Two Cute Proofs

The first begins with a problem I found online: Show that a b c a, b, c Ε 0, 1 , abc 2.

I was unsure how to start the problem at first; I tried strange methods to reduce the problem to two variables and then to one, eventually ending up with a huge complex proof scribbled incomprehensibly with an error somewhere, since the last step didn't fit; upset, I started over and came up with a similar but much simpler method of solving this one. First, we choose c and isolate it: c 1 ab c a b 2 0; this expression will equal 0 when
2 a b 1 ab

2 a b . Thus, 1 ab

we must show that either

1 or

2 a b 1 ab

0,

and then show that the expression a b c a b c 2 for some values of a, b and c on [0,1); then we've proven that the quantity a b c a b c 2 is never 0, and is less than 0 for some value. (We can choose a b c 0 to obtain 0 2.) Since it is linear in any of a, b or c, it is continuous and thus has to be negative a, b and c Ε 0, 1 . Clearly,
2 a b 1 ab

is greater than 0 since 1

a b and 2

a b by assumption. Thus, we have to show

that it is greater than 1, or that 2 1 a 1 a b 1 b1 1 a b 1 b b ab ab a a 1 a

Which is true by assumption: thus, we have proved the original statement. After completing this, I noticed that the case we reduced the original statement to is another version of that statement: a b c abc a b ab 1 2

Naturally, I wondered if in general, x1 x2 ... xn x1 x2 ... xn n 1 x1 , x2 , ... xn Ε 0, 1 .

1 a b ab 1 b1 a a 2 Two Cute Proofs.nb 1 a b1 a 1 b Which is true by assumption: thus, we have proved the original statement. After completing this, I noticed that the case we reduced the original statement to is another version of that statement: a b c abc a b ab 1 2

Naturally, I wondered if in general, x1 x2 ... xn x1 x2 ... xn n 1 x1 , x2 , ... xn Ε 0, 1 .

I quickly noticed that an inductive proof would do: Base case: Show that a b a b Induction: Show that k 11 xi i We work backwards, as above: x1 x2 ... xk 1 x1 x2 ... xk 1 k xk 1 1 x1 x2 ... xk x1 x2 ... xk k k x1 ... xk xk 1 1 x ... x
1 k

k 1 i 1 xi

1; see above for proof. k given that the statement holds for n

k.

0,

0 when

Again, this last is clearly greater than 0; to show that it is greater than 1, the inequality reduces to k 1 x1 x2 ... xk x1 x2 ... xk

Which is true by the inductive hypothesis. By the same logic above, and using x1 x2 . .. xk 1 0 k, we have proven the statement in general for n 1. It is also interesting to note that the same exact proof works (with all the signs switched, of course) to show that the opposite is true x1, ... xn Ε 1, , i.e. that under those conditions x1 x2 ... xn x1 x2 ... xn n 1. The exploration is surely too complex for this post, but I might investigate what how the conditions change when we allow the xi ' s to be any real numbers. My reaction upon first seeing the problem was that it was certainly related to the AMGM theorem, or the Arithmetic Mean Geometric Mean theorem, which proves that the arithmetic mean of a set of numbers is always larger than or equal to the geometric mean of the same set of numbers- after all, the arithmetic mean is just a sum (with a constant) and the geometric mean is just a product (with a root). There may well be an intimate connection, but as of yet it isn't apparent to me.

k

1

x1 x2 ... xk x1 x2 ... xk
Two Cute Proofs.nb 3

Which is true by the inductive hypothesis. By the same logic above, and using x1 x2 . .. xk 1 0 k, we have proven the statement in general for n 1. It is also interesting to note that the same exact proof works (with all the signs switched, of course) to show that the opposite is true x1, ... xn Ε 1, , i.e. that under those conditions x1 x2 ... xn x1 x2 ... xn n 1. The exploration is surely too complex for this post, but I might investigate what how the conditions change when we allow the xi ' s to be any real numbers. My reaction upon first seeing the problem was that it was certainly related to the AMGM theorem, or the Arithmetic Mean Geometric Mean theorem, which proves that the arithmetic mean of a set of numbers is always larger than or equal to the geometric mean of the same set of numbers- after all, the arithmetic mean is just a sum (with a constant) and the geometric mean is just a product (with a root). There may well be an intimate connection, but as of yet it isn't apparent to me. Another perhaps interesting curiosity just came to me: to find how multiplying constants, call them Cs and C p , to both the sum and product would affect the maximum (or minimum, if the xi ' s are all greater than 1) of the expression. (Perhaps the sum-constant should be added, and the product constant multiplied, or vice-versa.) There may be something here; I don't know.

The second problem is as follows: There are three coins on a # line. At any step, we can move one coin one unit to the left and one coin one unit to the right. Find all the starting configurations of the coins (on integer points) so that we can move all the coins to the same spot in a finite number of moves, starting from that configuration. I quickly determined the set: any configuration where the points sum to a multiple of 3 works. We set out to prove that all configurations satisfying this can be transformed by the given action so that all three coins are on the same spot, and there are no configurations without this property that can do the same. Proof: One coin can start at 0, WLOG; then if the second coin is at a, (we can assume WLOG that a 0), by assumption the third coin is at 3 r a for some integer value of r. First, we move the second coin a steps to the left and the third coin a steps to the right, so our three coins have positions 0, 0, 3 r), respectively. Then, we move the second coin r steps to the right and the third coin r steps to the left to obtain 0, r, 2 r . Finally, the first coin moves r units to the right and the third coin moves r units to the left for the desired result, r, r, r . As well, we know that the sum of the points the 3 coins are on remains constant because the operation adds 1 and subtracts 1 from the sum, adding a net total of 0. Thus, since the ending configuration- C, C, C - has a sum that is a multiple of 3, the initial configuration must also have a sum that is divisible by 3, and we have the desired result.

I quickly determined the set: any configuration where the points sum to a multiple of 3 works. We set out to prove that all configurations satisfying this can be transformed by the given action so that all Two Cute Proofs.nb on the same spot, and there are no configurations without this property that can three coins are 4 do the same. Proof: One coin can start at 0, WLOG; then if the second coin is at a, (we can assume WLOG that a 0), by assumption the third coin is at 3 r a for some integer value of r. First, we move the second coin a steps to the left and the third coin a steps to the right, so our three coins have positions 0, 0, 3 r), respectively. Then, we move the second coin r steps to the right and the third coin r steps to the left to obtain 0, r, 2 r . Finally, the first coin moves r units to the right and the third coin moves r units to the left for the desired result, r, r, r . As well, we know that the sum of the points the 3 coins are on remains constant because the operation adds 1 and subtracts 1 from the sum, adding a net total of 0. Thus, since the ending configuration- C, C, C - has a sum that is a multiple of 3, the initial configuration must also have a sum that is divisible by 3, and we have the desired result.

Bored with just 3 coins, I decided to see if the same results held for N coins; and they do. By the same logic, the starting configuration's coin positions must sum to a multiple of N. Then the procedure is the same: We start with the general configuration of coins, assuming that the position values sum to a multiple of N, r N The initial configuration, then, is r0 , r1 , r2 , r3 , ..., rN 1 , r N r0 r1 ... rN 1 . This can easily be transformed (in r0 r1 ... rN 1 steps) into 0, 0, ..., 0, r N . Then we add r to each of the first N 1 coins, subtracting it all from the last to obtain the desired result, r, r, r, r ..., r . Clearly this point is unique, (since the sum remains constant), and counting the number of steps it takes to reach that point is something of a moot point (no pun intended) and relies on specific cases. The only further extention of this problem I could think of was asking what sets of configurations could reach different, stranger configurations- for example where the coins are in an arithmetic sequence, or a geometric sequence, or some polynomial sequence, or all adjacent, or all on two different points, or three- there are a lot of these questions, and I'm not sure how many- if anyare solveable. I'll leave those to the reader.

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