Problems & Puzzles:
Puzzle 82.- The
As you know Goldbach conjectured (1742) that "every even
number greater than 4 can be expressed as the sum of two odd primes"
Henry F. Fliegel & Douglas S. Robertson proposed (*) the
function G(E) as "the number
of prime pairs which can be found to sum a given even value E".
Example: G(10)=2 because 3+7=10, 5+5=10
plotted G(E) for E values up to 100,000. This is the figure they
obtained (kindly sent to me by snail-mail by Mr. Robertson and
scanned at home)
Isn't it? An extreme beautiful artistic-tail-Comet-shape obtained in a very simple
asking very simple questions related to prime numbers.
& Robertson already explained in their article the precise banded
structure, with a reasoning based in modular arithmetic. They also obtained
an empirical formula for the "sharp bottom of the lowermost
band". Their formula
lowermost band corresponds "to those even numbers which either are
powers of two, or contain at most one large prime factor in addition to
two" (p. 28)
email I asked to Mr. Robertson if this comet-tail fits inside a cone,
that is to say if all these G(E) values can be bounded by (inside) two
lines m1E+b1 and m2E+b2. But
they didn't try to do this; as a matter of fact they didn't studied the
upper frontier of the comet.
a)Would you like to try to find the thinnest cone that bounds the Goldbach'
& Littlewood conjectured that the number N2(n) of
representation of an even number n as the sum of two primes, is given
Product((p-1)/(p-2)), for all odd prime divisors of n, 2c =1.3203
Can you produce a graphic that shows both G(E) and N2(n) for the same
& adequate ("even
numbers which either are powers of two, or contain at most one large prime
factor in addition to two") n
numbers for 4<n<100000
With the help of the Hardy
formula can you explore the upper side of the comet and produce a
simplified formula like the Fliegel
one for this region or band?
J. Recreational mathematics, Vol. 21(1),1989
S.C. Woon - student at the Cambridge University - has found a theoretical approach
to a very simple and analytical function that provides an approximation
to a lower bound of G(n), let's say Gº(n), where:
> Gº(n) for all n
Gº(n) ~ S[1/(ln(k).ln(n-k))], for k=1 to n/2, for n=even=>6
to the Gauss estimate the quantity of primes
less or equal to n is p(n)
approximately. Then the probability P(n) of n being a prime is
approximately equal to 1/ln(n). "...Pick
an integer k<= n/2,
even n => 6.
The probability of k and n - k both being primes is P(k).P(n - k).
Since the partition function G(n) counts the number of pairs of primes,
G(n) can be approximated by the sum of the probabilities P(k).P(n - k)=Gº(n) over all k such that 3<=
to see the complete paper (6 pages) that Max sent to me (you'll need Acrobat Reader ® to
see it). You may notice that
Gº(n) - at the end - is calculated by this formula
without any need of prime numbers.
The approximation to a lower bound of G(n)
obtained by Max, Gº(n) is so good that for n<130000 only fails
in 5 cases. This is an excerpt of the email that I (C.R.) wrote him
happens that only for n=332, 398, 632, 992 & 2678 the real partitions
G(n) are lower than the Gº(n) predicted by your formula...
N, G(n), Gº(n)
332, 6, 7
398, 7, 8
632, 9, 11
992, 13, 15
2672, 28, 29
no other cases for n<130000..."
Chris Nash has (12/10/2000) produced
the following approximation to the upper bound for the Goldbach's Comet, after knowing the
I consider interesting the Nash's
comments about the Max's results and then I reproduce them here:
"I am most impressed by Max Woon's
approach here! When first I saw the "1/ln(n)" estimate I did not
expect it t work, after all it is only an asymptotic estimate, a better
estimate of the number of primes less than n is n/(ln(n)-1), but this
'better' estimate will not easily give a bound [it does not work, since
there are more primes close to zero than close to n, so it is no longer
'random']. So it is a wonderful surprise when the method gives an elegant
And also a very good result... with only 5 exceptions you have found
(and still they are very close) and this is for the lower bound only. I
wondered why these five results occurred, 332, 398, 632, 992 & 2678. I
notice three of them are very "suspicious" - look at 332, 992/3,
and 2678/8. They are surprisingly close. Why is their G(n) so small, is
there something special about this number that is close to 333?
I think all these exceptions are a power of 2 times a prime and have
no small prime factors. For instance 332=4 mod 7, this means any two
numbers summing to 332 must be 0+4, 1+3, 2+2, 3+1, 4+0, 5+6, 6+5 mod 7.
And two of those cases do not give primes (this explains the p-2 in the Hardy-Littlewood
estimate), in a sense these numbers do not work well if we assume primes
are 'random' (2/7 of cases is a lot different from random). But that is
exactly what you say on the site, 'exceptions' are likely to be even
numbers which either are powers of two, or contain at most one large prime
factor in addition to two I wonder if that means this could become a proof
of Goldbach for all except these 'difficult' numbers? (Perhaps Max
could use the better estimates for prime distribution such as the Schinzel
Regarding the approximation
to the upper bound, here is what Chris develops:
"I will try it using a method just like Max did, this is a
great idea. Here is a very rough estimate of an upper bound. Let there
be P primes less than n/2, and Q primes between n/2 and n. Then the Goldbach
number G(n)<=min(P,Q) - the Goldbach number is highest if
every one of the Q primes has a pair among the first P primes. This is
not a very good estimate, because it is *not* possible that every prime
in the set Q has a match in the set P. Suppose a prime p does not divide
n. Then about a proportion 1/p of the members of Q will have n-q
divisible by p. This suggests we should multiply the estimate by (1-1/p)
for many primes p. But which ones? There is no need to consider primes
greater than the square root of n (since you only need to trial factor
to sqrt(n) to list all the primes). How many different small primes
could divide n? Since ln(p#) is about p, n cannot be divisible by all
the primes up to ln n, so in the worst case, we should ignore all primes
less than ln n and take the primes between ln(n) and sqrt(n) in the
Merten's theorem states the product of (1-1/p) up to N is
proportional to 1/ln N. So the multiplying factor seems to be (log log
n)/(log sqrt n) = (2 log log n)/(log n). Q is asymptotically (n/2)/(log
n). And so the upper bound is asymptotically (n log log n)/(log n)^2
This seems to be like Max's bound, it covers a lot of
points (but there are a few points like the lonely ones near 60000 which
are above this curve). I do not know how good this estimate really is?..."
Some minutes later he added:
"Just a thought.... I realized after
sending the last mail what the 'lonely point' around 60000 actually is. As
I suggested in the proof, to get the upper bound, you need to scale the
number of primes by (1-1/p) for all the odd primes that do not divide n.
This makes me think that lonely point is n=60060
(15015=3*5*7*11*13). Of course, because the estimate is asymptotic I
expect that point is a little higher than (60060 log log 60060)/(log
60060)^2 = 1190 but perhaps it works for most *ordinary* points!
That is interesting, the lower bounds are points with few odd
factors. The upper bounds are points with many odd prime factors?"
I (C.R.) made a little numerical search to test the approximation
to the upper bound of G(n) developed by Nash. This is what I found
and wrote to Chris the 14/10/2000:
"Hola Chris: Regarding your upper bound here are some
results for n<=10000:
* G(n) is the real partitions for an even "n"
* LB(G(n)) is the lower bound calculated by the Max's
formula, rounding-down with "floor" function
* UB(G(n)) is the upper bound calculated with your formula,
rounding-up with the "ceil" function
...then I would say that the real upper bound is something like
your formula multiplied by a factor like 5/3 or 8/5 or 11/7 or 17/11, or
Max S.C. Woon has created (15/10/2000) a .gif
file to show the lower bound LB(G(n)). Click here
to open it.
A nice link sent by Felice Russo is
one article by Kevin S. Brown. Thanks, Felice.
One more contribution to this issue has been sent by
Dr. Wes Munsil (20/7/2002):
At one time Max See Chin Woon published on your site a lower
bound to G (E), the number of Goldbach partitions of an even number
E. I don't know what work has gone on since then, but I thought you might
be interested in a result I obtained independently, through similar means.
The lower bound I have found seems higher than Max's, though I have
only verified this for the first thousand or so cases. Its computation is
certainly much faster than the computation of Max's. I have
verified this lower bound for even numbers up to 10,000,000, with
exceptions as noted below.
The principle is this. For even n = 2k, choose a in [3, k] and b in [k, 2k
- 3] at random. The probability of a and b summing to 2k is 1 / (k - 2).
The probability of a being prime is (pi (k) - 1) / (k - 2). The
probability of b being prime is (pi (2k - 3) - pi (k - 1)) / (k - 2).
Multiplying these together, and multiplying the product by the number of
pairs (k - 2) (k - 2), gives the following estimate for G (2k):
m (k) = (pi (k) - 1) (pi (2k - 3) - pi (k - 1)) / (k - 2)
For the first two pi (x) (the positive ones), I use Dusart's upper
bound (x/log x)(1 + 1.2762/log x). For the third (the
negative one), I use Dusart's lower bound (x/log x)(1
+ 0.992/log x).
I do not know to what extent the apparent superiority of this lower bound
depends on my use of Dusart's bounds, and to what extent it is
inherent in the method. I do know that if I use for pi (x) the estimate x
/ (log x - 1), then this bound is lower than Max's.
For even numbers between 6 and 10,000,000, this lower bound fails on these
2k G (2k) m (k)
12 1 1.7203248493827894
28 2 2.185588894741499
32 2 2.2855108925470966
38 2 2.4327035042901377
68 2 3.1146102667784916
98 3 3.722785033781057
122 4 4.171844243356386
128 3 4.2799798204110076
152 4 4.698705382929435
188 5 5.2924184624062125
248 6 6.213387796600334
326 7 7.319466740588393
332 6 7.401208304313093
398 7 8.274831526333923
458 9 9.034280873021315
488 9 9.403547689703203
542 10 10.052939810006036
632 10 11.097572723489389
668 11 11.503971964887542
692 11 11.771643447119315
992 13 14.939517716903463
1112 16 16.133516903844427
1412 18 18.98519968974206
1718 21 21.741038069953376
2252 26 26.281016830430502
2642 29 29.43295715296445
2672 28 29.670676102652898
2936 31 31.736630558574962