2010 USAMO Problems/Problem 4


Let $ABC$ be a triangle with $\angle A = 90^{\circ}$. Points $D$ and $E$ lie on sides $AC$ and $AB$, respectively, such that $\angle ABD = \angle DBC$ and $\angle ACE = \angle ECB$. Segments $BD$ and $CE$ meet at $I$. Determine whether or not it is possible for segments $AB, AC, BI, ID, CI, IE$ to all have integer lengths.


We know that angle $BIC = 135^{\circ}$, as the other two angles in triangle $BIC$ add to $45^{\circ}$. Assume that only $AB, AC, BI$, and $CI$ are integers. Using the Law of Cosines on triangle BIC,

[asy] import olympiad;  // Scale unitsize(1inch);  // Shape real h = 1.75; real w = 2.5;  // Points void ldot(pair p, string l, pair dir=p) { dot(p); label(l, p, unit(dir)); } pair A = origin; ldot(A, "$A$", plain.SW); pair B = w * plain.E; ldot(B, "$B$", plain.SE); pair C = h * plain.N; ldot(C, "$C$", plain.NW); pair D = extension(B, bisectorpoint(C, B, A), A, C); ldot(D, "$D$", D-B); pair E = extension(C, bisectorpoint(A, C, B), A, B); ldot(E, "$E$", E-C); pair I = extension(B, D, C, E); ldot(I, "$I$", A-I);  // Segments draw(A--B); draw(B--C); draw(C--A); draw(C--E); draw(B--D);  // Angles import markers; draw(rightanglemark(B, A, C, 4)); markangle(Label("$\scriptstyle{\frac{\theta}{2}}$"), radius=40, I, B, E); markangle(Label("$\scriptstyle{\frac{\theta}{2}}$"), radius=40, C, B, I); markangle(Label("$\scriptstyle{\frac{\pi}{4} - \frac{\theta}{2}}$"), radius=40, I, C, B); markangle(Label("$\scriptstyle{\frac{\pi}{4} - \frac{\theta}{2}}$"), radius=40, D, C, I); markangle(Label("$\scriptstyle{\frac{3\pi}{4}}$"), radius=10, B, I, C); [/asy]

$BC^2 = BI^2 + CI^2 - 2BI\cdot CI \cdot \cos 135^{\circ}$. Observing that $BC^2 = AB^2 + AC^2$ is an integer and that $\cos 135^{\circ} = -\frac{\sqrt{2}}{2},$ we have

\[BC^2 - BI^2 - CI^2 = BI\cdot CI\cdot \sqrt{2}\]

and therefore,

\[\sqrt{2} = \frac{BC^2 - BI^2 - CI^2}{BI\cdot CI}\]

The LHS ($\sqrt{2}$) is irrational, while the RHS is the quotient of the division of two integers and thus is rational. Clearly, there is a contradiction. Therefore, it is impossible for $AB, AC, BI$, and $CI$ to all be integers, which invalidates the original claim that all six lengths are integers, and we are done.

Solution 2

The result can be also proved without direct appeal to trigonometry, via just the angle bisector theorem and the structure of Pythagorean triples. (This is a lot more work).

A triangle in which all the required lengths are integers exists if and only if there exists a triangle in which $AB$ and $AC$ are relatively-prime integers and the lengths of the segments $BI, ID, CI, IE$ are all rational (we divide all the lengths by the $\gcd(AB, AC)$ or conversely multiply all the lengths by the least common multiple of the denominators of the rational lengths).

Suppose there exists a triangle in which the lengths $AB$ and $AC$ are relatively-prime integers and the lengths $IB, ID, CI, IE$ are all rational.

Since $CE$ is the bisector of $\angle ACB$, by the angle bisector theorem, the ratio $IB : ID = CB : CD$, and since $BD$ is the bisector of $\angle ABC$, $CB : CD = (AB + BC) : AC$. Therefore, $IB : ID = (AB + BC) : AC$. Now $IB : ID$ is by assumption rational, so $(AB + BC) : AC$ is rational, but $AB$ and $AC$ are assumed integers so $BC : AC$ must also be rational. Since $BC$ is the hypotenuse of a right-triangle, its length is the square root of an integer, and thus either an integer or irrational, so $BC$ must be an integer.

With $AB$ and $AC$ relatively-prime, we conclude that the side lengths of $\triangle ABC$ must be a Pythagorean triple: $(2pq, p^2 - q^2, p^2 + q^2)$, with $p > q$ relatively-prime positive integers and $p+q$ odd.

Without loss of generality, $AC = 2pq, AB = p^2 - q^2, BC = p^2+q^2$. By the angle bisector theorem,

\begin{align*} AE &= \dfrac{AB \cdot AC}{AC + CB} = \dfrac{2pq(p^2-q^2)}{p^2 + q^2 + 2pq}    = \dfrac{2pq(p-q)}{p+q} \end{align*}

Since $\triangle CAE$ is a right-triangle, we have:

\begin{align*}   CE^2 &= AC^2 + AE^2        = 4p^2q^2 + \left(\dfrac{2pq(p-q)}{p+q}\right)^2        = 4p^2q^2\left[1 + \left(\dfrac{p-q}{p+q}\right)^2\right] \\        &= \frac{4p^2q^2}{(p+q)^2}\left[(p+q)^2 + (p-q)^2\right]        = \frac{4p^2q^2}{(p+q)^2}(2p^2 + 2q^2) \end{align*}

and so $CE$ is rational if and only if $2p^2 + 2q^2$ is a perfect square.

Also by the angle bisector theorem,

\begin{align*} AD &= \dfrac{AB \cdot AC}{AB + BC} = \dfrac{2pq(p^2-q^2)}{p^2 + q^2 + p^2 - q^2}     = \dfrac{q(p^2-q^2)}{p} \end{align*}

and therefore, since $\triangle DAB$ is a right-triangle, we have:

\begin{align*}   BD^2 &= AB^2 + AD^2        = (p^2-q^2)^2 + \left(\dfrac{q(p^2-q^2)}{p}\right)^2 \\        &= (p^2-q^2)^2\left[1 + \frac{q^2}{p^2}\right]        = \frac{(p^2-q^2)^2}{p^2}(p^2 + q^2) \end{align*}

and so $BD$ is rational if and only if $p^2 + q^2$ is a perfect square.

Combining the conditions on $CE$ and $BD$, we see that $2p^2+2q^2$ and $p^2+q^2$ must both be perfect squares. If it were so, their ratio, which is $2$, would be the square of a rational number, but $\sqrt{2}$ is irrational, and so the assumed triangle cannot exist.

Video Solution


See also

2010 USAMO (ProblemsResources)
Preceded by
Problem 3
Followed by
Problem 5
1 2 3 4 5 6
All USAMO Problems and Solutions
2010 USAJMO (ProblemsResources)
Preceded by
Problem 5
Followed by
Last Problem
1 2 3 4 5 6
All USAJMO Problems and Solutions

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