Sixty points, of which thirty are coloured red, twenty are coloured blue and ten are coloured green, are marked on a circle. These points divide the circle into sixty arcs. Each of these arcs is assigned a number according to the colours of its endpoints: an arc between a red and a green point is assigned a number $1$, an arc between a red and a blue point is assigned a number $2$, and an arc between a blue and a green point is assigned a number $3$. The arcs between two points of the same colour are assigned a number $0$. What is the greatest possible sum of all the numbers assigned to the arcs?

Let $W$ be function which assign to each red/green/blue point value $1/0/3$. By this assigment we can generate proper assigment of arcs, if consecutive points on circle are $x_i$ and $x_{i+1}$ then we assign to arc beetwen them $|W(x_i)-W(x_{i+1})|$. So we want maximum value of $$ S= \sum_{i=1}^{60}|W(x_i)-W(x_{i+1})|$$ where $x_{61} =x_1$. Now we see that $S$ does not decrease if we have in a sequence two consecutive points of the same color, say with colors $a,a,b,c$, where $b,c$ can also be $a$ or can be the same colors $b=c$, by replacing $a$ and $b$: $$|a-a|+|a-b|+ |b-c|\leq |a-b|+|b-a|+|a-c|$$

So we see that the best arrangement of colors is if don't have consecutive points with the same color.

Have I missed something?

Edit: Thanks to Yorch

  • $\begingroup$ I suspect that may not be the only best arrangement (try others where there are no blue pairs and no green pairs) but it seems to be equal best $\endgroup$
    – Henry
    Jul 27, 2021 at 14:43

1 Answer 1


A correct red/green/blue function $W$ would be $1/0/3$

We now have $S = \sum\limits_{i=1}^{60} |W(x_i) - W_{x_{i+1}}| = \sum\limits_{i=1}^{60} x_i + x_{i+1}- 2\min(W(x_{i}),W(x_{i+1})) = 2(30(1) + 10(0) + 20(3)) - 2\sum\limits_{i=1}^{60}\min(W(x_{i}),W(x_{i+1}))$.

So now we would like to minimize the sum on the right. It is clear that at most $20$ summands can be $0$, and so the sum is at least least $40$, and that is achievable by placing the green balls in positions that are multiples of $6$ and placing the red balls in positions that are odd. We get that $S= 180 - 2\cdot 40 = 100$.

  • $\begingroup$ I know this argument is mostly correct, but when you color the points with the repeating pattern $\mathrm{RBRGRB}$, the score should be $100$, not $140$. There are $40$ red-blue pairs, and $20$ red-green pairs, for a score of $40\cdot 2+20\cdot 1=100$. I cannot see what went wrong in your calculation of $S$, however. $\endgroup$ Jul 27, 2021 at 17:33
  • $\begingroup$ Thank you very much, fixed ! $\endgroup$
    – Asinomás
    Jul 27, 2021 at 17:46

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