A calculator is broken so that the only

A calculator is broken so that the only keys that still work are the sin, cos, tan, arcsin, arccos, and arctan buttons. The display initially shows 0. Given any positive rational number q, show that pressing some finite sequence of buttons will yield q. Assume that the calculator does real number calculations with infinite precision. All functions are in terms of radians.

I’ve started reading Zeitz’s The Art and Craft of Problem Solving. This one took me about 90 minutes, though as usual, once I had a solution it seemed obvious. Originally from USAMO 1995. Who comes up with these problems? How? You sit down and say, “Okay, it’s time to invent a problem that can be solved with elementary math, but only if you see some diabolical trick”, and then you do what?

Tags: , , ,

One Response to “A calculator is broken so that the only”

  1. Hamish Says:

    Answer to your question: you come up with the diabolical trick FIRST, through normal exploration and playing around with things yourself. You then engineer a situation in which someone HAS to find out this diabolical trick. That part is sometimes easy, sometimes quite hard.

    I talk about that process here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BIlr7R7UAfc

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s


%d bloggers like this: