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19Jul/1011

Interesting relationship among primes

Many properties of primes are very difficult to determine and prove. Here's an exploration that's within reach of many of us:

What is interesting about the difference of the squares of most any two primes? In other words, what is interesting about p12-p22 for most primes p1 and p2? When does this property hold? Prove your assertion.

I got the idea for this puzzle/exploration from Standup Maths and adapted it to make it harder!

Comments (11) Trackbacks (0)
  1. I’ve got this so far: http://mathurl.com/34erol5

    Will try and work out a proof of it!

  2. Aah – that can’t be what you’re after as it’s true for all N, not just primes. back to the drawing board!

  3. Can I restrict my observations to the odd primes?

  4. Jonathan – The observation I’m thinking of is not true for all odd primes, just most of them.

  5. You probably think that p1^2 – p2^2 is divisible by 6.

    That holds for every p1,p2 > 3, because they are all in form of 6k +- 1. By easy calculation you get what I told.

    It is a well known fact actually.

  6. You probably think that p1^2 – p2^2 is divisible by 6.

    That holds for every p1,p2 > 3, because they are all in form of 6k +- 1. By easy calculation you get what I told.

    It is a well known fact actually.

  7. Nemanja – You’re close but my divisibility observation is stronger than divisibility by 6. Plus, saying that something is “well known” and “by easy calculation” isn’t a proof. Sorry.

  8. Well, p1^2 – p2^2 is divisible by 24 when both primes exceed 3.

    In fact p^2 – 1 is divisible by 24 for any such prime.

    Of the three numbers

    (p – 1), p, (p + 1)

    p is odd and prime, implying that both p-1 and p+1 are even, hence one of them is divisible by 4. One of them is also divisible by 3.

  9. Alex – you got it! Nice simple explanation also.

  10. This is a popular problem. You took it one stem further.

  11. @Sol

    It is not proof, I’ve just pointed to it.

    But, by skipping that “easy calculation”, I’ve missed the fact that it is divisible by 24.


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