Let $a, b$ and $k$ be positive integers with $k> 1$ such that $lcm (a, b) + gcd (a, b) = k (a + b)$. Prove that $a + b \geq 4k$

Solution: Let $a=da_0$, $b=db_0$, thus $da_0b_0+d=kd(a_0+b_0) \implies k=\frac{a_0b_0+1}{a_0+b_0}$. Assuming to contrary, say $k > \frac{a+b}4 \implies 4a_0b_0+4 > d(a_0^2+b_0^2+2a_0b_0) > a_0^2+b_0^2+2a_0b_0 \implies 4 > (a_0-b_0)^2$. Thus $|a_0-b_0| < 2$. Considering $a_0 \geq b_0$, we get $a_0$ as one of $b_0,b_0+1$. As $k$ is an integer, $\frac{a_0b_0+1}{a_0+b_0}$ is an integer $\implies a_0+b_0 \mid a_0b_0+1$.

Case 1: $a_0=b_0$: $2a_0 \mid a_0^2+1 \implies \mid 2a_0^2+2-2a_0^2 \implies \mid 2$. Thus $a_0=b_0=1$, which is a contradiction as $k>1$.

Case 2: $a_0=b_0+1$: $2b_0+1 \mid b_0^2+b_0+1 \implies \mid 2b_0^2+2b_0+2 -b_0(2b_0+1) \implies \mid b_0+2 \implies \mid 2b_0+4-2b_0-1 \implies \mid 3$. Thus $b_0=1 \implies a_0=2$, which is a contradiction, as $k>1$.

How to prove it without contradiction? An elegant method

  • 1
    $\begingroup$ I smell a proof by induction.... $\endgroup$
    – Ty Jensen
    Dec 15, 2019 at 22:32
  • $\begingroup$ Yes, I did it exactly the same. $\endgroup$
    – nonuser
    Dec 15, 2019 at 22:45

1 Answer 1


As you noted, it's enough to consider $a$ and $b$ coprime. Then, the problem is to show the implication

\begin{align*} ab + 1 \stackrel{(1)}{=} k(a+b) \Longrightarrow a+b \stackrel{(2)}{\geqslant} 4k. \end{align*} Geometrically, (1) says that $(a,b)$ is a lattice point on the graph of the function

\begin{align*} f_k(x) = \frac{kx-1}{x-k}, \end{align*} and (2) says that $(a,b)$ lies above the line $\ell_k : x+y = 4k$. In other words, the problem is to show that no primitive lattice point $(a,b)$ on the graph of $f_k$ can lie (strictly) below $\ell_k$.

By doing a straightforward computation, one finds that the intersections of $\ell_k$ and the graph of $f_k$ occur at $x = 2k \pm 1$, and that $\ell_k$ is strictly below the (relevant part of the) graph for $x$ outside the interval $\left[ 2k-1, 2k+1 \right]$. Hence the only possibility for a lattice point $(a,b)$ on the graph of $f_k$ to lie below $\ell_k$ is that its $x$-coordinate is $2k$. But then its $y$-coordinate fails to be an integer, precisely because we require $k \geqslant 2$. In detail,

\begin{align*} f_k(2k) = \frac{2k^2 - 1}{k} = 2k - \frac{1}{k}. \end{align*}


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