1999 AHSME Problems/Problem 20

Problem

The sequence $a_{1},a_{2},a_{3},\ldots$ statisfies $a_{1} = 19,a_{9} = 99$, and, for all $n\geq 3$, $a_{n}$ is the arithmetic mean of the first $n - 1$ terms. Find $a_2$.

Solution

Let $m$ be the arithmetic mean of $a_1$ and $a_2$. We can then write $a_1=m-x$ and $a_2=m+x$ for some $x$.

By definition, $a_3=m$.

Next, $a_4$ is the mean of $m-x$, $m+x$ and $m$, which is again $m$.

Realizing this, one can easily prove by induction that $\forall n\geq 3;~ a_n=m$.

It follows that $m=a_9=99$. From $19=a_1=m-x$ we get that $x=80$. And thus $a_2 = m+x = \boxed{(E)  179}$.

See also

1999 AHSME (ProblemsAnswer KeyResources)
Preceded by
Problem 19
Followed by
Problem 21
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