# Difference between revisions of "2001 USAMO Problems/Problem 1"

## Problem

Each of eight boxes contains six balls. Each ball has been colored with one of $n$ colors, such that no two balls in the same box are the same color, and no two colors occur together in more than one box. Determine, with justification, the smallest integer $n$ for which this is possible.

## Solution 1

We claim that $n=23$ is the minimum. Consider the following construction (replacing colors with numbers) which fulfills this: $$\left[ \begin{array}{cccccccc} 1 & 1 & 1 & 2 & 3 & 4 & 5 & 6 \\ 2 & 7 & 12 & 7 & 8 & 9 & 10 & 11 \\ 3 & 8 & 13 & 12 & 13 & 14 & 15 & 16 \\ 4 & 9 & 14 & 17 & 17 & 17 & 18 & 19 \\ 5 & 10 & 15 & 18 & 20 & 22 & 20 & 21 \\ 6 & 11 & 16 & 19 & 21 & 23 & 22 & 23 \end{array} \right]$$ Suppose a configuration exists with $n \le 22$.

Suppose a ball appears $5$ or more times. Then the remaining balls of the $5$ boxes must be distinct, so that there are at least $n \ge 5 \cdot 5 + 1 = 26$ balls, contradiction. If a ball appears $4$ or more times, the remaining balls of the $4$ boxes must be distinct, leading to $5 \cdot 4 + 1 = 21$ balls. The fifth box can contain at most four balls from the previous boxes, and then the remaining two balls must be distinct, leading to $n \ge 2 + 21 = 23$, contradiction.

However, by the Pigeonhole Principle, at least one ball must appear $3$ times. Without loss of generality suppose that $1$ appears three times, and let the boxes that contain these have balls with colors $\{1,2,3,4,5,6\},\{1,7,8,9,10,11\},\{1,12,13,14,15,16\}$. Each of the remaining five boxes can have at most $3$ balls from each of these boxes. Thus, each of the remaining five boxes must have $3$ additional balls $> 16$. Thus, it is necessary that we use $\le 22 - 16 = 6$ balls to fill a $3 \times 5$ grid by the same rules.

Again, no balls may appear $\ge 4$ times, but by Pigeonhole, one ball must appear $3$ times. Without loss of generality, let this ball have color $17$; then the three boxes containing $17$ must have at least $2 \cdot 3 + 1 = 7$ balls, contradiction.

Therefore, $n = 23$ is the minimum.

## Solution 2

Similar to the above solution, no color can appear 4 times or more.