Self-Describing Number

Find all 10-digit numbers with the following property:

  • the first digit shows the number of 0s in the number
  • the second digit shows the number of 1s in the number
  • the third digit shows the number of 2s in the number, and so on

Let the number be ABCDEFGHIJ. The number of all digits is 10:

A + B + C + D + E + F + G + H + I + J = 10

Therefore, the sum of all digits is 10. Then:

0×A + 1×B + 2×C + 3×D + 4×E + 5×F + 6×G + 7×H + 8×I + 9×J = 10

We see that F, G, H, I, J < 2. If H = 1, I = 1, or J = 1, then the number contains at least 7 identical digits, clearly 0s. We find A > 6 and E = F = G = 0. It is easy to see that this does not lead to solutions, and then H = I = J = 0.

If G = 1, we get E = F = 0. There is a 6 in the number, so it must be A. We get 6BCD001000, and easily find the solution 6210001000.

If G = 0, F can be 0 or 1. If F = 1, then there must be a 5 in the number, so it must be A. We get 5BCDE10000. We don’t find any solutions.

If F = 0, then the number has at least five 0s, and therefore A > 4. However, since F = G = H = I = J = 0, the number does not have any digits larger than 4, and we get a contradiction.

Thus, the only solution is 6210001000.

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