2023 AMC 12A Problems/Problem 16


Consider the set of complex numbers $z$ satisfying $|1+z+z^{2}|=4$. The maximum value of the imaginary part of $z$ can be written in the form $\tfrac{\sqrt{m}}{n}$, where $m$ and $n$ are relatively prime positive integers. What is $m+n$?


Solution 1

First, substitute in $z=a+bi$.

\[|1+(a+bi)+(a+bi)^2|=4\] \[|(1+a+a^2-b^2)+ (b+2ab)i|=4\] \[(1+a+a^2-b^2)^2+ (b+2ab)^2=16\] \[(1+a+a^2-b^2)^2+ b^2(1+4a+4a^2)=16\]

Let $p=b^2$ and $q=1+a+a^2$

\[(q-p)^2+ p(4q-3)=16\] \[p^2-2pq+q^2   + 4pq -3p=16\]

We are trying to maximize $b=\sqrt p$, so we'll turn the equation into a quadratic to solve for $p$ in terms of $q$.

\[p^2+(2q-3)p+(q^2-16)=0\] \[p=\frac{(-2q+3)\pm \sqrt{-12q+73}}{2}\]

We want to maximize $p$, due to the fact that $q$ is always negatively contributing to $p$'s value, that means we want to minimize $q$.

Due to the trivial inequality: $q=1+a+a^2=(a+\frac 12)^2+\frac{3}4 \geq \frac{3}4$

If we plug $q$'s minimum value in, we get that $p$'s maximum value is \[p=\frac{(-2(\frac 34)+3)+ \sqrt{-12(\frac 34)+73}}{2}=\frac{\frac 32+ 8}{2}=\frac{19}{4}\]

Then \[b=\frac{\sqrt{19}}{2}\] and \[m+n=\boxed{\textbf{(B)}~21}\]

- CherryBerry

Solution 2

We are given that $1+z+z^2=c$ where $c$ is some complex number with magnitude $4$. Rearranging the quadratic to standard form and applying the quadratic formula, we have \[z=\frac{-1\pm \sqrt{1^2-4(1)(1-c)}}{2}=\frac{-1\pm\sqrt{4c-3}}{2}.\] The imaginary part of $z$ is maximized when $c=-4$, making it $i\sqrt{19}/2$. Thus the answer is $\boxed{\textbf{(B)}~21}$.


Solution 3 (Geometry + Logic)

[asy] size(250); import TrigMacros; rr_cartesian_axes(-6,5,-5,5,complexplane=true, usegrid = true); Label f; f.p=fontsize(6);  xaxis(-6,5,Ticks(f, 1.0));  yaxis(-5,5,Ticks(f, 1.0)); dot((0,0)); draw(circle((-3/4, 0), 4), red + dashed); dot((-19/4, 0), blue); label("$\phi$", (-19/4, 0), NW); dot((0, 2.18), blue); label("$v'$", (0, 2.18), NE); draw(ellipse((0,0),1.8,2.18), green); [/asy] We can write the given condition as \[\left|\left(z+\frac{1}{2}\right)^2 + \frac{3}{4}\right| = 4.\] Letting $u = \left(z+\frac{1}{2}\right)^2$, the equation $\left|u + \frac{3}{4}\right| = 4$ equates to the circle centered at $-\frac{3}{4}$ with radius $4$ in the complex plane, call it $\omega$. Thus the locus of $\left(z+\frac{1}{2}\right)^2$ is $\omega$. Let $v = z+\frac{1}{2}$, and since the $+\frac{1}{2}$ does not change $z$'s imaginary part, we now need to find $v$ with the largest imaginary part such that $v^2$ lies on $\omega$.

Note that the point on $\omega$ with largest magnitude is $19/4$ and has argument $\pi$, call it $\phi$ (The leftmost point on $\omega$). The value $v'$ with positive imaginary part such that $(v')^2 = \phi$ has an argument of $\frac{\pi}{2}$ and a magnitude of $\frac{\sqrt{19}}{2}$.

Since across all values of $v$ the imaginary part is given by $r\sin{\theta}$ and $v'$ has the largest possible $r$ and the largest possible value of $\sin{\theta},$ it must have the largest imaginary part.

This can non-rigorously be seen by sketching the oval which is the locus of $v$.

This gives $19 + 2 \implies \boxed{\textbf{(B)}~21}$


Solution 4

To start, we factor $1+z+z^2$ to get:


Note that since the magnitude of a product of complex numbers is equal to the product of the magnitudes:


Now, we substitute $z=a+bi$ (Note that we are trying to maximize b):


Since we are trying to maximize $b$, we want the real parts of the components to be as small as possible, which we can do by setting $a=-\frac{1}{2}$. This leaves us with:

\[|(b+\frac{\sqrt{3}}{2})i||(b-\frac{\sqrt{3}}{2})i|=4\] \[(b+\frac{\sqrt{3}}{2})(b-\frac{\sqrt{3}}{2})=4\] \[b^2-\frac{3}{4}=4\] \[b^2=\frac{19}{4}\] \[b=\frac{\sqrt{19}}{2}\]

This gives us $19 + 2 \implies \boxed{\textbf{(B)}~21}$.


Video Solution


~Steven Chen (Professor Chen Education Palace, www.professorchenedu.com)

See Also

2023 AMC 12A (ProblemsAnswer KeyResources)
Preceded by
Problem 15
Followed by
Problem 17
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

The problems on this page are copyrighted by the Mathematical Association of America's American Mathematics Competitions. AMC logo.png