 Home Explore the BBC     Life | The Universe | Everything | Advanced Search            Click here to complete your registration. 3. Everything / Maths, Science & Technology / Mathematics

Unique Patterns Among Numerics  Remember back in school, learning how to convert fractions to decimals and decimals to fractions?

They seemed so pesky: there were the easy ones like 1/2 or 1/4 or 1/5 which when long-divided would finish off really quickly to give the results 0.5, 0.25 or 0.2. There were the slightly-more-difficult ones that repeated, but it was possible to quickly figure out which numbers were repeating... and then there were fractions such as 1/7, which caused problems on both fronts: its value was hard to memorise and if long-divided, came up with a sequence of numbers that was long enough for you not to realise it was actually repeating.

Composition of the Magical Number

However, if we take a closer look at this magical number, something else can be found. The number 1/7 is equivalent to 0.1428571....142857... and so on. If this repeating number is to be looked at alone, many interesting properties can be found.

The very structure of the number is a bit odd-looking. If looked at closely, the following pattern seems to reveal irregularity:

The first two digits 14, is 7 x 2,
The second two digits 28, is 7 x 4
...yet the last set of digits 57 are only 1 greater than the next number in the sequence 7 x 8.

Cyclical Property

However the number 142857 itself has its own pattern. It is a cyclical number. To demonstrate this property, examine the multiplication table for this number:

142857 x 1 = 142857
142857 x 2 = 285714
142857 x 3 = 428571
142857 x 4 = 571428
142857 x 5 = 714285
142857 x 6 = 857142

The digits in the tables never change! All the answers in the first six entries of the multiplication table have the digits 1, 4, 2, 8, 5 and 7. The next number is also a bit of a shock (notice that this occurs on the 7th entry in the table):

142857 x 7 = 999999

When the number is multiplied by 7 it comes out at exactly one off a million! The pattern mentioned before, however, continues:

142857 x 8 = 1142856
142857 x 9 = 1285713
142857 x 10 = 1428570
142857 x 11 = 1571427

Although it may seem that the pattern has now been broken, even with the extra digit the pattern continues. If the last digit is added with the first, then the remaining digit appears, ie:

1142856: Extra digits 1 and 6 added give 7, the missing digit
1285713: Extra digits 1 and 3 added give 4, the missing digit
and so on.

This pattern continues in the entire 142857 multiplication table save that every 7th number is a few digits short of a million. Exactly how many digits the answer would be short of a million depends on where the multiplying number lies in the multiplication table of 7. For example: 142857 x 35 = 4,999,995. Exactly 5 short of 5 million. This is because 35 is 5 times 7.

Even the prime factors of 142857 have some unusual properties as well. Not only that all of these numbers when inverted produce repeating decimals, but they have patterns of their own. The prime factors of 142857 are:

3 11 13 37

Patterns in number 3

The number 3 as it is well known, has the unusual property that if any multiple of 3 taken, its digits would add up to another multiple of 3. Some examples:

27: 2 + 7 = 9, which is 3 x 3
48: 4 + 8 = 12, which is 3 x 4
81: 8 + 1 = 9, which is 3 x 3
or even
142857: 1 + 4 + 2 + 8 + 5 + 7 = 27, which is 3 x 9.

Patterns in Number 11

The number 11 has the property that when multiplying the sum of the exterior digits (note the number of digits varies depending upon how many digits there are in the number, for example when multiplying with a two-digit number then one each from the exterior matter, whereas a three-digit number means that two digits on each side must be taken. The number of digits to take is always one less than the length of the multiplying numbers, see shown examples) becomes the interior of the product, with the result carried over. Some examples:

11 x 15: 1 + 5 = 6, so end result is 165
11 x 135: 13 + 35 = 48, so end result is 1485
11 x 1345: 134 + 345 = 479, so end result is 14795
11 x 28: 2 + 8 = 10, so end result is 308 (one carried over)
11 x 288: 28 + 88 = 116, so end result 3168 (one carried over)
11 x 2888: 288 + 888 = 1176, so end result is 31768

Patterns in Number 13 - The other Cyclical Producer

The number 13, along with having a good amount of history, has its own cyclical produce. 1/13 produces the repeating digits 0.076923...076923...and so on, when the number 76923 is taken with the leading zero indicator it also behaves like a cyclical number. However, it is not a cyclical number as it does not permutate in consecutive multiplications. Some examples:

076923 � 1 = 076923
076923 � 3 = 230769
076923 � 4 = 307692
076923 � 9 = 692307
....1

Patterns in Number 37

Finally, the number 37. This number also exudes a pattern in its multiplication tables:

37 x 1 = 37
37 x 2 = 74

The second number in the sequence is one off the anagram of the last number in the sequence, ie:

3 7 = 37
X
7 3 + 1 = 74
This is followed by triple ones:
37 x 3 = 111
and then...
37 x 4 = 148
37 x 5 = 185
37 x 6 = 222
37 x 7 = 259
37 x 8 = 296

The pattern continues, the fifth number is again one off the anagram of the last number in the sequence, followed by triple twos (note the repeating digits occur on every 3rd sequence instance). This pattern continues on and on even past the point 999. However, shortly within the sequence, the numbers begin to split like the sequence for 142857 itself and a bit of work is needed to see the pattern:

37 x 9 = 333
37 x 10 = 370
37 x 11 = 407

Notice how the extra one that we were adding before has been added to the three instead; however, the composition of the result would remain the same be it that the order might change.

The exact usage of these patterns has yet to be determined. Who knows - it may be a reader of this Entry who takes it that step further?

1 NB: The multiple a number is going to multiply on is not easily predicted - this is why 13 does not generate a true cyclical number. Also it should be noted that 13 is one less than 14 which is 7 x 2. People have been talking about this Guide Entry. Here are the most recent Conversations:
 Enneagram (Last Posting: Jul 3, 2006)      Add your Opinion!There are tens of thousands of h2g2 Guide Entries, written by our Researchers. If you want to be able to add your own opinions to the Guide, simply become a member as an h2g2 Researcher. Tell me More!       Entry Data
Entry ID: A12219833 (Edited)

Written and Researched by:
U14979129 - bcheetah

Edited by:
U284

Date: 03   July   2006

 Referenced Guide Entries Fractions Repetends (Repeating Decimals) Conceptual Tables

 Related BBC Pages BBC Bitesize GCSE Revision: Mathematics

Most of the content on this site is created by h2g2's Researchers, who are members of the public. The views expressed are theirs and unless specifically stated are not those of the BBC. The BBC is not responsible for the content of any external sites referenced. In the event that you consider anything on this page to be in breach of the site's House Rules, please click here to alert our Moderation Team. For any other comments, please start a Conversation below.            Most of the content on h2g2 is created by h2g2's Researchers, who are members of the public. The views expressed are theirs and unless specifically stated are not those of the BBC. The BBC is not responsible for the content of any external sites referenced. In the event that you consider anything on this page to be in breach of the site's House Rules, please click here. For any other comments, please start a Conversation above. About the BBC | Help | Terms of Use | Privacy & Cookies Policy