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# AN OLYMPIAD PROBLEM: ZEROES OF FUNCTIONS IN THE

## Abstract. We consider a generalization of an olympiad problem which can be

regarded as a result for a Volterra operator.

## 1. Introduction & Main result

One of the problems of the Romanian National Olympiad in 2006 was the following

Z 1
f (x)dx = 0.
0

## Show that there exists c ∈ (0, 1) such that

Z c
xf (x)dx = 0.
0

In what follows we give two proofs to this problem. In the second proof we shall
use a mean value theorem due to Flett. For more details we recommend  and .
Z t
First proof. We assume by contradiction that xf (x)dx 6= 0, ∀t ∈ (0, 1). With-
Z t 0 Z t
out loss of generality, let xf (x)dx > 0, ∀t ∈ (0, 1) and let F (t) = f (x)dx.
0 0
Integrating by part, we obtain
Z t Z t
0< xf (x)dx = tF (t) − F (x)dx, ∀t ∈ (0, 1).
0 0

Now, by passing to the limit when t → 1, and taking into account that F (1) = 0,
we deduce that
Z 1
F (x)dx ≤ 0.(∗)
0

## Key words and phrases. mean value theorem, integrals.

2000 Mathematics Subject Classification. 26A24, 26A33.
1
2 RADU GOLOGAN, CEZAR LUPU

## Now, we consider the differentiable function, H : [0, 1] → R defined by

 Z t

 F (x)dx
H(t) = 0
, if t 6= 0 .

 0, t
if t = 0
Z t
tF (t) − F (x)dx
0 0
It is easy to see H (t) = > 0, so µ is increasing on the interval
t2
(0, 1), so it is increasing on the interval [0, 1] (by continuity argument). Because
H(0) = 0, it follows that
Z 1
F (x)dx > 0,
0
which is in contradiction with (∗). So, there exists c ∈ (0, 1) such that
Z c
xf (x)dx = 0.
0

## Second proof. We consider the following differentiable function H : [0, 1] → R,

defined by
Z t Z t
H(t) = t f (x)dx − xf (x)dx
0 0
Z t Z 1
0 0 0
with H (t) = f (x)dx. It is clear that H (0) = H (1) = f (x)dx = 0. Applying
0 0
Flett’s mean value theorem (see ), there exists c ∈ (0, 1) such that
H(c) − H(0)
H0 (c) =
c
or Z c Z c Z c
c f (x)dx = c f (x)dx − xf (x)dx
0 0 0
which is equivalent to Z c
xf (x)dx = 0.
0


An extension of theorem 1.1 was given in , namely

## Theorem 1.1. Let f, g : [0, 1] → R be two continuous functions. There exists

c ∈ (0, 1) such that
Z 1 Z c Z 1 Z c
f (x)dx xg(x)dx = g(x)dx xf (x)dx.
0 0 0 0
AN OLYMPIAD PROBLEM: ZEROES OF FUNCTIONS IN THE IMAGE OF A VOLTERRA OPERATOR
3

The proof is almost the same with the second proof of theorem 1.1, only this time
we shall consider the function H̃ : [0, 1] → R defined by
Z 1  Z t Z t  Z 1  Z t Z t 
H̃(t) = f (x)dx t g(x)dx − xg(x)dx − g(x)dx t f (x)dx − xf (x)dx .
0 0 0 0 0 0

The proof of the main result involves some non-elementary facts. The following
lemma will be used.

## Lemma 1.2. Let h : [0, 1] → R be a continuous function and φ : [0, 1] → R is

nondecreasing, continuous in 0 and φ(0) = 0. Then
Z t
h(x)φ(x)dx
0
lim = 0.
t→0+ φ(t)
Z t
h(x)φ(x)dx
Proof. We assume by contradiction that lim+ 0 6= 0. Thus, there
Z tn t→0 φ(t)
h(x)φ(x)dx
0
exists a sequence tn > 0 such that ≥ c > 0, which is equivalent to
φ(tn )
Z tn
h(x)φ(x)dx ≥ cφ(tn ) > 0.
0
On the other hand, using the continuity and the fact that φ is nondecreasing we
obtain Z tn
0< h(x)φ(x)dx ≤ tn φ(tn )
0
and by letting tn → 0 we have a contradiction.
We are now able to state the general form of our intermediate value result.
Theorem 1.3. Let f, g, φ : [0, 1] → R such that f, g are continuous functions and
φ is nondecreasing, continuous in 0 and φ(0) = 0. Then there exists c ∈ (0, 1) such
that Z 1
Z Z c Z 1 c
f (x)dx g(x)φ(x)dx = g(x)dx f (x)φ(x)dx.
0 0 0 0
Z t
Proof. Let H̃(t) = h(x)φ(x)dx, where h : [0, 1] → R is a continuous function.
0
H̃(t)
By the preeceding lemma we have lim+ = 0. Integrating by parts in the
t→0 φ(t)
Riemann-Stieltjes integral setting, we have
Z 1 Z 1 Z 1
h(x)φ(x) H̃(x) 1 1
h(x)dx = dx = | − H̃(x)d =
  φ(x) φ(x)  φ
4 RADU GOLOGAN, CEZAR LUPU
Z 1
H̃(1) H̃() 1
= − − H̃(x)d .
φ(1) φ() φ
Z 1 
Now, by letting  → 0, if we assume that h(x)dx = 0, we get
0
1
H̃(1)
Z
1
= H̃(x)d .
φ(1) 0 φ
This implies that the function H̃(x) cannot be of constant sign on (0, 1). Thus
there is c ∈ (0, 1) such that H̃(c) = 0. In the particular case when
Z 1 Z 1
h(t) = f (t) g(x)φ(x)dx − g(t) f (x)φ(x)dx,
0 0
Z 1
we clearly have h(x)dx = 0, so by the considerations above there exists c ∈ (0, 1)
Z c 0

## such that h(x)φ(x)dx = 0 which is equivalent to

0
Z 1 Z c Z 1 Z c
f (x)dx g(x)φ(x)dx = g(x)dx f (x)φ(x)dx.
0 0 0 0


To formulate a consequence, denote by C([0, 1]) the Banach space of continuous
functions on [0, 1] and by Cnull the subspace of functions having zero integral.
Theorem 1.4. Let φ : [0, 1] → R a nondecreasing function continuous at 0 and such
that φ(0) = Z0, and consider the Volterra operator Vφ : C([0, 1]) → C([0, 1]) given by
x
Vφ (f )(x) = φ(t)f (t)dt. Then, all functions in Vφ (Cnull ) have at least one zero in
0
(0, 1).
References
 T.M. Flett, A mean value problem, Mathematical Gazette 42(1958), 38–39.
 T.L. Rădulescu, V.D. Rădulescu, T. Andreescu, Problems in Real Analysis: asvanced calculus
on the real axis, Springer Verlag, 2009.
 T. Lupu, Probleme de Analiză Matematică: Calcul Integral, GIL Publishing House, 1996.
 C. Lupu, T. Lupu Problem 11290, American Mathematical Monthly, no. 4/2007.

## Polytechnic University of Bucharest, Department of Mathematics II, Str. Splaiul

Independentei 313, RO–060042 and Insitute of Mathematics ”Simon Stoilow” of the
Romanian Academy, Str. Calea Grivitei nr. 21, RO–014700, Romania