Summation

We traditionally speak of a sum from i = a to i = b, where b − a is a whole number (0, 1, 2, …); assuming for simplicity that a is an integer (so that b is also), this sum covers every integer i that satisfies the inequality a ≤ i ≤ b, or in other words all of the integers in the interval [a, b]. But in many ways, it's better to think of such a sum as running from i = a to i = b + 1, but with the last item not quite included; that is, the sum covers every integer i that satisfies the inequality a ≤ i < b + 1, or in other words all of the integers in the interval [a, b + 1). Of course, from this perspective, it's not the number b that matters but the number b + 1; if we call this B, then we can write
Σ
ai<B
for what is normally written as
b
Σ .
i=a
Note also that it makes perfect sense to have B = a (in other words, b − a = −1); then we are adding up no terms, and the sum is 0.

One nice consequence is that the number of terms in the sum is simply B − a rather than b − a + 1. Perhaps more importantly, we have this theorem:

Σ + Σ = Σ ,
Ai<B Bi<C Ai<C
which looks nicer than
b c c
Σ + Σ = Σ .
i=a i=b+1 i=a

The formulas for summing cubic polynomials also tend to be slightly simpler. With the traditional numbering, we have these (from the textbook):

With the off-by-1 numbering, we have these:

The upshot of all of this is that, when you see (for example) a sum as i runs from 2 to 5, you might want to think of it as a sum over 2 ≤ i< 6 instead.

It's also handy to have more general formulas for summing cubic polynomials, starting at an arbitrary place rather than at i = 0. With the traditional numbering, we have these:

With the off-by-1 numbering, we have these:
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