I'm sorry for bad English. I am student in Turkey. In here, there is a trick for linear equations' ordered pairs, mentioned many textbooks. I want to explain:

If x and y are natural numbers


c/a and c/b integers

Number of ordered pairs that satisfy this equation can be find with that way:

[c/LCM(a, b)]+1

If x and y are positive integers

[c/LCM(a, b)]-1

For example

x and y are natural numbers


How many ordered pairs (x, y) integers for given equation?

[120/LCM(3, 5)]+1=[120/15]+1=9

If x and y would be positive integers


I don't understand why. I can not prove this formula. Please help me.


I assume that $a,b,c$ are all supposed to be positive integers in

$$ax + by = c \tag{1}\label{eq1}$$

Let $(x_0,y_0)$ be a solution and let $(x_1,y_1)$ be the solution with the next larger integer value of $x_1$. Thus,

$$ax_0 + by_0 = c \tag{1}\label{eq2}$$ $$ax_1 + by_1 = c \tag{2}\label{eq3}$$

Next, \eqref{eq3} - \eqref{eq2} gives

$$a(x_1 - x_0) + b(y_1 - y_0) = 0 \tag{4}\label{eq4}$$

This shows that any factors of $b$ which are not a factor of $a$ must divide $x_1 - x_0$. The set of these factors is $\frac{\text{lcm}(a,b)}{a}$. Thus, the smallest positive value which $x_1 - x_0$ is

$$x_1 - x_0 = \frac{\text{lcm}(a,b)}{a} \tag{5}\label{eq5}$$

Substituting this into \eqref{eq4} gives

$$y_1 - y_0 = -\frac{\text{lcm}(a,b)}{b} \tag{6}\label{eq6}$$

This shows the values of $x$ increase by $\frac{\text{lcm}(a,\, b)}{a}$ for each next solution (while $y$ decreases by $\frac{\text{lcm}(a,\, b)}{b}$). Thus, if $x_{\text{min}}$ is the minimum value, and $x_{\text{max}}$ is the maximum value, of $x$ which are solutions for the equation, you can determine the total number of solutions as being $x_{\text{max}} - x_{\text{min}}$ divided by $\frac{\text{lcm}(a,\, b)}{a}$, and add $1$ (as the values are inclusive).

Since $\frac{c}{b}$ is an integer, this means that if $y = \frac{c}{b}$, then \eqref{eq1} gives that $x = 0$. Thus, among non-negative integers, $x_{\text{min}} = 0$. Similarly, since $\frac{c}{a}$ is also an integer, then $x = \frac{c}{a}$ gives that $y = 0$ in \eqref{eq1}. Thus, $x_{\text{max}} = \frac{c}{a}$. As such, the number of solutions would be

$$\frac{c/a}{\text{lcm}(a,b)/a} + 1 = \frac{c}{\text{lcm}(a,b)} + 1 \tag{7}\label{eq7}$$

If you only allow positive value solutions, then neither the smallest value of $x = 0$ is not allowed, nor the largest value of $x$ (as it causes $y$ to be $0$), are included, meaning there are $2$ less solutions, giving the total number then as being

$$\frac{c}{\text{lcm}(a,b)} - 1 \tag{8}\label{eq8}$$

  • $\begingroup$ Thank you very much $\endgroup$ – Rogue Apr 7 at 10:21
  • $\begingroup$ @Rogue You are welcome. If you think it's resolved your question, please consider clicking on the check mark beside this answer to indicate it's your accepted answer. Thanks. $\endgroup$ – John Omielan Apr 7 at 10:24

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