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Combinatorial Number Theory (Teacher’s Edition

Gabriel Carroll MOP 2010 (Blue)
Combinatorial number theory refers to combinatorics flavored with the rich juicy arithmetical structure of the integers. At the elementary level, like many other areas of combinatorics, combinatorial number theory doesn’t require a lot of deep theorems; instead it’s a big hodgepodge of ideas and tricks. A few notational conventions are useful, in particular in stating additive problems. If A and B are sets of integers, we often write A + B for the set {a + b | a ∈ A, b ∈ B }. For c a constant, we often write A + c for {a + c | a ∈ A} and cA = {ca | a ∈ A}. Also, if we are interested in sums or products of generic sets of integers, the sum of the empty set is generally taken to be 0, and the product of the empty set is 1.


Problem-solving techniques

For the most part, the ideas that are useful in solving combinatorial number theory problems are the same ones that are useful in other areas of combinatorics. • Use the pigeonhole principle (or probabilistic methods) • Use induction • Use greedy algorithms • Look at prime factorizations and the divisibility lattice • Look at largest or smallest elements • Think about orders of magnitude • Count things in two ways • Look at things mod n, for conveniently chosen n • Transform things to make them convenient to work with • Don’t be afraid of case analysis and brute force


• Use generating functions or similar algebraic techniques • Translate the problem into graph theory • Use actual number theory 2 Problems 1. . order them so that the sum of each sublist is in [−2000. Show that all the elements of S have a common divisor greater than 1. divide by 2 and use induction 6. c) = d = a2 −2. such that every finite subset of S has a common divisor greater than 1. . [BMC. . Show that any positive integer can be expressed as a sum of terms of the form 2a 3b . then one of these numbers divides another. j ∈ S . and no term is divisible by any other. 1999]. b be the smallest two numbers. Find all finite magic sets. 2 . c) = a (impossible) or b. . so (a + b)/(a. [Canada. on 09 handout 2. each one having absolute value at most 1000. Determine whether or not there exists an increasing sequence a1 . 2n}. . 2009] A set S of positive integers is magic if for any two distinct members i. . Given is a list of n positive integers whose sum is less than 2n. else we generate infinitely many numbers. b) <= (a + b)/2 hence it equals a. then (b+c)/(b. if there’s another number c. b are nonnegative integers. a2 . then likewise (a + c)/(a. Prove that. the latter gives a|c so c = a3 −a2 −a. . Show that some subset S has the following property: for every positive integer n. [BAMO. 8. for any positive integer m not exceeding the sum of these integers. 1999] The set of positive integers is partitioned into finitely many subsets. from which b = a2 − a. where a. a2 + k. are prime. 2000] Given are 2000 integers. . of positive integers with the following property: for any integer k . 5. let a. take powers of 3 greedily. (i + j )/ gcd(i. greedy 4. S contains infinitely many multiples of n. then pigeonhole 7. and such that their sum equals 1. . . 2. Prove that we can choose some of the integers so that their sum equals 0. [Paul Erd˝ os] Show that if n + 1 numbers are chosen from the set {1. if the number is even. 3. Let S be an infinite set of integers. only finitely many of the numbers a1 + k. can’t have two coprime numbers. j ) is also in S . one can choose a sublist of the integers whose sum is m.

n − 1} that are relatively prime to n form an arithmetic progression. [IMO. proof: only 9999 sums exist so far. . for a ∈ A and b ∈ B . kd) where c. . 13. so 3 | d. . e. d give e = a2 −(a+2)/2. etc. there is a set S of n integers such that ab is divisible by (a − b)2 for all distinct a. for x ∈ S we have x + (b − a). b) such that there exists a set S of integers with the following property: for any integer n. . whenever n1 . if d ≥ 3 then 3 | n. b ∈ S . let p be a prime not dividing any partial sum. n + a. . which is bad. 11. . . a2 . . [USAMO. Prove that the positive integers can be partitioned into a finite number of classes so that. . ar be integers such that i∈I ai = 0 for every nonempty set I ⊆ {1. 2009] Find all pairs of distinct nonzero integers (a. of positive integers contains each positive integer exactly once. . 1998] Prove that. but then d + 1 or 2d + 1 is divisible by 3. we can reduce to the case a. 2003] Let S = {1. 15. [IMO. for every pair of distinct positive integers m and 3 . possible only if a. a2 − a}. let d be the difference of the progression. 2 mod 3 then just take the set of numbers that are 0 mod 3. let’s show this is necessary. exactly one of n. answer: (kc. . [Reid Barton] Let a1 < a2 < · · · be an increasing sequence of positive integers. . [Russia. 1998] A sequence a1 . . such that an+1 − an < 1000000 for all n. and get a contradiction. for each integer n ≥ 2. . b are 1. 1990] Let a1 . 9. [APMC. 106 }. and each could create a collision for at most 100 of the values of b not already used. so d = 1 (n prime) or d = 2 (n a power of 2).then b. . . Moreover. n + b is in S . a1 n1 + · · · + ar nr = 0. . b coprime. . . contradicting coprimality. . [China. . if they’re 1. Prove that there exist indices i < j such that aj is divisible by ai . Prove that for any A ⊆ S with 101 elements. likewise x +(2a − b) ∈ S . 1991] Let n > 6 be an integer with the following property: all the integers in {1. r}. class them according to their last nonzero digit in base p 14. we can find B ⊆ S with 100 elements such that the sums a + b. 2. 2b − a) = 1 then everything’s in S . 2 mod 3 in some order. 2. Prove that n is either prime or a power of 2. x + b ∈ / S so x +(2b − a) ∈ S . . as long as |B | < 100 we can find another element to put in B without creating new collisions. are all different. 12. 2 mod 3 in some order. 10. so only such sets are {a. but the gcd is at most 3. d ≡ 1. now keep averaging b. . if gcd(2a − b. nr are integers from the same class.

there exists an N with the following property: if the integers 1. we consider all n2 possible sums a + b. 1998 |n − m | Show that |an − n| < 2000000 for all n. . and some integer m with the following property: for any k .n. there must be 2000000 numbers above it that have been visited. show by induction that Ai ∪ · · · ∪ An contains arbitrarily long sequences of consecutive numbers. . generating functions: A2 − B 2 divisible by x2n − 1 20. . 18. b. . b − 1. 1999] Let A be a set of N residues mod N 2 . Petersburg. . . b are in that set (and may be equal). a +1. . . [IMO Shortlist. . say Ai . impossible. let A1 . For each set. . . ab + 2. 2009] Let a. An be the subsets. 1996] The numbers 1. want to prove we can connect all the numbers a. but then (a + k )(b − j ) = ab + b(k − j ) + (b − a − k )j ≥ ab + 2b is already greater than ab + a + b. . m. 19. ramsey theory proof 17. Prove that there exists some subset. . b − j for (a + k +1)(b − j ) > ab + a + b and (a + k )(b − j − 1) < ab. 1990] The set of positive integers is partitioned into finitely many subsets. the last two numbers were a + k. . 16. with aj +1 − aj ≤ m for each j . . from the highest visited number to the next number is more than 2000 steps. (which may repeat entries) such that the product of two successive numbers is in ab. Prove that there exists a set B of N residues mod N 2 such that the set A + B contains at least half of all residues mod N 2 . if at any step we can’t condense further. . . 1 |an − am | < < 1998. to the n2 remainders from the other set. . . impossible. Show that the n2 remainders from one set are equal. b − 1 by a path a. . subtracting gives k − j > 1. c of the same color such that a + b = c. [St. 2. Each sum is reduced mod 2n. . from the number below the lowest non-visited number to the lowest non-visited number is more than 2000 steps. n be positive integers with a ≤ m < n < b. . 4 . then there exist some three integers a. [Schur’s Theorem] For any positive integer k . [China. if none has the desired property. Prove that there exists a nonempty subset S of {ab. 2n are divided into 2 sets of n numbers. if an is ever 2000000 above n then there are 2000000 numbers that haven’t been visited. ab + 1. b. . . b − 2. there exist numbers a1 < a2 < · · · < ak in Ai . in some order. ab + a + b. 2. if an is ever 2000000 below n. N are colored in k colors. . . . where a. [IMO Shortlist. ab + a + b} such that ( x∈S x)/mn is the square of a rational number.

. actually every product is achievable. there exists N with the following property: if the integers 1. . which gives what we needed. and then fill in the remaining hops. 1999] Let x and y be odd integers with |x| = |y |. if we never land at m we’re home free. for each i. . Prove that the order can be chosen in such a way that the grasshopper never lands on any point in M . . . an be distinct positive integers and let M be a set of n − 1 positive integers not containing s = a1 + a2 + · · · + an . . if s − an ∈ M and less than m.successively choose elements of B . an . there exists an arithmetic progression of length m. otherwise. so apply the induction hypothesis to all the elements except ai . let a. . then jump by an and then ai . and a1 . . ap−2 a sequence of integers such that. 22. . its order isn’t a factor of k . 2009] Let a1 . 2. 25. mod p. or x − y. . Show that there exist two different numbers of the same color whose difference is equal to x. an in some order. Prove that there exists some collection of distinct terms whose product is congruent to 2 mod p. let m be the largest element of M and a1 < · · · < an . we get f (x2 ) = f (x)g (x) for some poly g . we can always cover at least N/2 new sums by pigeonhole (each of the ≥ N 2 /2 new sums can be covered by one of N different choices of new element. [IMO. b be the generating functions for the two sets and f their difference. 2000] Let p ≥ 3 be a prime number. [Erd˝ os-Selfridge] For any set A of positive integers. all of whose members are the same color. If two different sets A and B have the property that σA (n) = σB (n) for all positive integers n. plug in x = 1 and divide through to get g (1) = 2n . a2 . a2 . . take the preceding hop. . an−1 to avoid landing at any element of M except possibly m. N are colored in k colors. [Bulgaria. so if we had exactly k before then we can’t keep the same set. otherwise. A grasshopper is to jump along the real axis. . replace it with an . 24. prove that the number of elements in each set is a power of 2. check that |Sk | > k by induction — each time we include a new term. . induction. 23. proof: let Sk be the set of all products of subsets of the first k terms. [IMO shortlist. . there’s some i such that s − ai and s − ai − an are both not in M . y . and we’re left with h(x2 )(x + 1)n = h(x)g (x) where h(1) = 0. [Van der Waerden’s Theorem] For any positive integers k and m. let σA (n) be the number of ways of writing n as a sum of two distinct members of A. . . neither ai nor ai i − 1 is a multiple of p. x + y . . use the induction hypothesis on a1 . and fewer than N 2 choices of new element are available) 21. factor out some power of x − 1. . 5 . . starting at the point 0 and making n jumps to the right with lengths a1 . Suppose that the positive integers have been colored in four different colors.

multidimensional grid proof — induction on length of progresssions. proving for all values of k simultaneously 6 .