# 1985 AHSME Problems/Problem 28

## Problem

In $\triangle ABC$, we have $\angle C = 3\angle A$, $a = 27$ and $c = 48$. What is $b$?

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$\mathrm{(A)\ } 33 \qquad \mathrm{(B) \ }35 \qquad \mathrm{(C) \ } 37 \qquad \mathrm{(D) \ } 39 \qquad \mathrm{(E) \ }\text{not uniquely determined}$

## Solution 1

Let $\angle A = x^{\circ}$, so $\angle C = 3x^{\circ}$, and thus $\angle B = \left(180-4x\right)^{\circ}$. Now let $D$ be a point on side $AB$ such that $\angle ACD = x^{\circ}$, so $\angle BCD = 3x^{\circ}-x^{\circ} = 2x^{\circ}$, which gives $$\angle CDB = 180^{\circ}-2x^{\circ}-\left(180-4x\right)^{\circ} = 2x^{\circ},$$ meaning that $\triangle CDB$ and $\triangle CDA$ are both isosceles, with $BC = BD$ and $AD = CD$. In particular, $BD = BC = 27$ and $CD = AD = AB-BD = 48-27 = 21$. Hence by Stewart's theorem on triangle $ABC$, \begin{align*}&BD \cdot AB \cdot AD + CD^2 \cdot AB = AC^2 \cdot BD + BC^2 \cdot AD \\ &\iff 27 \cdot 48 \cdot 21 + 21^2 \cdot 48 = AC^2 \cdot 27 + 27^2 \cdot 21 \\ &\iff AC^2 = \frac{27(21)(48-27) + 21^2 \cdot 48}{27} \\ &\iff AC^2 = \frac{21^2(27+48)}{27} \\ &\iff AC^2 = \frac{21^2 \cdot 25}{9} \\ &\iff AC = \frac{21 \cdot 5}{3} \qquad \text{(as } AC > 0\text{)} \\ &\iff AC = \boxed{\text{(B)} \ 35}.\end{align*}

## Solution 2

We apply the law of sines in the form $$\frac{\sin(A)}{a} = \frac{\sin(C)}{c},$$ yielding $$\frac{\sin(A)}{27} = \frac{\sin(3A)}{48} \iff 9\sin(3A) = 16\sin(A).$$

Now, the angle sum and double angle identities give \begin{align*}\sin(3A) &= \sin(2A+A) \\ &= \sin(2A)\cos(A)+\cos(2A)\sin(A) \\ &= \left(2\sin(A)\cos(A)\right)\cos(A)+\left(\cos^2(A)-\sin^2(A)\right)\sin(A) \\ &= 2\sin(A)\cos^2(A)+\sin(A)\cos^2(A)-\sin^3(A) \\ &= 3\sin(A)\left(1-\sin^2(A)\right)-\sin^3(A) \\ &\text{(using the further identity } \cos^2(\theta)+\sin^2(\theta) = 1\text{)} \\ &= 3\sin(A)-4\sin^3(A).\end{align*}

Thus our equation becomes \begin{align*}9\left(3\sin(A)-4\sin^3(A)\right) = 16\sin(A) &\iff 27\sin(A)-36\sin^3(A) = 16\sin(A) \\ &\iff 36\sin^3(A) = 11\sin(A) \\ &\iff \sin(A) = 0 \text{ or } \pm\frac{\sqrt{11}}{6}.\end{align*} Notice, however, that we must have $0^{\circ} < A < 45^{\circ}$, the latter because otherwise $A+3A \geq 180^{\circ}$, which would contradict the fact that $A$ and $3A$ are angles in a (non-degenerate) triangle. This means $\sin(A) > 0$, so the only valid solution is $$\sin(A) = \frac{\sqrt{11}}{6},$$ and the fact that $A$ is acute also means $\cos(A) > 0$, so we deduce \begin{align*}\cos(A) &= \sqrt{1-\left(\frac{\sqrt{11}}{6}\right)^2} \\ &= \sqrt{1-\frac{11}{36}} \\ &=\frac{5}{6}.\end{align*} Accordingly, using the double angle identities again, \begin{align*}\sin(4A) &= \sin(2 \cdot 2A) \\ &= 2\sin(2A)\cos(2A) \\ &= 2\left(2\sin(A)\cos(A)\right)\left(\cos^2(A)-\sin^2(A)\right) \\ & =2\left(2 \cdot \frac{\sqrt{11}}{6} \cdot\frac{5}{6}\right)\left(\left(\frac{5}{6}\right)^2-\left(\frac{\sqrt{11}}{6}\right)^2\right) \\ &= \frac{5\sqrt{11}}{9} \cdot \frac{25-11}{36} \\ &= \frac{5\sqrt{11}}{9} \cdot \frac{7}{18} \\ &= \frac{35\sqrt{11}}{162}.\end{align*} Finally, the law of sines now gives \begin{align*}\frac{\sin(A)}{27} &= \frac{\sin(B)}{b} \\ &= \frac{\sin(180^{\circ}-3A-A)}{b} \\ &= \frac{\sin(4A)}{b} \qquad \text{(using the identity } \sin\left(180^{\circ}-\theta\right) = \sin(\theta)\text{)},\end{align*} so, substituting the above results, $$\frac{\left(\frac{\sqrt{11}}{6}\right)}{27} = \frac{\left(\frac{35\sqrt{11}}{162}\right)}{b} \iff b = \frac{6 \cdot 27 \cdot 35}{162} = \boxed{\text{(B)} \ 35}.$$