With Halloween just around the corner, we thought we’d revisit an old favourite: The Book of Life. Bright, festive, and rich in Mexican culture and mythology, this movie speaks of death in a hopeful manner. It tells a tale about three young friends who grow up celebrating the tradition of November 2nd, otherwise known as the Day of the Dead. This Mexican tradition is a holiday celebrated in central and southern Mexico as a way of honouring deceased loved ones. People believe that the gates of heaven are opened between October 31st to November 2nd, and the spirits will visit the living and enjoy the festivities prepared for them.
The movie describes the sequence that is life in this cultural belief. It explains that Mexico is the center of the universe. What follows is the Land of the Remembered, where spirits stay for as long as they are remembered by someone in the living. However, if a person is dead and forgotten, they are banished a level below, into the Land of the Forgotten. Though bleak and despairing, this sequential outlook of life and death gives hope that a little bit of fun and festivity will bring eternal peace to those who have passed on.
Life – and mathematics – is filled with unique and creative sequences. There is a sense of repetition, and yet a sense of unfamiliarity and newness in everything that we do. The sun shines, you go to school, you learn about the world through science, art, math, and more, and then you arrive home. This small part of your life repeats into a bigger pattern that will develop into individualistic elements to make up who you are in the future.
In mathematics, a sequence is a string of objects that follow a particular pattern. The individual elements in a sequence are called elements, or terms. Basic sequences can be found in multiplication tables, such as the example above. Another example would be 3, 5, 7, 9, … This is a sequence starting at 3 and increasing by 2 each time. The number added each time is called the common difference. The common difference can also be in negative. For instance: 20, 15, 10, 5, … This is a sequence starting at 20 and decreasing by 5 each time. Hence, the common difference would be -5.
Like life and its infinite possibilities, there are many, many more sequences to be explored. We’re going to leave you with this interesting perspective on sequence that is based on looking and speaking!