Problem #1990


Jerry starts at $0$ on the real number line. He tosses a fair coin $8$ times. When he gets heads, he moves $1$ unit in the positive direction; when he gets tails, he moves $1$ unit in the negative direction. The probability that he reaches $4$ at some time during this process is $\frac{a}{b},$ where $a$ and $b$ are relatively prime positive integers. What is $a + b?$ (For example, he succeeds if his sequence of tosses is $HTHHHHHH.$)

$\textbf{(A)}\ 69\qquad\textbf{(B)}\ 151\qquad\textbf{(C)}\ 257\qquad\textbf{(D)}\ 293\qquad\textbf{(E)}\ 313$

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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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