Interleaving Fibonacci Numbers


The sequence of Fibonacci numbers is defined by the initial values f0 = 0, f1 = 1, and the recurrence fn = fn-1 + fn-2. The first several values are



Notice that the even-ordered terms satisfy the relations



and so on. Similarly the odd-ordered terms satisfy the relations



and so on. One way of proving that this pattern continues is by induction. We know by inspection up to a certain n that consecutive Fibonacci numbers are given by



(Note that this requires f1 = f2 = 1.) Adding these together, term by term, it follows from the basic Fibonacci recurrence that the next even-ordered value in the sequence is



which is of the same form as the previous even-ordered term, but with n+1 in place of n. Likewise the next odd-ordered value in the sequence can be found by adding this expression for f2(n+1) to the preceding expressing for f2n+1, which gives



where we have used the fact that f1 = 1. This is of the same form as the previous odd-ordered term, but with n+1 in place of n, so the induction is complete. There, the interleaving odd and even parts of the Fibonacci numbers satisfy the relations



Naturally these identities are closely related to the generating functions for the recurrence relations. We know the ratios of successive values of fn asymptotically approach successive powers of the dominant root f of the characteristic equation x2 – x – 1 = 0. Therefore, with n = 6, the even-ordered relation approaches



and if we divide this by f10 we get



Taking this to the limit as n goes to infinity, and substituting for the derivative of the geometric series, we get



which is equivalent to the characteristic equation f2f – 1 = 0. However, this isn’t the only possible expansion of the terms of the even (or odd) ordered Fibonacci sequences. For example, given the even-ordered sequence 0, 1, 3, 8, 21, 55, 144, … we could simply apply the “greedy algorithm” by expressing each term as the sum of the maximum number of the immediately preceding terms. Thus we have



From this it’s easy to see that f2n = f2(n-1) – f2(n-2) + 2f2(n-1), so the even-ordered Fibonacci numbers satisfy the recurrence



which has the characteristic equation



This shows that another way of arriving at the recurrence for the kth Fibonacci numbers is to solve for the (k-2)th degree polynomial that gives, when multiplied by the characteristic polynomial of the Fibonacci sequence, a polynomial whose only non-zero coefficients are for powers that are multiples of k. For example, to find the recurrence for every third Fibonacci number, we evaluate the product



We need the coefficients of x5, x4, x2, and x to vanish, so we require A = 1, B = 2, C = -1, and D = 1. Hence the characteristic polynomial for every third Fibonacci number is



with the corresponding recurrence relation



Naturally the same type of relations can be derived for any linear recurring sequence. For example, consider the “tribonacci” sequence, defined by the initial values t0 = t1 = t2 = 1, and the recurrence tn = tn-1 + tn-2 + tn-3. The first several values are shown below.



To find the recurrence formula for every third term of this sequence, we can apply the greedy algorithm to express the terms 1, 9, 57, 355, 2209, 13745, 85525, … as follows



From this it’s easy to see that t3n = t3(n-1) – 5t3(n-2) + t3(n-3) + 6t3(n-1), so we have the recurrence



corresponding to the characteristic polynomial



We can relate this back to the greedy recurrence by examining the asymptotic expression in terms of the dominant root f, which can be written in the form



This implies that f is a root of the characteristic polynomial, as expected. Incidentally, the “poles” of this recurrence are 0 and the cube roots of 1.


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