Finding the General Formula for the kth Polygonal Number

If we represent numbers using “dots,” there are special numbers that can form “polygons.” Numbers that can form polygons are called polygonal numbers. For example, the square numbers 1, 4, 9, 16 and so on form a “square.”  As shown below, it is easy to see that the 10th square number is a square with 10 rows and 10 columns. This means that the 10th square number is equal to 100 (has 100 dots).

polygonal numbers

The Representation of Square Numbers

Like square numbers, triangular numbers form a shape. You guessed it right, the shape is a triangle. Finding the 15th triangular number seems hard, but we have already learned that triangular numbers are connected to the sum of the first m positive integers. The mth triangular number has

1 + 2 + 3 + \cdots + m = \frac{1}{2}m(m+1) dots. » Read more