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Hidden Fractals Suggest Answer to Ancient Math Problem

By Wired

January 31, 2011

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Researchers have found a fractal pattern underlying everyday math. In the process, they’ve discovered a way to calculate partition numbers, a challenge that’s stymied mathematicians for centuries.

Partition numbers track the different ways an integer can be divvied up. The number 3, for example, has three unique partitions: 3, 2 + 1, and 1 + 1 + 1. Partition numbers grow so fast that mathematicians have a hard time predicting them.

"The number 10 has 42 partitions, but with 100 you have 190,569,292 partitions. They get impossibly huge to add up," said mathematician Ken Ono of Emory University.

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