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I encounter the following problem with solution. But I do not quite understand the argument for 5, 10 points and eventually 100 points. Can someone elucidate the details?


Problem

In a plane there are $100$ points, no three of which are collinear. Consider all possible triangles having these point as vertices. Prove that no more than $70$% of these triangles are acute-angled.

Solution

At most $3$ of the triangles formed by $4$ points can be acute. It follows that at most $7$ out of the $10$ triangles formed by any $5$ points can be acute. For given $10$ points, the maximum no. of acute triangles is: the no. of subsets of $4$ points $\times3/$the no. of subsets of $4$ points containing $3$ given points. The total no. of triangles is the same expression with the first $3$ replaced by $4$. Hence at most $\frac34$ of the $10$, or $7.5$, can be acute, and hence at most $7$ can be acute. The same argument now extends the result to $100$ points. The maximum number of acute triangles formed by $100$ points is: the no. of subsets of $5$ points $\times7$/the no. of subsets of 5 points containing $3$ given points. The total no. of triangles is the same expression with $7$ replaced by $10$. Hence at most $\frac7{10}$ of the triangles are acute.

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1 Answer 1

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First, show that out of 4 points, at most 3 triangles are acute.

Out of 5 points, there are ${ 5 \choose 4 } =5$ sets of 4 points. In each of these sets, there are at most 3 triangles that are acute. This gives us $5 \times 3 = 15 $ acute triangles, but we double counted.
Notice that each triangle is counted exactly twice. Hence, there are at most $ \lfloor \frac{15}{2} \rfloor = 7$ acute triangles.

Now do the same, bootstrapping your way up to 10 points.

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  • $\begingroup$ Thank you. My follow-up question is, how does one pick the bootstrapping sequence, e.g., in this case 4,5,100? Trial and error? $\endgroup$
    – Hans
    Apr 11, 2014 at 20:02

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