A sequence of numbers x1, x2, x3, ... starts with x1 = 2, and, if
you know any term xn, you can find the next term xn+1 using the
formula: xn+1 = (xn + 3/xn)/2 . Calculate the first six terms of
this sequence. What do you notice? Calculate a few more terms and
find the squares of the terms. Can you prove that the special
property you notice about this sequence will apply to all the later
terms of the sequence? Write down a formula to give an
approximation to the cube root of a number and test it for the cube
root of 3 and the cube root of 8. How many terms of the sequence do
you have to take before you get the cube root of 8 correct to as
many decimal places as your calculator will give? What happens when
you try this method for fourth roots or fifth roots etc.?
The NRICH Project aims to enrich the mathematical experiences of all learners. To support this aim, members of the
NRICH team work in a wide range of capacities, including providing professional development for teachers wishing to
embed rich mathematical tasks into everyday classroom practice. More information on many of our other activities
can be found here.