Archive for james Joseph Sylvester

Le Monde puzzle [#1164]

Posted in Books, Kids, R with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , on November 16, 2020 by xi'an

The weekly puzzle from Le Monde is quite similar to older Diophantine episodes (I find myself impossible to point out):

Give the maximum integer that cannot be written as 105x+30y+14z. Same question for 105x+70y+42z+30w.

These are indeed Diophantine equations and the existence of a solution is linked with Bézout’s Lemma. Take the first equation. Since 105 and 30 have a greatest common divisor equal to 3×5=15, there exists a pair (x⁰,y⁰) such that

105 x⁰ + 30 y⁰ = 15

hence a solution to every equation of the form

105 x + 30 y = 15 a

for any relative integer a. Similarly, since 14 and 15 are co-prime,

there exists a pair (a⁰,b⁰) such that

15 a⁰ + 14 b⁰ = 1

hence a solution to every equation of the form

15 a⁰ + 14 b⁰ = c

for every relative integer c. Meaning 105x+30y+14z=c can be solved in all cases. The same result applies to the second equation. Since algorithms for Bézout’s decomposition are readily available, there is little point in writing an R code..! However, the original question must impose the coefficients to be positive, which of course kills the Bézout’s identity argument. Stack Exchange provides the answer as the linear Diophantine problem of Frobenius! While there is no universal solution for three and more base integers, Mathematica enjoys a FrobeniusNumber solver. Producing 271 and 383 as the largest non-representable integers. Also found by my R code

  if((a<-sum(!!i))==sum(!!e))sol=(sum(i*e)==x) else{sol=0
    for(j in 0:(x/e[a+1]))sol=max(sol,o(c(i,j),e,x))}
a=(min(e)-1)*(max(e)-1)#upper bound
M=b=((l<-length(e)-1)*prod(e))^(1/l)-sum(e)#lower bound
for(x in a:b){sol=0
for(i in 0:(x/e[1]))sol=max(sol,o(i,e,x))

(And this led me to recover the earlier ‘Og entry on the coin problem! As of last November.) The published solution does not bring any useful light as to why 383 is the solution, except for demonstrating that 383 is non-representable and any larger integer is representable.

Froebenius coin problem

Posted in pictures, R, Statistics with tags , , , , , , , , , , on November 29, 2019 by xi'an

A challenge from The Riddler last weekend came out as the classical Frobenius coin problem, namely to find the largest amount that cannot be obtained using only n coins of specified coprime denominations (i.e., with gcd equal to one). There is always such a largest value. For the units a=19 and b=538, I ran a basic R code that returned 9665 as the largest impossible value, which happens to be 19×538-538-19, the Sylvester solution to the problem when n=2. A recent paper by Tripathi (2017) manages the case n=3, for “almost all triples”, which decomposes into a myriad of sub-cases. (As an aside, Tripathi (2017) thanks a PhD student, Prof. Thomas W. Cusick, for contributing to the proof, which constitutes a part of his dissertation, but does not explain why he did not join as co-author.) The specific case when a=19, b=101, and c=538 suggested by The Riddler happens to fall in one of the simplest categories since, as ⌊cb⁻¹⌋ and ⌊cb⁻¹⌋ (a) are equal and gcd(a,b)=1 (Lemma 2), the solution is then the same as for the pair (a,b), namely 1799. As this was quite a light puzzle, I went looking for a codegolf challenge that addressed this problem and lo and behold! found one. And proposed the condensed R function


that assumes no duplicate and ordering in the input a. (And learned about combn from Robin.) It is of course very inefficient—to the point of crashing R—to look at the upper bound

\prod_{i=1}^n a_i \ \ \ \ \ \ \ (1)

for the Frobenius number since

\min_{(i,j);\text{gcd}(a_i,a_j)=1} (a_i-1)(a_j-1)\ \ \ \ \ \ \ (2)

is already an upper bound, by Sylvester’s formula. But coding (2) would alas take much more space…