Today I thought I’d quickly discuss a extremely important theorem in one of my favourite areas in mathematics: Number Theory (as you can probably tell by the number of posts that I’ve published about primes!).
Perhaps the first property of π(x) – the number of primes less than or equal to x – is that π(x) tends to infinity as x tends to infinity. In other words, the prime numbers are infinite, which was proved by Euclid in “Elements”. A more precise result, established by Euler in 1737, was that the series of reciprocals of the prime numbers:
is a divergent series. In doing so, Euler found an alternative way to prove that there was an infinite number of primes, as if there wasn’t then the series would have a finite value.
The Prime Number Theorem states that if π(x) is the number of primes less than or equal to x, then
Although the notation ~ may be unfamiliar, it simply means that π(x) is asymptotically equal to x/lnx, i.e.
Note that the prime number theorem is equivalent to saying that the nth prime number pn satisfies the following relationship:
The PNT was proposed by Gauss in 1792 when he was only 15 years old! (Makes you wonder what you’ve been doing with your life so far…) He later refined this estimate to
HAPPY HALLOWEEN! M x