2005 AMC 10A Problems/Problem 10

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Problem

There are two values of $a$ for which the equation $4x^2 + ax + 8x + 9 = 0$ has only one solution for $x$. What is the sum of those values of $a$?

$\textbf{(A) }-16\qquad\textbf{(B) }-8\qquad\textbf{(C) } 0\qquad\textbf{(D) }8\qquad\textbf{(E) }20$

Solution 1

A quadratic equation has exactly one root if and only if it is a perfect square. So set

$4x^2 + ax + 8x + 9 = (mx + n)^2$

$4x^2 + ax + 8x + 9 = m^2x^2 + 2mnx + n^2$

Two polynomials are equal only if their coefficients are equal, so we must have

$m^2 = 4, n^2 = 9$

$m = \pm 2, n = \pm 3$

$a + 8= 2mn = \pm 2\cdot 2\cdot 3 = \pm 12$

$a = 4$ or $a = -20$.

So the desired sum is $(4)+(-20)=\boxed{\textbf{(A)}-16}$


Alternatively, note that whatever the two values of $a$ are, they must lead to equations of the form $px^2 + qx + r =0$ and $px^2 - qx + r = 0$. So the two choices of $a$ must make $a_1 + 8 = q$ and $a_2 + 8 = -q$ so $a_1 + a_2 + 16 = 0$ and $a_1 + a_2 =\boxed{\textbf{(A)}-16}$

Solution 2

Since this quadratic must have a double root, the discriminant of the quadratic formula for this quadratic must be 0. Therefore, we must have \[(a+8)^2 - 4(4)(9) = 0 \implies a^2 + 16a - 80.\] We can use the quadratic formula to solve for its roots (we can ignore the expression in the radical sign as it will cancel out due to the $\pm$ sign when added). So we must have \[\frac{-16 + \sqrt{\text{something}}}{2} + \frac{-16 - \sqrt{\text{something}}}{2}.\] $\frac{-32}{2} = \boxed{\textbf{(A)}-16}$

Solution 3

There is only one positive value for $k$ such that the quadratic equation would have only one solution. $k-8$ and $-k-8$ are the values of $a$. $-8-8=-16$, so the answer is $\boxed{\textbf{(A)} -16}$

See also

2005 AMC 10A (ProblemsAnswer KeyResources)
Preceded by
Problem 9
Followed by
Problem 11
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25
All AMC 10 Problems and Solutions

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