|log{xx_{1}}| + |log{xx_{2}}| + …+ |log{xx_{n}}| + |log{x/x_{1}}| + |log{x/x_{2}}| + …+|log{x/x_{n}}|= |log{x_{1}}+ log{x_{2}}+ ….+log{x_{n}}|

Solve the following :

Find all positive real numbers x, x_{1}, x_{2}, \ldots, x_{n} such that

|\log{xx_{1}}|+|\log{xx_{2}}| + \ldots + |\log{xx_{n}}| + |\log{\frac{x}{x_{1}}}| + |\log{\frac{x}{x_{2}}}| + \ldots + |\log{\frac{x}{x_{n}}}|= |\log{x_{1}}+ \log{x_{2}}+\log{x_{3}}+ \ldots + \log{x_{n}}|
…let us say this is given equality A


Use the following inequality: |a-b| \leq |a| + |b| with equality iff ab \leq 0

So, we observe that : |\log{xx_{1}}|+|\log{\frac{x}{x_{1}}}| \geq |\log{xx_{1}}-\log{\frac{x}{x_{1}}}| = |\log{x_{1}^{2}}|=2 |\log{x_{1}}|,

Hence, LHS of the given equality is greater than or equal to:

2(|\log{x_{1}}|+|\log{x_{2}}|+|\log{x_{3}}|+ \ldots + |\log{x_{n}}|)

Now, let us consider the RHS of the given equality A:

we have to use the following standard result:

|\pm a_{} \pm a_{2} \pm a_{3} \ldots \pm a_{n}| \leq |a_{1}|+|a_{2}| + \ldots + |a_{n}|

So, applying the above to RHS of A:

|\log{x_{1}}+\log{x_{2}}+\ldots + \log{x_{n}}| \leq |\log{x_{1}}|+|\log{x_{2}}|+\ldots + |\log{x_{n}}|.

But, RHS is equal to LHS as given in A:

That is, |\log{xx_{1}}|+|\log{xx_{2}}|+ \ldots + |\log{xx_{n}}| +|\log{\frac{x}{x_{1}}}|+|\log{\frac{x}{x_{2}}}|+ \ldots + |\log{\frac{x}{x_{n}}}| \leq |\log{x_{1}}|+|\log{x_{2}}|+ \ldots + |\log{x_{n}}|

Now, just a few steps before we proved that LHS is also greater than or equal to : That is,

|\log{xx_{1}}|+|\log{xx_{2}}|+\ldots + |\log{xx_{n}}|+ |\log{\frac{x}{x_{1}}}|+|\log{\frac{x}{x_{2}}}| + \ldots + |\log{\frac{x}{x_{n}}}| \geq 2(|\log{x_{1}}|+|\log{x_{2}}|+\ldots + |\log{x_{n}}|)

The above two inequalities are like the following: x \leq y and x \geq 2y; so what is the conclusion? The first inequality means x2y or x=2y; clearly it means the only valid solution is x=2y.

Using the above brief result, we have here:

|\log{x_{1}}|+|\log{x_{2}}|+ \ldots +|\log{x_{n}}| =2(|\log{x_{1}}|+|\log{x_{2}}|+ \ldots + |\log{x_{n}}|)

Hence, we get |\log{x_{1}}|+|\log{x_{2}}|+ \ldots + |\log{x_{n}}|=0, which in turn means that (by applying the definition of absolute value):

|\log{x_{1}}|=|\log{x_{2}}|= \ldots =|\log{x_{n}}|, which implies that x_{1}=x_{2}= \ldots  x_{n}=1.

Substituting these values in the given logarithmic absolute value equation, we get:

n \times |\log{x}|+ n \times |\log{x}|=0, that is 2n \times |\log{x}|=0, and as n \neq 0, this implies that |\log{x}|=0 which in turn means x=1 also.

Every function can be written as a sum of an even and an odd function

Let f(x) be any well-defined function.

We want to express it as a sum of an even function and an odd function.

Let us define two other functions as follows:

F(x) = \frac{f(x)+f(-x)}{2} and G(x)=\frac{f(x)-f(-x)}{2}.

Claim I: F(x) is an even function.

Proof I; Since by definition F(x)= \frac{f(x)+f(-x)}{2}, so F(-x) = \frac{f(-x) +f(-(-x))}{2}=\frac{f(-x)+f(x)}{2} \Longrightarrow F(x) = F(-x) so that F(x) is indeed an even function.

Claim 2: G(x) is an odd function.

Proof 2: Since by definition G(x) = \frac{f(x)-f(-x)}{2}, so G(-x) = \frac{f(-x)-f(-(-x))}{2} = \frac{f(-x)-f(x)}{2} = -\frac{f(x)-f(-x)}{2} = -G(-x) \Longrightarrow G(x) = -G(-x) so that G(x) is indeed an odd function.

Claim 3: f(x)= F(x) + G(x)

Proof 3: F(x)+ G(x) = \frac{f(x)+f(-x)}{2} + \frac{f(x)-f(-x)}{2} = \frac{f(x)}{2} + \frac{f(-x)}{2} + \frac{f(x)}{2} - \frac{f(-x)}{2} = f(x) indeed.


Problem Solving approach: based on George Polya’s opinion: Useful for RMO/INMO, IITJEE maths preparation

I have prepared the following write-up based on George Polya’s classic reference mentioned below:


First. “You have to understand the problem.”

What is the unknown ? What are the data? What is the condition?

Is it possible to satisfy the condition? Is the condition sufficient to determine the unknown? Or is it insufficient? Or redundant ? Or contradictory?

Draw a figure/diagram. Introduce a suitable notation. Separate the various parts of the condition. Can you write them down?



Find the connection between the data and the unknown. You may be obliged to consider auxiliary problems if an immediate connection cannot be found. You should eventually obtain a plan for the solution.”

Have you seen it before? Or have you seen the problem in a slightly different form? Do you know a related problem? Do you know a theorem that could be useful? Look at the unknown! And try to think of a familiar problem having the same or a similar unknown. Here is a problem related to yours and solved before. Could you use it? Could you use its result? Could you use its method? Should you restate it differently? Go back to definitions.

If you cannot solve the proposed problem, try to solve some related problem. Could you imagine a more accessible related problem? A more general problem? A more special problem? An analogous problem? Could you solve a part of the problem? Keep only a part of the condition, drop the other part, how far is the unknown then determined, how can it vary? Could you derive something useful from the data? Could you think of other data appropriate to determine the unknown? Could you change the unknown of the data, or both, if necessary, so that the new unknown and the new data are nearer to each other? Did you use all the data? Did you use the whole condition? Have you taken into account all essential notions involved in the problem?


“Carry out your plan.”

Carrying out your plan of the solution, check each step. Can you clearly see that the step is correct? Can you prove that it is correct?


Examine the solution.

Can you check the result? Can you check the argument? Can you derive the result differently? Can you see it at a glance? Can you see the result, or the method, for some other problem?



How to Solve It: A New Aspect of Mathematical Method — George Polya.

Amazon India Link:


The above simple “plan” can be useful even to crack problems from a famous classic, Problem Solving Strategies, by Arthur Engel, a widely-used text for training for RMO, INMO and IITJEE Advanced Math also, perhaps. 

Reference: Problem-Solving Strategies by Arthur Engel; available on Amazon India


Concept of order in math and real world

  1. Rise and Shine algorithm: This is crazy-sounding, but quite a perfect example of the need for “order” in the real-world: when we get up in the morning, we first clean our teeth, finish all other ablutions, then go to the bathroom and first we have to remove our pyjamas/pajamas and then the shirt, and then enter the shower; we do not first enter the shower and then remove the pyjamas/shirt !! 🙂
  2. On the number line, as we go from left to right: a<x<b, that is any real number to the left of another real number is always “less than” the number to the right. (note that whereas the real numbers form an “ordered field”, the complex numbers are only “partially ordered”…we will continue this further discussion later) .
  3. Dictionary order
  4. Alphabetical order (the letters A \hspace{0.1in} B \ldots Z in English.
  5. Telephone directory order
  6. So a service like JustDial certainly uses “order” quite intensely: let us say that you want to find the telephone clinic landline number of Dr Mrs Prasad in Jayanagar 4th Block, Bengaluru : We first narrow JustDial to “Location” (Jayanagar 4th Block, Bengaluru), then narrow to “doctors/surgeons” as the case may be, and then check in alphabetic order, the name of Dr Mrs Prasad. So, we clearly see that the “concept” and “actual implementation” of order (in databases) actually speeds up so much the time to find the exact information we want.
  7. So also, in math, we have the concept of ordered pair; in Cartesian geometry, (a,b) means that the first component a \in X-axis and b \in Y-axis. This order is generalized to complex numbers in the complex plane or Argand’s diagram.
  8. There is “order” in human “relations” also: let us (x,y) represents x (as father) and y (as son). Clearly, the father is “first” and the son is “second”.
  9. So, also any “tree” has a “natural order”: seed first, then roots, then branches.


Nalin Pithwa.

Mathematics: A Very Short Introduction

By Professor Tim Gowers, Fields Medallist. Highly recommended for my young readers and students especially. Perhaps, it might also be recommended for Indian parents who want to know a bit more about Math and related exams like IITJEE Advanced.


Nalin Pithwa.

Why do we need proofs? In other words, difference between a mathematician, physicist and a layman

Yes, I think it is a very nice question, which kids ask me. Why do we need proofs? Well, here is a detailed explanation (I am not mentioning the reference I use here lest it may intimidate my young enthusiastic, hard working students or readers. In other words, the explanation is not my own; I do not claim credit for this…In other words, I am just sharing what I am reading in the book…)

Here it goes:

What exactly is the difference between a mathematician, a physicist, and a layman? Let us suppose that they all start measuring the angles of hundreds of triangles of various shapes, find the sum in each case and keep a record. Suppose the layman finds that with one or two exceptions, the sum in each case comes out to be 180 degrees. He will ignore the exceptions and say “the sum of the three angles in a triangle  is 180 degrees.” A physicist will be more cautious in dealing with the exceptional cases. He will examine them more carefully. If he finds that the sum in them is somewhere between 179 degrees to 180 degrees, say, then he will attribute the deviation to experimental errors. He will then state a law: The sum of three angles of any triangle is 180 degrees. He will then watch happily as the rest of the world puts his law to test and finds that it holds good in thousands of different cases, until somebody comes up with a triangle in which the law fails miserably. The physicist now has to withdraw his law altogether or else to replace it by some other law which holds good in all cases tried. Even this new law may have to be modified at a later date. And, this will continue without end.

A mathematician will be the fussiest of all. If there is even a single exception he will refrain from saying anything. Even when millions of triangles are tried without a single exception, he will not state it as a theorem that the sum of the three angles in ANY triangle is 180 degrees. The reason is that there are infinitely many different types of triangles. To generalize from a million to infinity is as baseless to a mathematician as to generalize from one to a million. He will at the most make a conjecture and say that there is a strong evidence suggesting that the conjecture is true. But that is not the same thing as a proving a theorem. The only proof acceptable to a mathematician is the one which follows from earlier theorems by sheer logical implications (that is, statements of the form : If P, then Q). For example, such a proof follows easily from the theorem that an external angle of a triangle is the sum of the other two internal angles.

The approach taken by the layman or the physicist is known as the inductive approach whereas the mathematician’s approach is called the deductive approach. In the former, we make a few observations and generalize. In the latter, we deduce from something which is already proven. Of course, a question can be raised as to on what basis this supporting theorem is proved. The answer will be some other theorem. But then the same question can be asked about the other theorem. Eventually, a stage is reached where a certain statement cannot be proved from any other earlier proved statement(s) and must, therefore, be taken for granted to be true. Such a statement is known as an axiom or a postulate. Each branch of math has its own axioms or postulates. For examples, one of the axioms of geometry is that through two distinct points, there passes exactly one line. The whole beautiful structure of geometry is based on 5 or 6 axioms such as this one. Every theorem in plane geometry or Euclid’s Geometry can be ultimately deduced from these axioms.

PS: One of the most famous American presidents, Abraham Lincoln had read, understood and solved all of Euclid’s books (The Elements) by burning mid-night oil, night after night, to “sharpen his mental faculties”. And, of course, there is another famous story (true story) of how Albert Einstein as a very young boy got completely “addicted” to math by reading Euclid’s proof of why three medians of a triangle are concurrent…(you can Google up, of course).


Nalin Pithwa