2016 AMC 12A Problems/Problem 19

Revision as of 19:58, 30 December 2016 by Chenmeister22 (talk | contribs) (Solution 2)


Jerry starts at $0$ on the real number line. He tosses a fair coin $8$ times. When he gets heads, he moves $1$ unit in the positive direction; when he gets tails, he moves $1$ unit in the negative direction. The probability that he reaches $4$ at some time during this process $\frac{a}{b},$ where $a$ and $b$ are relatively prime positive integers. What is $a + b?$ (For example, he succeeds if his sequence of tosses is $HTHHHHHH.$)

$\textbf{(A)}\ 69\qquad\textbf{(B)}\ 151\qquad\textbf{(C)}\ 257\qquad\textbf{(D)}\ 293\qquad\textbf{(E)}\ 313$

Solution 1

For $6$ to $8$ heads, we are guaranteed to hit $4$ heads, so the sum here is $\binom{8}{2}+\binom{8}{1}+\binom{8}{0}=28+8+1=37$.

For $4$ heads, you have to hit the $4$ heads at the start so there's only one way, $1$.

For $5$ heads, we either start off with $4$ heads, which gives us $4\textbf{C}1=4$ ways to arrange the other flips, or we start off with five heads and one tail, which has $6$ ways minus the $2$ overlapping cases, $\text{HHHHHTTT}$ and $\text{HHHHTHTT}$. Total ways: $8$.

Then we sum to get $46$. There are a total of $2^8=256$ possible sequences of $8$ coin flips, so the probability is $\frac{46}{256}=\frac{23}{128}$. Summing, we get $23+128=\boxed{\textbf{(B) }151}$.

Solution 2

Reaching 4 will require either 4, 6, or 8 flips. Therefore we can split into 3 cases:

(Case 1): The first four flips are heads. Then, the last four flips can be anything so $2^4=16$ possibilities work.

(Case 2): It takes 6 flips to reach 4. There must be one tail in the first four flips so we don't repeat case 1. The tail can be in one of 4 positions. The next two flips must be heads. The last two flips can be anything so $2^2=4$ flips work. $4*4=16$.

(Case 3): It takes 8 flips to reach 4. We can split this case into 2 sub-cases. There can either be 1 or 2 tails in the first 4 flips.

(1 tail in first four flips). In this case, the first tail can be in 4 positions. The second tail can be in either the 5th or 6th position so we don't repeat case 2. Thus, there are $4*2=8$ possibilities.

(2 tails in first four flips). In this case, the tails can be in $\binom{4}{2}=6$ positions.

Adding these cases up and taking the total out of $2^8=256$ yields $\frac{16+16+8+6}{256}=\frac{46}{256}=\frac{23}{128}$. This means the answer is $23+128=\boxed{\textbf{(B) }151}$.

See Also

2016 AMC 12A (ProblemsAnswer KeyResources)
Preceded by
Problem 18
Followed by
Problem 20
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 12 Problems and Solutions

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