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Singapore Math

Monday, December 18, 2023

Did You Commit a Prime Murder?

More than half a dozen years ago, I coined “Prime Murder” as follows:

What proportion of integers are prime? What are the odds that you might commit a prime murder at some point in your mathematical career, be it in teaching, editing, or writing?

Over the centuries, both professional and amateur mathematicians weren’t spared from it. Think of Pierre de Fermat who erroneously thought that 2^(2⁵) + 1, or 2³² + 1, was a prime.

So, for the majority of us, whether we’re born or blessed with the “mathematical gene” or not, the chances of being found guilty of a prime murder might not be limited to a single-digit percent. 

A 2019 graphic novel that explores two most basic mathematical objects: integers and permutations

Below is a simple exercise that might help reduce the odds of someone being a “prime murderer.”

1. Which of the following numbers are prime?

a) 919     b) 1,001     c) 1,763     d) 3,221     e) 8,081     f) 123,321

2. MAGA Math

a) The Pinocchio-in-Chief faces 91 criminal charges across four indictments, all of which he had pleaded not guilty. What are the chances that he is a prime suspect to these charges?

b) A “very stable genius” claimed to have an IQ of 211 (base p). Find the value of p.

c) The “MAGA-in-Chief” wanted a Secretary of State to find 11,780 votes, which would have given him one more than his Democratic opponent. Show that the requested number is not a prime number.

d)  A judge determined that the ex-“Commander in Cheat” had overvalued his Mar-a-Lago property by 2,047% besides claiming that his penthouse in New York was three times its actual size. Is this a “prime percent”?

In Prime Suspects, when Prof. Gauss & team looked at the autopsies of the victims of two seemingly unrelated homicides, they discovered the shocking similarity between the structures of each body.

Let’s end with a prime factoid: The writers of The Simpsons and Futurama have been smuggling complex mathematical ideas into prime-time television for over a quarter of a century.

Primely yours

© Yan Kow Cheong, December 18, 2023.

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