 # Problem of the Week Problem E and Solution Down to One

## Problem

The digit sum of a positive integer is found by summing its digits.
The digital root is found by repeatedly calculating the digit sum until a single digit is achieved.

The digit sum of $$413$$ is $$8$$, since $$4+1+3=8$$ and $$8$$ is a single-digit number. Note that the digital root is also $$8$$, and this is calculated in one step.

The digit sum of 642 is $$6+4+2=12$$, which is not a single-digit number. The digit sum of $$12$$ is $$1+2=3$$, which is a single-digit number. Therefore, the digital root of $$642$$ is $$3$$. This is calculated in two steps.

The digital root of $$4$$ is $$4$$. This is calculated in zero steps.

How many three-digit numbers have a digital root of $$5$$ that is calculated in three or fewer steps? ## Solution

We will consider four cases for the three-digit numbers: a digital root of $$5$$ in zero steps, a digital root of $$5$$ in one step, a digital root of $$5$$ in two steps, and a digital root of $$5$$ in three steps.

Case 1: A digital root of $$5$$ that is reached in zero steps.

This only occurs when the number is $$5$$, which is not a three-digit number.

There are no three-digit numbers with a digital root of $$5$$ that can be reached in zero steps.

Case 2: A digital root of $$5$$ that is reached in one step.

Since the digital root is $$5$$, then no digit in the three-digit number can be higher than $$5$$. We use this to carefully generate the list below of all of the three-digit numbers whose digits sum to $$5$$.

• $$104$$, $$113$$, $$122$$, $$131$$, $$140$$

• $$203$$, $$212$$, $$221$$, $$230$$

• $$302$$, $$311$$, $$320$$

• $$401$$, $$410$$

• $$500$$

There are $$5+4+3+2+1=15$$ three-digit numbers with a digital root of $$5$$ that can reached in exactly one step.

Case 3: A digital root of $$5$$ that is reached in two steps.

The maximum sum of the digits of a three-digit number is $$9+9+9=27$$. In order to reach a digital root of $$5$$ in two steps, the initial sum must be a two-digit number less than $$28$$ whose digits sum to $$5$$. There are only $$2$$ two-digit numbers that satisfy this condition, namely $$14$$ and $$23$$.

If the sum of the digits of the three-digit number is $$14$$, we can systematically generate the possible numbers. For example, if the first digit is $$1$$, then the other two digits add to $$13$$. This happens exactly when the last two digits are $$4$$ and $$9$$, $$5$$ and $$8$$, or $$6$$ and $$7$$. The resulting six three-digit numbers with first digit $$1$$ are shown on the first line below. The remaining lines are generated in a similar manner and are also shown below.

• $$149$$, $$158$$, $$167$$, $$176$$, $$185$$, $$194$$

• $$239$$, $$248$$, $$257$$, $$266$$, $$275$$, $$284$$, $$293$$

• $$329$$, $$338$$, $$347$$, $$356$$, $$365$$, $$374$$, $$383$$, $$392$$

• $$419$$, $$428$$, $$437$$, $$446$$, $$455$$, $$464$$, $$473$$, $$482$$, $$491$$

• $$509$$, $$518$$, $$527$$, $$536$$, $$545$$, $$554$$, $$563$$, $$572$$, $$581$$, $$590$$

• $$608$$, $$617$$, $$626$$, $$635$$, $$644$$, $$653$$, $$662$$, $$671$$, $$680$$

• $$707$$, $$716$$, $$725$$, $$734$$, $$743$$, $$752$$, $$761$$, $$770$$

• $$806$$, $$815$$, $$824$$, $$833$$, $$842$$, $$851$$, $$860$$

• $$905$$, $$914$$, $$923$$, $$932$$, $$941$$, $$950$$

There are $$6+7+8+9+10+9+8+7+6=70$$ three-digit numbers with a digital root of $$5$$ that can reached in exactly two steps with the initial sum of $$14$$.

If the sum of the digits of the three-digit number is $$23$$, we can again systematically generate the possible numbers. If the final two digits of the three-digit number are $$9$$ and $$9$$, the first digit must be a $$5$$. Therefore, no three-digit number less than $$599$$ has digits that sum to $$23$$. (For example if one of the digits is $$4$$, then the sum of the other two digits must be $$19$$ and this is impossible using two single digits.) The list below is generated in a similar way to the one shown above.

• $$599$$

• $$689$$, $$698$$

• $$779$$, $$788$$, $$797$$

• $$869$$, $$878$$, $$887$$, $$896$$

• $$959$$, $$968$$, $$977$$, $$986$$, $$995$$

There are $$1+2+3+4+5=15$$ three-digit numbers with a digital root of $$5$$ that can reached in exactly two steps with the initial sum of $$23$$.

In total, there are $$70+15=85$$ three-digit numbers with a digital root of $$5$$ that can be reached in exactly two steps.

Case 4: A digital root of $$5$$ that is reached in three steps.

The maximum sum of the digits of a three-digit number is $$27$$. The only number from $$10$$ to $$27$$ whose digits add to a two-digit number is $$19$$. The digit sum of $$19$$ is $$10$$, whose digit sum is $$1$$, not $$5$$. Therefore, no three-digit number exists that has a digital root of $$5$$ that is reached in three steps. It follows that all three-digit numbers with a digital root of $$5$$ can be reached in at most two steps.

The above cases represent the only possible ways for a three-digit number to have a digital root of $$5$$. In total there are $$0+15+85+0=100$$ three-digit numbers with a digital root of $$5$$, all of which can be reached in two or fewer steps.