Problem #1727

1727.

An iterative average of the numbers 1, 2, 3, 4, and 5 is computed the following way. Arrange the five numbers in some order. Find the mean of the first two numbers, then find the mean of that with the third number, then the mean of that with the fourth number, and finally the mean of that with the fifth number. What is the difference between the largest and smallest possible values that can be obtained using this procedure?

$\textbf{(A)}\ \frac{31}{16}\qquad\textbf{(B)}\ 2\qquad\textbf{(C)}\ \frac{17}{8}\qquad\textbf{(D)}\ 3\qquad\textbf{(E)}\ \frac{65}{16}$

This problem is copyrighted by the American Mathematics Competitions.

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Instructions for entering answers:

  • Reduce fractions to lowest terms and enter in the form 7/9.
  • Numbers involving pi should be written as 7pi or 7pi/3 as appropriate.
  • Square roots should be written as sqrt(3), 5sqrt(5), sqrt(3)/2, or 7sqrt(2)/3 as appropriate.
  • Exponents should be entered in the form 10^10.
  • If the problem is multiple choice, enter the appropriate (capital) letter.
  • Enter points with parentheses, like so: (4,5)
  • Complex numbers should be entered in rectangular form unless otherwise specified, like so: 3+4i. If there is no real component, enter only the imaginary component (i.e. 2i, NOT 0+2i).

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