1986 AIME Problems/Problem 12

Revision as of 15:28, 3 January 2014 by Mathcool2009 (talk | contribs) (Solution)


Let the sum of a set of numbers be the sum of its elements. Let $S$ be a set of positive integers, none greater than 15. Suppose no two disjoint subsets of $S$ have the same sum. What is the largest sum a set $S$ with these properties can have?


The maximum is $61$, attained when $S=\{ 15,14,13,11,8\}$. We must now prove that no such set has sum at least 62. Suppose such a set $S$ existed. Then $S$ must have more than 4 elements, otherwise its sum would be at most $15+14+13+12=54$ if it had 4 elements.

But also, $S$ can't have at least 6 elements. To see why, note that $1 + 6 + \dbinom{6}{2} + \dbinom{6}{3} + \dbinom{6}{4}=57$ of its subsets have at most four elements (the number of subsets with no elements plus the number of subsets with one element plus the number of subsets with two elements plus the number of subsets with three elements plus the number of subsets with four elements), so each of them have sum at most 54. By the Pigeonhole Principle, two of these subsets would have the same sum, a contradiction to the givens.

Thus, $S$ must have exactly 5 elements. $S$ contains both 15 and 14 (otherwise its sum is at most $10+11+12+13+15=61$). It follows that $S$ cannot contain both $a$ and $a-1$ for any $a\leq 13$. So now $S$ must contain 13 (otherwise its sum is at most $15+14+12+10+8=59$), and $S$ cannot contain 12.

Now the only way $S$ could have sum at least $62=15+14+13+11+9$ would be if $S=\{ 15,14,13,11,9\}$. But $15+9=13+11$ so this set does not work, a contradiction. Therefore 61 is indeed the maximum.

See also

1986 AIME (ProblemsAnswer KeyResources)
Preceded by
Problem 11
Followed by
Problem 13
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15
All AIME Problems and Solutions

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