Check your mathematical induction concepts

Discuss the following “proof” of the (false) theorem:

If n is any positive integer and S is a set containing exactly n real numbers, then all the numbers in S are equal:


Step 1:

If n=1, the result is evident.

Step 2: By the induction hypothesis the result is true when n=k; we must prove that it is correct when n=k+1. Let S be any set containing exactly k+1 real numbers and denote these real numbers by a_{1}, a_{2}, a_{3}, \ldots, a_{k}, a_{k+1}. If we omit a_{k+1} from this list, we obtain exactly k numbers a_{1}, a_{2}, \ldots, a_{k}; by induction hypothesis these numbers are all equal:

a_{1}=a_{2}= \ldots = a_{k}.

If we omit a_{1} from the list of numbers in S, we again obtain exactly k numbers a_{2}, \ldots, a_{k}, a_{k+1}; by the induction hypothesis these numbers are all equal:

a_{2}=a_{3}=\ldots = a_{k}=a_{k+1}.

It follows easily that all k+1 numbers in S are equal.


Comments, observations are welcome 🙂


Nalin Pithwa

Some number theory (and miscellaneous) coaching for RMO and INMO: tutorial (problem set) III

Continuing this series of slightly vexing questions, we present below:

1. Prove the inequality \frac{A+a+B+b}{A+a+B+b+c+r} + \frac{B+b+C+c}{B+b+C+c+a+r} > \frac{C+c+A+a}{C+c+A+a++b+r}, where all the variables are positive numbers.

2. A sequence of numbers: Find a sequence of numbers x_{0}, x_{1}, x_{2}, \ldots whose elements are positive and such that a_{0}=1 and a_{n} - a_{n+1}=a_{n+2} for n=0, 1, 2, \ldots. Show that there is only one such sequence.

3. Points in a plane: Consider several points lying in a plane. We connect each point to the nearest point by a straight line. Since we assume all distances to be different, there is no doubt as to which point is the nearest one. Prove that the resulting figure does not containing any closed polygons or intersecting segments.

4. Examination of an angle: Let x_{1}, x_{2}, \ldots, x_{n} be positive numbers. We choose in a plane a ray OX, and we lay off it on a segment OP_{1}=x_{1}. Then, we draw a segment P_{1}P_{2}=x_{2} perpendicular to OP_{1} and next a segment P_{2}P_{3}=x_{3} perpendicular to OP_{2}. We continue in this way up to P_{n-1}P_{n}=x_{n}. The right angles are directed in such a way that their left arms pass through O. We can consider the ray OX to rotate around O from the initial point through points P_{1}, P_{2}, \ldots, P_{n} (the final position being P_{n}). In doing so, it sweeps out a certain angle. Prove that for given numbers x_{i}, this angle is smallest when the numbers x_{i}, that is, x_{1} \geq x_{2} \geq \ldots x_{n} decrease; and the angle is largest when these numbers increase.

5. Area of a triangle: Prove, without the help of trigonometry, that in a triangle with one angle A = 60 \deg the area S of the triangle is given by the formula S = \frac{\sqrt{3}}{4}(a^{2}-(b-c)^{2}) and if A = 120\deg, then S = \frac{\sqrt{3}}{12}(a^{2}-(b-c)^{2}).

More later, cheers, hope you all enjoy. Partial attempts also deserve some credit.

Nalin Pithwa.

A nice analysis question for RMO practice

Actually, this is a famous problem. But, I feel it is important to attempt on one’s own, proofs of famous questions within the scope of RMO and INMO mathematics. And, then compare one’s approach or whole proof with the one suggested by the author or teacher of RMO/INMO.


How farthest from the edge of a table can a deck of playing cards be stably overhung if the cards are stacked on top of one another? And, how many of them will be overhanging completely away from the edge of the table?


I will post it when I publish the solution lest it might affect your attempt at solving this enticing mathematics question !

Please do not try and get the solution from the internet.


Nalin Pithwa.


Euler’s Series: problem worth trying for RMO or INMO or Madhava Mathematics Competition

Mengoli posed the following series to be evaluated:

1 + \frac{1}{2^{2}} + \frac{1}{3^{2}} + \frac{1}{4^{2}}+\ldots

Some great mathematicians, including Leibnitz, John Bernoulli and D’Alembert, failed to compute this infinite series. Euler established himself as the best mathematician of Europe (in fact, one of the greatest mathematicians in history) by evaluating this series initially, by a not-so-rigorous method. Later on, he gave alternative and more rigorous ways of getting the same result. 


Can you show that the series converges and gets an upper limit? Then, try to evaluate the series.

Solution will be posted soon.


Nalin Pithwa.