1990 AIME Problems/Problem 9


A fair coin is to be tossed $10_{}^{}$ times. Let $\frac{i}{j}^{}_{}$, in lowest terms, be the probability that heads never occur on consecutive tosses. Find $i+j_{}^{}$.


Solution 1

Clearly, at least $5$ tails must be flipped; any less, then by the Pigeonhole Principle there will be heads that appear on consecutive tosses.

Consider the case when $5$ tails occur. The heads must fall between the tails such that no two heads fall between the same tails, and must fall in the positions labeled $(H)$:

$(H)\ T\ (H)\ T\ (H)\ T\ (H)\ T\ (H)\ T\ (H)$

There are six slots for the heads to be placed, but only $5$ heads remaining. Thus, using stars-and-bars there are ${6\choose5}$ possible combinations of 6 heads. Continuing this pattern, we find that there are $\sum_{i=6}^{11} {i\choose{11-i}} = {6\choose5} + {7\choose4} + {8\choose3} + {9\choose2} + {{10}\choose1} + {{11}\choose0} = 144$. There are a total of $2^{10}$ possible flips of $10$ coins, making the probability $\frac{144}{1024} = \frac{9}{64}$. Thus, our solution is $9 + 64 = \boxed{073}$.

Solution 2 (Recursion)

Call the number of ways of flipping $n$ coins and not receiving any consecutive heads $S_n$. Notice that tails must be received in at least one of the first two flips.

If the first coin flipped is a T, then the remaining $n-1$ flips must fall under one of the configurations of $S_{n-1}$.

If the first coin flipped is a H, then the second coin must be a T. There are then $S_{n-2}$ configurations.

Thus, $S_n = S_{n-1} + S_{n-2}$. By counting, we can establish that $S_1 = 2$ and $S_2 = 3$. Therefore, $S_3 = 5,\ S_4 = 8$, forming the Fibonacci sequence. Listing them out, we get $2,3,5,8,13,21,34,55,89,144$, and the 10th number is $144$. Putting this over $2^{10}$ to find the probability, we get $\frac{9}{64}$. Our solution is $9+64=\boxed{073}$.

Solution 3

We can also split the problem into casework.

Case 1: 0 Heads

There is only one possibility.

Case 2: 1 Head

There are 10 possibilities.

Case 3: 2 Heads

There are 36 possibilities.

Case 4: 3 Heads

There are 56 possibilities.

Case 5: 4 Heads

There are 35 possibilities.

Case 6: 5 Heads

There are 6 possibilities.

We have $1+10+36+56+35+6=144$, and there are $1024$ possible outcomes, so the probability is $\frac{144}{1024}=\frac{9}{64}$, and the answer is $\boxed{073}$.


See also

1990 AIME (ProblemsAnswer KeyResources)
Preceded by
Problem 8
Followed by
Problem 10
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15
All AIME Problems and Solutions

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