2020 AMC 12B Problems/Problem 22

Problem 22

What is the maximum value of $\frac{(2^t-3t)t}{4^t}$ for real values of $t?$

$\textbf{(A)}\ \frac{1}{16} \qquad\textbf{(B)}\ \frac{1}{15} \qquad\textbf{(C)}\ \frac{1}{12} \qquad\textbf{(D)}\ \frac{1}{10} \qquad\textbf{(E)}\ \frac{1}{9}$

Solution 1

Set $u = t2^{-t}$. Then the expression in the problem can be written as \[R = - 3t^24^{-t} + t2^{-t}= - 3u^2 + u = - 3 (u - 1/6)^2 + \frac{1}{12} \le \frac{1}{12} .\] It is easy to see that $u =\frac{1}{6}$ is attained for some value of $t$ between $t = 0$ and $t = 1$, thus the maximal value of $R$ is $\textbf{(C)}\ \frac{1}{12}$.

Solution 2 (Calculus Needed)

We want to maximize $f(t) = \frac{(2^t-3t)t}{4^t} = \frac{t\cdot 2^t-3t^2}{4^t}$. We can use the first derivative test. Use quotient rule to get the following: \[\frac{(2^t + t\cdot \ln{2} \cdot 2^t - 6t)4^t - (t\cdot 2^t - 3t^2)4^t \cdot 2\ln{2}}{(4^t)^2} = 0 \implies 2^t + t\cdot \ln{2} \cdot 2^t - 6t = (t\cdot 2^t - 3t^2) 2\ln{2}\] \[\implies 2^t + t\cdot \ln{2}\cdot 2^t - 6t = 2t\ln{2} \cdot 2^t - 6t^2 \ln{2}\] \[\implies 2^t(1-t\cdot \ln{2}) = 6t(1 - t\cdot \ln{2}) \implies 2^t = 6t\]Therefore, we plug this back into the original equation to get $\boxed{\textbf{(C)} \frac{1}{12}}$


Solution 3

First, substitute $2^t = x (\log_2{x} = t)$ so that \[\frac{(2^t-3t)t}{4^t} = \frac{x\log_2{x}-3(\log_2{x})^2}{x^2}\]

Notice that \[\frac{x\log_2{x}-3(\log_2{x})^2}{x^2} = \frac{\log_2{x}}{x}-3\Big(\frac{\log_2{x}}{x}\Big)^2.\]

When seen as a function, $\frac{\log_2{x}}{x}-3\Big(\frac{\log_2{x}}{x}\Big)^2$ is a synthesis function that has $\frac{\log_2{x}}{x}$ as its inner function.

If we substitute $\frac{\log_2{x}}{x} = p$, the given function becomes a quadratic function that has a maximum value of $\frac{1}{12}$ when $p = \frac{1}{6}$.

Now we need to check if $\frac{\log_2{x}}{x}$ can have the value of $\frac{1}{6}$ in the range of real numbers.

In the range of (positive) real numbers, function $\frac{\log_2{x}}{x}$ is a continuous function whose value gets infinitely smaller as $x$ gets closer to 0 (as $log_2{x}$ also diverges toward negative infinity in the same condition). When $x = 2$, $\frac{\log_2{x}}{x} = \frac{1}{2}$, which is larger than $\frac{1}{6}$.

Therefore, we can assume that $\frac{\log_2{x}}{x}$ equals to $\frac{1}{6}$ when $x$ is somewhere between 1 and 2 (at least), which means that the maximum value of $\frac{(2^t-3t)t}{4^t}$ is $\boxed{\textbf{(C)}\ \frac{1}{12}}$.

Solution 4 (AM-GM)

Note that by AM-GM, \[3t(2^t-3t) \leq \frac{2^{2t}}{4}\] So \[\frac{t(2^t-3t)}{4^t} \leq \frac{1}{12}\] Equality holds iff $2^t =6t$ which happens for some $0<t<1$ since $2^0>6*0$ and $2^1<6*1$.

See Also

2020 AMC 12B (ProblemsAnswer KeyResources)
Preceded by
Problem 21
Followed by
Problem 23
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All AMC 12 Problems and Solutions

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