Over the past two weeks I have been running into geometric series everywhere. Geometric series are simple little equations that have the form of:
There is wiki that goes into the basics of geometric sums and their basic identies on Wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Geometric_series. For now I only present to you one of the places I have run into this little bad boy, and that is in the calculation of amortization. Every time I go through a application that does this I wondered where the math came from, I finally decided to work it out for my self.
Lets start with the knowns, r is the yearly APR, t is the number of times the APR is compounded in a year, n is the number of years, P is the principle on the loan, and D is your down payment. The only variable we are looking for X is your monthly payments. At the end of the loan term or n*t payments we would like there to be no balance in the account.
First the amount that in the loan has to start with:
Each subsequent payment takes interest from the previous period, and deducts your payment:
Expanding the recursive relationship manually reveals a equation that can have Horner's Rule applied to reduce it to a more manageable form:
Transposing by Horner's Rule and collapsing the subsequent series into a Geometric Series:
Apply the identity from the Wikipedia page above:
Recalling that at the end of the term we desire no net balance, solving for X and simplifying:
Now I have the magic amortization formula in my back pocket in case I ever need it again. You can also quickly calculate your total payments Xnt or the amount of interest you paid Xnt - (P - D). The two other areas I have had the Geometric Series show up was calculating the probability of winning at a game of dice, and a 401k what if Excel sheet I made. The Dice game is really interesting because it deals with an unbounded Geometric Series.
UPDATE: A simplification of the formula above is possible:
If you know how much you can pay each month X and are looking for how much of a mortgage you can afford you can resolve the equation above for P-D
Also note that there is a linear relationship between the amount you can pay and the amount of a mortgage you can afford.
UPDATE: Homer's Rule replaced with Horner's Rule