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paquin@math.stanford.edu

**Stanford Math Circle: Sunday, May 9, 2010 Geometric Numbers
**

Triangular numbers are numbers that can be arranged in a triangular pattern. Visualize each triangle as sitting inside the next. The n-th triangular number Tn is formed using an outer triangle whose sides have n dots:

The ﬁrst 5 triangular numbers are 1, 3, 6, 10, 15. Observe that the n-th triangular number, which we will denote Tn , is n(n + 1) Tn = 1 + 2 + 3 + · · · + n = . 2 Square numbers are numbers that can be arranged in the shape of a square:

Visualize each square as sitting inside the next. The n-th square number is formed using an outer square whose sides have n dots. The n-th square number is Sn = n2 . A pentagonal number is a number that can be arranged in the shape of a pentagon:

The ﬁrst four pentagonal numbers are 1, 5, 12, 22. Visualize each pentagon as sitting inside the next one. The n-th pentagonal number is formed using an outer pentagon whose sides have n dots. Hexagonal (and septagonal, r-gonal, etc.) numbers are deﬁned similarly.

Note: Whenever possible, try to come up with geometric (rather than induction) proofs of the properties in the following problems.

Stanford Math Circle

1

Geometric Numbers

How many four digit square numbers are composed of only even digits? What four digit square numbers can be reversed and become the square of another number? 11.Stanford Math Circle paquin@math. make and prove a conjecture about the value of 8Tn + 1. (b) Computing more expressions of the form 8Tn +1 if necessary. 3. Can you ﬁnd any interesting equations that relate Ta+b To Ta and Tb ? How about Tab ? 5. 7 = 1 + 6 and 25 = 10 + 15 are sums of two triangular numbers. Triangular numbers that can be expressed as a product of two primes are called triangular semiprimes. What are the possible digits that a square number can end in? 8. (b) Computing more expressions of the form 3Tn +Tn−1 if necessary. 3T3 + T2 . 8T3 + 1. (a) Compute T1 + T2 . 2 2. while 19 cannot be written as the sum of two triangular numbers. and 3T6 + T5 . Can you ﬁnd them? 16. This is called the digital root. 13. The digital root of a number is obtained in the following way. 13 + 23 . make a conjecture about the expression 3Tn + Tn−1 . Start with your number. Prove that your conjecture is correct for all integers n ≥ 1. What are the possible last 2 digits that a square number can end in? 9. Can you ﬁnd any triangular numbers whose square is also a triangular number? 14. For example. (b) Computing more expressions of the form Tn + Tn+1 if necessary. What are the possible digits that a triangular number can end in? 7. and prove that your conjecture is correct for all integers n ≥ 1. Then sum the digits of the resulting number. and 13 + 23 + 33 + 43 + 53 . 6 is a triangular semiprime because 6 = 2 · 3. (a) Compute 13 . and continue until only one digit remains.edu 1. make and prove a conjecture about the sum of any two consecutive triangular numbers Tn and Tn+1 . 12. Explain geometrically why Tn = n(n + 1) for all integers n ≥ 1. For example. (b) Computing more expressions of the form 13 + 23 + 33 + · · · + n3 if necessary. and sum its digits. and T4 + T5 . Compile some data and try to make a conjecture about which numbers can be written as a sum of two triangular numbers. 13 + 23 + 33 . then 9T + 1 is also a triangular number. (a) Compute 8T1 + 1. 6. Can you ﬁnd other triangular semiprimes? 17. 8T2 + 1. and 8T5 + 1. Are there 4 distinct triangular numbers in geometric progression? Stanford Math Circle 2 Geometric Numbers . 3T5 + T4 . Show that if T is a triangular number. T2 + T3 . There are 6 triangular numbers that can be expressed as the product of three consecutive integers.stanford. Can you prove your conjecture? 15. 4. 3T4 + T3 . make a conjecture about how the sum of the ﬁrst n cubes is related to the n-th triangular number Tn . (a) Compute 3T2 + T1 . 8T4 + 1. 13 + 23 + 33 + 43 . T3 + T4 . What are the possibilities for the digital root of a triangular number? What are the possibilities for the digital root of a square number? 10.

(a) Find a general formula for the n-th hexagonal number. (a) What is the 5-th pentagonal number? (b) Find a simple formula for the n-th pentagonal number Pn .stanford. ﬁnd a formula for the n-th r-gonal number. Show that every even perfect number is triangular. can you classify which ones are? (c) There are exactly 13 positive integers that cannot be expressed as a sum of 4 hexagonal numbers. (e) There are only 6 positive integers that cannot be expressed as the sum of 4 pentagonal numbers. Find 6 of them. Find them. (d) There are conjectured to be exactly 210 positive integers that cannot be expressed as the sum of 3 pentagonal numbers. A tetrahedral number is a number corresponding to a conﬁguration of points that form a pyramid with a triangular base: (a) What are the ﬁrst 5 tetrahedral numbers? (b) Find a general formula for the n-th tetrahedral number. More generally. Investigate the minimum number of squares needed to represent a given number. 22. (e) ( ) Show that every positive integer can be expressed as a sum of 6 hexagonal numbers. 23. (f) ( ) Show that every positive integer can be expressed as a sum of 5 or fewer pentagonal numbers. (c) How do pentagonal numbers relate to triangular numbers? Find a number c such that the following is true: If P is a pentagonal number. Find them. then there is a triangular number T such that P = cT . Do you see any patterns? For each number k . (b) Show that every hexagonal number is also a triangular number. 20. Show that every positive integer can be expressed as a sum of r r-gonal numbers. 19. ( ) Show that every positive integer can be expressed as a sum of 3 or fewer triangular numbers. 24. Is every triangular number also a hexagonal number? If not. What do you observe? (Note: it is known that every positive integer can be expressed as a sum of 4 or fewer square numbers. For example. compare the minimum number of squares needed to represent k with the minimum number needed to represent k 3 . 6 is a perfect number because 1 + 2 + 3 = 6. (d) There are only 2 positive integers that cannot be expressed as a sum of 5 hexagonal numbers. Find 6 of them. Perfect numbers are numbers n with the property that the sum of the proper divisors of n (not including n) sum to n.) 21.Stanford Math Circle paquin@math. (c) How does the n-th tetrahedral number relate to Pascal’s triangle? (d) Are there any numbers that are both triangular and tetrahedral? Stanford Math Circle 3 Geometric Numbers .edu 18.

It is also conjectured that there are exactly 241 numbers that cannot be written as the sum of 4 or fewer tetrahedral numbers. centered pentagonal. Each side of a polygonal layer contains one dot more than a side in the previous layer.stanford. (b) Find a general formula for the n-th centered k -gonal number. surrounded by polygonal numbers with a constant number of sides. show that the sum of two consecutive tetrahedral numbers is a square pyramidal number. Can you ﬁnd the ﬁrst 5? (g) How would you deﬁne a square pyramidal number? A pentagonal pyramidal number? A hexagonal pyramidal number? Once you’ve deﬁned a square pyramidal number. Investigate formulas for and properties of other geometric numbers. What is an octahedral number? How do octahedral numbers relate to pyramidal numbers? What is Pollock’s conjecture for octahedral numbers? Stanford Math Circle 4 Geometric Numbers .Stanford Math Circle paquin@math. this conjecture has not yet been proven. Can you explain your formula geometrically? (c) How would you deﬁne a centered cube number? Can you ﬁnd a general formula for the n-th centered cube number? 26. (a) Find the ﬁrst 5 centered triangular.edu (e) Are there any numbers that are both square and tetrahedral? (f) Pollock’s Conjecture (1850) states that every number is the sum of at most 5 tetrahedral numbers. analogous to the 2-dimensional result (the sum of two consecutive triangular numbers is a square number). a rhombic dodecahedral number is a number constructed as a centered cube with a square pyramid appended to each face. This is. For example. The centered polygonal numbers are numbers formed by a central dot. of course. centered square. and centered hexagonal numbers. 25.

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