2008 AMC 10A Problems/Problem 23

Revision as of 11:33, 22 March 2016 by Eugenis (talk | contribs) (Solution)


Two subsets of the set $S=\lbrace a,b,c,d,e\rbrace$ are to be chosen so that their union is $S$ and their intersection contains exactly two elements. In how many ways can this be done, assuming that the order in which the subsets are chosen does not matter?

$\mathrm{(A)}\ 20\qquad\mathrm{(B)}\ 40\qquad\mathrm{(C)}\ 60\qquad\mathrm{(D)}\ 160\qquad\mathrm{(E)}\ 320$


Solution 1

First choose the two letters to be repeated in each set. $\dbinom{5}{2}=10$. Now we have three remaining elements that we wish to place into two separate subsets. There are $2^3 = 8$ ways to do so (Do you see why? It's because each of the three remaining letters can be placed either into the first or second subset. Both of those subsets contain the two chosen elements, so their intersection is the two chosen elements). Unfortunately, we have over-counted (Take for example $S_{1} = \{a,b,c,d \}$ and $S_{2} = \{a,b,e \}$). Notice how $S_{1}$ and $S_{2}$ are interchangeable. A simple division by two will fix this problem. Thus we have:

$\dfrac{10 \times 8}{2} = 40 \implies \boxed{\text{B}}$

Alternatively, after picking the two elements in both sets in $\dbinom{5}{2}=10$ ways, we can use stars and bars to assign the remaining 3 elements to the sets. There are 3 stars, and 1 bar, so there are 4 total ways of assigning the elements. Then there are $10\cdot4=40$ ways to create the sets.

Solution 2

Another way of looking at this problem is to break it down into cases.

First, our two subsets can have 2 and 5 elements. The 5-element subset (aka the set) will contain the 2-element subset. There are $\dbinom{5}{2}=10$ ways to choose the 2-element subset. Thus, there are $10$ ways to create these sets.

Second, the subsets can have 3 and 4 elements. $3+4=7$ non-distinct elements. $7-5=2$ elements in the intersection. There are $\dbinom{5}{3}=10$ ways to choose the 3-element subset. For the 4-element subset, two of the elements must be the remaining elements (not in the 3-element subset). The other two have to be a subset of the 3-element subset. There are $\dbinom{3}{2}=3$ ways to choose these two elements, which means there are 3 ways to choose the 4-element subset. Therefore, there are $10\cdot3=30$ ways to choose these sets.

This leads us to the answer:

$10+30=40 \implies \boxed{\textbf{(B) 40}}$

Solution 3 (provided by Eugenis)

We label the subsets subset 1 and subset 2. Suppose the first subset has $k$ elements where $k<5.$ The second element has $5-k$ elements which the first subset does not contain (in order for the union to be the whole set). Additionally, the second set has 2 elements in common with the first subset. Therefore the number of ways to choose these sets is $\binom{5}{k} \cdot \binom{k}{2}.$ Computing for $k<5$ we have $10+30+30+10=80.$ Divide by 2 for order to get $40.$

See also

2008 AMC 10A (ProblemsAnswer KeyResources)
Preceded by
Problem 22
Followed by
Problem 24
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

The problems on this page are copyrighted by the Mathematical Association of America's American Mathematics Competitions. AMC logo.png

Invalid username
Login to AoPS