# Difference between revisions of "1986 AIME Problems/Problem 11"

## Problem

The polynomial $1-x+x^2-x^3+\cdots+x^{16}-x^{17}$ may be written in the form $a_0+a_1y+a_2y^2+\cdots +a_{16}y^{16}+a_{17}y^{17}$, where $y=x+1$ and the $a_i$'s are constants. Find the value of $a_2$.

## Solution

### Solution 1

Using the geometric series formula, $1 - x + x^2 + \cdots - x^{17} = \frac {1 - x^{18}}{1 + x} = \frac {1-x^{18}}{y}$. Since $x = y - 1$, this becomes $\frac {1-(y - 1)^{18}}{y}$. We want $a_2$, which is the coefficient of the $y^3$ term in $-(y - 1)^{18}$ (because the $y$ in the denominator reduces the degrees in the numerator by $1$). By the binomial theorem that is $(-1) \cdot (-1)^{15}{18 \choose 3} = \boxed{816}$.

### Solution 2

Again, notice $x = y - 1$. So

\begin{align*}1 - x + x^2 + \cdots - x^{17} & = 1 - (y - 1) + (y - 1)^2 - (y - 1)^3 + \cdots - (y - 1)^{17} \\ & = 1 + (1 - y) + (1 - y)^2 + (1 - y)^3 \cdots + (1 - y)^{17}\end{align*}.

We want the coefficient of the $y^2$ term of each power of each binomial, which by the binomial theorem is ${2\choose 2} + {3\choose 2} + \cdots + {17\choose 2}$. The Hockey Stick Identity gives us that this quantity is equal to ${18\choose 3} = 816$.

 1986 AIME (Problems • Answer Key • Resources) Preceded byProblem 10 Followed byProblem 12 1 • 2 • 3 • 4 • 5 • 6 • 7 • 8 • 9 • 10 • 11 • 12 • 13 • 14 • 15 All AIME Problems and Solutions