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Functionalequations(Tableofcontents)

FunctionalEquations:ProblemswithSolutions
Thefollowingproblemsarerelatedtofunctionalequations.Manyoftheproblemsweregivenatnationaland
introductorytexttoFunctionalequations.
Problem1

Findallfunctionsf

: Q Q

suchthatf (1)

= 2

andf (xy)

= f (x)f (y) f (x + y) + 1

Hidesolution.
Thisisaclassicalexampleofaproblemthatcanbesolvedusingmathematicalinduction.Noticethatifwe
setx = 1 andy = n intheoriginalequationwegetf (n + 1) = f (n) + 1 ,andsincef (1) = 2 we
havef (n) = n + 1 foreverynaturalnumbern .Similarlyforx = 0 andy = n weget
f (0)n = f (n) 1 = n ,i.e.f (0) .Nowourgoalistofindf (z) foreachz Z .Substitutingx = 1 and
y = 1 intheoriginalequationgivesusf (1) = 0 ,andsettingx = 1 andy = n gives
f (n) = f (n 1) + 1 = n + 1 .Hencef (z) = z + 1 foreachz Z .Nowwehavetodetermine
f(

1
n

.Pluggingx

= n

andy

1
n

weget
1

f (1) = (n + 1)f (

1
) f (n +

Furthermoreforx

= 1

andy

= m +

mathematicalinductionf (m +

1
n

1
n

wegetf (m + 1 +

) = m + f(

1
n

1
n

) = f (m +

1
n

) + 1

,hencebythe

1
) =

foreverynaturalnumbern .Furthermoreforx

(1)

.From(1)wenowhave

1
f(

f (r) = r + 1

) + 1.
n

= m

+ 1,
n

andy

1
n

wegetf (

m
n

) =

m
n

+ 1

,i.e.

,foreverypositiverationalnumberr .Settingx = 1 andy = rweget

aswellhencef (x) = x + 1 ,foreachx Q.

f (r) = f (r 1) + 1 = r + 1

Verification:Sincexy + 1
ourequation.

= (x + 1)(y + 1) (x + y + 1) + 1

,forallx, y

, isthesolutionto

Q f

Problem2(Belarus1997)

Findallfunctionsg : R Rsuchthatforarbitraryrealnumbersxandy :
g(x + y) + g(x)g(y) = g(xy) + g(x) + g(y).

Hidesolution.
Noticethatg(x)

= 0

andg(x)

= 2

areobviouslysolutionstothegivenequation.Usingmathematical

inductionitisnotdifficulttoprovethatifg isnotequaltooneofthesetwofunctionstheng(x) = x forall

x Q .Itisalsoeasytoprovethatg(r + x) = r + g(x) andg(rx) = rg(x) ,wherer isrationalandx
realnumber.Particularlyfromthesecondequationforr = 1 wegetg(x) = g(x) ,hencesetting
2

intheinitialequationgivesg(x) = g(x2 ) .Thismeansthatg(x) 0 forx 0 .Nowweuse

thestandardmethodofextendingtoR .Assumethatg(x) < x .Chooser Q suchthatg(x) < r < x .
Then
y = x

r > g(x) = g(x r) + r r,

g(x) = x foreveryx R .\noindentItiseasytoverifythatallthreefunctionssatisfythegivenfunctional
equation.

Problem3

Thefunctionf
f (f (x)) = 0 .

: R R

satisfiesx + f (x)

= f (f (x))

foreveryx

.Findallsolutionsoftheequation

Hidesolution.
ThedomainofthisfunctionisR ,sothereisntmuchhopethatthiscanbesolvedusingmathematical
induction.Noticethatf (f (x)) f (x) = xandiff (x) = f (y) thenclearlyx = y .Thismeansthatthe
functionisinjective.Sincef (f (0)) = f (0) + 0 = f (0) ,becauseofinjectivitywemusthavef (0) = 0 ,
implyingf (f (0)) = 0 .Iftherewereanotherxsuchthatf (f (x)) = 0 = f (f (0)) ,injectivitywouldimply
f (x) = f (0) andx = 0 .

Problem4

Findallinjectivefunctionsf

: N R

thatsatisfy:

Hidesolution.
Settingm

= 1

andn first,andm

= n

,n

= 1

afterwardsweget

f (f (n) + f (1)) = f (f (n)) + f (1).

Letusemphasizethatthisisonestandardideaiftheexpressionononesideissymmetricwithrespectto
thevariableswhiletheexpressionontheothersideisnot.Nowwehave
f (f (n)) = f (n) f (1) + f (f (1)) = f (n) 2 + f (2) = f (n) + 2 .Fromhereweconcludethat
f (n) = m impliesf (m) = m + 2 andnowtheinductiongivesf (m + 2k) = m + 2k + 2 ,forevery
k 0 .Speciallyiff (1) = 2 thenf (2n) = 2n + 2 forallpositiveintegersn .Theinjectivityoff gives
thatatoddnumbers(except1)thefunctionhastotakeoddvalues.Letp bethesmallestnaturalnumber
suchthatforsomekf (k) = 2p + 1 .Wehavef (2p + 2s + 1) = 2p + 2s + 3 fors 0 .Thereforethe
numbers3, 5, , 2p 1aremappedinto1, 3, , 2p + 1.Iff (t) = 1forsomet ,thenfor
m = n = t 4 = f (2) = f (f (t) + f (t)) = f (f (t)) + f (t) = 3 ,whichisacontradiction.Ifforsomet
suchthatf (t) = 3thenf (3 + 2k) = 5 + 2k ,whichisacontradictiontotheexistenceofsucht .It
followsthatthenumbers3, 5, , 2p 1aremappedinto5, 7, , 2p + 1.Hence
f (3 + 2k) = 5 + 2k .Thusthesolutionisf (1) = 2 andf (n) = n + 2 ,forn 2 .\\Itiseasytoverify
thatthefunctionsatisfiesthegivenconditions.

Problem5(BMO1997,2000)

Solvethefunctionalequation
2

f (xf (x) + f (y)) = y + f (x) , x, y R.

Hidesolution.

Inprobelmsofthistypeitisusuallyeasytoprovethatthefunctionsareinjectiveorsurjective,ifthe
2
functionsareinjective/surjective.Inthiscaseforx = 0 wegetf (f (y)) = y + f (0) .Sincethefunction
ontherighthandsideissurjectivethesamemustholdforthefunctiononthelefthandside.Thisimplies
thesurjectivityoff .Injectivityisalsoeasytoestablish.Nowthereexistst suchthatf (t) = 0and
2
substitutionx = 0 andy = t yieldsf (0) = t + f (0) .Forx = t wegetf (f (y)) = y .Therefore
2
t = f (f (t)) = f (0) = t + f (0) ,i.e.f (0) = 0 .Replacingx withf (x) gives
f (f (x)x + f (y)) = x

+ y,

hencef (x) = x2 foreveryrealnumberx.Considernowthetwocases:\noindent\emph{Firstcase

f (1) = 1 }.Pluggingx = 1 givesf (1 + f (y)) = 1 + y ,andaftertakingsquares
2
2
2
2
2
(1 + y) = f (1 + f (y)) = (1 + f (y)) = 1 + 2f (y) + f (y) = 1 + 2f (y) + y .Clearlyinthis
casewehavef (y) = y foreveryrealy .\noindent\emph{Secondcasef (1) = 1 }.Pluggingx = 1
givesf (1 + f (y)) = 1 + y ,andaftertakingsquares
2
2
2
2
2
(1 + y) = f (1 + f (y)) = (1 + f (y)) = 1 2f (y) + f (y) = 1 2f (y) + y .Nowwe
concludef (y) = y foreveryrealnumbery .\noindentItiseasytoverifythatf (x) = xand
f (x) = x areindeedthesolutions.

Problem6(IMO1979,shortlist)

Givenafunctionf : R R,ifforeverytworealnumbersxandy theequality

f (xy + x + y) = f (xy) + f (x) + f (y) holds,provethatf (x + y) = f (x) + f (y) foreverytworeal
numbersxandy .
Hidesolution.
Thisisaclasicalexampleoftheequationthatsolutionisbasedonacarefulchoiceofvaluesthatare
pluggedinafunctionalequation.Plugginginx = y = 0 wegetf (0) = 0 .Plugginginy = 1 weget
f (x) = f (x) .Plugginginy = 1 wegetf (2x + 1) = 2f (x) + f (1)andhence
f (2(u + v + uv) + 1) = 2f (u + v + uv) + f (1) = 2f (uv) + 2f (u) + 2f (v) + f (1) forallrealu
andv .Ontheotherhand,plugginginx = u andy = 2v + 1 weget
f (2(u + v + uv) + 1) = f (u + (2v + 1) + u(2v + 1)) = f (u) + 2f (v) + f (1) + f (2uv + u) .
Henceitfollowsthat2f (uv) + 2f (u) + 2f (v) + f (1) = f (u) + 2f (v) + f (1) + f (2uv + u) ,i.e.,
f (2uv + u) = 2f (uv) + f (u).

(1)

Plugginginv = 1/2 weget0 = 2f (u/2) + f (u) = 2f (u/2) + f (u) .Hence,f (u) = 2f (u/2)
andconsequentlyf (2x) = 2f (x)forallreals.Now(1)reducestof (2uv + u) = f (2uv) + f (u) .
Plugginginu = y andx = 2uv,weobtainf (x) + f (y) = f (x + y)forallnonzerorealsxandy .Since
f (0) = 0 ,ittriviallyholdsthatf (x + y) = f (x) + f (y) whenoneofx andy is0 .

Problem7

Doesthereexistafunctionf

: R R

suchthatf (f (x))

= x

foreveryrealnumberx?

Hidesolution.
functiong oftherighthandsidehasexactly2 fixedpointsandthatthefunctiong g hasexactly4fixed
points.Nowwewillprovethatthereisnofunctionf suchthatf f = g .Assumethecontrary.Leta, bbe
thefixedpointsofg ,anda, b, c, d thefixedpointsofg g .Assumethatg(c) = y.Then
c = g(g(c)) = g(y) ,henceg(g(y)) = g(c) = y andy hastobeonofthefixedpointsofg g .Ify = a
thenfroma = g(a) = g(y) = cwegetacontradiction.Similarlyy b ,andsincey c wegety = d .
Thusg(c) = d andg(d) = c .Furthermorewehaveg(f (x)) = f (f (f (x))) = f (g(x)).Let
x 0 {a, b} .Weimmediatelyhavef (x 0 ) = f (g(x 0 )) = g(f (x 0 )) ,hencef (x 0 ) {a, b} .Similarlyif
x 1 {a, b, c, d} wegetf (x 1 ) {a, b, c, d} ,andnowwewillprovethatthisisnotpossible.Takefirst
f (c) = a .Thenf (a) = f (f (c)) = g(c) = d whichisclearlyimpossible.Similarlyf (c) band
f (c) c(forotherwiseg(c) = c )hencef (c) = d .Howeverwethenhave
f (d) = f (f (c)) = g(c) = d ,whichisacontradiction,again.Thisprovesthattherequiredf doesn t
exist.

Problem8

Findallfunctionsf
numbersx, y .

: R

suchthatf (x)f (yf (x))

= f (x + y)

foreverytwopositivereal

Hidesolution.
Obviouslyf (x) 1 isonesolutiontotheproblem.Theideaistofindy suchthatyf (x) = x + y and
usethistodeterminef (x) .Foreveryxsuchthat x
0 wecanfindsuchy andfromthegiven
f (x)1

conditionwegetf (x) = 1 .Howeverthisisacontradictionsincewegotthatf (x) > 1 impliesf (x) = 1 .

Oneoftheconsequencesisthatf (x) 1 .Assumethatf (x) < 1 forsomex.Fromthegivenequation
weconcludethatf isnonincreasing(becausef (yf (x)) 1 ).Letusprovethatf isdecreasing.Inorder
todothatitisenoughtoprovethatf (x) < 1 ,foreachx.Assumethatf (x) = 1 foreveryx (0, a)(
2a
a > 0 ).Substitutingx = y =
3
thefunctionisdecreasingandhenceitisinjective.Againeverythingwillrevolvearoundtheideaofgetting
ridoff (yf (x)) .Noticethatx + y > yf (x) ,therefore
f (x)f (yf (x)) = f (x + y) = f (yf (x) + x + y yf (x)) = f (yf (x))f (f (yf (x))(x + y yf (x))),

i.e.f (x)

x = f (yf (x))(x + y yf (x))

.Theinjectivityoff impliesthat

.Ifweplugf (x)

= a

weget
1

f (y) =

,
1 + z

where
R

1f (a)
af (a)

,andaccordingtoourassumption

,andf (x)

> 0

.\\Itiseasytoverifythatf (x)

1
1+x

,for

satisfytheequation.

Problem9

(IMO2000,shortlist)Findallpairsoffunctionsf
numbersx, y thefollowingrelationholds:

: R R

andg

: R R

suchthatforeverytworeal

f (x + g(y)) = xf (y) yf (x) + g(x).

Hidesolution.
Letusfirstsolvetheproblemundertheassumptionthatg() = 0 forsome .Settingy = inthegiven
equationyieldsg(x) = ( + 1)f (x) xf () .Thenthegivenequationbecomes
f (x + g(y)) = ( + 1 y)f (x) + (f (y) f ())x ,sosettingy = + 1 wegetf (x + n) = mx ,
wheren = g( + 1) andm = f ( + 1) f () .Hencef isalinearfunction,andconsequentlyg is
alsolinear.Ifwenowsubstitutef (x) = ax + b andg(x) = cx + d inthegivenequationandcompare
thecoefficients,weeasilyfindthat
cx c
f (x) =

and

g(x) = cx c ,

c R {1}.

1 + c

Nowweprovetheexistenceof suchthatg() = 0 .Iff (0) = 0 thenputtingy = 0inthegiven

equationweobtainf (x + g(0)) = g(x) ,sowecantake = g(0) .Nowassumethatf (0) = b 0 .
Byreplacingxbyg(x) inthegivenequationweobtain
f (g(x) + g(y)) = g(x)f (y) yf (g(x)) + g(g(x)) and,analogously,
f (g(x) + g(y)) = g(y)f (x) xf (g(y)) + g(g(y)) .Thegivenfunctionalequationforx = 0 gives
f (g(y)) = a by ,wherea = g(0) .Inparticular,g isinjectiveandf issurjective,sothereexistsc R
suchthatf (c) = 0 .Nowtheabovetworelationsyield
g(x)f (y) ay + g(g(x)) = g(y)f (x) ax + g(g(y)).

(1)

Pluggingy = c in(1) wegetg(g(x)) = g(c)f (x) ax + g(g(c)) + ac = kf (x) ax + d .Now(1)

becomesg(x)f (y) + kf (x) = g(y)f (x) + kf (y) .Fory = 0wehaveg(x)b + kf (x) = af (x) + kb ,
whence
a k
g(x) =

f (x) + k.
b

Notethatg(0) = a k = g(c),sinceg isinjective.Fromthesurjectivityoff itfollowsthatg issurjective

aswell,soittakesthevalue0 .

Problem10(IMO1992,shortlist)

Findallfunctionsf : R + R + whichsatisfy
f (f (x)) + af (x) = b(a + b)x.

Hidesolution.
Thisisatypicalexampleofaproblemthatissolvedusingrecurrentequations.Letusdefinexn inductively
asxn = f (xn1 ) ,wherex0 0 isafixedrealnumber.Itfollowsfromthegivenequationinf that
x n+2 = ax n+1 + b(a + b)x n .Thegeneralsolutiontothisequationisoftheform
x n = 1 b

+ 2 (a b)

where1 , 2 R satisfyx0 = 1 + 2 andx1 = 1 b 2 (a + b) .Inordertohavexn 0 foralln

wemusthave2 = 0 .Hencex0 = 1 andf (x0 ) = x1 = 1 b = bx0 .Sincex0 wasarbitrary,we
concludethatf (x) = bx istheonlypossiblesolutionofthefunctionalequation.Itiseasilyverifiedthatthis
isindeedasolution.

Problem11(Vietnam2003)

LetF bethesetofallfunctionsf : R + R + whichsatisfytheinequalityf (3x) f (f (2x)) + x ,for

everypositiverealnumberx.Findthelargestrealnumber suchthatforallfunctionsf F :
f (x) x .
Hidesolution.
Weclearlyhavethat x2

,hence

Theideaisthefollowing:Denote 3
1

= 1

1
2

.Furthermoreforeveryfunctionf

wehavef (x)

n x

x
3

andwhich

will(hopefully)tendto 2 .Thiswouldimplythat 2 ,andhence = 2 .Letusconstractarecurrent

relationfork .Assumethatf (x) k x ,foreveryx R + .Fromthegiveninequalitywehave
1

f (3x) f (f (2x)) + x k f (2x) + x k k 2x + x = k+1 3x.

Thismeansthatn+1

2 n +1
3

.Letusprovethatlim n+

n =

1
2

.Thisisastandardproblem.Itis

easytoprovethatthesequencek isincreasingandboundedaboveby 12 .Henceitconvergesandits

limit satisfies

+1

Problem12

Findallfunctionsf , g, h

,i.e.

: R R

1
2

(since

< 1

).

thatsatisfy

f (x + y) + g(x y) = 2h(x) + 2h(y).

Hidesolution.
Ourfirstgoalistoexpressf andg usinghandgettheequationinvolvinghonly.Firsttakingy

= x

and

substitutingg(0)

= a

wegetf (2x)

g(x) = 2h(x) + 2b 4h(

x
2

= 4h(x) a.

) + a

x + y

,whereh(0)

= b

= 0

weget

.Nowtheoriginalequationcanbewrittenas

x y
) + h(

2[h(

Furthermorebyputtingy

(1)

LetH (x) = h(x) b .These"longer"linearexpressionscanbeeasilyhandledifweexpressfunctionsin

formofthesumofanevenandoddfunction,i.e.H (x) = He (x) + Ho (x) .Substitutingthisinto(1)and
writingthesameexpressionsfor(x, y) and(x, y) wecanaddthemtogetherandget:
x y
2[He (

x + y
) + He (

)] + He (x y) = He (x) + He (y).

= He (y)

(2)

Thelastequationisnotverydifficult.MathematicalinductionyieldsHe (r) = r 2 ,foreveryrational

numberr .FromthecontinuitywegetHe (x) = x2 .SimilarmethodgivesthesimplerelationforHo
Ho (x + y) + Ho (x y) = 2Ho (x).

ThisisaCauchyequationhenceHo (x)
weget:
f (x) = x

= x

.Thush(x)

+ 2x + 4b a,

= x

+ x + b

g(x) = x

andsubstitutingforf andg

+ a.

Itiseasytoverifythatthesefunctionssatisfythegivenconditions.

Problem13

Findallfunctionsf

: Q Q

forwhich
f (xy) = f (x)f (y) f (x + y) + 1.

Solvethesameproblemforthecasef

: R R

Hidesolution.
2

Itisnothardtoseethatforx = y = 0 weget(f (0) 1) = 0 ,i.e.f (0) =

x = 1 andy = 1 givesf (1) = f (1)f (1) ,hencef (1) = 0 orf (1)
intotwocases:

.Furthermore,setting
= 1 .Wewillseparatethis
1

1

f (xyz) = f (x)f (yz) f (x + yz) + 1 = f (x)(f (y)f (z) f (y + z) + 1) f (x + yz) + 1.

Althoughitseemsthatthesituationisworseandrunningoutofcontrol,thatisnotthecase.Namely
theexpressiononthelefthandsideissymmetric,whiletheoneontherighthandsideisnot.Writing
thesameexpressionforxandequatinggives
f (x)f (y + z) f (x) + f (x + yz) = f (z)f (x + y) f (z) + f (xy + z).

Settingz

= 1

(1)

(wecouldntdothatatthebeginning,sincez = 1 wasfixed)weget
,andsettingx = 1 inthisequalitygives

Settingy = 2givesf (1)(2 f (1))

caseshereaswell:
1.1

Iff (1)

= 0

= 0

,i.e.f (1)

= 0

orf (1)

(2)

= 2

.Thismeansthatwehavetwo

= f (y)

.Setting

insteadofy intheinitialequalitygivesf (xy) = f (x)f (y) f (x y) + 1 ,hence

,foreverytworationalnumbersxandy .Speciallyforx = y weget
f (2x) = f (0) = 1 ,forallx Q .Howeverthisisacontradictionwithf (1) = 0 .Inthiscase
wedonthaveasolution.
y

f (x + y) = f (x y)

Iff (1) = 2 ,settingy + 1 insteadofy in(2)gives1 f (y) = f (y) 1 .Itisclear

thatweshoulddothesubstitutiong(x) = 1 f (x) becausethepreviousequalitygives
g(x) = g(x) ,i.e.g isodd.Furthermoresubstitutingg intotheoriginalequalitygives
1.2

(3)

Settingy insteadofy wegetg(xy) = g(x) g(y) + g(x)g(y) g(x y) ,andadding

with(?? )yieldsg(x + y) + g(x y) = 2g(x) .Forx = y wehaveg(2x) = 2g(x)
thereforewegetg(x + y) + g(x y) = g(2x) .ThisisatheCauchyequationandsincethe
domainisQ wegetg(x) = rx forsomerationalnumberr .Pluggingthisbackto(3)we
obtainr = 1 ,andeasyverificationshowsthatf (x) = 1 + x satisfiestheconditionsofthe
problem.

Letf (1)

= 1

.Settingz

= 1

in(1)weget

hencefory = 1 wegetf (1 x) = 1 ,foreveryrationalx.Thismeansthatf (x)

functionsatisfiesthegivenequation.

andthis

Nowletussolvetheproblemwheref : R R.NoticethatwehaventusedthattherangeisQ ,hence

weconcludethatforallrationalnumbersq f (q) = q + 1,orf (q) 1 .Iff (q) = 1 forallrational
numbersq ,itcanbeeasilyshownthatf (x) 1 .Assumethatf (q) 1 .Fromtheabovewehavethat
g(x) + g(y) = g(x + y) ,henceitisenoughtoprovemonotonicity.Substitutex = y in(3)anduse
2
2
g(2x) = 2g(x) togetg(x ) = g(x) .Thereforeforeverypositiver thevalueg(r) isnonpositive.
Henceify > x ,i.e.y = x + r 2 wehaveg(y) = g(x) + g(r 2 ) g(x) ,andthefunctionisdecreasing.
Thismeansthatf (x) = 1 + xandaftersomecalculationwegetf (x) = 1 + x .Itiseasytoverifythat
soobtainedfunctionssatisfythegivenfunctionalequation.

Problem14

(IMO2003,shortlist)LetR + denotethesetofpositiverealnumbers.Findallfunctionsf
thatsatisfythefollowingconditions:
(i)f (xyz) + f (x) + f (y) + f (z)
(ii)f (x)

< f (y)

forall1

x < y

= f (xy )f (yz )f (zx )

: R

Hidesolution.
Firstnoticethatthesolutionofthisfunctionalequationisnotoneofthecommonsolutionsthatweareused
toworkwith.Namelyoneofthesolutionsisf (x) = x + 1x whichtellsusthatthisequalityisunlikelytobe
shownreducingtotheCauchyequation.First,settingx = y = z = 1 wegetf (1) = 2 (sincef (1) > 0 ).
Oneofthepropertiesofthesolutionsuggestedaboveisf (x) = f (1/x),andprovingthisequalitywillbe
ournextstep.Puttingx = ts ,y = st ,z = st in(i)gives
f (t)f (s) = f (ts) + f (t/s).

(1)

Inparticular,fors = 1 thelastequalityyieldsf (t) = f (1/t) hencef (t) f (1) = 2 foreacht .It

followsthatthereexistsg(t) 1 suchthatf (t) = g(t) + 1 .Nowitfollowsbyinductionfrom(1)that
g(t)

g(t

t >

foreveryintegern ,andthereforeg(t q ) = g(t) foreveryrationalq .Consequently,if

q
q
q
1 isfixed,wehavef (t ) = a + a
,wherea = g(t) .Butsincethesetofaq (q Q )isdensein
) = g(t)

andf ismonotoneon(0, 1] and[1, ) ,itfollowsthatf (t r )

Therefore,ifkissuchthatt k = a ,wehave
R

f (x) = x

Problem15

Findallfunctionsf
(i)f (x)

: [1, ) [1, )

2(1 + x)

(ii)xf (x + 1)

foreveryx

= f (x)

+ x

= a

+ a

foreveryrealr .

for everyx R.

thatsatisfy:

[1, )

foreveryx

[1, )

Hidesolution.
Itisnothardtoseethatf (x)
givenconditionsweget
f (x)

i.e.f (x)

= x + 1

isasolution.Letusprovethatthisistheonlysolution.Usingthe
2

.Withthiswehavefoundtheupperboundforf (x) .Sinceourgoalistoprove

wewillusethesamemethodforloweringtheupperbound.Similarlyweget

2 (1 + x)

f (x) = x + 1

f (x)

= xf (x + 1) + 1 x(2 (x + 1)) + 1 < 2

1/4

(1 + x) .

Nowitisclearthatweshoulduseinductiontoprove
f (x) < 2

1/2

(1 + x),
k

foreveryk.Howeverthisisshowninthesamewayastheprevioustwoinequalities.Since2 1/2 1 as
k + ,henceforfixedx wecan thavef (x) > x + 1 .Thisimpliesf (x) x + 1 foreveryreal
numberx 1 .Itremainstoshowthatf (x) x + 1 ,forx 1 .Wewillusethesimilarargument.From
thefactthattherangeis[1, +) weget
furtherhavef (x)

f (x)

= f (x + 1) 1

3/2
= 1 + xf (x + 1) > 1 + xx + 2 > x

f (x) > x

Passingtothelimitwefurtherhavef (x)
f (x)

1/2
x + 1 > x

.We

andsimilarlybyinduction

.Nowagainfromthegivenequalityweget
= 1 + xf (x + 1) (x + 1/2) ,i.elf (x) x + 1/2 .Usingtheinductionweget
1
x + 1
,andpassingtothelimitwegettherequiredinequalityf (x) x + 1 .

f (x)

11/2

,i.e.f (x)

Problem16(IMO1999,probelm6)

Findallfunctionsf : R Rsuchthat
f (x f (y)) = f (f (y)) + xf (y) + f (x) 1.

Hidesolution.
LetA

,i.e.A = f (R) .WewilldeterminethevalueofthefunctiononA .Let

,forsomey .Fromthegivenequalitywehavef (0) = f (x) + x2 + f (x) 1 ,i.e.

= {f (x) | x R}

x = f (y) A

c + 1
f (x) =
2

wheref (0)

= c

,
2

.NowitisclearthatwehavetoanalyzesetA further.Settingx

= y = 0

intheoriginal

equationwegetf (c) = f (c) + c 1 ,hencec 0 .Furthermore,pluggingy = 0intheoriginal

equationwegetf (x c) f (x) = cx + f (c) 1 .Sincetherangeofthefunction(onx)ontheright
handsideisentireR ,weget{f (x c) f (x) | x R} = R,i.e.A A = R .Henceforeveryreal
numberxtherearerealnumbersy 1 , y 2 A suchthatx = y 1 y 2 .Nowwehave
f (x) = f (y 1 y 2 ) = f (y 1 f (z)) = f (f (z)) + y 1 f (z) + f (y 1 ) 1
x
= f (y 1 ) + f (y 2 ) + y 1 y 2 1 = c

Fromtheoriginalequationweeasilygetc
satisfiesthegivenequation.

= 1

.
2

.Itiseasytoshowthatthefunctionf (x)

Problem17

Givenanintegern ,letf : R Rbeacontinuousfunctionsatisfyingf (0) =

(n)
f
(x) = x ,foreveryx [0, 1] .Provethatf (x) = x foreachx [0, 1] .

,f (1)

= 1

= 1

,and

Hidesolution.
Firstfromf (x) = f (y) wehavef (n) (x) = f (n) (y) ,hencef isinjective.Theideaforwhatfollowsis
clearoncewelookatthegraphicalrepresentation.Namelyfromthepictureitcanbeeasilydeducedthat
thefunctionhastobestrictlyincreasing.Letusprovethatformally.Assumethecontrary,thatforsometwo
realnumbersx1 < x2 wehavef (x1 ) f (x2 ) .Thecontinuityon[0, x1 ] impliesthatthereissomec
suchthatf (c) = f (x2 ) ,whichcontradictstheinjectivityoff .Nowifx < f (x),wegetf (x) < f (f (x))
etc.x < f (n)(x) = x .Similarlywegetacontradictionifweassumethatx > f (x).Henceforeach
x [0, 1] wemusthavef (x) = x .

Problem18

Findallfunctionsf
x, y (0, +) .

: (0, +) (0, +)

thatsatisfyf (f (x) + y)

= xf (1 + xy)

forall

Hidesolution.
Clearlyf (x) = 1x isonesolutiontothefunctionalequation.Letusprovethatthefunctionisnon
increasing.Assumethecontrarythatforsome0 < x < y wehave0 < f (x) < f (y) .Wewillconsider
theexpressionoftheformz

yf (y)xf (x)
yx

insteadof(x, y) intheoriginalequation,thenweplugz f (x) insteadofy ,weget

(x, z f (y))
x = y

Letusprovethatf (1)

.Letf (1) 1 .Substitutingx = 1 wegetf (f (1) + y) = f (1 + y) ,hence

foru > 1 .Thereforethefunctionisperiodicontheinterval(1, +),and
sinceitismonotoneitisconstant.Howeverwethenconcludethatthelefthandsideoftheoriginal
equationconstantandtherighthandsideisnot.Thuswemusthavef (1) = 1 .Letusprovethat
= 1

f (u + |f (1) 1|) = f (u)

f (x) =
f (x) >

1
x
1
x

forx

> 1

.Indeedfory

wehavef (f (x)
1

f (f (x)

1
x

+ 1) f (1) = 1

= 1

1
x

thegivenequalitygivesf (f (x)

+ 1) f (1) = 1

,andxf (x)

< 1

andxf (x)

.Hencef (x)

1
f (f (x) +

Problem19(Bulgaria1998)

1
x

2
x

1
x

.Iff (x)

.Ifx

<

< 1

) = xf (x)
1
x

.If

wehave

,pluggingy

1
x

weget

x
) = xf (2) =

andsince x 1 ,wegetf (x) +

allpositiverealnumbersx.

> 1

,i.e.f (x)

,
2

1
x

inthiscase,too.Thismeansthatf (x)

1
x

for

Provethatthereisnofunctionf
positiverealnumbersxandy .

: R

suchthatf (x)

f (x + y)(f (x) + y)

foreverytwo

Hidesolution.
Thecommonideafortheproblemsofthistypeistoprovethatf (y) < 0 forsomey > 0whichwilllead
f (x) f (x + 1) c > 0 ,foreveryx becausethesimpleadditiongivesf (x) f (x + m) mc .For
sufficientlylargemthisimpliesf (x + m) < 0 .Henceourgoalisfindingc suchthat
f (x) f (x + 1) c,foreveryx .Assumethatsuchfunctionexists.Fromthegiveninequalityweget
f (x) f (x + y)

f (x+y)y
f (x)

andthefunctionisobviouslydecreasing.Alsofromthegivenequalitywecan

concludethat
f (x)y
f (x) f (x + y)

.
f (x) + y

Letn beanaturalnumbersuchthatf (x + 1)n

0 k n 1 thefollowinginequalityholds
k
f (x +

(suchnumberclearlyexists).Noticethatfor

f (x +

k + 1
) f (x +

k
n

f (x +

k
n

) +

andaddingsimilarrealitionsforalldescribedkyieldsf (x) f (x + 1)

f (1) = 2,

Problem20

Letf : N

1
n

,
2n

1
n

1
2

beafunctionsatisfying

f (2) = 1,

f (3n) = 3f (n),

Findthenumberofintegersn

2006

f (3n + 1) = 3f (n) + 2,

forwhichf (n)

= 2n

f (3n + 2) = 3f (n) + 1.

Hidesolution.
thissituationthebase3 isdoingthejob.Letuscalculatef (n) forn 8 inanattempttoguessthe
solution.Clearlythegivenequationcanhaveonlyonesolution.
f ((1) ) = (2) , f ((2) ) = (1) , f ((10) ) = 6 = (20) , f ((11) ) = 8 = (22) ,
3

3

Nowweseethatf (n) isobtainedfromn bychangingeachdigit2 by1 ,andconversely.Thiscanbenow

easilyshownbyinduction.Itisclearthatf (n) = 2nifandonlyifinthesystemwithbase3n doesnt
containanydigit1 (becausethiswouldimplyf (n) < 2n).Nowitiseasytocountthenumberofsuchn s.

Problem21(BMO2003,shortlist)

Findallpossiblevaluesforf (

(i)f (xy)
(ii)f (x)
(iii)f (

= f (x)f (y)

2004
2003

iff

forallx, y

1 f (x + 1) 1

2003
2002

) = 2

: Q [0, +)

forallx

isthefunctionsatisfyingtheconditions:

Hidesolution.
Noticethatfrom(i)and(ii)weconcludethatf (x) > 0 ,foreveryrationalx.Now(i)impliesthatfor
x = y = 1 wegetf (1) = 0 andsimilarlyforx = y = 1 wegetf (1) = 1 .Byinductionf (x)
foreveryintegerx.Forf (x)
to(ii)f (

y
x

+ 1) 1.

f (y)

fromf (

y
x

)f (y) = f (x)

wehavethatf (

y
x

) 1

,andaccording

Thisimplies
y
f (x + y) = f (

x

hencef (x + y) max{f (x), f (y)} ,foreveryx, y Q.Nowyoumightwonderhowdidwegetthis

integersaandb suchthatau + bv = 1 .Whatisallofthisgoodfor?Wegotthatf (1) = 1 ,andweknow
thatf (x) 1 forallx Z andsince1 isthemaximumofthefunctiononZ andsincewehavethe
previousinequalityourgoalistoshowthatthevalueofthefunctionis1 forabiggerclassofintegers.We
willdothisforprimenumbers.Ifforeveryprimep wehavef (p) = 1 thenf (x) = 1 foreveryinteger
implyingf (x) 1 whichcontradicts(iii).Assumethereforethatf (p) 1 forsomep P.Therearea
andb suchthatap + bq = 1implyingf (1) = f (ap + bq) max{f (ap), f (bq)}. Nowwemusthave
f (bq) = 1 implyingthatf (q) = 1 foreveryotherprimenumberq .From(iii)wehave
f (2003)

2003
f(

) =
2002

= 2,
f (2)f (7)f (11)f (13)

henceonlyoneofthenumbersf (2), f (7), f (11), f (13) isequalto1/2 .Thus

f (3) = f (167) = f (2003) giving:
2

f (2) f (3)f (167)

2004
f(

) =
2003

Iff (2)

= 1/2

thenf (

2003
2002

) =

1
4

= f (2) .
f (2003)

,otherwiseitis1 .

Itremainstoconstructonefunctionforeachofthegivenvalues.Forthefirstvalueitisthemultiplicative
functiontakingthevalue1/2 atthepoint2 ,and1 forallotherprimenumbersinthesecondcaseitisa
themultiplicativefunctionthattakesthevalue1/2 at,forexample,7 andtakes1 atallotherprime
numbers.Forthesefunctionsweonlyneedtoverifythecondition(ii),butthatisalsoveryeasytoverify.

Problem22

LetI = [0, 1] ,G
statementshold:

= I I

(ii)f (x, 1)

= x

andk

.Findallf

= f (x, f (y, z))

,f (x, y)

= z

suchthatforallx, y, z

thefollowing

= f (y, x)

f (x, y)

: G I

foreveryx, y, z

,wherekisafixedrealnumber.

Hidesolution.
Thefunctionofseveralvariablesappearsinthisproblem.Inmostcasesweusethesamemethodsasin
thecaseofasinglevariablefunctions.Fromthecondition(ii)wegetf (1, 0) = f (0, 1) = 0 ,andfrom(iii)
wegetf (0, x) = f (x, 0) = xk f (1, 0) = 0 .Thismeansthatf isentirelydefinedontheedgeofthe
regionG .Assumethereforethat0 < x y < 1.Noticethatthecondition(ii)givesthevalueforone
classofpairsfromG andthateachpairinG canbereducedtooneofthemembersoftheclass.This
implies

f (x, y) = f (y, x) = y

x
f (1,

) = y

k1

x.

y
k1

Thiscanbewrittenasf (x, y) = min(x, y)(max(u, v))

forall0 < x, y < 1 .Letusfindallpossible
1
valuesfork.Let0 < x 2 y < 1.Fromthecondition(i),andthealreadyobtainedresultsweget
1
), y) = f (x(
2

Letusnowconsiderx
f (x,

1
2

k = 1

k1

ork

) = x(

k1

, y) = f (x, f (

2
y

k1

f (f (x,

)) = f (x,
2

k1

).

inordertosimplifytheexpressiontotheform

k1

,andifwetakexforwhich2x

k1

wegetk 1

= (k 1)

,i.e.

.Fork = 1 thesolutionisf (x, y) = min(x, y) ,andfork = 2 thesolutionis

.Itiseasytoverifythatbothsolutionssatisfythegivenconditions.

= 2

f (x, y) = xy

Problem23(APMO1989)

Findallstrictlyincreasingfunctionsf

: R R

suchthat

f (x) + g(x) = 2x,

whereg istheinverseoff .
Hidesolution.
Clearlyeveryfunctionoftheformx + d isthesolutionofthegivenequation.Anotherusefulideaappears
inthisproblem.NamelydenotebyS d thethesetofallnumbersxforwhichf (x) = x + d .Ourgoalisto
provethatS d = R .AssumethatS d isnonempty.Letusprovethatforx S d wehavex + d S d as
well.Sincef (x) = x + d ,accordingtothedefinitionoftheinversefunctionwehaveg(x + d) = x ,and
thegivenequationimpliesf (x + d) = x + 2d ,i.e.x + d S d .LetusprovethatthesetsS d are
empty,whered < d .Fromtheabovewehavethateachofthosesetsisinfinite,i.e.ifxbelongstosome
ofthem,theneachx + kd belongstoitaswell.Letususethistogetthecontradiction.Morepreciselywe
wanttoprovethatifx S d andx y x + (d d ) ,theny S d .Assumethecontrary.Fromthe
monotonicitywehavey + d = f (y) f (x) = x + d ,whichisacontradictiontoourassumption.By
furtherinductionweprovethateveryy satisfying

x + k(d d ) y < x + (k + 1)(d d ),

setsS d andS d .Similarlyifd > d switchingtherolesofd andd givesacontradiction.Simple
verificationshowsthateachf (x) = x + d satisfiesthegivenfunctionalequation.

Problem24

Findallfunctionsh

: N N

thatsatisfy
h(h(n)) + h(n + 1) = n + 2.

Hidesolution.
Noticethatwehavebothh(h(n)) andh(n + 1) ,henceitisnotpossibletoformarecurrentequation.We
havetouseanotherapproachtothisproblem.Letusfirstcalculateh(1) andh(2) .Settingn = 1 gives
h(h(1)) + h(2) = 3 ,thereforeh(h(1)) 2 andh(2) 2 .Letusconsiderthetwocases:
.Pluggingn = 2 inthegivenequalitygives
.Leth(1) = k.Itisclearthatk 1 andk 2 ,andthat
k 3 .Thismeansthatk = 3 ,henceh(3) = 1 .Howeverfrom2 = h(h(1)) = h(3) = 1 weget
1

h(2)

= 1

.Thenh(h(1))

= 2

4 = h(h(2)) + h(3) = h(1) + h(3)

h(2)

= 2

.Thenh(h(1))

= 1

.Fromtheequationforn

= 2

wegeth(3)

= 2

.Setting

wegeth(4) = 3, h(5) = 4, h(6) = 4 ,andbyinductionweeasilyprovethat

,forn 2 .Thismeansthath(1) = 1 .Clearlythereisatmostonefunctionsatisfyingthe
givenequality.Henceitisenoughtoguesssomefunctionandprovethatitindeedsolvesthe
equation(inductionorsomethingsimilarsoundsfine).Thesolutionis
n = 3, 4, 5
h(n) 2

h(n) =

n + 1,

1+5

where =
(thisconstantcanbeeasilyfound2 + = 1 ).Proofthatthisisasolution
2
usessomepropertiesoftheintegerpart(althoughitisnotcompletelytrivial).

Problem25(IMO2004,shortlist)

Findallfunctionsf : R Rsatisfyingtheequality
f (x

+ y

+ 2f (xy)) = f (x + y) .

Hidesolution.
Letusmakethesubstitutionz = x + y,t = xy .Givenz, t R,x, y arerealifandonlyif4t
Defineg(x) = 2(f (x) x) .Nowthegivenfunctionalequationtransformsinto
f (z

Letussetc

+ g(t)) = (f (z))

= g(0) = 2f (0)

f (z

.Substitutingt

= 0

+ c) = (f (z))

Ifc < 0 ,thentakingz suchthatz 2 + c

hencec 0 .Wealsoobservethat
x > c

= 0

4t.

Ifg isaconstantfunction,weeasilyfindthatc

(1)

into(1)givesus

for all z R.

(2)

,weobtainfrom(2)thatf (z)

implies

f (x) 0.

= 0

andthereforef (x)

= c/2

,whichisimpossible

(3)

= x

,whichisindeedasolution.

Supposeg isnonconstant,andleta, b R besuchthatg(a) g(b) = d > 0 .Forsomesufficiently

largeK andeachu, v K withv 2 u2 = d theequalityu2 + g(a) = v 2 + g(b) by(1)and(2)
d
impliesf (u) = f (v) .Thisfurtherleadstog(u) g(v) = 2(v u) =
.Thereforeevery
u+u

+d

valuefromsomesuitablychosensegment[, 2] canbeexpressedasg(u) g(v) ,withuandv

boundedfromabovebysomeM .

Consideranyx, y withy > x 2M and < y 2 x2 < 2.Bytheaboveconsiderations,thereexist

2
2
2
2
2
u, v M suchthatg(u) g(v) = y
x ,i.e.,x + g(u) = y
+ g(v) .Sincex 4u and
2
2
2
2
y
4v ,(1)leadstof (x) = f (y) .Moreover,ifweassumew.l.o.g.that4M c ,weconcludefrom

k = 0 ork = 1 .
By(1)wehavef (z)

,andthus|f (z)| 1 forallz N .Hence

foru N ,whichimpliesthatg isunbounded.Henceforeachz
2
2
2
+ g(t) > N ,andconsequentlyf (z) = f (z + g(t)) = k = k .Therefore

= f (z)

g(u) = 2f (u) 2u 2 2u

thereexistst suchthatz 2
f (z) = k foreachz .
Ifk

,thenf (x) 0 ,whichisclearlyasolution.Assumek = 1 .Thenc = 2f (0) = 2 (because

c 0 ),whichtogetherwith(3)impliesf (x) = 1 forallx 2 .Supposethatf (t) = 1 forsomet < 2 .
Thent g(t) = 3t + 2 > 4t.Ifalsot g(t) 0 ,thenforsomez R wehavez 2 = t g(t) > 4t ,
2
whichby(1)leadstof (z) = f (z 2 + g(t)) = f (t) = 1 ,whichisimpossible.Hencet g(t) < 0 ,
givingust < 2/3 .Ontheotherhand,ifXisanysubsetof(, 2/3),thefunctionf definedby
f (x) = 1 forx X andf (x) = 1 satisfiestherequirementsoftheproblem.
= 0

Tosumup,thesolutionsaref (x)

= x

,f (x)

= 0

andallfunctionsoftheform

f (x) = {

whereX

(, 2/3)

1,

x X,

1,

x X,

Functionalequations(Tableofcontents)

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