# 1999 IMO Problems/Problem 1

## Problem

Determine all finite sets $S$ of at least three points in the plane which satisfy the following condition:

For any two distinct points $A$ and $B$ in $S$, the perpendicular bisector of the line segment $AB$ is an axis of symmetry of $S$.

## Solution

Upon reading this problem and drawing some points, one quickly realizes that the set $S$ consists of all the vertices of any regular polygon.

Now to prove it with some numbers:

Let $S=\left\{ P_{0},P_{1},P_{2},...,P_{n-1} \right\}$, with $n\ge 3$, where $P_{i}$ is a vertex of a polygon which we can define their $xy$ coordinates as: $P_{i}=\left\langle Rcos\left( \frac{2\pi}{n}i \right),Rsin\left( \frac{2\pi}{n}i \right) \right\rangle$ for $i=0,1,2,...,(n-1)$.

That defines the vertices of any regular polygon with $R$ being the radius of the circumcircle of the regular $n$-sided polygon.

Now we can pick any points $A$ and $B$ of the set as:

$A=P_{a}$ and $B=P_{b}$, where $a=0,1,2,...,(n-1)$; $b=0,1,2,...,(n-1)$; and $a\ne b$

Then,

$A=\left\langle Rcos\left( \frac{2\pi}{n}a \right),Rsin\left( \frac{2\pi}{n}a \right) \right\rangle$

and $B=\left\langle Rcos\left( \frac{2\pi}{n}b \right),Rsin\left( \frac{2\pi}{n}b \right) \right\rangle$

Let $O$ be point $(0,0)$ which is not part of $S$

Then, $\angle P_{0}OA = \frac{2\pi}{n}a$, and $\angle P_{0}OB = \frac{2\pi}{n}b$

The perpendicular bisector of $AB$ passes through $O$.

Let point $M_{AB}$, not in $S$ be a point that passes through the perpendicular bisector of $AB$ at a distance $R$ from $O$

Then, $\angle P_{0}OM_{AB} =\frac{2\pi}{n}\frac{a+b}{2}$ and $M_{AB}=\left\langle Rcos\left( \frac{2\pi}{n}\frac{a+b}{2} \right),Rsin\left( \frac{2\pi}{n}\frac{a+b}{2} \right) \right\rangle$

CASE I: $a+b$ is even

$k=\frac{a+b}{2}$ and $k$ is integer

Then $M_{AB}=\left\langle Rcos\left( \frac{2\pi}{n}k \right),Rsin\left( \frac{2\pi}{n}k \right) \right\rangle=P_{k}$

This means that the perpendicular bisector also passes through a point $P_{k}$ of $S$

Let $c$ be any positive integer

$\angle P_{k}OP_{(k+c)\; mod\; n}=\frac{2\pi}{n}\left( (k+c-k)\; mod\; n \right)=\frac{2\pi}{n}\left( c\; mod\; n \right)$

and

$\angle P_{k}OP_{(k-c)\; mod\; n}=\frac{2\pi}{n}\left( (k-(k-c))\; mod\; n \right)=\frac{2\pi}{n}\left( c\; mod\; n \right)$

Therefore, $\angle P_{k}OP_{(k+c)\; mod\; n}=\angle P_{k}OP_{(k-c)\; mod\; n}$ for any integer $c$.

Also, since $\left| OP_{(k+c)\; mod\; n} \right|=\left| OP_{(k-c)\; mod\; n} \right|=R$ for any integer $c$

then this proves that the bisector of any points $A$ and $B$ is an axis of symmetry for this case.

CASE II: $a+b$ is odd

$k=\frac{a+b+1}{2}$ and $k$ is integer

$m=\frac{a+b-1}{2}$ and $m$ is integer

Then $M_{AB}=\left\langle Rcos\left( \frac{2\pi}{n}\frac{a+b}{2} \right),Rsin\left( \frac{2\pi}{n}\frac{a+b}{2} \right) \right\rangle$

This means that the perpendicular bisector does not pass through any point of $S$, but their closest points are $P_{k}$ and $P_{m}$ and that $\angle MOP_{k}=\angle MOP_{m}=\frac{\pi}{n}$

Let $c$ be any positive integer

$\angle P_{k}OP_{(k+c)\; mod\; n}=\frac{2\pi}{n}\left( (k+c-k)\; mod\; n \right)=\frac{2\pi}{n}\left( c\; mod\; n \right)$

$\angle MOP_{(k+c)\; mod\; n}=\angle MOP_{k}+\angle P_{k}OP_{(k+c)\; mod\; n}=\frac{\pi}{n}+\frac{2\pi}{n}\left( c\; mod\; n \right)$

and

$\angle P_{m}OP_{(m-c)\; mod\; n}=\frac{2\pi}{n}\left( (m-(m-c))\; mod\; n \right)=\frac{2\pi}{n}\left( c\; mod\; n \right)$

$\angle MOP_{(m-c)\; mod\; n}=\angle MOP_{m}+\angle P_{m}OP_{(m-c)\; mod\; n}=\frac{\pi}{n}+\frac{2\pi}{n}\left( c\; mod\; n \right)$

Therefore, $\angle MOP_{(k+c)\; mod\; n}=\angle MOP_{(m-c)\; mod\; n}$ for any integer $c$.

Since $m=k-1$, $\angle MOP_{(k+c)\; mod\; n}=\angle MOP_{(k-1-c)\; mod\; n}$

Also, since $\left| OP_{(k+c)\; mod\; n} \right|=\left| OP_{(m-c)\; mod\; n} \right|=R$ for any integer $c$

then this proves that the bisector of any points $A$ and $B$ is an axis of symmetry for this case.

Having proven both cases, then the set $S$ of points that comply with the given condition is the set of the vertices of any regular polygon of any number of sides.

~Tomas Diaz. orders@tomasdiaz.com