2019 AMC 10A Problems/Problem 15

The following problem is from both the 2019 AMC 10A #15 and 2019 AMC 12A #9, so both problems redirect to this page.


A sequence of numbers is defined recursively by $a_1 = 1$, $a_2 = \frac{3}{7}$, and \[a_n=\frac{a_{n-2} \cdot a_{n-1}}{2a_{n-2} - a_{n-1}}\]for all $n \geq 3$ Then $a_{2019}$ can be written as $\frac{p}{q}$, where $p$ and $q$ are relatively prime positive integers. What is $p+q ?$

$\textbf{(A) } 2020 \qquad\textbf{(B) } 4039 \qquad\textbf{(C) } 6057 \qquad\textbf{(D) } 6061 \qquad\textbf{(E) } 8078$

Video Solution


Education, the Study of Everything

Video Solution (Meta-Solving Technique)


~ pi_is_3.14

Solution 1 (Induction)

Using the recursive formula, we find $a_3=\frac{3}{11}$, $a_4=\frac{3}{15}$, and so on. It appears that $a_n=\frac{3}{4n-1}$, for all $n$. Setting $n=2019$, we find $a_{2019}=\frac{3}{8075}$, so the answer is $\boxed{\textbf{(E) }8078}$.

To prove this formula, we use induction. We are given that $a_1=1$ and $a_2=\frac{3}{7}$, which satisfy our formula. Now assume the formula holds true for all $n\le m$ for some positive integer $m$. By our assumption, $a_{m-1}=\frac{3}{4m-5}$ and $a_m=\frac{3}{4m-1}$. Using the recursive formula, \[a_{m+1}=\frac{a_{m-1}\cdot a_m}{2a_{m-1}-a_m}=\frac{\frac{3}{4m-5}\cdot\frac{3}{4m-1}}{2\cdot\frac{3}{4m-5}-\frac{3}{4m-1}}=\frac{\left(\frac{3}{4m-5}\cdot\frac{3}{4m-1}\right)(4m-5)(4m-1)}{\left(2\cdot\frac{3}{4m-5}-\frac{3}{4m-1}\right)(4m-5)(4m-1)}=\frac{9}{6(4m-1)-3(4m-5)}=\frac{3}{4(m+1)-1},\] so our induction is complete.

Solution 2

Since we are interested in finding the sum of the numerator and the denominator, consider the sequence defined by $b_n = \frac{1}{a_n}$.

We have $\frac{1}{a_n} = \frac{2a_{n-2}-a_{n-1}}{a_{n-2} \cdot a_{n-1}}=\frac{2}{a_{n-1}}-\frac{1}{a_{n-2}}$, so in other words, $b_n = 2b_{n-1}-b_{n-2}=3b_{n-2}-2b_{n-3}=4b_{n-3}-3b_{n-4}=\dots$.

By recursively following this pattern, we can see that $b_n=(n-1) \cdot b_2 - (n-2) \cdot b_1$.

By plugging in 2019, we thus find $b_{2019} = 2018 \cdot \frac{7}{3}-2017 = \frac{8075}{3}$. Since the numerator and the denominator are relatively prime, the answer is $\boxed{\textbf{(E) } 8078}$.


Solution 3

It seems reasonable to transform the equation into something else. Let $a_{n}=x$, $a_{n-1}=y$, and $a_{n-2}=z$. Therefore, we have \[x=\frac{zy}{2z-y}\] \[2xz-xy=zy\] \[2xz=y(x+z)\] \[y=\frac{2xz}{x+z}\] Thus, $y$ is the harmonic mean of $x$ and $z$. This implies $a_{n}$ is a harmonic sequence or equivalently $b_{n}=\frac{1}{a_{n}}$ is arithmetic. Now, we have $b_{1}=1$, $b_{2}=\frac{7}{3}$, $b_{3}=\frac{11}{3}$, and so on. Since the common difference is $\frac{4}{3}$, we can express $b_{n}$ explicitly as $b_{n}=\frac{4}{3}(n-1)+1$. This gives $b_{2019}=\frac{4}{3}(2019-1)+1=\frac{8075}{3}$ which implies $a_{2019}=\frac{3}{8075}=\frac{p}{q}$. $p+q=\boxed{\textbf{(E) } 8078}$ ~jakeg314

Solution 4 (Not rigorous at all)

Noticing that there is clearly a pattern, but the formula for it is hideous, we first find the first few terms of the sequence to see if there is any pattern: $1, \frac{3}{7}, \frac{3}{11}, \frac{1}{5}, \frac{3}{19}, \frac{3}{23} ...$

Now, we notice that the numerator seems to be in a pattern: $1, 3, 3, 1, 3, 3, 1, 3, 3...$ Then, we notice that the only time the numerator is $1$ is when the index is a multiple of $4$. Clearly, $2019$ is NOT a multiple of $4$, so the numerator is $3$. Then, using the positions of each term, we can come up with a simple formula for the denominator with $n$ as the position or index (This only applies for the numbers with numerator $3$): $3n + (n - 1)$.

Plugging $n$ in for $2019$, we get $8075$ for the denominator. Adding $3$ (The numerator) gives $\boxed{\textbf{(E) }8078}$


See Also

2019 AMC 10A (ProblemsAnswer KeyResources)
Preceded by
Problem 14
Followed by
Problem 16
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 10 Problems and Solutions
2019 AMC 12A (ProblemsAnswer KeyResources)
Preceded by
Problem 8
Followed by
Problem 10
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

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