1983 AIME Problems/Problem 5

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Suppose that the sum of the squares of two complex numbers $x$ and $y$ is $7$ and the sum of the cubes is $10$. What is the largest real value that $x + y$ can have?


Solution 1

One way to solve this problem seems to be by substitution.

$x^2+y^2=(x+y)^2-2xy=7$ and $x^3+y^3=(x+y)(x^2-xy+y^2)=(7-xy)(x+y)=10$

Because we are only left with $x+y$ and $xy$, substitution won't be too bad. Let $w=x+y$ and $z=xy$.

We get $w^2-2z=7$ and $w(7-z)=10$

Because we want the largest possible $w$, let's find an expression for $z$ in terms of $w$.

$w^2-7=2z \implies z=\frac{w^2-7}{2}$.

Substituting, $w^3-21w+20=0$. Factored, $(w-1)(w+5)(w-4)=0$ (the Rational Root Theorem may be used here, along with synthetic division)

The largest possible solution is therefore $x+y=w=\boxed{004}$.

Solution 2

An alternate way to solve this is to let $x=a+bi$ and $y=c+di$.

Because we are looking for a value of $x+y$ that is real, we know that $d=-b$, and thus $y=c-bi$.

Expanding $x^2+y^2=7+0i$ will give two equations, since the real and imaginary parts must match up.



Looking at the imaginary part of that equation, $2ab-2cb=0$, so $a=c$, and $x$ and $y$ are actually complex conjugates.

Looking at the real part of the equation and plugging in $a=c$, $2a^2-2b^2=7$, or $2b^2=2a^2-7$.

Now, evaluating the real part of $(a+bi)^3+(a-bi)^3$, which equals $10$ (ignoring the odd powers of $i$, since they would not result in something in the form of $10+0i$):



Since we know that $2b^2=2a^2-7$, it can be plugged in for $b^2$ in the above equation to yield:




Since the problem is looking for $x+y=2a$ to be a positive integer, only positive half-integers (and whole-integers) need to be tested. From the Rational Roots theorem, $a=10, a=5, a=\frac{5}{2}$ all fail, but $a=2$ does work. Thus, the real part of both numbers is $2$, and their sum is $\boxed{004}$

See Also

1983 AIME (ProblemsAnswer KeyResources)
Preceded by
Problem 4
Followed by
Problem 6
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All AIME Problems and Solutions
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