Try this beautiful problem from the American Invitational Mathematics Examination I, AIME I, 1988 based on function.

Function Problem – AIME I, 1988

For any positive integer k, let \(f_1(k)\) denote the square of the sum of the digits of k. For \(n \geq 2\), let \(f_n(k)=f_1(f_{n-1}(k))\), find \(f_{1988}(11)\).

  • is 107
  • is 169
  • is 634
  • cannot be determined from the given information

Key Concepts




Check the Answer

But try the problem first…

Answer: is 169.

Suggested Reading

AIME I, 1988, Question 2

Functional Equation by Venkatchala

Try with Hints

First hint


or, \(f_2(11)=f_1(4)=16\)

or, \(f_3(11)=f_1(16)=49\)

Second Hint

or, \(f_4(11)=f_1(49)=169\)

or, \(f_5(11)=f_1(169)=256\)

or, \(f_6(11)=f_1(256)=169\)

or, \(f_7(11)=f_1(169)=256\)

Final Step

This goes on between two numbers with this pattern, here 1988 is even,

or, \(f_1988(11)=f_4(11)=169\).

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