2001 AIME I Problems/Problem 3

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Problem

Find the sum of the roots, real and non-real, of the equation $x^{2001}+\left(\frac 12-x\right)^{2001}=0$, given that there are no multiple roots.

Solution

From Vieta's formulas, in a polynomial of the form $a_nx^n + a_{n-1}x^{n-1} + \cdots + a_0 = 0$, then the sum of the roots is $\frac{-a_{n-1}}{a_n}$.

From the Binomial Theorem, the first term of $\left(\frac 12-x\right)^{2001}$ is $-x^{2001}$, but $x^{2001}+-x^{2001}=0$, so the term with the largest degree is $x^{2000}$. So we need the coefficient of that term, as well as the coefficient of $x^{1999}$.

\begin{align*}\binom{2001}{1} \cdot (-x)^{2000} \cdot \left(\frac{1}{2}\right)^1&=\frac{2001x^{2000}}{2}\\ \binom{2001}{2} \cdot (-x)^{1999} \cdot \left(\frac{1}{2}\right)^2 &=\frac{-x^{1999}*2001*2000}{8}=-2001 \cdot 250x^{1999} \end{align*}

Applying Vieta's formulas, we find that the sum of the roots is $-\frac{-2001 \cdot 250}{\frac{2001}{2}}=250 \cdot 2=\boxed{500}$.

See also

2001 AIME I (ProblemsAnswer KeyResources)
Preceded by
Problem 2
Followed by
Problem 4
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All AIME Problems and Solutions
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