n?
    (2 votes)
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  • leaf yellow style avatar for user Mohnad Alrubia
    That is a cockroach Sal not a monkey :D
    (3 votes)
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  • female robot grace style avatar for user Paloma Muñoz
    please help! the first question asks the total length of the swing after the nth swing right? so that should be a very small length as the swing length continuously decreases.

    and in the second question, the distance after her 25h swing, the answer is 48m, not a really small number. so...

    in that case, we should not use that formula to answer the first question? or the first question should be something like the total length of all the swings added?
    (2 votes)
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    • female robot grace style avatar for user loumast17
      Total length (or total distance) is already saying total length of all swings added. if it just wanted the length of the 25th swing it would ask something like "what is the length of the 25th swing". Saying total length is saying it wants all swings added up.
      (2 votes)
  • blobby green style avatar for user cathy miseta
    Can anyone help me understand why at the last step, which (forgive me, I can't type fractions here) is 48(1 - 1/2 ^25), you can't first distribute the 48 to both terms inside the parentheses and get an equivalent answer to the one you get when you evaluate it as is? I know we do computation inside parentheses first, I'm just wondering why that doesn't work. Or am I just entering it into my calculator wrong? Or does it have something to do with that fraction raised to a power?
    (2 votes)
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  • aqualine ultimate style avatar for user Simum
    What if the common ratio was greater than 1? Then what would have been the formula for the sum of finite geometric series?
    (1 vote)
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    • piceratops ultimate style avatar for user Christopher Blake
      For a finite geometric series, the common ratio does not need to be less than 1. The formula is the same. It only needs to be less than 1 for an infinite geometric series, since an infinite geometric series will not "settle down" to a final answer unless you are eventually adding about 0. (When you keep multiplying by a number less than 1 the terms you are adding will get closer to 0).
      (1 vote)
  • duskpin ultimate style avatar for user Bartnett
    Ihave a question i need help solving:

    A monkey is swinging from a tree. On each swing, she travels along an arc that is 75% as long as the previous swing's arc. The total length of the arcs from her first 4 swings is 175.
    How long was the monkey's 1st swing?


    Can some one please help me?
    (1 vote)
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    • hopper cool style avatar for user obiwan kenobi
      Lets start by creating a geometric sequence. We obviously dont know a1, this is what we want to find. But we know that the common ratio is 0.75 and the sum of the first four swings is 175. So use the formula for the sum of a finite geometric series:

      S = a1 * ((1-r)^n)/(1-r). Now, just plug in the values
      (S = 175, r = 0.75, n = 4) and now solve for a1. Hope this helps!
      (1 vote)
  • blobby green style avatar for user waltervl1
    what's the name of the calculator you use? thanks in advance
    (1 vote)
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Video transcript

- [Instructor] We're told a monkey is swinging from a tree. On the first swing, she passes through an arc of 24 meters. With each swing, she passes through an arc 1/2 the length of the previous swing. So what's going on here? Let's say this is the top of the rope or the vine that the monkey is swinging from. And so on that first swing, I like to draw a little monkey here, so this is my little monkey. So on the first swing, the monkey will go 24 meters. Might do something like this. Then that arc is 24 meters, and then on the second swing, it would be, she'd swing back at an arc half the length of the previous swing. So then she would come back and then it would be half the length, and so maybe swing back over here. And then on the next, so that'd be 12, and then on the next swing, she would swing half of that, which would be six meters. And so she might swing like this, and that makes sense. That's consistent with our experiences swinging from trees, for those of us who have done that. (laughs) So let's look at the first choice. Which expression gives the total length the monkey swings in her first n swings? So pause the video and see if you can do that, and you can express it as, actually express it two ways, express it as a geometric series, but also express it as the sum of a geometric series if it were actually evaluated. So let's do this together. So we already said on the first swing, the monkey goes 24 meters. Now on the second swing, and I gave you a hint when I said to express it as a geometric series, she swings half that. Now I could just write a 12 here, but the half is interesting. Because that's going to be my common ratio for my geometric series. Every successive swing, the arc length is half the arc length of the last swing. So it's going to be 24 times 1/2 and then on the next swing, it's going to be 24, it's going to be half of this. So it's going to be 24 times 1/2 times 1/2. So that's 24 times 1/2 to the second power. And so this would be the first three swings. Notice that the exponent here, we got to the second power. So the first n swings, we are going to get to 24 times 1/2, not to the nth power, but to the n minus one power. Notice, after two swings, we only get to 24 times 1/2 to the first power. After three swings, to the second power. So after n swings, to the n minus one power. Now, as I said, we don't wanna just have this expression. We actually wanna know, how do we evaluate this? And the way we evaluate this is we look at the formula, which we've explained and we've proven in other videos, the formula for a finite geometric series. So that tells us, and I'll just write it over here, the sum of first n terms is a, where a is the first term. So that's going to be our 24 in this situation. It's a minus a times our common ratio, I already said that our common ratio is 1/2, to the nth power. So one way I like to remember it is, it is our first term minus the first term that we didn't include, or minus what would've been the term right after this. All of that over one minus our common ratio. And there's other ways that you might've seen this written. You could factor an a out, and you might have seen something like this: a times one minus r to the n, all of that over one minus r, these two are equivalent. But now let's use this. So this is going to be equal to, actually I'll use this second form right over here. So our first term a is 24. So we're going to have 24 times one minus our common ratio, which is 1/2, to the nth power, well we're talking about the first n swing, so I'm just going to leave an n right over there. All of that over one minus our common ratio, one minus 1/2. So we could leave it like that or we could simplify it a little bit if we like. One minus 1/2 is equal to 1/2, 24 divided by 1/2 is equal to 48, so if you wanted to, you could simplify it to 48 times one minus 1/2 to the nth power. So either of these would be legitimate. Now the second part, they say, what is the total distance the monkey has traveled when she completes her 25th swing? And they say, round your final answer to the nearest meter. So pause this video and see if you can work that out. All right, well, we can just use this expression here. And we know that we are completing our 25th swing. So n is 25, and so we'll just put a 25 there. So that's going to be 48 times one minus 1/2 to the 25th power. Now this is going to be a very, very small, very, very small number. So it's actually going to be pretty close to 48 meters, but let's see what this is equal to. And we're going to round to the nearest meter. All right, so let's get our calculator out. And so let's just evaluate 1/2, I'll just write that as 0.5 to the 25th power, which, as we said, as we predicted, is a very small number. And then we're going to subtract that from one, so I'll just put a negative and then I'll add one to it. And so that is very close to one. And so my prediction is holding true. So if I multiply that times 48, well, if we round to the nearest meter, we get back to 48 meters. So this is going to be 48 meters. And we're done.