Difference between revisions of "1990 AIME Problems/Problem 11"

m (Generalization:)
m (Solution 2)
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== Solution 2 ==
 
== Solution 2 ==
Let the largest of the <math>(n-3)</math> consecutive positive integers be <math>k</math>. Clearly <math>k</math> cannot be less than or equal to <math>n</math>, else the product of <math>(n-3)</math> consecutive positive integers will be less than <math>n!</math>.
+
Let the largest of the <math>n-3</math> consecutive positive integers be <math>k</math>. Clearly <math>k</math> cannot be less than or equal to <math>n</math>, else the product of <math>n-3</math> consecutive positive integers will be less than <math>n!</math>.
  
 
Key observation:
 
Key observation:
Now for <math>n</math> to be maximum the smallest number (or starting number) of the <math>(n-3)</math> consecutive positive integers must be minimum, implying that <math>k</math> needs to be minimum. But the least <math>k > n</math> is <math>(n+1).</math>
+
Now for <math>n</math> to be maximum the smallest number (or starting number) of the <math>n-3</math> consecutive positive integers must be minimum, implying that <math>k</math> needs to be minimum. But the least <math>k > n</math> is <math>n+1</math>.
  
So the <math>(n-3)</math> consecutive positive integers are <math>(5, 6, 7…, n+1)</math>
+
So the <math>n-3</math> consecutive positive integers are <math>5, 6, 7…, n+1</math>
  
So we have <math>(n+1)! /4! = n!</math>
+
So we have <math>\frac{(n+1)!}{4!} = n!</math>
 
<math>\Longrightarrow  n+1 = 24</math>
 
<math>\Longrightarrow  n+1 = 24</math>
 
<math>\Longrightarrow  n = 23</math>
 
<math>\Longrightarrow  n = 23</math>

Revision as of 18:55, 15 March 2017

Problem

Someone observed that $6! = 8 \cdot 9 \cdot 10$. Find the largest positive integer $n^{}_{}$ for which $n^{}_{}!$ can be expressed as the product of $n - 3_{}^{}$ consecutive positive integers.

Solution 1

The product of $n - 3$ consecutive integers can be written as $\frac{(n - 3 + a)!}{a!}$ for some integer $a$. Thus, $n! = \frac{(n - 3 + a)!}{a!}$, from which it becomes evident that $a \ge 3$. Since $(n - 3 + a)! > n!$, we can rewrite this as $\frac{n!(n+1)(n+2) \ldots (n-3+a)}{a!} = n! \Longrightarrow (n+1)(n+2) \ldots (n-3+a) = a!$. For $a = 4$, we get $n + 1 = 4!$ so $n = 23$. For greater values of $a$, we need to find the product of $a-3$ consecutive integers that equals $a!$. $n$ can be approximated as $^{a-3}\sqrt{a!}$, which decreases as $a$ increases. Thus, $n = 23$ is the greatest possible value to satisfy the given conditions.

Solution 2

Let the largest of the $n-3$ consecutive positive integers be $k$. Clearly $k$ cannot be less than or equal to $n$, else the product of $n-3$ consecutive positive integers will be less than $n!$.

Key observation: Now for $n$ to be maximum the smallest number (or starting number) of the $n-3$ consecutive positive integers must be minimum, implying that $k$ needs to be minimum. But the least $k > n$ is $n+1$.

So the $n-3$ consecutive positive integers are $5, 6, 7…, n+1$

So we have $\frac{(n+1)!}{4!} = n!$ $\Longrightarrow  n+1 = 24$ $\Longrightarrow  n = 23$

Kris17

Generalization:

Largest positive integer $n$ for which $n!$ can be expressed as the product of $n-a$ consecutive positive integers is $(a+1)! - 1$

For ex. largest $n$ such that product of $n-6$ consecutive positive integers is equal to $n!$ is $7!-1 = 5039$

Proof: Reasoning the same way as above, let the largest of the $n-a$ consecutive positive integers be $k$. Clearly $k$ cannot be less than or equal to $n$, else the product of $n-a$ consecutive positive integers will be less than $n!$.

Now, observe that for $n$ to be maximum the smallest number (or starting number) of the $n-a$ consecutive positive integers must be minimum, implying that $k$ needs to be minimum. But the least $k > n$ is $n+1$.

So the $n-a$ consecutive positive integers are $a+2, a+3, … n+1$

So we have $\frac{(n+1)!}{(a+1)!} = n!$ $\Longrightarrow  n+1 = (a+1)!$ $\Longrightarrow  n = (a+1)! -1$

Kris17

See also

1990 AIME (ProblemsAnswer KeyResources)
Preceded by
Problem 10
Followed by
Problem 12
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15
All AIME Problems and Solutions

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