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(1)

Problem 11775

(American Mathematical Monthly, Vol.121, May 2014) Proposed by I. Sofair (USA).

Let A1, . . . , An be finite sets. For k = 1, . . . , n, let Sk =P

|J |=k

S

j∈JAj

with J ⊆ {1, . . . , n}.

(a) Express in terms of S1, . . . , Sn the number of elements that belong to exactly m of the sets A1, . . . , An.

(b) Same question as in (a), except that we now require the number of elements belonging to at least m of the sets A1, . . . , An.

Solution proposed by Roberto Tauraso, Dipartimento di Matematica, Universit`a di Roma “Tor Vergata”, via della Ricerca Scientifica, 00133 Roma, Italy.

(a) The number of elements that belong to exactly 1 ≤ m ≤ n of the sets A1, . . . , An is em= (−1)n−m

n

X

j=n−m

(−1)j−1

 j n − m

 Sj.

In fact, an element that is in exactly r of the sets A1, . . . , An is counted

r

X

i=1

r i

n − r j − i



=n j



−n − r j



times in Sj where ri is the number of ways to choose i of the r sets and n−rj−i is the number of ways complete a set of j elements. Therefore, in the above formula, such an element is counted

(−1)n−m

n

X

j=n−m

(−1)j

 j n − m

 n − r j



−n j



=

 1 if r = m, 0 otherwise, times because for 0 ≤ t ≤ n,

n

X

j=n−m

(−1)j

 j n − m

n − t j



= n − t n − m

 n

X

j=n−m

(−1)j

 m − t j − (n − m)



= (−1)n−m n − t n − m



(1 − 1)m−t=

 (−1)n−m if t = m,

0 otherwise,

(b) The number of elements belonging to at least 1 ≤ m ≤ n of the sets A1, . . . , An is am=

n

X

k=m

ek=

n

X

k=m

(−1)n−k

n

X

j=n−k

(−1)j−1

 j n − k

 Sj=

n

X

j=1

(−1)j−1Sj n

X

k=m

(−1)n−k

 j n − k



=

n

X

j=1

(−1)j−1Sj n−m

X

k=0

(−1)kj k



= (−1)n−m

n

X

j=n−m+1

(−1)j−1 j − 1 n − m

 Sj.

 Note that in a similar way one can prove that

em=

n

X

k=m

(−1)k−m k m



Tk and am=

n

X

k=m

(−1)k−mk − 1 m

 Tk

where Tk=P

|J|=k

T

j∈JAj

. Moreover for k = 1, . . . , n, Sk =

k

X

j=1

(−1)j−1n − j k − j



Tj and Tk =

k

X

j=1

(−1)j−1n − j k − j

 Sj.

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