1974 IMO Problems/Problem 5

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Problem 5

Determine all possible values of \[S = \frac{a}{a+b+d}+\frac{b}{a+b+c}+\frac{c}{b+c+d}+\frac{d}{a+c+d}\] where $a, b, c, d,$ are arbitrary positive numbers.

Solution

Note that \[2 = \frac{a}{a+b}+\frac{b}{a+b}+\frac{c}{c+d}+\frac{d}{c+d} > S > \frac{a}{a+b+c+d}+\frac{b}{a+b+c+d}+\frac{c}{a+b+c+d}+\frac{d}{a+b+c+d} = 1.\] We will now prove that $S$ can reach any range in between $1$ and $2$.

Choose any positive number $a$. For some variables such that $k, m, l > 0$ and $k + m + l = 1$, let $b = ak$, $c = am$, and $d = al$. Plugging this back into the original fraction, we get \[S = \frac{a}{a+ak+al}+\frac{ak}{a+ak+am}+\frac{am}{ak+am+al}+\frac{al}{a+am+al} = \frac{1}{1+k+l}+\frac{k}{1+k+m}+\frac{m}{k+m+l}+\frac{l}{1+m+l}.\] The above equation can be further simplified to \[S = \frac{1}{2-m}+\frac{k}{2-l}+m+\frac{l}{2-k}.\] Note that $S$ is a continuous function and that $f(m) = m + \frac{1}{2-m}$ is a strictly increasing function. We can now decrease $m$ and $l$ to make $m$ tend arbitrarily close to $1$. We see $\lim_{m\to1} m + \frac{1}{2-m} = 2$, meaning $S$ can be brought arbitrarily close to $2$. $$ (Error compiling LaTeX. ! Missing $ inserted.) ~Imajinary

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