# Check your talent: are you ready for math or mathematical sciences or engineering

At the outset, let me put a little sweetener also: All I want to do is draw attention to the importance of symbolic manipulation. If you can solve this tutorial easily or with only a little bit of help, I would strongly feel that you can make a good career in math or applied math or mathematical sciences or engineering.

On the other hand, this tutorial can be useful as a “miscellaneous or logical type of problems” for the ensuing RMO 2019.

I) Let S be a set having an operation * which assigns an element a*b of S for any $a,b \in S$. Let us assume that the following two rules hold:

i) If a, b are any objects in S, then $a*b=a$

ii) If a, b are any objects in S, then $a*b=b*a$

Show that S can have at most one object.

II) Let S be the set of all integers. For a, b in S define * by a*b=a-b. Verify the following:

a) $a*b \neq b*a$ unless $a=b$.

b) $(a*b)*c \neq a*{b*c}$ in general. Under what conditions on a, b, c is $a*(b*c)=(a*b)*c$?

c) The integer 0 has the property that $a*0=a$ for every a in S.

d) For a in S, $a*a=0$

III) Let S consist of two objects $\square$ and $\triangle$. We define the operation * on S by subjecting $\square$ and $\triangle$ to the following condittions:

i) $\square * \triangle=\triangle = \triangle * \square$

ii) $\square * \square = \square$

iii) $\triangle * \triangle = \square$

Verify by explicit calculation that if a, b, c are any elements of S (that is, a, b and c can be any of $\square$ or $\triangle$) then:

i) $a*b \in S$

ii) $(a*b)*c = a*(b*c)$

iii) $a*b=b*a$

iv) There is a particular a in S such that $a*b=b*a=b$ for all b in S

v) Given $b \in S$, then $b*b=a$, where a is the particular element in (iv) above.

This will be your own self-appraisal !!

Regards,

Nalin Pithwa

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