Prime Number Numbers
by Paul Niquette

Inspired by Prime Numbers are Odd in
Puzzles with a Purpose
Copyright 2007 by Paul Niquette. All rights reserved.


here is something mighty captivating about prime numbers.  Ask Diophantus and Descartes, Eratosthenes and Euler -- oh right, and don't forget to ask Pierre de Fermat (1601 - 1665).  For the amusement of casual enthusiasts, here are a few simple statistics about prime numbers produced in one afternoon with a 20th Century spreadsheet.  It would have taken those old guys months -- years, maybe -- of hand calculations to get these results.

All four graphs plotted below are based on the first 1,220 prime numbers (each divisible only by itself and one)...

2, 3, 5, 7, 11, 13, 17, 19, 23, 29, 31, 37, 41, 43, 47, 53, 59, 61, 67, 71, 73, 79, 83, 89, 97, 101, 103, 107, 109, 113, 127, 131, 137, 139, 149, 151, 157, 163, 167, 173, 179, 181, 191, 193, 197, 199, 211, 223, 227, 229, 233, 239, 241, 251, 257, 263, 269, 271, 277, 281, 283, 293, 307, 311, 313, 317, 331, 337, 347, 349, 353, 359, 367, 373, 379, 383, 389, 397, 401, 409, 419, 421, 431, 433, 439, 443, 449, 457, 461, 463, 467, 479, 487, 491, 499, 503, 509, 521, 523, 541, 547, 557, 563, 569, 571, 577, 587, 593, 599, 601, 607, 613, 617, 619, 631, 641, 643, 647, 653, 659, 661, 673, 677, 683, 691, 701, 709, 719, 727, 733, 739, 743, 751, 757, 761, 769, 773, 787, 797, 809, 811, 821, 823, 827, 829, 839, 853, 857, 859, 863, 877, 881, 883, 887, 907, 911, 919, 929, 937, 941, 947, 953, 967, 971, 977, 983, 991, 997, 1009, 1013, 1019, 1021, 1031, 1033, 1039, 1049, 1051, 1061, 1063, 1069, 1087, 1091, 1093, 1097, 1103, 1109, 1117, 1123, 1129, 1151, 1153, 1163, 1171, 1181, 1187, 1193, 1201, 1213, 1217, 1223, 1229, 1231, 1237, 1249, 1259, 1277, 1279, 1283, 1289, 1291, 1297, 1301, 1303, 1307, 1319, 1321, 1327, 1361, 1367, 1373, 1381, 1399, 1409, 1423, 1427, 1429, 1433, 1439, 1447, 1451, 1453, 1459, 1471, 1481, 1483, 1487, 1489, 1493, 1499, 1511, 1523, 1531, 1543, 1549, 1553, 1559, 1567, 1571, 1579, 1583, 1597, 1601, 1607, 1609, 1613, 1619, 1621, 1627, 1637, 1657, 1663, 1667, 1669, 1693, 1697, 1699, 1709, 1721, 1723, 1733, 1741, 1747, 1753, 1759, 1777, 1783, 1787, 1789, 1801, 1811, 1823, 1831, 1847, 1861, 1867, 1871, 1873, 1877, 1879, 1889, 1901, 1907, 1913, 1931, 1933, 1949, 1951, 1973, 1979, 1987, 1993, 1997, 1999, 2003, 2011, 2017, 2027, 2029, 2039, 2053, 2063, 2069, 2081, 2083, 2087, 2089, 2099, 2111, 2113, 2129, 2131, 2137, 2141, 2143, 2153, 2161, 2179, 2203, 2207, 2213, 2221, 2237, 2239, 2243, 2251, 2267, 2269, 2273, 2281, 2287, 2293, 2297, 2309, 2311, 2333, 2339, 2341, 2347, 2351, 2357, 2371, 2377, 2381, 2383, 2389, 2393, 2399, 2411, 2417, 2423, 2437, 2441, 2447, 2459, 2467, 2473, 2477, 2503, 2521, 2531, 2539, 2543, 2549, 2551, 2557, 2579, 2591, 2593, 2609, 2617, 2621, 2633, 2647, 2657, 2659, 2663, 2671, 2677, 2683, 2687, 2689, 2693, 2699, 2707, 2711, 2713, 2719, 2729, 2731, 2741, 2749, 2753, 2767, 2777, 2789, 2791, 2797, 2801, 2803, 2819, 2833, 2837, 2843, 2851, 2857, 2861, 2879, 2887, 2897, 2903, 2909, 2917, 2927, 2939, 2953, 2957, 2963, 2969, 2971, 2999, 3001, 3011, 3019, 3023, 3037, 3041, 3049, 3061, 3067, 3079, 3083, 3089, 3109, 3119, 3121, 3137, 3163, 3167, 3169, 3181, 3187, 3191, 3203, 3209, 3217, 3221, 3229, 3251, 3253, 3257, 3259, 3271, 3299, 3301, 3307, 3313, 3319, 3323, 3329, 3331, 3343, 3347, 3359, 3361, 3371, 3373, 3389, 3391, 3407, 3413, 3433, 3449, 3457, 3461, 3463, 3467, 3469, 3491, 3499, 3511, 3517, 3527, 3529, 3533, 3539, 3541, 3547, 3557, 3559, 3571, 3581, 3583, 3593, 3607, 3613, 3617, 3623, 3631, 3637, 3643, 3659, 3671, 3673, 3677, 3691, 3697, 3701, 3709, 3719, 3727, 3733, 3739, 3761, 3767, 3769, 3779, 3793, 3797, 3803, 3821, 3823, 3833, 3847, 3851, 3853, 3863, 3877, 3881, 3889, 3907, 3911, 3917, 3919, 3923, 3929, 3931, 3943, 3947, 3967, 3989, 4001, 4003, 4007, 4013, 4019, 4021, 4027, 4049, 4051, 4057, 4073, 4079, 4091, 4093, 4099, 4111, 4127, 4129, 4133, 4139, 4153, 4157, 4159, 4177, 4201, 4211, 4217, 4219, 4229, 4231, 4241, 4243, 4253, 4259, 4261, 4271, 4273, 4283, 4289, 4297, 4327, 4337, 4339, 4349, 4357, 4363, 4373, 4391, 4397, 4409, 4421, 4423, 4441, 4447, 4451, 4457, 4463, 4481, 4483, 4493, 4507, 4513, 4517, 4519, 4523, 4547, 4549, 4561, 4567, 4583, 4591, 4597, 4603, 4621, 4637, 4639, 4643, 4649, 4651, 4657, 4663, 4673, 4679, 4691, 4703, 4721, 4723, 4729, 4733, 4751, 4759, 4783, 4787, 4789, 4793, 4799, 4801, 4813, 4817, 4831, 4861, 4871, 4877, 4889, 4903, 4909, 4919, 4931, 4933, 4937, 4943, 4951, 4957, 4967, 4969, 4973, 4987, 4993, 4999, 5003, 5009, 5011, 5021, 5023, 5039, 5051, 5059, 5077, 5081, 5087, 5099, 5101, 5107, 5113, 5119, 5147, 5153, 5167, 5171, 5179, 5189, 5197, 5209, 5227, 5231, 5233, 5237, 5261, 5273, 5279, 5281, 5297, 5303, 5309, 5323, 5333, 5347, 5351, 5381, 5387, 5393, 5399, 5407, 5413, 5417, 5419, 5431, 5437, 5441, 5443, 5449, 5471, 5477, 5479, 5483, 5501, 5503, 5507, 5519, 5521, 5527, 5531, 5557, 5563, 5569, 5573, 5581, 5591, 5623, 5639, 5641, 5647, 5651, 5653, 5657, 5659, 5669, 5683, 5689, 5693, 5701, 5711, 5717, 5737, 5741, 5743, 5749, 5779, 5783, 5791, 5801, 5807, 5813, 5821, 5827, 5839, 5843, 5849, 5851, 5857, 5861, 5867, 5869, 5879, 5881, 5897, 5903, 5923, 5927, 5939, 5953, 5981, 5987, 6007, 6011, 6029, 6037, 6043, 6047, 6053, 6067, 6073, 6079, 6089, 6091, 6101, 6113, 6121, 6131, 6133, 6143, 6151, 6163, 6173, 6197, 6199, 6203, 6211, 6217, 6221, 6229, 6247, 6257, 6263, 6269, 6271, 6277, 6287, 6299, 6301, 6311, 6317, 6323, 6329, 6337, 6343, 6353, 6359, 6361, 6367, 6373, 6379, 6389, 6397, 6421, 6427, 6449, 6451, 6469, 6473, 6481, 6491, 6521, 6529, 6547, 6551, 6553, 6563, 6569, 6571, 6577, 6581, 6599, 6607, 6619, 6637, 6653, 6659, 6661, 6673, 6679, 6689, 6691, 6701, 6703, 6709, 6719, 6733, 6737, 6761, 6763, 6779, 6781, 6791, 6793, 6803, 6823, 6827, 6829, 6833, 6841, 6857, 6863, 6869, 6871, 6883, 6899, 6907, 6911, 6917, 6947, 6949, 6959, 6961, 6967, 6971, 6977, 6983, 6991, 6997, 7001, 7013, 7019, 7027, 7039, 7043, 7057, 7069, 7079, 7103, 7109, 7121, 7127, 7129, 7151, 7159, 7177, 7187, 7193, 7207, 7211, 7213, 7219, 7229, 7237, 7243, 7247, 7253, 7283, 7297, 7307, 7309, 7321, 7331, 7333, 7349, 7351, 7369, 7393, 7411, 7417, 7433, 7451, 7457, 7459, 7477, 7481, 7487, 7489, 7499, 7507, 7517, 7523, 7529, 7537, 7541, 7547, 7549, 7559, 7561, 7573, 7577, 7583, 7589, 7591, 7603, 7607, 7621, 7639, 7643, 7649, 7669, 7673, 7681, 7687, 7691, 7699, 7703, 7717, 7723, 7727, 7741, 7753, 7757, 7759, 7789, 7793, 7817, 7823, 7829, 7841, 7853, 7867, 7873, 7877, 7879, 7883, 7901, 7907, 7919, 7927, 7933, 7937, 7949, 7951, 7963, 7993, 8009, 8011, 8017, 8039, 8053, 8059, 8069, 8081, 8087, 8089, 8093, 8101, 8111, 8117, 8123, 8147, 8161, 8167, 8171, 8179, 8191, 8209, 8219, 8221, 8231, 8233, 8237, 8243, 8263, 8269, 8273, 8287, 8291, 8293, 8297, 8311, 8317, 8329, 8353, 8363, 8369, 8377, 8387, 8389, 8419, 8423, 8429, 8431, 8443, 8447, 8461, 8467, 8501, 8513, 8521, 8527, 8537, 8539, 8543, 8563, 8573, 8581, 8597, 8599, 8609, 8623, 8627, 8629, 8641, 8647, 8663, 8669, 8677, 8681, 8689, 8693, 8699, 8707, 8713, 8719, 8731, 8737, 8741, 8747, 8753, 8761, 8779, 8783, 8803, 8807, 8819, 8821, 8831, 8837, 8839, 8849, 8861, 8863, 8867, 8887, 8893, 8923, 8929, 8933, 8941, 8951, 8963, 8969, 8971, 8999, 9001, 9007, 9011, 9013, 9029, 9041, 9043, 9049, 9059, 9067, 9091, 9103, 9109, 9127, 9133, 9137, 9151, 9157, 9161, 9173, 9181, 9187, 9199, 9203, 9209, 9221, 9227, 9239, 9241, 9257, 9277, 9281, 9283, 9293, 9311, 9319, 9323, 9337, 9341, 9343, 9349, 9371, 9377, 9391, 9397, 9403, 9413, 9419, 9421, 9431, 9433, 9437, 9439, 9461, 9463, 9467, 9473, 9479, 9491, 9497, 9511, 9521, 9533, 9539, 9547, 9551, 9587, 9601, 9613, 9619, 9623, 9629, 9631, 9643, 9649, 9661, 9677, 9679, 9689, 9697, 9719, 9721, 9733, 9739, 9743, 9749, 9767, 9769, 9781, 9787, 9791, 9803, 9811, 9817, 9829, 9833, 9839, 9851, 9857, 9859, 9871, and 9883.

...where P(1) = 2, P(2) = 3,... P(1,220) = 9,883.  The simple plot of P(n) vs n suggests almost a linear relationship, as the numbers become large.  You can tell your friends that the 1,000th prime is about 8,000 (7,919, actually).

he ratio of P(n) / n forms a curve that is concave downward, passing through 8.0 at n = 1,052 and appearing to approach a limit, perhaps less than 8.3 or so no matter how large the prime number.  It is left to the sophisticated reader to figure out if this limit really exists.

ll prime numbers are odd but not vice versa, as noted in the facetious formulation of the Prime Numbers are Odd puzzle.  Just how far apart are they?  Set forth below is a scattergram of P(n+1) - P(n), which shows that the differences between successive prime numbers varies within a curious band between 2 and 36, with exactly 15 of the first 1,220 prime numbers being separated by 30 or more.

What observations shall we make about the distribution of differences shown in the histogram below?

  • That only about 17% of prime numbers are consecutive odd integers.
  • That nearly 1/4th of successive prime numbers are separated by 6.  Why 6?
There are doubtless plenty of other questions to be raised and answered about Prime Number Numbers.  You are invited to make your own observations available here.

inally, we turn to another inspiration for this essay.  In the puzzle entitled "Fermat's Really Last Theorem," mention is made that three and a half centuries ago Fermat discovered one of the most elegant properties of prime integers -- the theorem that every prime number of the form 4n + 1 is uniquely expressible as the sum of two squares.

Well, it turns out that about half of first 1,220 prime numbers (606 out of 1,220, to be exact) can be thus expressed, and the distribution is quite uniform throughout the series.  Given a list of 606 primes of the form 4n + 1, might there not be an elegant way to find those two squares?  Hmm.


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