Difference between revisions of "2008 AMC 12B Problems/Problem 24"

Problem 24

Let $A_0=(0,0)$. Distinct points $A_1,A_2,\dots$ lie on the $x$-axis, and distinct points $B_1,B_2,\dots$ lie on the graph of $y=\sqrt{x}$. For every positive integer $n,\ A_{n-1}B_nA_n$ is an equilateral triangle. What is the least $n$ for which the length $A_0A_n\geq100$?

$\textbf{(A)}\ 13\qquad \textbf{(B)}\ 15\qquad \textbf{(C)}\ 17\qquad \textbf{(D)}\ 19\qquad \textbf{(E)}\ 21$

Solution

Let $a_n=|A_{n-1}A_n|$. We need to rewrite the recursion into something manageable. The two strange conditions, $B$'s lie on the graph of $y=\sqrt{x}$ and $A_{n-1}B_nA_n$ is an equilateral triangle, can be compacted as follows: $$\left(a_n\frac{\sqrt{3}}{2}\right)^2=\frac{a_n}{2}+a_{n-1}+a_{n-2}+\cdots+a_1$$ which uses $y^2=x$, where $x$ is the height of the equilateral triangle and therefore $\frac{\sqrt{3}}{2}$ times its base.

The relation above holds for $n=k$ and for $n=k-1$ $(k>1)$, so $$\left(a_k\frac{\sqrt{3}}{2}\right)^2-\left(a_{k-1}\frac{\sqrt{3}}{2}\right)^2=$$ $$=\left(\frac{a_k}{2}+a_{k-1}+a_{k-2}+\cdots+a_1\right)-\left(\frac{a_{k-1}}{2}+a_{k-2}+a_{k-3}+\cdots+a_1\right)$$ Or, $$a_k-a_{k-1}=\frac23$$ This implies that each segment of a successive triangle is $\frac23$ more than the last triangle. To find $a_{1}$, we merely have to plug in $k=1$ into the aforementioned recursion and we have $a_{1} - a_{0} = \frac23$. Knowing that $a_{0}$ is $0$, we can deduce that $a_{1} = 2/3$.Thus, $a_n=\frac{2n}{3}$, so $A_0A_n=a_n+a_{n-1}+\cdots+a_1=\frac{2}{3} \cdot \frac{n(n+1)}{2} = \frac{n(n+1)}{3}$. We want to find $n$ so that $n^2<300<(n+1)^2$. $n=\boxed{17}$ is our answer.