Prime Numbers in Linear Patterns
|Prime numbers in table with 180 columns|
Prime numbers in table with 180 columns
- Prime numbers marked in a table with 180 columns
Arranging natural numbers in a particular way and marking the prime numbers can lead to interesting patterns. For example, consider a table with 180 columns and infinitely many rows. Write positive integers in increasing order from left to right, and top to bottom. If we mark all the prime numbers, we get a pattern shown in the figure. We can see that prime numbers show patterns of vertical line segments, which implies that the prime numbers only appear on certain columns.
A More Mathematical Explanation
Instead of studying a table with 180 columns, we will study a table with 30 columns, as shown in [[#1 [...]
Instead of studying a table with 180 columns, we will study a table with 30 columns, as shown in Image 1.
First, create a table with 30 columns and sufficiently many rows. Write all positive integers starting from 1 as one moves from left to right, and top to bottom. Then, each row will start with a multiple of 30 added by 1, such as 1, 31, 61, 91, 121, ... . If we mark the prime numbers in this table we get Image 2.
Theorem 1. All prime numbers appear on columns that have a or a prime number on its top row. In other words, for every prime number , either , or there exists a prime number less than such that .
Given any prime number , assume that is neither congruent to nor for every prime less than . Then,
where is some integer less than that is not and not a prime. Prime factorization of must contain one of and . (If the prime factorization of did not contain any of or , then the smallest possible value of will be , which is greater than ). Thus,
where , and at least one of is greater than .
Since is congruent to , we can write as , where is an integer greater than or equal to 1. Then,
is then equal to one of or or , which contradicts being a prime number. Thus, or .
However, the statement does not generalize to other integer modulo groups. For instance, consider a table with columns. The number appears on the first row, and is not a prime number. However, the column containing will contain other prime numbers, such as .
Moreover, not all integers that are congruent to or , where is a prime number less than , are prime numbers. For instance, , which is congruent to , is not a prime number, but still appears on the same column as. Let's call the columns that have a or a prime number on its top row as prime-concentrated columns. One can observe that all composite numbers that appear on these prime-concentrated columns, say have prime factors that are greater than or equal to . In other words, these composite numbers do not have or as a prime factor.
Theorem 2. Composite numbers that appear on prime-concentrated columns do not have or as a prime factor.
Let be a composite number that appears on a prime-concentrated column, and assume that has at least one of or as a prime factor. Since appears on the prime-concentrated column, can be written as
where is a positive integer, and or is a prime number greater than and smaller than If had as a prime factor, must also have as a factor because has as a factor. This contradicts the fact that is equal to or is a prime number between and . The same argument works for the case when has or as prime factors.
Another pattern to notice is that the prime-concentrated columns seem symmetric about the column that contains , which leads to the following observation.
Theorem 3. If is a prime number less than and if is not equal to or then is a prime number.
Let be a prime number less than that is not equal to or . Let . If were not a prime, then must have or as a prime factor. Since , will also be divisible by or , contradicting our condition that is a prime number.
Such observation triggers one's interest to see whether the above statement is true for any multiples of , or for any number that is a product of the first few primes. However, this turns out not to be the case.
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Future Directions for this Page
Q: There seems to be infinitely many primes in each congruence class (i.e, there are infinitely many primes in each prime-concentrated columns)
This is what Dirichlet's theorem on arithmetic progressions is saying
Q: would it be possible to generalize the above statements to any subgroup of the integers modded by the product of first n primes?
i.e, can we generalize above statements to the case where we create a table with more number of columns?
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