1997 AHSME Problems/Problem 29


Call a positive real number special if it has a decimal representation that consists entirely of digits $0$ and $7$. For example, $\frac{700}{99}= 7.\overline{07}= 7.070707\cdots$ and $77.007$ are special numbers. What is the smallest $n$ such that $1$ can be written as a sum of $n$ special numbers?

$\textbf{(A)}\ 7\qquad\textbf{(B)}\ 8\qquad\textbf{(C)}\ 9\qquad\textbf{(D)}\ 10\qquad\\ \textbf{(E)}\ \text{The number 1 cannot be represented as a sum of finitely many special numbers.}$


Define a super-special number to be a number whose decimal expansion only consists of $0$'s and $1$'s. The problem is equivalent to finding the number of super-special numbers necessary to add up to $\frac{1}{7}=0.142857142857\hdots$. This can be done in $8$ numbers if we take \[0.111111\hdots, 0.011111\hdots, 0.010111\hdots, 0.010111\hdots, 0.000111\hdots, 0.000101\hdots, 0.000101\hdots, 0.000100\hdots\] Now assume for sake of contradiction that we can do this with strictly less than $8$ super-special numbers (in particular, less than $10$.) Then the result of the addition won't have any carry over, so each digit is simply the number of super-special numbers which had a $1$ in that place. This means that in order to obtain the $8$ in $0.1428\hdots$, there must be $8$ super-special numbers, so the answer is $\boxed{\textbf{(B)}\ 8}$.

See also

1997 AHSME (ProblemsAnswer KeyResources)
Preceded by
Problem 28
Followed by
Problem 30
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