2015 AMC 12A Problems/Problem 24


Rational numbers $a$ and $b$ are chosen at random among all rational numbers in the interval $[0,2)$ that can be written as fractions $\frac{n}{d}$ where $n$ and $d$ are integers with $1 \le d \le 5$. What is the probability that \[(\text{cos}(a\pi)+i\text{sin}(b\pi))^4\] is a real number?

$\textbf{(A)}\ \frac{3}{50} \qquad\textbf{(B)}\ \frac{4}{25} \qquad\textbf{(C)}\ \frac{41}{200} \qquad\textbf{(D)}\ \frac{6}{25} \qquad\textbf{(E)}\ \frac{13}{50}$


Let $\cos(a\pi) = x$ and $\sin(b\pi) = y$. Consider the binomial expansion of the expression: \[x^4 + 4ix^{3}y - 6x^{2}y^{2} - 4ixy^3 + y^4.\]

We notice that the only terms with $i$ are the second and the fourth terms. Thus for the expression to be a real number, either $\cos(a\pi)$ or $\sin(b\pi)$ must be $0$, or the second term and the fourth term cancel each other out (because in the fourth term, you have $i^2 = -1$).

$\text{Case~1:}$ Either $\cos(a\pi)$ or $\sin(b\pi)$ is $0$.

The two $\text{a's}$ satisfying this are $\tfrac{1}{2}$ and $\tfrac{3}{2}$, and the two $\text{b's}$ satisfying this are $0$ and $1$. Because $a$ and $b$ can both be expressed as fractions with a denominator less than or equal to $5$, there are a total of $20$ possible values for $a$ and $b$:

\[0, 1, \frac{1}{2}, \frac{3}{2}, \frac{1}{3},\] \[\frac{2}{3}, \frac{4}{3}, \frac{5}{3}, \frac{1}{4}, \frac{3}{4},\] \[\frac{5}{4}, \frac{7}{4}, \frac{1}{5}, \frac{2}{5}, \frac{3}{5},\] \[\frac{4}{5}, \frac{6}{5}, \frac{7}{5}, \frac{8}{5}, \text{and} \frac{9}{5}.\]

Calculating the total number of sets of $(a,b)$ results in $20 \cdot 20 = 400$ sets. Calculating the total number of invalid sets (sets where $a$ doesn't equal $\tfrac{1}{2}$ or $\tfrac{3}{2}$ and $b$ doesn't equal $0$ or $1$), resulting in $(20-2) \cdot (20-2) = 324$.

Thus the number of valid sets is $76$.

$\text{Case~2}$: The two terms cancel.

We then have:

\[\cos^3(a\pi) \cdot \sin(b\pi) = \cos(a\pi) \cdot \sin^3(b\pi).\]


\[\cos^2(a\pi) = \sin^2(b\pi),\]

which means for a given value of $\cos(a\pi)$ or $\sin(b\pi)$, there are $4$ valid values(one in each quadrant).

When either $\cos(a\pi)$ or $\sin(b\pi)$ are equal to $1$, however, there are only two corresponding values. We don't count the sets where either $\cos(a\pi)$ or $\sin(b\pi)$ equals $0$, for we would get repeated sets. We also exclude values where the denominator is an odd number, for we cannot find any corresponding values(for example, if $a$ is $\tfrac{1}{5}$, then $b$ must be $\tfrac{3}{10}$, which we don't have). Thus the total number of sets for this case is $4 \cdot 4 + 2 \cdot 2 = 20$.

Thus, our final answer is $\frac{(20 + 76)}{400} = \frac{6}{25}$, which is $\boxed{\text{(D)}}$.

Solution 2

Multiplying complex numbers is equivalent to multiplying their magnitudes and summing their angles. In order for $(\cos(a\pi)+i\sin(b\pi))^4$ to be a real number, then the angle of $\cos(a\pi)+i\sin(b\pi)$ must be a multiple of $45^{\circ}$, so $\cos(a\pi)+i\sin(b\pi)$ satisfies $\cos(a\pi)=0$, $\sin(b\pi)=0$, $\cos(a\pi)=\sin(b\pi)$, or $\cos(a\pi)=-\sin(b\pi)$.

There are $20$ possible values of $a$ and $b$. $\sin(x\pi) = 0$ at $x = \{0,1\}$ and $\cos(x\pi) = 0$ at $x = \{\frac12, \frac32\}$. The probability of $\sin(b\pi) = 0$ or $\cos(a\pi) = 0$ is $\frac{1}{10} + \frac{1}{10} - \frac{1}{100}$ (We overcounted the case where $\sin = \cos = 0$.)

We also consider the case where $\sin(b\pi) = \pm \cos(a\pi)$. This only happens when $a = \{0,1\}, b = \{\frac12, \frac32\}$ or $a,b = \{ \frac14, \frac34, \frac54, \frac74 \}$. The probability is $\frac{1}{100} + \frac{1}{25}$ The total probability is $\frac15 + \frac{1}{25} = \frac{6}{25} \rightarrow\boxed{\text{(D)}}$


Video Solution by Richard Rusczyk


~ dolphin7

See Also

2015 AMC 12A (ProblemsAnswer KeyResources)
Preceded by
Problem 23
Followed by
Problem 25
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25
All AMC 12 Problems and Solutions