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Perfect Numbers

Date: Thu, 17 Nov 94 17:53:06 EST
From: Stephen MacKinnon
Subject: a question

Dear Dr. Math,

What good are Perfect Numbers?

Joe in Ontario

Date: Sat, 19 Nov 1994 13:23:39 -0500 (EST)
From: Dr. Ken
Subject: Re: a question

Hello there!

Perfect numbers.  Well, depending on your point of view, they're either
absolutely no good, or they're perfect.  I mean, it's like asking "what good
is Bach's Fifth Brandenburg Concerto?"  Perfect numbers aren't going to do
anybody any good, except maybe as an essay topic or something.  But I find
them pretty interesting.  

You know the definition of a perfect number, right?  The sum of the proper 
divisors of a perfect number (proper divisors are the divisors of a number 
that aren't the number itself) is equal to the number itself.  The first three 
perfect numbers are 6, 28, and 496.

I should mention that while perfect numbers are cool, they've probably been
given much more attention than they deserve, simply because of their name.
The don't really come up much in other areas of math, they're just kind of
an interesting phenomenon in themselves.

-Ken "Dr." Math
Associated Topics:
Middle School Number Sense/About Numbers

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