Tuesday, September 14, 2004

Morning Edition Math

Just now on Morning Edition was a piece (this is the text summary) about a sign that reads {first 10-digit prime found in consecutive digits of e}.com that is being used by Google to recruit new employees in Cambridge, MA. (I love Cambridge. Must figure out how to move there.)

When looking for more information I found some web pages of people who've solved the problem. Some of them found an online list of the digits of e and an online list of ten-digit primes and then compared the two. Strikes me as inelegant. Certainly not how I would do it.

I'd probably start by looking up a list of the first n digits of e since I'm not sure which power series would give me accurate digits quickly. But then I'd use Fermat's Little Theorem to test strings of digits for primality. And then I'd test the candidate numbers by hand against the puzzle. But I wouldn't actually do it since my programming skills really suck. Especially whenever I need to take a bunch of text from a file and put it into an array. (Note to self: find way to improve programming skills in case you need to find a real job.)

I'm not sure what I think of NPR's placement of the piece right before the half-hour mark. While the fluffiest entertainment news is always right before the hour and other light stories are right before the half-hour, there are often human-interest stories in the middle of each half-hour of Morning Edition. At least math got on the program.

[Oh, and has anyone found a non-dumbed-down article about these mysterious murmurrings I keep hearing about the Riemann Hypothesis? One of my students sent me a link to something that was like: Math-doer solve hard problem! Math hard! World ending! Fear math! But I don't have the patience to try to track down something useful. If you know of something, let me know.]