Tribonacci Numbers

September 14, 2012

You will recall that fibonacci numbers are formed by a sequence starting with 0 and 1 where each succeeding number is the sum of the two preceeding numbers; that is, F[n] = F[n-1] + F[n-2] with F[0] = 0 and F[1] = 1. We studied fibonacci numbers in a previous exercise.

Tribonacci numbers are like fibonacci numbers except that the starting sequence is 0, 0 and 1 and each succeeding number is the sum of the three preceeding numbers; that is, T[n] = T[n-1] + T[n-2] + T[n-3] with T[-1] = 0, T[0] = 0 and T[1] = 1. The powering matrix for tribonacci numbers, used similarly to the powering matrix for fibonacci numbers, is:

\begin{pmatrix} 1 & 1 & 0 \\ 1 & 0 & 1 \\ 1 & 0 & 0 \end{pmatrix}

The first ten terms of the tribonacci sequence, ignoring the two leading zeros, are 1, 1, 2, 4, 7, 13, 24, 44, 81 and 149 (A000073).

Your task is to write two functions that calculate the first n terms of the tribonacci sequence by iteration and the nth term by matrix powering; you should also calculate the tribonacci constant, which is the limit of the ratio between successive tribonacci numbers as n tends to infinity. When you are finished, you are welcome to read or run a suggested solution, or to post your own solution or discuss the exercise in the comments below.

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