tag:blogger.com,1999:blog-1389380027583239652014-10-02T21:26:58.526-07:00fooledbyprimesWhat is the deal with prime number theory anyway?
<br>
fooledbyprimes is a traveler, computer scientist, artist, snowboarder, and pursuer of Love, Truth, and God's Mysterious WaysPhilip R Duttonhttp://www.blogger.com/profile/10384817344732755497noreply@blogger.comBlogger9125tag:blogger.com,1999:blog-138938002758323965.post-42807024954758327872008-04-30T20:43:00.000-07:002008-04-30T21:15:36.798-07:00binary numbers represented the standard wayBinary numbers, when written using standard westernized character sets, often resemble a string of characters limited to either a "1" or a "0" in arbitrary order and position. Take the normal, everyday decimal number 5. This, when translated to modern binary is "101." I have often pondered these binary character strings. When we humans "read" such binary numbers we usually read from left to right. Of course this is all quite obvious. However, consider a machine that produces such outputs in some way.<br /><br />Perhaps we can visualize, for sake of an example, a digital lie-detector or a CAD engineer's plotter. Assume that there are mechanical plot heads for each print pixel instead of one plot head which moves back and forth. So we have an array of plot heads each happy to produce or to not produce for the particular line being "printed." Now, visualize this print machine to be as wide as the length of your regional Google campus. As a human operator looking down at the machine we could easily push the pause button stopping all operations. We look at the the last printed line (perhaps under microscope) and we see- essentially- a string of on and off pixels.<br /><br />If we dare imagine this output to be a binary number then we are perhaps humbly amused. Perhaps my wild imagination would be too distracted from managing the plot machine causing the company to loose many dollars. Assume the operator would fancy the idea that the machine was plotting a sequence of binary numbers. Perhaps the operator would amuse himself by thinking that the machine was printing all the prime numbers- one right after another but in binary.<br /><br />Since it is late on friday afternoon, the operator decides to quickly translate the first 200 binary numbers into decimal. He then plans to check the sequence of numbers with the sequences he is familiar with.<br /><br />His first and foremost task is to figure out where the far right digit resides. Remember he is looking at quite a wide plot. For sake of discussion, assume that the spot wherein he is standing happens to have been the same spot in the plot where the machine first started to print binary numbers. Assume for example that the first number printed was "1" and the operate simply had to look down at the machine while standing in the middle of the printing facility. He did not have to walk 3 minutes to the end of the building to see the far right of the plot machine.<br /><br />Now, we know the first number is a one because there was only one ink pixel. But what if the machine was trying to print the binary equivalent of the number 3?? The machine would still only print 1 pixel because the true binary representation is "10" but the zero represents a "do not print pixel" mark. So, the final point of this story is that the operator can not distinguish between the binary representations of the decimal number 1 and the decimal number 3!!<br /><br />This example- I hope- provides a vivid delineation of the quite demanding requirement for all such talk of numbers to have a predefined reference point for the zero position.<br /><br /><br />Until next time,<br /> "Happy Numerics!"<br /><br /><br />Note: The plot machine above is essentially a 1D cellular automaton. It is impossible to view the output of such an automaton as representing binary numbers. The best one can do is to say that they will read from left to right and that the far right "1" is the next to last position. Since all odd binary numbers have "1" in that position, one would essentially be interpreting only odd numbers. Also, while performing such explorations, one must realize that in order to be complete, it would be best to interpret from right to left as well.Philip R Duttonhttp://www.blogger.com/profile/10384817344732755497noreply@blogger.comtag:blogger.com,1999:blog-138938002758323965.post-56805460607877603472007-08-09T10:33:00.000-07:002007-08-09T10:39:52.381-07:00in Peano's directionFact: The Successor function can only move away from the reference point.<br />Question: Does any aspect of the Peano system utilize the direction toward the reference point?<br /><br /><br />Now, if the successor function is not used for "going toward the reference point", then what is the mechanism that allows this directional procession? What allows you to go back like that? There is no other function defined and it does not appear to be coming from some feature "underneath" the formal framework of axiomatic systems. So, my guess is that the expressive capabilities of the axioms is what is being used to move backwards in such a case???<br /><br />(If "moving backward" is not a notion you want to entertain, then perhaps an alternate view is that moving from "2" to S(1) is a symbol decoding function- something that decodes a symbol into it's appropriate parameterized successor-function "call". If so, then are the axioms creating this decoding function?)Philip R Duttonhttp://www.blogger.com/profile/10384817344732755497noreply@blogger.com0tag:blogger.com,1999:blog-138938002758323965.post-89342020179642464402007-08-01T11:47:00.000-07:002007-08-01T11:59:40.559-07:00Peano recursionGiven that the Peano axiom set is stripped of the axiom that says "0 is a natural number," I still believe the underlying "form" of what was once called a "number line" <span style="font-weight: bold;">would still remain completely the same</span> despite loosing the ability to define what a number is. Peano, by stating that "1 is a natural number" has basically "encoded" a reference point into the system. However, without the axiom, <span style="font-style: italic;">a user could just define their own reference point</span> outside of the system and just use what is left in the Peano axiom set as a "metronome." The combination of "reference" point and "metronome system" is basically enough to completely build all the numbers. In other words, from an algorithmic perspective if you have memory (for the reference point) and metronome, you can get all the numbers, addition, multiplication, "prime", etc. all in one complete magical "poof!". Honestly, I am not totally comfortable with the idea that numbers and the operations are not completely separable; however, I can intuitively understand the phenomenon.<br /> <br />Peano's axioms just give the user a way to input things into a recursive blackbox which then turns around and spits out a number. It is essentially an interface to recursion. It is a system which, once the recursion is kicked into gear, there is nothing you can do except wait until the "answer" comes back. You can't peer into the recursive "machinery" to glean or use "internal" information. If you take the "0 is a natural number" axiom out then the black box remains but is basically "disoriented".<br /><br />I am very curious about the Peano axiomatic system minus the said axiom. How would one find practical application for this in a mathematical sense? It is a valid axiomatic system and deserves a share of study.<br /><br />Furthermore, it is now my understanding that the following statements hold (more or less):<br /><br />*Recursion without a reference point is basically a metronome.<br />*Recursion without a reference point is just unary "counting/ticking." <br />*Recursion can only be used to define numbers when given a seed. <br />*Recursion is a powerful thing (mystery) which requires an interface to be used; hence, Peano defined his axioms.<br />*Pure recursion does not have a reference point.<br />*Every time you do anything via the Peano axioms, essentially what happens is that the system starts from "0"! This is amazing!Philip R Duttonhttp://www.blogger.com/profile/10384817344732755497noreply@blogger.com0tag:blogger.com,1999:blog-138938002758323965.post-30566344695218513532007-07-31T20:23:00.000-07:002007-07-31T21:37:18.762-07:00metro gnomeLet us think in terms of a <span style="font-weight: bold;">metronome </span>for a few minutes. No, it isn't the creepy guy at the subway station bathroom! Everyone knows what a metronome is. You have a heart and it beats. When I count numbers I am doing a few types of things but at the core of what happens is essentially a "tick, tick, tick,..." effect. Sure I have to extrapolate and manipulate some meta-language <span style="font-style: italic;">in order to actually tell someone</span> what number I am at in my <span style="font-weight: bold;">counting process</span>. I already talked about such notions of counting in the previous posts.<br /><br />The<span style="font-weight: bold;"> <a href="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Peano_axioms">Peano Axioms</a> </span>clearly make use of a <span style="font-style: italic;">successor function</span> which essentially helps the system navigate and get around on the number line. Now, of course the Peano axioms give the user the ability to perform addition and multiplication. I wanted to use the Peano system as a metronome (call it a "counting system" if you want). Once I realized it was possible to do this I decided to go ahead and strip off the extra features like addition and multiplication from the Peano system making the newer light-weight axiomatic system which simply gives me my kicks... I mean "ticks."<br /><br />Removing those extra features from the Peano system was actually <span style="font-style: italic;">quite a puzzling ambition</span>. I struggled with my understanding about how to get rid of the addition and multiplication yet keep the "counting." If you look at the <a href="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Peano_axioms">Peano Axioms</a> you can not "see" anything resembling an explicit definition of addition or multiplication. So how was I going to remove it? Again, the Peano Axioms make exclusive use of a successor function. It is the "thing" which lets a user move from one number to the next on the so-called "number line. "<span style="font-weight: bold;"> At first, it is quite odd that you can not have a succession capability without addition or multiplication.</span> After all, in my mind, I have always thought of the numbers on the number line as objects which simply exist. I always thought you could at least get from one to the other somehow without resorting to the likes of addition or multiplication.<br /><br />After some tough mental thought experimentation, online forum dialog, and further study I realized that there really was only one way to sever Peano addition and multiplication and still have a metronome/counting system. It is a rather simple surgery. One must only cut out the axiom that says: <span style="font-weight: bold;">"1 is a natural number."</span><br /><br />What this means is that things like addition and multiplication are not possible without a reference point. There are some other profound insights available when we complete the surgery. Consider, finally, that the notion of "prime" is destroyed without addition and multiplication. However, the form of the number line has not been changed (a consequence which is of extreme importance in my opinion). We just have no reason to call it a "number" line.<br /><br />What this tells me for the numbers is that the positional aspect of numbers on the number line have nothing to do with whether or not they are prime numbers. <span style="font-style: italic;"><br /><br />Interestingly, if you think about the metronome/counting system too long, your mind will quickly try to rebuild the additional wiring such that you can view that number/counting line in terms of the features we desperately tried to remove. Also, sometimes, a few mathematicians try to understand the primes in terms of the positional aspects of the numbers only and not in terms of the operational features of the axiomatic system.<br /></span>Philip R Duttonhttp://www.blogger.com/profile/10384817344732755497noreply@blogger.com0tag:blogger.com,1999:blog-138938002758323965.post-27412896152411602872007-07-29T19:33:00.000-07:002007-07-29T21:06:23.072-07:00number line vrs. counting lineEveryone has some understanding of the number line. I do not know if people just simply remember what they have been taught in grade school or if they intuitively have this uncanny understanding of the number line. Somewhere in between we humans know how to count using the number line. My question is about counting. Can you count without knowing numbers? If I ask you to count to 100 you can easily do this.<br /><br />What if I tell you to do the same thing again but do not use the base 10 decimal system. In fact don't use any number based system other than unary. Can you count now? Sure you can. But you will soon loose track of where you are if you try to use your brain's short term memory or if you eat to much MSG. You will know not if you are getting close to the original number that I requested you to count to. You will not know if you have passed this number.<br /><br />In this context, we have a new phenomenon. The number line is basically still there but we do not have any more reason to call it a number line. Let us call it a "counting line."Philip R Duttonhttp://www.blogger.com/profile/10384817344732755497noreply@blogger.com0tag:blogger.com,1999:blog-138938002758323965.post-51419288090857302942007-07-29T17:54:00.000-07:002007-07-31T19:57:13.005-07:00fooledbyprimes details....I have been involved in a forum discussion on the unfortunate teaching about what is "prime." I will try to collect all the thoughts and post them here soon. For now, here is the link to the <a href="http://www.physicsforums.com/showthread.php?t=178411">fooledbyprimes</a><a href="http://www.physicsforums.com/showthread.php?t=178411"> </a>discussion on the www.physicsforums.com site.<br /><br />(special thanks to user known as <a href="http://www.physicsforums.com/member.php?u=15500">CRGreathouse</a> for his patient dialog with me during that discussion)Philip R Duttonhttp://www.blogger.com/profile/10384817344732755497noreply@blogger.com0tag:blogger.com,1999:blog-138938002758323965.post-28940065954108261712007-07-27T21:17:00.000-07:002007-07-27T21:29:18.234-07:00The source of "prime" is not the numberI agree that "prime" is important. But I am trying to explain that a number is just a number. Try to define a prime number without using the word "product" nor the word "multiplication." Now, if the math professors can't do this then there is a serious problem with all the hype about primes. What will need to happen is that educators change their language-- change the way they talk about the phenomenon. The phenomenon is due to short cut addition. So, it is not the numbers that are cool but the short cuts we come up with for faster addition (in other words: multiplication).<br /><br />In the pure mathematical universe time is not a factor so addition is just as fast as multiplication. However, when humans try to add in their head, they impose a time constraint. This is why the earliest mathematicians came up with multiplication. It is just a short cut since we humans are stuck in time. So, beg your professor to explain a prime number in terms other than multiplication and "product". I bet they can't do it or they will come up with an excuse about how they need to leave the room.Philip R Duttonhttp://www.blogger.com/profile/10384817344732755497noreply@blogger.com0tag:blogger.com,1999:blog-138938002758323965.post-75842429441699508322007-07-27T14:50:00.000-07:002007-07-27T18:42:43.224-07:00mystery of primeWhat I am saying (in the first post entitled "<a href="http://fooledbyprimes.blogspot.com/2007/07/silly-primes.html">Silly Primes</a>") is that the prime numbers <span style="font-weight: bold;">are not mystical</span>. What is mystical is the relationship between the algorithmic <span style="font-style: italic;">process of counting</span> and the <span style="font-style: italic;">notion of short-cuts</span> (multiplication) and how the two "inter-twine". Are the two different entities? Yes. Counting is very pure. However, short-cuts require some sort of memory. The memory is in the form of additional "wiring"... like defining new kinds of number systems. Think about counting in a pure sense: the Egyptians, Babylonians, Greeks, Hebrews, Hindus, <span style="font-style: italic;">they all counted the same</span> at the pure core level because they were all humans. But their short cut methods are what were different. Counting is simple, just repeat after me: "da, da, da, da, da, da, da....." Short-cutting and communicating about where the counting stops is a <span style="font-weight: bold;">completely different ballgame</span> and it is what produces the "mysterious" properties that we perceive in the primes.<br /><br />I am very hopeful that new dialog will open up in the mathematics community. My challenge is still open: rewrite the fundamental theorem of arithmetic without using the words "product" or "multiplication."Philip R Duttonhttp://www.blogger.com/profile/10384817344732755497noreply@blogger.com0tag:blogger.com,1999:blog-138938002758323965.post-34670731628612029892007-07-13T12:23:00.000-07:002007-07-27T18:42:43.225-07:00Silly PrimesNot until recently has the whole <span style="font-weight: bold;">prime number</span> "culture" become a distraction to me. While a child the primes never really caught my attention. Even in college there was not much drawing me to the subject beyond the occasional newspaper headline proclaiming the exuberance of the mathematics community as some rather skinny, unkempt math geek held a new largest prime in high esteem.<br /><br />One of the things that bothered me about primes is how messy they are. From the perspective of where they are on the number line one can't help but get the feeling that any equation related to their distribution is going to be ugly. Maybe I am a sucker for simplicity- just call it an eye for elegance!<br /><br />Taking a look at the math culture's definition of a prime we find something like: "<span style="font-style: italic;">..a natural number that has exactly two (distinct) natural number divisors, which are 1 and the prime number itself.</span>" Oh how boring! Of course the mathematicians tell us that primes build all the other numbers. Digging around one will find this formal statement called <span style="font-weight: bold;">the</span> <b>fundamental theorem of arithmetic</b><span style="font-weight: bold;"><span style="font-weight: bold;"></span></span>. It says, "<span style="font-style: italic;">every natural number greater than 1 can be written as a unique product of prime numbers</span>." It appears to be very, very important to mathematics- afterall, it is the fundamental theorem of arithmetic!<br /><br />I must admit I didn't investigate the prime number sequence at all other than taking a quick peek at the first 100 primes. Instead, I became intensely focused on the two related definitions given above. Take a look at the words in the definition and convince yourself which words convey the most "action"- the meat of the definitions so to speak. I came up with "<span style="font-weight: bold;">natural number divisors</span>" and "<span style="font-weight: bold;">unique product</span>." Now, I must say right away that I failed calculus II so I do not profess to be a brilliant mathematician (don't worry, I took the class again with a different professor and got an passing grade). There is one thing that I do know about math and it is this: multiplication is just repeated addition.<br /><br />So, I wondered what would happen if the math culture <span style="font-weight: bold;">rewrote</span> the fundamental theorem of arithmetic without using the word "product." Wouldn't that be cool- a simplified version of the definition! Maybe... just maybe... we might find some new way to think about prime numbers and make some progress on the stubborn topic.<br /><br /><br /><span style="text-decoration: underline;"></span><a href="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Prime_number" title="Prime number"></a>Philip R Duttonhttp://www.blogger.com/profile/10384817344732755497noreply@blogger.com0