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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.?

Start with any triangle T1 and its inscribed circle. Draw the triangle T2 which has its vertices at the points of contact between the triangle T1 and its incircle. Now keep repeating this process starting with T2 to form a sequence of nested triangles and circles. What happens to the triangles? You may like to investigate this interactively on the computer or by drawing with ruler and compasses. If the angles in the first triangle are a, b and c prove that the angles in the second triangle are given (in degrees) by f(x) = (90 - x/2) where x takes the values a, b and c. Choose some triangles, investigate this iteration numerically and try to give reasons for what happens. Investigate what happens if you reverse this process (triangle to circumcircle to triangle...)

Amazing as it may seem the three fives remaining in the following `skeleton' are sufficient to reconstruct the entire long division sum.

This version is sufficiently advanced to run the examples in this worksheet provided you avoid the section on Turtle Graphics.

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NRICH is part of the family of activities in the Millennium Mathematics Project.

NRICH is part of the family of activities in the Millennium Mathematics Project.