1. PF Contest - Win "Conquering the Physics GRE" book! Click Here to Enter
    Dismiss Notice
Dismiss Notice
Join Physics Forums Today!
The friendliest, high quality science and math community on the planet! Everyone who loves science is here!

Basic Word Problem

  1. Oct 7, 2008 #1
    1. The problem statement, all variables and given/known data

    I have nickels, dimes and quarters in a jar. There are 20 coins altogether and exactly twice as many dimes as nickels. The total value of the coins is $3.00
    Find the number of coins of each type. Then find all possible combinations of 20 coins (nickels, dimes and quarters) that will make exactly $3.00

    2. Relevant equations

    everything is in cents
    N + D + Q = 20
    -N+ 2D = 0 ---> from 2D = N --> "twice as many dimes as nickels"
    5N + 10D + 25Q = 300

    3. The attempt at a solution

    I put this into a matrix form
    1 1 1 20
    1 2 0 0
    5 10 25 300

    reduced it to:

    1 0 0 16
    0 1 0 -8
    0 0 1 12

    Funny thing is I have -8 dimes?
    So I think I don't know how to put this statement into an equation:
    "twice as many dimes as nickels"

    As for the number of possible combinations of 20 coins, I really don't know how to start that in a matrix form.
  2. jcsd
  3. Oct 7, 2008 #2


    User Avatar
    Science Advisor
    Homework Helper

    It's not that funny. The second line of your matrix is 1 2 0 0 which says N+2D=0. Or D=(-N/2). -8 is -16/2. As you started saying you want the equation to be N=2D. Or wait. Is that right? Doesn't that say the number of nickels is TWICE the number of dimes?
  4. Oct 7, 2008 #3
    When you say "the number of nickels is TWICE the number of dimes" is much clearer. I thought that's what is meant by "twice as many dimes as nickels", guess not. And thanks for pointing out about me forgetting the negative sign in my second line of the matrix. It works much better now.

    As for the number of possible combinations of 20 coins, I just multiply Q D N together since they are independent events right? Or is there a different method that is specifically for matrices?
  5. Oct 7, 2008 #4


    User Avatar
    Science Advisor
    Homework Helper

    I think you are done with matrices. I think they just expect you to count all possible solutions. I would break it into cases, like:

    Q=12, N=0, D=0. (1 solution).
    Q=11 then the number of dimes is 0,1 or 2. The rest are nickels. (3 solutions).
    Q=10 then the number of dimes is 0,1,2,3,4 or 5. (6 solutions)
    Q=9 now you can't have zero dimes, because then you would need to have 15 nickels. That's too many coins.

    Get the idea? For each number of quarters figure out the possibilities for the number of dimes. It sounds tedious, but I can't think of any other elementary way to count them.
  6. Oct 7, 2008 #5
    thanks for your help
Know someone interested in this topic? Share this thread via Reddit, Google+, Twitter, or Facebook

Similar Threads - Basic Word Problem Date
Linear equation, point slope conversion Feb 26, 2018
Spivak Ch1, Q8: Deducing Basic Properties of Numbers Jul 29, 2017
Basic probabilities Jun 17, 2017
Algebraic word problem- basic Dec 6, 2012