# 1984 USAMO Problems/Problem 1

## Problem

In the polynomial $x^4 - 18x^3 + kx^2 + 200x - 1984 = 0$, the product of $2$ of its roots is $- 32$. Find $k$.

## Solution

Let the four roots be a, b, c, and d, so that ab=-32. From here we show two methods; the second is more slick, but harder to see.

Solution #1

Using Vieta's formulas, we have: \begin{align*}a+b+c+d &= 18,\\ ab+ac+ad+bc+bd+cd &= k,\\ abc+abd+acd+bcd &=-200,\\ abcd &=-1984.\\ \end{align*}

From the last of these equations, we see that $cd = \frac{abcd}{ab} = \frac{-1984}{-32} = 62$. Thus, the second equation becomes $-32+ac+ad+bc+bd+62=k$, and so $ac+ad+bc+bd=k-30$. The key insight is now to factor the left-hand side as a product of two binomials: $(a+b)(c+d)=k-30$, so that we now only need to determine $a+b$ and $c+d$ rather than all four of $a,b,c,d$.


Let $p=a+b$ and $q=c+d$. Plugging our known values for $ab$ and $cd$ into the third Vieta equation, $-200 = abc+abd + acd + bcd = ab(c+d) + cd(a+b)$, we have $-200 = -32(c+d) + 62(a+b) = 62p-32q$. Moreover, the first Vieta equation, a+b+c+d=18, gives p+q=18. Thus we have two linear equations in p and q, which we solve to obtain p=4 and q=14.

Therefore, we have (\underbrace{a+b}_4)(\underbrace{c+d}_{14}) = k-30, yielding k=4\cdot 14+30 = \boxed{86}.

Solution #2 (sketch)

We start as before: ab=-32 and cd=62. We now observe that a and b must be the roots of a quadratic, x^2+rx-32, where r is a constant (secretly, r is just -(a+b)=-p from Solution #1). Similarly, c and d must be the roots of a quadratic x^2+sx+62.

Now \begin{align*} x^4 - 18x^3 + kx^2 + 200x - 1984 &= (x^2 + rx - 32)(x^2 + sx + 62)
& = x^4 + (r + s)x^3 + (62 - 32 ... Equating the coefficients of x^3 and x with their known values, we are left with essentially the same linear equations as in Solution #1, which we solve in the same way. Then we compute the coefficient of x^2 and get k=\boxed{86}.

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