Block’n’Role

How low can you go? When it comes to standard bases in mathematics, you can’t go lower than 2. But base 2, or binary, is unsurpassable for simplicity and beauty. With only two digits, 1 and 0, you can capture any integer you like:

• 0, 1, 2, 3, 4, 5... -> 0, 1, 10, 11, 100, 101, 110, 111, 1000, 1001, 1010, 1011, 1100, 1101, 1110, 1111, 10000, 10001, 10010, 10011, 10100, 10101, 10110, 10111, 11000, 11001, 11010, 11011, 11100, 11101, 11110, 11111, 100000, 100001, 100010, 100011, 100100, 100101, 100110, 100111, 101000, 101001, 101010, 101011, 101100, 101101, 101110, 101111, 110000, 110001, 110010, 110011, 110100, 110101, 110110, 110111, 111000, 111001, 111010, 111011, 111100, 111101, 111110, 111111...


Here are a few famous decimal numbers in binary:

• 23 = 10111 in binary
• 666 = 1010011010 in binary
• 1492 = 10111010100 in binary
• 2001 = 11111010001 in binary

As you can see, there’s a problem with binary for human beings. It takes up a lot of space and doesn’t look very distinctive. But that’s easy to solve by converting binary into octal (base 8) or hexadecimal (base 16). One digit in octal is worth three digits in binary and one digit in hexadecimal is worth four digits in binary. So the conversion back and forth is very easy:

• 23 = 10111 → (010,111) → 27 in octal
• 23 = 10111 → (0001,0111) → 17 in hexadecimal
• 666 = 1010011010 → (001,010,011,010) → 1232 in octal
• 666 = 1010011010 → (0010,1001,1010) → 29A in hexademical
• 1492 = 10111010100 → (010,111,010,100) → 2724 in octal
• 1492 = 10111010100 → (0101,1101,0100) → 5D4 in hexademical
• 2001 = 11111010001 → (011,111,010,001) → 3721 in octal
• 2001 = 11111010001 → (0111,1101,0001) → 7D1 in hexademical

But there’s another way to compress a binary number: count the lengths of the runs of 1 and 0. For example, 23 = 10111 and 10111 → one 1, one 0, three 1s → (1,1,3) → 113. That’s not much of a compression, but it usually gets better as the numbers get bigger:

• 2001 = 11111010001 → (5,1,1,3,1) → 51131

From the compressed form you can easily re-create the binary number:

• 51131 → (5,1,1,3,1) → (11111,0,1,000,1) → 11111010001

This block-compression doesn’t work with any other standard base. For example, the compressed form (1,2) in ternary, or base 3, is ambiguous:

• (1,2) → (1,00) → 100 in base 3 = 09 in decimal
• (1,2) → (1,22) → 122 in base 3 = 17 in decimal
• (1,2) → (2,00) → 200 in base 3 = 18 in decimal
• (1,2) → (2,11) → 211 in base 3 = 22 in decimal

The higher the base, the bigger the ambiguity. But ambiguity exists with binary block-compressions too. Look at 51131 ← 11111010001 = 2001 in decimal. Out of context, 51131 is infinitely ambiguous. It could represent a number in any base higher than 5:

• 51131 in base 06 = 006751 in base 10
• 51131 in base 07 = 012419 in base 10
• 51131 in base 08 = 021081 in base 10
• 51131 in base 09 = 033643 in base 10
• 51131 in base 10 = 051131 in base 10
• 51131 in base 11 = 074691 in base 10
• 51131 in base 12 = 105589 in base 10
• 51131 in base 13 = 145211 in base 10
• 51131 in base 14 = 195063 in base 10
• 51131 in base 15 = 256771 in base 10
• 51131 in base 16 = 332081 in base 10
• 51131 in base 17 = 422859 in base 10
• 51131 in base 18 = 531091 in base 10
• 51131 in base 19 = 658883 in base 10
• 51131 in base 20 = 808461 in base 10...

But that ambiguity raises an interesting question. Does the binary block-compression of n ever match the digits of n in another base? Yes, it does:

• 23 = 10111 in base 2 → (1,1,3) and 113 in base 4 = 10111 in base 2 = 23 in base 10

113 in base 4 = 1*4^2 + 1*4 + 3*4^0 = 16+4+3 = 23. You could call this “Block’n’Role”, because the blocks of 1 and 0 allow a binary number to retain its identity but take on a different role, that is, represent a number in a different base. Here’s a list of binary block-numbers that match the digits of n in another base:

• 10111 → (1,1,3) = 113 in base 4 (n=23)
• 11001 → (2,2,1) = 221 in base 3 (n=25)
• 101100 → (1,1,2,2) = 1122 in base 3 (n=44)
• 111001 → (3,2,1) = 321 in base 4 (n=57)
• 1011111 → (1,1,5) = 115 in base 9 (n=95)
• 1100001 → (2,4,1) = 241 in base 6 (n=97)
• 11100001 → (3,4,1) = 341 in base 8 (n=225)
• 100110000 → (1,2,2,4) = 1224 in base 6 (n=304)
• 101110111 → (1,1,3,1,3) = 11313 in base 4 (n=375)
• 111111001 → (6,2,1) = 621 in base 9 (n=505)
• 1110010111 → (3,2,1,1,3) = 32113 in base 4 (n=919)
• 10000011111 → (1,5,5) = 155 in base 30 (n=1055)
• 11111100001 → (6,4,1) = 641 in base 18 (n=2017)
• 1011101110111 → (1,1,3,1,3,1,3) = 1131313 in base 4 (n=6007)
• 11100101110111 → (3,2,1,1,3,1,3) = 3211313 in base 4 (n=14711)
• 10111011101110111 → (1,1,3,1,3,1,3,1,3) = 113131313 in base 4 (n=96119)
• 111001011101110111 → (3,2,1,1,3,1,3,1,3) = 321131313 in base 4 (n=235383)
• 100000111111111000001 → (1,5,9,5,1) = 15951 in base 31 (n=1081281)
• 101110111011101110111 → 11313131313 in b4 = 1537911
• 1110010111011101110111 → 32113131313 in b4 = 3766135
• 1011101110111011101110111 → 1131313131313 in b4 = 24606583
• 11100101110111011101110111 → 3211313131313 in b4 = 60258167
• 10111011101110111011101110111 → 113131313131313 in b4 = 393705335
• 111001011101110111011101110111 → 321131313131313 in b4 = 964130679

The list of block-nums is incomplete, because I’ve skipped some trivial examples where, for all powers 2^p > 2^2, the block-num is “1P” in base b = (2^p – p). For example:

• 2^3 = 08 = 1000 in base 2 → (1,3) and 13 in base 5 = 8, where 5 = 2^3-3 = 8-3
• 2^4 = 16 = 10000 in base 2 → (1,4) and 14 in base 12 = 16, where 12 = 2^4-4 = 16-4
• 2^5 = 32 = 100000 in base 2 → (1,5) and 15 in base 27 = 32, where 27 = 2^5-5 = 32-5
• 2^6 = 64 = 1000000 in base 2 → (1,6) and 16 in base 58 = 64, where 58 = 2^6-6 = 64-6

And note that the block-num matches in base 4 continue for ever, because the pairs 113… and 321… generate their successors using simple formulae in base 4:

• 113... * 100 + 13
• 321... * 100 + 13

For example, 113 and 321 are the first pair of matches:

• 10111 → (1,1,3) = 113 in base 4 (n=23)
• 111001 → (3,2,1) = 321 in base 4 (n=57)

In base 4, 113 * 100 + 13 = 11313 and 321 * 100 + 13 = 32113:

• 101110111 → (1,1,3,1,3) = 11313 in base 4 (n=375)
• 1110010111 → (3,2,1,1,3) = 32113 in base 4 (n=919)

Next, 11313 * 100 + 13 = 1131313 and 32113 * 100 + 13 = 3211313:

• 1011101110111 → (1,1,3,1,3,1,3) = 1131313 in base 4 (n=6007)
• 11100101110111 → (3,2,1,1,3,1,3) = 3211313 in base 4 (n=14711)

And so on.

Weight-Botchers

Suppose you have a balance scale and four weights of 1 unit, 2 units, 4 units and 8 units. How many different weights can you match? If you know binary arithmetic, it’s easy to see that you can match any weight up to fifteen units inclusive. With the object in the left-hand pan of the scale and the weights in the right-hand pan, these are the matches:

01 = 1
02 = 2
03 = 2+1
04 = 4
05 = 4+1
06 = 4+2
07 = 4+2+1
08 = 8
09 = 8+1
10 = 8+2
11 = 8+2+1
12 = 8+4
13 = 8+4+1
14 = 8+4+2
15 = 8+4+2+1

Balance scale


The weights that sum to n match the 1s in the digits of n in binary.

01 = 0001 in binary
02 = 0010 = 2
03 = 0011 = 2+1
04 = 0100 = 4
05 = 0101 = 4+1
06 = 0110 = 4+2
07 = 0111 = 4+2+1
08 = 1000 = 8
09 = 1001 = 8+1
10 = 1010 = 8+2
11 = 1011 = 8+2+1
12 = 1100 = 8+4
13 = 1101 = 8+4+1
14 = 1110 = 8+4+2
15 = 1111 = 8+4+2+1

But there’s another set of four weights that will match anything from 1 unit to 40 units. Instead of using powers of 2, you use powers of 3: 1, 3, 9, 27. But how would you match an object weighing 2 units using these weights? Simple. You put the object in the left-hand scale, the 3-weight in the right-hand scale, and then add the 1-weight to the left-hand scale. In other words, 2 = 3-1. Similarly, 5 = 9-3-1, 6 = 9-3 and 7 = 9-3+1. When the power of 3 is positive, it’s in the right-hand pan; when it’s negative, it’s in the left-hand pan.

This system is actually based on base 3 or ternary, which uses three digits, 0, 1 and 2. However, the relationship between ternary numbers and the sums of positive and negative powers of 3 is more complicated than the relationship between binary numbers and sums of purely positive powers of 2. See if you can work out how to derive the sums in the middle from the ternary numbers on the right:

01 = 1 = 1 in ternary
02 = 3-1 = 2
03 = 3 = 10
04 = 3+1 = 11
05 = 9-3-1 = 12
06 = 9-3 = 20
07 = 9-3+1 = 21
08 = 9-1 = 22
09 = 9 = 100
10 = 9+1 = 101
11 = 9+3-1 = 102
12 = 9+3 = 110
13 = 9+3+1 = 111
14 = 27-9-3-1 = 112
15 = 27-9-3 = 120
16 = 27-9-3+1 = 121
17 = 27-9-1 = 122
18 = 27-9 = 200
19 = 27-9+1 = 201
20 = 27-9+3-1 = 202
21 = 27-9+3 = 210
22 = 27-9+3+1 = 211
23 = 27-3-1 = 212
24 = 27-3 = 220
25 = 27-3+1 = 221
26 = 27-1 = 222
27 = 27 = 1000
28 = 27+1 = 1001
29 = 27+3-1 = 1002
30 = 27+3 = 1010
31 = 27+3+1 = 1011
32 = 27+9-3-1 = 1012
33 = 27+9-3 = 1020
34 = 27+9-3+1 = 1021
35 = 27+9-1 = 1022
36 = 27+9 = 1100
37 = 27+9+1 = 1101
38 = 27+9+3-1 = 1102
39 = 27+9+3 = 1110
40 = 27+9+3+1 = 1111

To begin understanding the sums, consider those ternary numbers containing only 1s and 0s, like n = 1011[3], which equals 31 in decimal. The sum of powers is straightforward, because all of them are positive and they’re easy to work out from the digits of n in ternary: 1011 = 1*3^3 + 0*3^2 + 1*3^1 + 1*3^0 = 27+3+1. Now consider n = 222[3] = 26 in decimal. Just as a decimal number consisting entirely of 9s is always 1 less than a power of 10, so a ternary number consisting entirely of 2s is always 1 less than a power of three:

999 = 1000 - 1 = 10^3 - 1 (decimal)
222 = 1000[3] - 1 (ternary) = 26 = 27-1 = 3^3 - 1 (decimal)

If a ternary number contains only 2s and is d digits long, it will be equal to 3^d – 1. But what about numbers containing a mixture of 2s, 1s and 0s? Well, all ternary numbers containing at least one 2 will have a negative power of 3 in the sum. You can work out the sum by using the following algorithm. Suppose the number is five digits long and the rightmost digit is digit #1 and the leftmost is digit #5:

01. i = 1, sum = 0, extra = 0, posi = true.
02. if posi = false, goto step 07.
03. if digit #i = 0, sum = sum + 0.
04. if digit #i = 1, sum = sum + 3^(i-1).
05. if digit #i = 2, sum = sum - 3^(i-1), extra = 3^5, posi = false.
06. goto step 10.
07. if digit #i = 0, sum = sum + 3^(i-1), extra = 0, posi = true.
08. if digit #i = 1, sum = sum - 3^(i-1).
09. if digit #i = 2, sum = sum + 0.
10. i = i+1. if i <= 5, goto step 2.
11. print sum + extra.

As the number of weights grows, the advantages of base 3 get bigger:

With 02 weights, base 3 reaches 04 and base 2 reaches 3: 04-3 = 1.
With 03 weights, base 3 reaches 13 and base 2 reaches 7: 13-7 = 6.
With 04 weights, 000040 - 0015 = 000025
With 05 weights, 000121 - 0031 = 000090
With 06 weights, 000364 - 0063 = 000301
With 07 weights, 001093 - 0127 = 000966
With 08 weights, 003280 - 0255 = 003025
With 09 weights, 009841 - 0511 = 009330
With 10 weights, 029524 - 1023 = 028501
With 11 weights, 088573 - 2047 = 086526
With 12 weights, 265720 - 4095 = 261625...

But what about base 4, or quaternary? With four weights of 1, 4, 16 and 64, representing powers of 4 from 4^0 to 4^3, you should be able to weigh objects from 1 to 85 units using sums of positive and negative powers. In fact, some weights can’t be matched. As you can see below, if n in base 4 contains a 2, it can’t be represented as a sum of positive and negative powers of 4. Nor can certain other numbers:

1 = 1 ← 1
2 has no sum = 2
3 = 4-1 ← 3
4 = 4 ← 10 in base 4
5 = 4+1 ← 11 in base 4
6 has no sum = 12 in base 4
7 has no sum = 13
8 has no sum = 20
9 has no sum = 21
10 has no sum = 22
11 = 16-4-1 ← 23
12 = 16-4 ← 30
13 = 16-4+1 ← 31
14 has no sum = 32
15 = 16-1 ← 33
16 = 16 ← 100
17 = 16+1 ← 101
18 has no sum = 102
19 = 16+4-1 ← 103
20 = 16+4 ← 110
21 = 16+4+1 ← 111
22 has no sum = 112
23 has no sum = 113
24 has no sum = 120
25 has no sum = 121
26 has no sum = 122
27 has no sum = 123
[...]

With a more complicated balance scale, it’s possible to use weights representing powers of base 4 and base 5 (use two pans on each arm of the scale instead of one, placing the extra pan at the midpoint of the arm). But with a standard balance scale, base 3 is the champion. However, there is a way to do slightly better than standard base 3. You do it by botching the weights. Suppose you have four weights of 1, 4, 10 and 28 (representing 1, 3+1, 9+1 and 27+1). There are some weights n you can’t match, but because you can match n-1 and n+1, you know what these unmatchable weights are. Accordingly, while weights of 1, 3, 9 and 27 can measure objects up to 40 units, weights of 1, 4, 10 and 28 can measure objects up to 43 units:

1 = 1 ← 1
2 has no sum = 2
3 = 4-1 ← 10 in base 3
4 = 4 ← 11 in base 3
5 = 4+1 ← 12 in base 3
6 = 10-4 ← 20
7 = 10-4+1 ← 21
8 has no sum = 22
9 = 10-1 ← 100
10 = 10 ← 101
11 = 10+1 ← 102
12 has no sum = 110
13 = 10+4-1 ← 111
14 = 10+4 ← 112
15 = 10+4+1 ← 120
16 has no sum = 121
17 = 28-10-1 ← 122
18 = 28-10 ← 200
19 = 28-10+1 ← 201
20 has no sum = 202
21 = 28-10+4-1 ← 210
22 = 28-10+4 ← 211
23 = 28-4-1 ← 212
24 = 28-4 ← 220
25 = 28-4+1 ← 221
26 has no sum = 222
27 = 28-1 ← 1000
28 = 28 ← 1001
29 = 28+1 ← 1002
30 has no sum = 1010
31 = 28+4-1 ← 1011
32 = 28+4 ← 1012
33 = 28+4+1 ← 1020
34 = 28+10-4 ← 1021
35 = 28+10-4+1 ← 1022
36 has no sum = 1100
37 = 28+10-1 ← 1101
38 = 28+10 ← 1102
39 = 28+10+1 ← 1110
40 = has no sum = 1111*
41 = 28+10+4-1 ← 1112
42 = 28+10+4 ← 1120
43 = 28+10+4+1 ← 1121


*N.B. 40 = 82-28-10-4, i.e. has a sum when another botched weight, 82 = 3^4+1, is used.

Zequality Now

Here are the numbers one to eight in base 2:

1, 10, 11, 100, 101, 110, 111, 1000…

Now see what happens when you count the zeroes:


1, 10[1], 11, 10[2]0[3], 10[4]1, 110[5], 111, 10[6]0[7]0[8]...

In base 2, the numbers one to eight contain exactly eight zeroes, that is, zerocount(1..8,b=2) = 8. But it doesn’t work out so exactly in base 3:


1, 2, 10[1], 11, 12, 20[2], 21, 22, 10[3]0[4], 10[5]1, 10[6]2, 110[7], 111, 112, 120[8], 121, 122, 20[9]0[10], 20[11]1, 20[12]2, 210[13], 211, 212, 220[14], 221, 222, 10[15]0[16]0[17], 10[18]0[19]1, 10[20]0[21]2, 10[22]10[23], 10[24]11, 10[25]12, 10[26]20[27], 10[28]21, 10[29]22, 110[30]0[31], 110[32]1, 110[33]2, 1110[34], 1111, 1112, 1120[35], 1121, 1122, 120[36]0[37], 120[38]1, 120[39]2, 1210[40], 1211, 1212, 1220[41], 1221, 1222, 20[42]0[43]0[44], 20[45]0[46]1, 20[47]0[48]2, 20[49]10[50], 20[51]11, 20[52]12, 20[53]20[54], 20[55]21, 20[56]22, 210[57]0[58], 210[59]1, 210[60]2, 2110[61], 2111, 2112, 2120[62], 2121, 2122, 220[63]0[64], 220[65]1, 220[66]2, 2210[67], 2211, 2212, 2220[68], 2221, 2222, 10[69]0[70]0[71]0[72], 10[73]0[74]0[75]1, 10[76]0[77]0[78]2, 10[79]0[80]10[81], 10[82]0[83]11, 10[84]0[85]12, 10[86]0[87]20[88]...

In base 3, 10020 = 87 and zerocount(1..87,b=3) = 88. And what about base 4? zerocount(1..1068,b=4) = 1069 (n=100,230 in base 4). After that, zerocount(1..16022,b=5) = 16023 (n=1,003,043 in base 5) and zerocount(1..284704,b=6) = 284,705 (n=10,034,024 in base 6).

The numbers are getting bigger fast and it’s becoming increasingly impractible to count the zeroes individually. What you need is an algorithm that will take any given n and work out how many zeroes are required to write the numbers 1 to n. The simplest way to do this is to work out how many times 0 has appeared in each position of the number. The 1s position is easy: you simply divide the number by the base and discard the remainder. For example, in base 10, take the number 25. The 0 must have appeared in the 1s position twice, for 10 and 20, so zerocount(1..25) = 25 \ 10 = 2. In 2017, the 0 must have appeared in the 1s position 201 times = 2017 \ 10. And so on.

It gets a little trickier for the higher positions, the 10s, 100s, 1000s and so on, but the same basic principle applies. And so you can easily create an algorithm that takes a number, n, and produces zerocount(1..n) in a particular base. With this algorithm, you can quickly find zerocount(1..n) >= n in higher bases:


zerocount(1..1000,b=2) = 1,000 (n=8)*
zerocount(1..10020,b=3) = 10,021 (n=87)
zerocount(1..100230,b=4) = 100,231 (n=1,068)
zerocount(1..1003042,b=5) = 1,003,043 (n=16,022)
zerocount(1..10034024,b=6) = 10,034,025 (n=284,704)
zerocount(1..100405550,b=7) = 100,405,551 (n=5,834,024)
zerocount(1..1004500236,b=8) = 1,004,500,237 (n=135,430,302)
zerocount(1..10050705366,b=9) = 10,050,705,367 (n=3,511,116,537)
zerocount(1..100559404366,b=10) = 100,559,404,367
zerocount(1..1006083A68919,b=11) = 1,006,083,A68,919 (n=3,152,738,985,031)*
zerocount(1..10066AA1430568,b=12) = 10,066,AA1,430,569 (n=107,400,330,425,888)
zerocount(1..1007098A8719B81,b=13) = 100,709,8A8,719,B81 (n=3,950,024,143,546,664)*
zerocount(1..10077C39805D81C7,b=14) = 1,007,7C3,980,5D8,1C8 (n=155,996,847,068,247,395)
zerocount(1..10080B0034AA5D16D,b=15) = 10,080,B00,34A,A5D,171 (n=6,584,073,072,068,125,453)
zerocount(1..10088DBE29597A6C77,b=16) = 100,88D,BE2,959,7A6,C77 (n=295,764,262,988,176,583,799)*
zerocount(1..10090C5309AG72CBB3F,b=17) = 1,009,0C5,309,AG7,2CB,B3G (n=14,088,968,131,538,370,019,982)
zerocount(1..10099F39070FC73C1G73,b=18) = 10,099,F39,070,FC7,3C1,G75 (n=709,394,716,006,812,244,474,473)
zerocount(1..100A0DC1258614CA334EB,b=19) = 100,A0D,C12,586,14C,A33,4EC (n=37,644,984,315,968,494,382,106,708)
zerocount(1..100AAGDEEB536IBHE87006,b=20) = 1,00A,AGD,EEB,536,IBH,E87,008 (n=2,099,915,447,874,594,268,014,136,006)

And you can also easily find the zequal numbers, that is, the numbers n for which, in some base, zerocount(1..n) exactly equals n:


zerocount(1..1000,b=2) = 1,000 (n=8)
zerocount(1..1006083A68919,b=11) = 1,006,083,A68,919 (n=3,152,738,985,031)
zerocount(1..1007098A8719B81,b=13) = 100,709,8A8,719,B81 (n=3,950,024,143,546,664)
zerocount(1..10088DBE29597A6C77,b=16) = 100,88D,BE2,959,7A6,C77 (n=295,764,262,988,176,583,799)
zerocount(1..100CCJFFAD4MI409MI0798CJB3,b=24) = 10,0CC,JFF,AD4,MI4,09M,I07,98C,JB3 (n=32,038,681,563,209,056,709,427,351,442,469,835)
zerocount(1..100DDL38CIO4P9K0AJ7HK74EMI7L,b=26) = 1,00D,DL3,8CI,O4P,9K0,AJ7,HK7,4EM,I7L (n=160,182,333,966,853,031,081,693,091,544,779,177,187)
zerocount(1..100EEMHG6OE8EQKO0BF17LCCIA7GPE,b=28) = 100,EEM,HG6,OE8,EQK,O0B,F17,LCC,IA7,GPE (n=928,688,890,453,756,699,447,122,559,347,771,300,777,482)
zerocount(1..100F0K7MQO6K9R1S616IEEL2JRI73PF,b=29) = 1,00F,0K7,MQO,6K9,R1S,616,IEE,L2J,RI7,3PF (n=74,508,769,042,363,852,559,476,397,161,338,769,391,145,562)
zerocount(1..100G0LIL0OQLF2O0KIFTK1Q4DC24HL7BR,b=31) = 100,G0L,IL0,OQL,F2O,0KI,FTK,1Q4,DC2,4HL,7BR (n=529,428,987,529,739,460,369,842,168,744,635,422,842,585,510,266)
zerocount(1..100H0MUTQU3A0I5005WL2PD7T1ASW7IV7NE,b=33) = 10,0H0,MUT,QU3,A0I,500,5WL,2PD,7T1,ASW,7IV,7NE (n=4,262,649,311,868,962,034,947,877,223,846,561,239,424,294,726,563,632)
zerocount(1..100HHR387RQHK9OP6EDBJEUDAK35N7MN96LB,b=34) = 100,HHR,387,RQH,K9O,P6E,DBJ,EUD,AK3,5N7,MN9,6LB (n=399,903,937,958,473,433,782,862,763,628,747,974,628,490,691,628,136,485)
zerocount(1..100IISLI0CYX2893G9E8T4I7JHKTV41U0BKRHT,b=36) = 10,0II,SLI,0CY,X28,93G,9E8,T4I,7JH,KTV,41U,0BK,RHT (n=3,831,465,379,323,568,772,890,827,210,355,149,992,132,716,389,119,437,755,185)
zerocount(1..100LLX383BPWE[40]ZL0G1M[40]1OX[39]67KOPUD5C[40]RGQ5S6W9[36],b=42) = 10,0LL,X38,3BP,WE[40],ZL0,G1M,[40]1O,X[39]6,7KO,PUD,5C[40],RGQ,5S6,W9[36] (n=6,307,330,799,917,244,669,565,360,008,241,590,852,337,124,982,231,464,556,869,653,913,711,854)
zerocount(1..100MMYPJ[38]14KDV[37]OG[39]4[42]X75BE[39][39]4[43]CK[39]K36H[41]M[37][43]5HIWNJ,b=44) = 1,00M,MYP,J[38]1,4KD,V[37]O,G[39]4,[42]X7,5BE,[39][39]4,[43]CK,[39]K3,6H[41],M[37][43],5HI,WNJ (n=90,257,901,046,284,988,692,468,444,260,851,559,856,553,889,199,511,017,124,021,440,877,333,751,943)
zerocount(1..100NN[36]3813[38][37]16F6MWV[41]UBNF5FQ48N0JRN[40]E76ZOHUNX2[42]3[43],b=46) = 100,NN[36],381,3[38][37],16F,6MW,V[41]U,BNF,5FQ,48N,0JR,N[40]E,76Z,OHU,NX2,[42]3[43] (n=1,411,636,908,622,223,745,851,790,772,948,051,467,006,489,552,352,013,745,000,752,115,904,961,213,172,605)
zerocount(1..100O0WBZO9PU6O29TM8Y0QE3I[37][39]A7E4YN[44][42]70[44]I[46]Z[45][37]Q2WYI6,b=47) = 1,00O,0WB,ZO9,PU6,O29,TM8,Y0Q,E3I,[37][39]A,7E4,YN[44],[42]70,[44]I[46],Z[45][37],Q2W,YI6 (n=182,304,598,281,321,725,937,412,348,242,305,189,665,300,088,639,063,301,010,710,450,793,661,266,208,306,996)
zerocount(1..100PP[39]37[49]NIYMN[43]YFE[44]TDTJ00EAEIP0BIDFAK[46][36]V6V[45]M[42]1M[46]SSZ[40],b=50) = 1,00P,P[39]3,7[49]N,IYM,N[43]Y,FE[44],TDT,J00,EAE,IP0,BID,FAK,[46][36]V,6V[45],M[42]1,M[46]S,SZ[40] (n=444,179,859,561,011,965,929,496,863,186,893,220,413,478,345,535,397,637,990,204,496,296,663,272,376,585,291,071,790)
zerocount(1..100Q0Y[46][44]K[49]CKG[45]A[47]Z[43]SPZKGVRN[37]2[41]ZPP[36]I[49][37]EZ[38]C[44]E[46]00CG[38][40][48]ROV,b=51) = 10,0Q0,Y[46][44],K[49]C,KG[45],A[47]Z,[43]SP,ZKG,VRN,[37]2[41],ZPP,[36]I[49],[37]EZ,[38]C[44],E[46]0,0CG,[38][40][48],ROV (n=62,191,970,278,446,971,531,566,522,791,454,395,351,613,891,150,548,291,266,262,575,754,206,359,828,753,062,692,619,547)
zerocount(1..100QQ[40]TL[39]ZA[49][41]J[41]7Q[46]4[41]66A1E6QHHTM9[44]8Z892FRUL6V[46]1[38][41]C[40][45]KB[39],b=52) = 100,QQ[40],TL[39],ZA[49],41]J[41],7Q[46],4[41]6,6A1,E6Q,HHT,M9[44],8Z8,92F,RUL,6V[46],1[38][41],C[40][45],KB[39] (n=8,876,854,501,927,007,077,802,489,292,131,402,136,556,544,697,945,824,257,389,527,114,587,644,068,732,794,430,403,381,731)
zerocount(1..100S0[37]V[53]Y6G[51]5J[42][38]X[40]XO[38]NSZ[42]XUD[47]1XVKS[52]R[39]JAHH[49][39][50][54]5PBU[42]H3[45][46]DEJ,b=55) = 100,S0[37],V[53]Y,6G[51],5J[42],[38]X[40],XO[38],NSZ,[42]XU,D[47]1,XVK,S[52]R,[39]JA,HH[49],[39][50][54],5PB,U[42]H,3[45][46],DEJ (n=28,865,808,580,366,629,824,612,818,017,012,809,163,332,327,132,687,722,294,521,718,120,736,868,268,650,080,765,802,786,141,387,114)

Autonomata

“Describe yourself.” You can say it to people. And you can say it to numbers too. For example, here’s the number 3412 describing the positions of its own digits, starting at 1 and working upward:


3412 – the 1 is in the 3rd position, the 2 is in the 4th position, the 3 is in the 1st position, and the 4 is in the 2nd position.

In other words, the positions of the digits 1 to 4 of 3412 recreate its own digits:


3412 → (3,4,1,2) → 3412

The number 3412 describes itself – it’s autonomatic (from Greek auto, “self” + onoma, “name”). So are these numbers:


1
21
132
2143
52341
215634
7243651
68573142
321654798

More precisely, they’re panautonomatic numbers, because they describe the positions of all their own digits (Greek pan or panto, “all”). But what if you use the positions of only, say, the 1s or the 3s in a number? In base ten, only one number describes itself like that: 1. But we’re not confined to base 10. In base 2, the positions of the 1s in 110 (= 6) are 1 and 10 (= 2). So 110 is monautonomatic in binary (Greek mono, “single”). 10 is also monautonomatic in binary, if the digit being described is 0: it’s in 2nd position or position 10 in binary. These numbers are monoautonomatic in binary too:


110100 = 52 (digit = 1)
10100101111 = 1327 (d=0)

In 110100, the 1s are in 1st, 2nd and 4th position, or positions 1, 10, 100 in binary. In 10100101111, the 0s are in 2nd, 4th, 5th and 7th position, or positions 10, 100, 101, 111 in binary. Here are more monautonomatic numbers in other bases:


21011 in base 4 = 581 (digit = 1)
11122122 in base 3 = 3392 (d=2)
131011 in base 5 = 5131 (d=1)
2101112 in base 4 = 9302 (d=1)
11122122102 in base 3 = 91595 (d=2)
13101112 in base 5 = 128282 (d=1)
210111221 in base 4 = 148841 (d=1)

For example, in 131011 the 1s are in 1st, 3rd, 5th and 6th position, or positions 1, 3, 10 and 11 in quinary. But these numbers run out quickly and the only monautonomatic number in bases 6 and higher is 1. However, there are infinitely long monoautonomatic integer sequences in all bases. For example, in binary this sequence at the Online Encyclopedia of Integer Sequences describes itself using the positions of its 1s:


A167502: 1, 10, 100, 111, 1000, 1001, 1010, 1110, 10001, 10010, 10100, 10110, 10111, 11000, 11010, 11110, 11111, 100010, 100100, 100110, 101001, 101011, 101100, 101110, 110000, 110001, 110010, 110011, 110100, 111000, 111001, 111011, 111101, 11111, …

In base 10, it looks like this:


A167500: 1, 2, 4, 7, 8, 9, 10, 14, 17, 18, 20, 22, 23, 24, 26, 30, 31, 34, 36, 38, 41, 43, 44, 46, 48, 49, 50, 51, 52, 56, 57, 59, 61, 62, 63, 64, 66, 67, 68, 69, 70, 71, 75, 77, 80, 83, 86, 87, 89, 91, 94, 95, 97, 99, 100, 101, 103, 104, 107, 109, 110, 111, 113, 114, 119, 120, 124, … (see A287515 for a similar sequence using 0s)

T4K1NG S3LF13S

It’s like watching a seed grow. You take a number and count how many 0s it contains, then how many 1s, how many 2s, 3s, 4s and so on. Then you create a new number by writing the count of each digit followed by the digit itself. Then you repeat the process with the new number.

Here’s how it works if you start with the number 1:

1

The count of digits is one 1, so the new number is this:

→ 11

The count of digits for 11 is two 1s, so the next number is:

→ 21

The count of digits for 21 is one 1, one 2, so the next number is:

→ 1112

The count of digits for 1112 is three 1s, one 2, so the next number is:

→ 3112

The count of digits for 3112 is two 1s, one 2, one 3, so the next number is:

→ 211213

What happens after that? Here are the numbers as a sequence:

1 → 11 → 21 → 1112 → 3112 → 211213 → 312213 → 212223 → 114213 → 31121314 → 41122314 → 31221324 → 21322314

That’s all you need, because something interesting happens with 21322314. The digit count is two 1s, three 2s, two 3s, one 4, so the next number is:

→ 21322314

In other words, 21322314 is what might be called a self-descriptive number: it describes the count of its own digits. That’s why I think this procedure is like watching a seed grow. You start with the tiny seed of 1 and end in the giant oak of 21322314, whose factorization is 2 * 3^2 * 13 * 91121. But there are many more self-descriptive numbers in base ten and some of them are much bigger than 21322314. A047841 at the Online Encyclopedia of Integer Sequences lists all 109 of them (and calls them “autobiographical numbers”). Here are a few, starting with the simplest possible:

22 → two 2s → 22
10213223 → one 0, two 1s, three 2s, two 3s → 10213223
10311233 → one 0, three 1s, one 2, three 3s → 10311233
21322314 → two 1s, three 2s, two 3s, one 4 → 21322314
21322315 → two 1s, three 2s, two 3s, one 5 → 21322315
21322316 → two 1s, three 2s, two 3s, one 6 → 21322316*
1031223314 → one 0, three 1s, two 2s, three 3s, one 4 → 10
31223314
3122331415 → three 1s, two 2s, three 3s, one 4, one 5
→ 3122331415
3122331416 → three 1s, two 2s, three 3s, one 4, one 6
→ 3122331416*

*And for 21322317, 21322318, 21322319; 3122331417, 3122331418, 3122331419.


And here’s what happens when you seed a sequence with a number containing all possible digits in base ten:

1234567890 → 10111213141516171819 → 101111213141516171819 → 101211213141516171819 → 101112213141516171819

That final number is self-descriptive:

101112213141516171819 → one 0, eleven 1s, two 2s, one 3, one 4, one 5, one 6, one 7, one 8, one 9 → 101112213141516171819

So some numbers are self-descriptive and some start a sequence that ends in a self-descriptive number. But that doesn’t exhaust the possibilities. Some numbers are part of a loop:

103142132415 → 104122232415 → 103142132415
104122232415 → 103142132415 → 104122232415
1051421314152619 → 1061221324251619 → 1051421314152619…
5142131415261819 → 6122132425161819 → 5142131415261819
106142131416271819 → 107122132426171819 → 106142131416271819


10512223142518 → 10414213142518 → 10512213341518 → 10512223142518
51222314251718 → 41421314251718 → 51221334151718 →
51222314251718

But all that is base ten. What about other bases? In fact, nearly all self-descriptive numbers in base ten are also self-descriptive in other bases. An infinite number of other bases, in fact. 22 is a self-descriptive number for all b > 2. The sequence seeded with 1 is identical in all b > 4:

1 → 11 → 21 → 1112 → 3112 → 211213 → 312213 → 212223 → 114213 → 31121314 → 41122314 → 31221324 → 2132231421322314

In bases 2, 3 and 4, the sequence seeded with 1 looks like this:

1 → 11 → 101 → 10101 → 100111 → 1001001 → 1000111 → 11010011101001… (b=2) (1101001[2] = 105 in base 10)
1 → 11 → 21 → 1112 → 10112 → 1010112 → 2011112 → 10111221011122… (b=3) (1011122[3] = 854 in base 10)
1 → 11 → 21 → 1112 → 3112 → 211213 → 312213 → 212223 → 1110213 → 101011213 → 201111213 → 101112213101112213… (b=4) (101112213[4] = 71079 in base 10)

In base 2 there are only two self-descriptive numbers (and no loops):

111 → three 1s → 111… (b=2) (111 = 7 in base 10)
1101001 → three 0s, four 1s → 1101001… (b=2) (1101001 = 105 in base 10)

So if you apply the “count digits” procedure in base 2, all numbers, except 111, begin a sequence that ends in 1101001. Base 3 has a few more self-descriptive numbers and also some loops:

2222… (b >= 3)
10111 → one 0, four 1s → 10111… (b=3)
11112 → four 1s, one 2 → 11112
100101 → three 0s, three 1s → 100101… (b=3)
1011122 → one 0, four 1s, two 2s → 1011122… (b=3)
2021102 → two 0s, two 1s, three 2s → 2021102… (b=3)
10010122 → three 0s, three 1s, two 2s → 10010122


2012112 → 10101102 → 10011112 → 2012112
10011112 → 2012112 → 10101102 → 10011112
10101102 → 10011112 → 2012112 → 10101102

A question I haven’t been able to answer: Is there a base in which loops can be longer than these?

103142132415 → 104122232415 → 103142132415
10512223142518 → 10414213142518 → 10512213341518 → 10512223142518

A question I have been able to answer: What is the sequence when it’s seeded with the title of this blog-post? T4K1NGS3LF13S is a number in all bases >= 30 and its base-30 form equals 15,494,492,743,722,316,018 in base 10 (with the factorization 2 * 72704927 * 106557377767). If T4K1NGS3LF13S seeds a sequence in any b >= 30, the result looks like this:

T4K1NGS3LF13S → 2123141F1G1K1L1N2S1T → 813213141F1G1K1L1N1S1T → A1122314181F1G1K1L1N1S1T → B1221314181A1F1G1K1L1N1S1T → C1221314181A1B1F1G1K1L1N1S1T → D1221314181A1B1C1F1G1K1L1N1S1T → E1221314181A1B1C1D1F1G1K1L1N1S1T → F1221314181A1B1C1D1E1F1G1K1L1N1S1T → G1221314181A1B1C1D1E2F1G1K1L1N1S1T → F1321314181A1B1C1D1E1F2G1K1L1N1S1T → F1222314181A1B1C1D1E2F1G1K1L1N1S1T → E1421314181A1B1C1D1E2F1G1K1L1N1S1T → F1221324181A1B1C1D2E1F1G1K1L1N1S1T → E1421314181A1B1C1D1E2F1G1K1L1N1S1T

Can You Dij It? #2

It’s very simple, but I’m fascinated by it. I’m talking about something I call the digit-line, or the stream of digits you get when you split numbers in a particular base into individual digits. For example, here are the numbers one to ten in bases 2 and 3:

Base = 2: 1, 10, 11, 100, 101, 110, 111, 1000, 1001, 1010…
Base = 3: 1, 2, 10, 11, 12, 20, 21, 22, 100, 101…


If you turn them into digit-lines, they look like this:

Base = 2: 1, 1, 0, 1, 1, 1, 0, 0, 1, 0, 1, 1, 1, 0, 1, 1, 1, 1, 0, 0, 0, 1, 0, 0, 1, 1, 0, 1, 0… (A030190 in the Online Encyclopedia of Integer Sequences)
Base = 3: 1, 2, 1, 0, 1, 1, 1, 2, 2, 0, 2, 1, 2, 2, 1, 0, 0, 1, 0, 1… (A003137 in the OEIS)


At the tenth digit of the two digit-lines, both digits equal zero for the first time:

Base = 2: 1, 1, 0, 1, 1, 1, 0, 0, 1, 0
Base = 3: 1, 2, 1, 0, 1, 1, 1, 2, 2, 0


When the binary and ternary digits are represented together, the digit-lines look like this:

(1,1), (1,2), (0,1), (1,0), (1,1), (1,1), (0,1), (0,2), (1,2), (0,0)


But in base 4, the tenth digit of the digit-line is 1. So when do all the digits of the digit-line first equal zero for bases 2 to 4? Here the early integers in those bases:

Base 2: 1, 10, 11, 100, 101, 110, 111, 1000, 1001, 1010, 1011, 1100, 1101, 1110, 1111, 10000, 10001, 10010, 10011, 10100, 10101…

Base 3: 1, 2, 10, 11, 12, 20, 21, 22, 100, 101, 102, 110, 111, 112, 120, 121, 122, 200, 201, 202, 210, 211, 212, 220, 221, 222, 1000, 1001, 1002…

Base 4: 1, 2, 3, 10, 11, 12, 13, 20, 21, 22, 23, 30, 31, 32, 33, 100, 101, 102, 103, 110, 111, 112, 113, 120, 121, 122, 123, 130, 131, 132, 133, 200…


And here are the digits of the digit-line in bases 2 to 4 represented together:

(1,1,1), (1,2,2), (0,1,3), (1,0,1), (1,1,0), (1,1,1), (0,1,1), (0,2,1), (1,2,2), (0,0,1), (1,2,3), (1,1,2), (1,2,0), (0,2,2), (1,1,1), (1,0,2), (1,0,2), (1,1,2), (0,0,3), (0,1,3), (0,1,0), (1,0,3), (0,2,1), (0,1,3), (1,1,2), (1,0,3), (0,1,3), (1,1,1), (0,1,0), (1,1,0), (0,1,1), (1,2,0), (1,1,1), (1,2,1), (1,0,0), (0,1,2), (0,2,1), (1,1,0), (1,1,3), (0,2,1), (1,2,1), (1,2,0), (1,0,1), (1,0,1), (0,2,1), (1,0,1), (1,1,1), (1,2,2), (1,0,1), (1,2,1), (0,2,3), (0,1,1), (0,0,2), (0,2,0), (1,1,1), (0,1,2), (0,2,1), (0,1,1), (1,2,2), (1,2,2), (0,2,1), (0,0,2), (1,2,3), (0,2,1), (1,1,3), (0,2,0), (0,2,1), (1,2,3), (1,1,1), (1,0,1), (0,0,3), (1,0,2), (0,1,1), (0,0,3), (1,0,3), (0,1,2), (1,1,0), (0,0,0)

At the 78th digit, all three digits equal zero. But the 78th digit of the digit-line in base 5 is 1. So when are the digits first equal to zero in bases 2 to 5? It’s not difficult to find out, but the difficulty of the search increases fast as the bases get bigger. Here are the results up to base 13 (note that bases 11 and 12 both have zeroes at digit 103721663):

dig=0 in bases 2 to 3 at the 10th digit of the digit-line
dig=0 in bases 2 to 4 at the 78th digit of the digit-line
dig=0 in bases 2 to 5 at the 182nd digit of the digit-line
dig=0 in bases 2 to 6 at the 302nd digit of the digit-line
dig=0 in bases 2 to 7 at the 12149th digit of the digit-line
dig=0 in bases 2 to 8 at the 45243rd digit of the digit-line
dig=0 in bases 2 to 9 at the 255261st digit of the digit-line
dig=0 in bases 2 to 10 at the 8850623rd digit of the digit-line
dig=0 in bases 2 to 12 at the 103721663rd digit of the digit-line
dig=0 in bases 2 to 13 at the 807778264th digit of the digit-line


I assume that, for any base b > 2, you can find some point in the digit-line at which d = 0 for all bases 2 to b. Indeed, I assume that this happens infinitely often. But I don’t know any short-cut for finding the first digit at which this occurs.


Previously pre-posted:

Can You Dij It? #1

Digital Rodeo

What a difference a digit makes. Suppose you take all representations of n in bases b <= n. When n = 3, the bases are 2 and 3, so 3 = 11 and 10, respectively. Next, count the occurrences of the digit 1:

digitcount(3, digit=1, n=11, 10) = 3

Add this digit-count to 3:

3 + digitcount(3, digit=1, n=11, 10) = 3 + 3 = 6.

Now apply the same procedure to 6. The bases will be 2 to 6:

6 + digitcount(6, digit=1, n=110, 20, 12, 11, 10) = 6 + 6 = 12

The procedure, n = n + digitcount(n,digit=1,base=2..n), continues like this:

12 + digcount(12,dig=1,n=1100, 110, 30, 22, 20, 15, 14, 13, 12, 11, 10) = 12 + 11 = 23
23 + digcount(23,dig=1,n=10111, 212, 113, 43, 35, 32, 27, 25, 23, 21, 1B, 1A, 19, 18, 17, 16, 15, 14, 13, 12, 11, 10) = 23 + 21 = 44
44 + digcount(44,dig=1,n=101100, 1122, 230, 134, 112, 62, 54, 48, 44, 40, 38, 35, 32, 2E, 2C, 2A, 28, 26, 24, 22, 20, 1L, 1K, 1J, 1I, 1H, 1G, 1F, 1E, 1D, 1C, 1B, 1A, 19, 18, 17, 16, 15, 14, 13, 12, 11, 10) = 44 + 31 = 75

And the sequence develops like this:

3, 6, 12, 23, 44, 75, 124, 202, 319, 503, 780, 1196, 1824, 2766, 4191, 6338, 9546, 14383, 21656, 32562, 48930, 73494, 110361, 165714, 248733, 373303, 560214, 840602, 1261237, 1892269, 2838926, 4258966, 6389157, 9584585, 14377879…

Now try the same procedure using the digit 0: n = n + digcount(n,dig=0,base=2..n). The first step is this:

3 + digcount(3,digit=0,n=11, 10) = 3 + 1 = 4

Next come these:

4 + digcount(4,dig=0,n=100, 11, 10) = 4 + 3 = 7
7 + digcount(7,dig=0,n=111, 21, 13, 12, 11, 10) = 7 + 1 = 8
8 + digcount(8,dig=0,n=1000, 22, 20, 13, 12, 11, 10) = 8 + 5 = 13
13 + digcount(13,dig=0,n=1101, 111, 31, 23, 21, 16, 15, 14, 13, 12, 11, 10) = 13 + 2 = 15
15 + digcount(15,dig=0,n=1111, 120, 33, 30, 23, 21, 17, 16, 15, 14, 13, 12, 11, 10) = 15 + 3 = 18
18 + digcount(18,dig=0,n=10010, 200, 102, 33, 30, 24, 22, 20, 18, 17, 16, 15, 14, 13, 12, 11, 10) = 18 + 9 = 27
27 + digcount(27,dig=0,n=11011, 1000, 123, 102, 43, 36, 33, 30, 27, 25, 23, 21, 1D, 1C, 1B, 1A, 19, 18, 17, 16, 15, 14, 13, 12, 11, 10) = 27 + 7 = 34
34 + digcount(34,dig=0,n=100010, 1021, 202, 114, 54, 46, 42, 37, 34, 31, 2A, 28, 26, 24, 22, 20, 1G, 1F, 1E, 1D, 1C, 1B, 1A, 19, 18, 17, 16, 15, 14, 13, 12, 11, 10) = 34 + 8 = 42
42 + digcount(42,dig=0,n=101010, 1120, 222, 132, 110, 60, 52, 46, 42, 39, 36, 33, 30, 2C, 2A, 28, 26, 24, 22, 20, 1K, 1J, 1I, 1H, 1G, 1F, 1E, 1D, 1C, 1B, 1A, 19, 18, 17, 16, 15, 14, 13, 12, 11, 10) = 42 + 9 = 51

The sequence develops like this:

3, 4, 7, 8, 13, 15, 18, 27, 34, 42, 51, 59, 62, 66, 80, 94, 99, 111, 117, 125, 132, 151, 158, 163, 173, 180, 204, 222, 232, 244, 258, 279, 292, 307, 317, 324, 351, 364, 382, 389, 400, 425, 437, 447, 454, 466, 475, 483, 494, 509, 517, 536, 553, 566, 576, 612, 637, 649, 669, 679, 693, 712, 728, 753, 768, 801, 822, 835, 849, 862, 869, 883, 895, 906, 923, 932, 943, 949, 957, 967, 975, 999, 1011…

If you compare it with the sequence for digit=1, it appears that digcount(n,dig=1,b=2..n) is always larger than digcount(n,dig=0,b=2..n). That is in fact the case, with one exception, when n = 2:

digcount(2,dig=1,n=10) = 1
digcount(2,dig=0,n=10) = 1

When n = 10 (in base ten), there are twice as many ones as zeros:

digcount(10,dig=1,n=1010, 101, 22, 20, 14, 13, 12, 11, 10) = 10
digcount(10,dig=0,n=1010, 101, 22, 20, 14, 13, 12, 11, 10) = 5

As n gets larger, the difference grows dramatically:

digcount(100,dig=1,base=2..n) = 64
digcount(100,dig=0,base=2..n) = 16

digcount(1000,dig=1,base=2..n) = 533
digcount(1000,dig=0,base=2..n) = 25

digcount(10000,dig=1,base=2..n) = 5067
digcount(10000,dig=0,base=2..n) = 49

digcount(100000,dig=1,base=2..n) = 50140
digcount(100000,dig=0,base=2..n) = 73

digcount(1000000,dig=1,base=2..n) = 500408
digcount(1000000,dig=0,base=2..n) = 102

digcount(10000000,dig=1,base=2..n) = 5001032
digcount(10000000,dig=0,base=2..n) = 134

digcount(100000000,dig=1,base=2..n) = 50003137
digcount(100000000,dig=0,base=2..n) = 160

In fact, digcount(n,dig=1,b=2..n) is greater than the digit-count for any other digit: 0, 2, 3, 4, 5… (with the exception n = 2, as shown above). But digit=0 sometimes beats digits >= 2. For example, when n = 18:

digcount(18,dig=0,n=10010, 200, 102, 33, 30, 24, 22, 20, 18, 17, 16, 15, 14, 13, 12, 11, 10) = 9
digcount(18,dig=2,n=10010, 200, 102, 33, 30, 24, 22, 20, 18, 17, 16, 15, 14, 13, 12, 11, 10) = 7
digcount(18,dig=3,n=10010, 200, 102, 33, 30, 24, 22, 20, 18, 17, 16, 15, 14, 13, 12, 11, 10) = 4
digcount(18,dig=4,n=10010, 200, 102, 33, 30, 24, 22, 20, 18, 17, 16, 15, 14, 13, 12, 11, 10) = 2
digcount(18,dig=5,n=10010, 200, 102, 33, 30, 24, 22, 20, 18, 17, 16, 15, 14, 13, 12, 11, 10) = 1

But as n gets larger, digcount(0) will fall permanently behind all these digits. However, digcount(0) will always be greater than some digit d, for the obvious reason that some digits only appear when the base is high enough. For example, the hexadecimal digit A (with the decimal value 10) first appears when n = 21:

digcount(21,dig=A,n=10101, 210, 111, 41, 33, 30, 25, 23, 21, 1A, 19, 18, 17, 16, 15, 14, 13, 12, 11, 10) = 1 digcount(21,dig=0,n=10101, 210, 111, 41, 33, 30, 25, 23, 21, 1A, 19, 18, 17, 16, 15, 14, 13, 12, 11, 10) = 5

There is a general rule for the n at which digit d first appears, n = 2d + 1 (this doesn’t apply when d = 0 or d = 1):

d = 2, n = 5 = 2*2 + 1
digcount(5,dig=2,n=101, 12, 11, 10) = 1

d = 3, n = 7 = 2*3 + 1
digcount(7,dig=3,n=111, 21, 13, 12, 11, 10) = 1

d = 4, n = 9 = 2*4 + 1
digcount(9,dig=4,n=1001, 100, 21, 14, 13, 12, 11, 10) = 1

d = 5, n = 11 = 2*5 + 1
digcount(11,dig=5,n=1011, 102, 23, 21, 15, 14, 13, 12, 11, 10) = 1

It should be apparent, then, that the digit-count for a particular digit starts at 1 and gets gradually higher. The rate at which the digit-count increases is highest for 1 and lowest for 0, with digits 2, 3, 4, 5… in between:

All-Base Graph

Graph for digcount(n,dig=d,b=2..n)


You could think of the graph as a digital rodeo in which these digits compete with each other. 1 is the clear and permanent winner, 0 the gradual loser. Now recall the procedure introduced at the start: n = n + digcount(n,dig=d,b=2..n). When it’s applied to the digits 0 to 5, these are the sequences that appear:

n = n + digcount(n,dig=0,b=2..n)

2, 3, 4, 7, 8, 13, 15, 18, 27, 34, 42, 51, 59, 62, 66, 80, 94, 99, 111, 117, 125, 132, 151, 158, 163, 173, 180, 204, 222, 232, 244, 258, 279, 292, 307, 317, 324, 351, 364, 382, 389, 400, 425, 437, 447, 454, 466, 475, 483, 494, 509, 517, 536, 553, 566, 576, 612, 637, 649, 669, 679, 693, 712, 728, 753, 768, 801, 822, 835, 849, 862, 869, 883, 895, 906, 923, 932, 943, 949, 957, 967, 975, 999, 1011…

n = n + digcount(n,dig=1,b=2..n)

2, 3, 6, 12, 23, 44, 75, 124, 202, 319, 503, 780, 1196, 1824, 2766, 4191, 6338, 9546, 14383, 21656, 32562, 48930, 73494, 110361, 165714, 248733, 373303, 560214, 840602, 1261237, 1892269, 2838926, 4258966, 6389157, 9584585, 14377879…

n = n + digcount(n,dig=2,b=2..n)

5, 6, 8, 12, 16, 22, 31, 37, 48, 60, 76, 94, 115, 138, 173, 213, 257, 311, 374, 454, 542, 664, 790, 935, 1109, 1310, 1552, 1835, 2167, 2548, 2989, 3509, 4120, 4832, 5690, 6687, 7829, 9166, 10727, 12568, 14697, 17182, 20089, 23470, 27425, 32042, 37477, 43768, 51113, 59687, 69705, 81379, 94998, 110910, 129488, 151153, 176429, 205923, 240331, 280490, 327396, 382067, 445858…

n = n + digcount(n,dig=3,b=2..n)

7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 13, 16, 18, 22, 25, 29, 34, 38, 44, 50, 56, 63, 80, 90, 104, 113, 131, 151, 169, 188, 210, 236, 261, 289, 320, 350, 385, 424, 463, 520, 572, 626, 684, 747, 828, 917, 999, 1101, 1210, 1325, 1446, 1577, 1716, 1871, 2040, 2228, 2429, 2642, 2875, 3133, 3413, 3719, 4044, 4402, 4786, 5196, 5645, 6140, 6673, 7257, 7900, 8582, 9315, 10130, 10998, 11942, 12954, 14058…

n = n + digcount(n,dig=4,b=2..n)

9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14, 16, 18, 20, 23, 25, 28, 34, 41, 44, 52, 61, 67, 74, 85, 92, 102, 113, 121, 134, 148, 170, 184, 208, 229, 253, 269, 287, 306, 324, 356, 386, 410, 439, 469, 501, 531, 565, 604, 662, 703, 742, 794, 845, 895, 953, 1007, 1062, 1127, 1188, 1262, 1336, 1421, 1503, 1585, 1676, 1777, 1876, 2001, 2104, 2249, 2375, 2502, 2636, 2789, 2938, 3102, 3267, 3444, 3644, 3868, 4099…

n = n + digcount(n,dig=5,b=2..n)

11, 12, 13, 14, 15, 16, 17, 19, 21, 23, 26, 28, 29, 33, 37, 41, 48, 50, 55, 60, 64, 67, 72, 75, 83, 91, 96, 102, 107, 118, 123, 129, 137, 151, 159, 171, 180, 192, 202, 211, 224, 233, 251, 268, 280, 296, 310, 324, 338, 355, 380, 401, 430, 455, 488, 511, 536, 562, 584, 607, 638, 664, 692, 718, 748, 778, 807, 838, 874, 911, 951, 993, 1039, 1081, 1124, 1166, 1216, 1264, 1313, 1370, 1432…

Narcischism

What have bits to do with splits? A lot. Suppose you take the digits 12345, split them in all possible ways, then sum the results, like this:

12345 → (1234 + 5) + (123 + 45) + (123 + 4 + 5) + (12 + 345) + (12 + 34 + 5) + (12 + 3 + 45) + (12 + 3 + 4 + 5) + (1 + 2345) + (1 + 234 + 5) + (1 + 23 + 45) + (1 + 23 + 4 + 5) + (1 + 2 + 345) + (1 + 2 + 34 + 5) + (1 + 2 + 3 + 45) + (1 + 2 + 3 + 4 + 5) = 5175.

That’s a sum in base 10, but base 2 is at work below the surface, because each set of numbers is the answer to a series of binary questions: split or not? There are four possible places to split the digits 12345: after the 1, after the 2, after the 3 and after the 4. In (1 + 2 + 3 + 4 + 5), the binary question “Split or not?” is answered SPLIT every time. In (1234 + 5) and (1 + 2345) it’s answered SPLIT only once.

So the splits are governed by a four-digit binary number ranging from 0001 to 1111. When the binary digit is 1, split; when the binary digit is 0, don’t split. In binary, 0001 to 1111 = 01 to 15 in base 10 = 2^4-1. That’s for a five-digit number, so the four-digit 1234 will have 2^3-1 = 7 sets of sums:

1234 → (123 + 4) + (12 + 34) + (12 + 3 + 4) + (1 + 234) + (1 + 23 + 4) + 110 (1 + 2 + 34) + (1 + 2 + 3 + 4) = 502.

And the six-digit number 123456 will have 2^5-1 = 31 sets of sums. By now, an exciting question may have occurred to some readers. Does any number in base 10 equal the sum of all possible numbers formed by splitting its digits?

The exciting answer is: 0. In other words: No. To see why not, examine a quick way of summing the split-bits of 123,456,789, with nine digits. The long way is to find all possible sets of split-bits. There are 2^8-1 = 255 of them. The quick way is to sum these equations:

1 * 128 + 10 * 64 + 100 * 32 + 1000 * 16 + 10000 * 8 + 100000 * 4 + 1000000 * 2 + 10000000 * 1
2 * 128 + 20 * 64 + 200 * 32 + 2000 * 16 + 20000 * 8 + 200000 * 4 + 2000000 * 2 + 20000000 * 1
3 * 128 + 30 * 64 + 300 * 32 + 3000 * 16 + 30000 * 8 + 300000 * 4 + 3000000 * 3
4 * 128 + 40 * 64 + 400 * 32 + 4000 * 16 + 40000 * 8 + 400000 * 7
5 * 128 + 50 * 64 + 500 * 32 + 5000 * 16 + 50000 * 15
6 * 128 + 60 * 64 + 600 * 32 + 6000 * 31
7 * 128 + 70 * 64 + 700 * 63
8 * 128 + 80 * 127
9 * 255

Sum = 52,322,283.

52,322,283 has eight digits. If you use the same formula for the nine-digit number 999,999,999, the sum is 265,621,761, which has nine digits but is far smaller than 999,999,999. If you adapt the formula for the twenty-digit 19,999,999,999,999,999,999 (starting with 1), the split-bit sum is 16,562,499,999,987,400,705. In base 10, as far as I can see, numbers increase too fast and digit-lengths too slowly for the binary governing the split-sums to keep up. That’s also true in base 9 and base 8:

Num = 18,888,888,888,888,888,888 (b=9)
Sum = 16,714,201,578,038,328,760

Num = 17,777,777,777,777,777,777 (b=8)
Sum = 17,070,707,070,625,000,001

So what about base 7? Do the numbers increase slowly enough and the digit-lengths fast enough for the binary to keep up? The answer is: 1. In base 7, this twenty-digit number is actually smaller than its split-bit sum:

Num = 16,666,666,666,666,666,666 (b=7)
Sum = 20,363,036,303,404,141,363

And if you search below that, you can find a number that is equal to its split-bit sum:

166512 → (1 + 6 + 6 + 5 + 1 + 2) + (16 + 6 + 5 + 1 + 2) + (1 + 66 + 5 + 1 + 2) + (166 + 5 + 1 + 2) + (1 + 6 + 65 + 1 + 2) + (16 + 65 + 1 + 2) + (1 + 665 + 1 + 2) + (1665 + 1 + 2) + (1 + 6 + 6 + 51 + 2) + (16 + 6 + 51 + 2) + (1 + 66 + 51 + 2) + (166 + 51 + 2) + (1 + 6 + 651 + 2) + (16 + 651 + 2) + (1 + 6651 + 2) + (16651 + 2) + (1 + 6 + 6 + 5 + 12) + (16 + 6 + 5 + 12) + (1 + 66 + 5 + 12) + (166 + 5 + 12) + (1 + 6 + 65 + 12) + (16 + 65 + 12) + (1 + 665 + 12) + (1665 + 12) + (1 + 6 + 6 + 512) + (16 + 6 + 512) + (1 + 66 + 512) + (166 + 512) + (1 + 6 + 6512) + (16 + 6512) + (1 + 66512) = 166512[b=7] = 33525[b=10].

So 33525 in base 7 is what might be called a narcischist: it can gaze into the split-bits of its own digits and see itself gazing back. In base 6, 1940 is a narcischist:

12552 → (1 + 2 + 5 + 5 + 2) + (12 + 5 + 5 + 2) + (1 + 25 + 5 + 2) + (125 + 5 + 2) + (1 + 2 + 55 + 2) + (12 + 55 + 2) + (1 + 255 + 2) + (1255 + 2) + (1 + 2 + 5+ 52) + (12 + 5 + 52) + (1 + 25 + 52) + (125 + 52) + (1 + 2 + 552) + (12 + 552) + (1 + 2552) = 12552[b=6] = 1940[b=10].

In base 5, 4074 is a narcischist:

112244 → (1 + 1 + 2 + 2 + 4 + 4) + (11 + 2 + 2 + 4 + 4) + (1 + 12 + 2 + 4 + 4) + (112 + 2 + 4 + 4) + (1 + 1 + 22 + 4 + 4) + (11 + 22 + 4 + 4) + (1 + 122 + 4 + 4) + (1122 + 4 + 4) + (1 + 1 + 2 + 24 + 4) + (11 + 2 + 24 + 4) + (1 + 12 + 24 + 4) + (112 + 24 + 4) + (1 + 1 + 224 + 4) + (11 + 224 + 4) + (1 + 1224 + 4) + (11224 + 4) + (1 + 1 + 2 + 2 + 44) + (11 + 2 + 2 + 44) + (1 + 12 + 2 + 44) + (112 + 2 + 44) + (1 + 1 + 22 + 44) + (11 + 22 + 44) + (1 + 122 + 44) + (1122 + 44) + (1 + 1 + 2 + 244) + (11 + 2 + 244) + (1 + 12 + 244) + (112 + 244) + (1 + 1 + 2244) + (11 + 2244) + (1 + 12244) = 112244[b=5] = 4074.

And in base 4, 27 is:

123 → (1 + 2 + 3) + (12 + 3) + (1 + 23) = 123[b=4] = 27.

And in base 3, 13 and 26 are:

111 → (1 + 1 + 1) + (11 + 1) + (1 + 11) = 111[b=3] = 13.

222 → (2 + 2 + 2) + (22 + 2) + (2 + 22) = 222[b=3] = 26.

There are many more narcischists in all these bases, even if you exclude numbers with zeroes in them, like these in base 4:

1022 → (1 + 0 + 2 + 2) + (10 + 2 + 2) + (1 + 02 + 2) + (102 + 2) + (1 + 0 + 22) + (10 + 22) + (1 + 022) = 1022[b=4] = 74.

1030 → (1 + 0 + 3 + 0) + (10 + 3 + 0) + (1 + 03 + 0) + (103 + 0) + (1 + 0 + 30) + (10 + 30) + (1 + 030) = 1030[b=4] = 76.

1120 → (1 + 1 + 2 + 0) + (11 + 2 + 0) + (1 + 12 + 0) + (112 + 0) + (1 + 1 + 20) + (11 + 20) + (1 + 120) = 1120[b=4] = 88.

Prime Climb Time

The third prime is equal to the sum of the first and second primes: 2 + 3 = 5. After that, for obvious reasons, the prime-sum climbs much more rapidly than the primes themselves:

2, 3, 05, 07, 11, 13, 17, 19, 023, 029...
2, 5, 10, 17, 28, 41, 58, 77, 100, 129...

But what if you use digit-sum(p1..pn), i.e., the sum of the digits of the primes from the first to the nth? For example, the digit-sum(p1..p5) = 2 + 3 + 5 + 7 + 1+1 = 19, whereas the sum(p1..p5) = 2 + 3 + 5 + 7 + 11 = 28. Using the digit-sums of the primes, the comparison now looks like this:

2, 3, 05, 07, 11, 13, 17, 19, 23, 29...
2, 5, 10, 17, 19, 23, 31, 41, 46, 57...

The sum climbs more slowly, but still too fast. So what about a different base? In base-2, the digit-sum(p1..p3) = (1+0) + (1+1) + (1+0+1) = 1 + 2 + 2 = 5. The comparison looks like this:

2, 3, 05, 07, 11, 13, 17, 19, 23, 29...
1, 3, 05, 08, 11, 14, 16, 19, 23, 27...

For primes 3, 5, 11, 19, and 23, p = digit-sum(primes <= p) in base-2. But the cumulative digit-sum soon begins to climb too slowly:

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...

1, 3, 5, 8, 11, 14, 16, 19, 23, 27, 32, 35, 38, 42, 47, 51, 56, 61, 64, 68, 71, 76, 80, 84, 87, 091, 096, 101, 106, 110, 117, 120, 123, 127, 131, 136, 141, 145, 150, 155, 160, 165, 172, 175, 179, 184, 189, 196, 201, 206, 211, 218, 223, 230, 232, 236, 240, 245...

So what about base-3?

2, 3, 5, 7, 11, 13, 17, 19, 23, 29, 31, 37, 41, 43, 47, 53, 59...
2, 3, 6, 9, 12, 15, 20, 23, 28, 31, 34, 37, 42, 47, 52, 59, 64...

In base-3, for p = 2, 3 and 37, p = digit-sum(primes <= p), while for p = 23, 31, 47 and 59, p = digit-sum(primes < p), like this:

2 = 2.
3 = 2 + (1+0).
37 = 2 + (1+0) + (1+2) + (2+1) + (1+0+2) + (1+1+1) + (1+2+2) + (2+0+1) + (2+1+2) + (1+0+0+2) + (1+0+1+1) + (1+1+0+1) = 2 + 1 + 3 + 3 + 3 + 3 + 5 + 3 + 5 + 3 + 3 + 3.

23 = 2 + (1+0) + (1+2) + (2+1) + (1+0+2) + (1+1+1) + (1+2+2) + (2+0+1) = 2 + 1 + 3 + 3 + 3 + 3 + 5 + 3.
31 = 2 + (1+0) + (1+2) + (2+1) + (1+0+2) + (1+1+1) + (1+2+2) + (2+0+1) + (2+1+2) + (1+0+0+2) = 2 + 1 + 3 + 3 + 3 + 3 + 5 + 3 + 5 + 3.
47 = 2 + (1+0) + (1+2) + (2+1) + (1+0+2) + (1+1+1) + (1+2+2) + (2+0+1) + (2+1+2) + (1+0+0+2) + (1+0+1+1) + (1+1+0+1) + (1+1+1+2) + (1+1+2+1) = 2 + 1 + 3 + 3 + 3 + 3 + 5 + 3 + 5 + 3 + 3 + 3 + 5 + 5.
59 = 2 + (1+0) + (1+2) + (2+1) + (1+0+2) + (1+1+1) + (1+2+2) + (2+0+1) + (2+1+2) + (1+0+0+2) + (1+0+1+1) + (1+1+0+1) + (1+1+1+2) + (1+1+2+1) + (1+2+0+2) + (1+2+2+2) = 2 + 1 + 3 + 3 + 3 + 3 + 5 + 3 + 5 + 3 + 3 + 3 + 5 + 5 + 5 + 7.

This carries on for a long time. For these primes, p = digit-sum(primes < p):

23, 31, 47, 59, 695689, 698471, 883517, 992609, 992737, 993037, 1314239, 1324361, 1324571, 1326511, 1327289, 1766291, 3174029

And for these primes, p = digit-sum(primes <= p):

3, 37, 695663, 695881, 1308731, 1308757, 1313153, 1314301, 1326097, 1766227, 3204779, 14328191

Now try the cumulative digit-sum in base-4:

2, 3, 5, 07, 11, 13, 17, 19, 23, 29, 31, 37, 41, 43, 47, 53, 59...
2, 5, 7, 11, 16, 20, 22, 26, 31, 36, 43, 47, 52, 59, 67, 72, 80... 

The sum of digits climbs too fast. Base-3 is the Goldilocks base, climbing neither too slowly, like base-2, nor too fast, like all bases greater than 3.

The World as Worm

In “Hymn to Herm”, I wrote about a religion based on √2, or the square root of two, the number that, multiplied by itself, equals 2. In the religion, neophytes learn the mystery and majesty of this momentous number when they try to calculate its exact value. The calculation involves adding and subtracting fractions based on powers of two. The first step is this: 1 x 1 = 1. So that’s too small. Add 1/2^1 = ½ and re-multiply: 1½ x 1½ = 2¼. Too big. So subtract 1/2^2 = ¼, and re-multiply. 1¼ x 1¼ = 1+9/16. Too small. Add 1/8 and re-multiply. 1+3/8 x 1+3/8 = 1+57/64. Too small again. Add 1/16 and re-multiply. And so on.

In effect, what the neophytes are doing is calculate the digits of √2 in binary, or base two. When the multiplication is too small, put a 1; when it’s too big, put a 0. Like this:

1 x 1 = 1 < 2, so √2 ≈ 1·…
1½ x 1½ = 2¼ > 2, so √2 ≈ 1·0…
1¼ x 1¼ = 1+9/16 < 2, so √2 ≈ 1·01…
(1+3/8) x (1+3/8) = 1+57/64 < 2, so √2 ≈ 1·011…
(1+7/16) x (1+7/16) = 2+17/256 > 2, so √2 ≈ 1·0110…
(1+13/32) x (1+13/32) = 1+1001/1024 < 2, so √2 ≈ 1.01101…
(1+27/64) x (1+27/64) = 2+89/4096 > 2, so √2 ≈ 1.011010…
(1+53/128) x (1+53/128) = 1+16377/16384 < 2, so √2 ≈ 1·0110101…
(1+107/256) x (1+107/256) = 2+697/65536 > 2, so √2 ≈ 1·01101010…
(1+213/512) x (1+213/512) = 2+1337/262144 > 2, so √2 ≈ 1·011010100…
(1+425/1024) x (1+425/1024) = 2+2449/1048576 > 2, so √2 ≈ 1·0110101000…
(1+849/2048) x (1+849/2048) = 2+4001/4194304 > 2, so √2 ≈ 1·01101010000…
(1+1697/4096) x (1+1697/4096) = 2+4417/16777216 > 2, so √2 ≈ 1·011010100000…
(1+3393/8192) x (1+3393/8192) = 1+67103361/67108864 < 2, so √2 ≈ 1·0110101000001…

Mathematically naïve neophytes, seeing the process miss 2 by smaller and smaller amounts on either side, might imagine that eventually the exact root will appear and the calculations end. But they would be wrong. They could work a year or a million years: they would never calculate the exact square root of two. There is no ratio of whole numbers, a/b, such that a^2/b^2 = 2. In other words, √2 is an irrational number, or number that can’t be represented as a ratio of integers (please see appendix for the proof).

This discovery, made by Greek mathematicians more than two millennia ago, is both mind-boggling and world-shattering. In fact, it’s mind-boggling in part because it’s world-shattering. √2 shatters the world because the world is too small to contain it: in the words of the Cult of Infinite Hermaphrodites, “Were the sky all parchment, the seas all ink, and gulls all plucked for quills”, the square root of two could not be recorded in full. This is far more certain than tomorrow’s sunrise, because predicting tomorrow’s sunrise depends on fallible scientific reasoning from incomplete knowledge. Proving the irrationality of √2 depends on infallible mathematical reasoning.

At least, it’s as close to infallible as human beings can get. But that’s another part of what is mind-boggling about √2. A finite, feeble human being, with a speck of soon-decaying brain, can prove the existence of things larger than the universe. A few binary digits of √2 are shown above. Here are a few more:

1·
0110101000001001111001100110011111110011101111001100100100001000
1011001011111011000100110110011011101010100101010111110100111110
0011101011011110110000010111010100010010011101110101000010011001
1101101000101111010110010000101100000110011001110011001000101010
1001010111111001000001100000100001110101011100010100010110000111
0101000101100011111111001101111110111001000001111011011001110010 
0001111011101001010100001011110010000111001110001111011010010100 
1111000000001001000011100110110001111011111101000100111011010001 
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1010011000001011001110001100000000100011011110000110011011110111 
1001010101100011011110010010001000101101000100001000101100010100 
1000110000010101011110001110010001011110111110001001110001100111 
1000110110101011010100010100011100010111011011111101001110111001 
1001011001010100110001101000011001100011111001111001000010011011 
1110101001011110001001000001111100000110110111001011000001011101 
1101010101001001010000010001001100100000100000011001010010010101 
0000001001110010100101010110110110110001111110100001110111111011 
1110100110100111010000000101100111010111100100100111110000011000 
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0111000110011110011010000011011011011111000001000110110110001110 
0000001000001001101110000000001111111100011001000110101001011110 
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1010111001101001110110000000000111100101011110010100010001011011 
1100011000001010001111100000101001001111110110001001011010001110 
1011011110010100101111011100011100000010110101101001010001011101 
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1010111101100011000001011010010100111010000101110111001010001000 
1010110010100001001111111011010000000110110010011000001010010001 
0101110110000011101110100000110100110101010110001101100000011101 
1101000100010101100111101001011001000011111010101010001001111110 
1011011101110101011110100010000001010010100101110101101101101111 
0100101010001000100111100011110100001001001010111011000111000110 
1000010101001000000011011100001011101001100110010100011110110011 
0111001011011110110110100000010111100010000110010010111110010101 
1011000110111001001001100101000100101011010000000100110000110011
0001100000011101011...

The distribution of 1’s and 0’s seems effectively random, as though the God of Mathematics were endlessly tossing a coin, putting 1 for heads, 0 for tails. Yet √2 is the opposite of a random number. Change a single digit anywhere and it ceases to be √2. Every 1 and every 0 is rigidly determined by “unalterable law”. So are the position and magnitude of the digits of √2 in every other base. Here, for example, is √2 in base 4:

1·
112220021321212133303233030210020230233230103121232222111133
103320322313230011311010213131100212131220233112100230012121
303020222211133210012002013111...

Another word for base-4 is DNA: genes are in fact written in a base-4 code based on the chemicals guanine, adenine, thymine and cytosine, or G, A, T, C for short. If the digits of √2 are truly random, in the statistical sense, then all genomes, actual and potential, occur somewhere along its length: yours, mine, the Emperor Heliogabalus’s, Bilbo Baggins’, the sabre-toothed tiger’s, the dodo’s, and so on. But almost all the “DNA” of √2 in base-4 will be meaningless: although √2 is the opposite of random, it is effectively a typing chimpanzee. Or a typing worm – a type-worm. √2 is like an endless worm that types out its own segments on a typewriter with two keys (for binary numbers) or four keys (for quaternary numbers) or ten keys (for decimal numbers) and so on.

But √2 doesn’t just encode the genomes of individual people, animals and plants: it encodes everything they do throughout their lives. In fact, it encodes the entire universe. And perhaps the universe is √2 or some number like it. Perhaps, in some sense, everything exists within the digits of an irrational number, or a sufficiently large rational number. If so, then √2 has become aware of itself through human beings: the World as Worm has bitten its own tail.

Appendix: Proof of the irrationality of √2

1. Suppose that there is some ratio, a/b, such that

2. a and b have no factors in common and

3. a^2/b^2 = 2.

4. It follows that a^2 = 2b^2.

5. Therefore a is even and there is some number, c, such that 2c = a.

6. Substituting c in #4, we derive (2c)^2 = 4c^2 = 2b^2.

7. Therefore 2c^2 = b^2 and b is also even.

8. But #7 contradicts #2 and the supposition that a and b have no factors in common.

9. Therefore, by reductio ad absurdum, there is no ratio, a/b, such that a^2/b^2 = 2. Q.E.D.