Schizophrenic number

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A schizophrenic number (also known as mock rational number) is an irrational number that displays certain characteristics of rational numbers.


The Universal Book of Mathematics defines "schizophrenic number" as:

An informal name for an irrational number that displays such persistent patterns in its decimal expansion, that it has the appearance of a rational number. A schizophrenic number can be obtained as follows. For any positive integer n let f(n) denote the integer given by the recurrence f(n) = 10 f(n − 1) + n with the initial value f(0) = 0. Thus, f(1) = 1, f(2) = 12, f(3) = 123, and so on. The square roots of f(n) for odd integers n give rise to a curious mixture appearing to be rational for periods, and then disintegrating into irrationality. This is illustrated by the first 500 digits of f(49):

1111111111111111111111111.1111111111111111111111 0860
555555555555555555555555555555555555555555555 2730541
66666666666666666666666666666666666666666 0296260347
2222222222222222222222222222222222222 0426563940928819
4444444444444444444444444444444 38775551250401171874
9999999999999999999999999999 808249687711486305338541
66666666666666666666666 5987185738621440638655598958
33333333333333333333 0843460407627608206940277099609374
99999999999999 0642227587555983066639430321587456597
222222222 1863492016791180833081844 ...

The repeating strings become progressively shorter and the scrambled strings become larger until eventually the repeating strings disappear. However, by increasing n we can forestall the disappearance of the repeating strings as long as we like. The repeating digits are always 1, 5, 6, 2, 4, 9, 6, 3, 9, 2, ....[1]

The sequence of numbers generated by the recurrence relation f(n) = 10 f(n − 1) + n described above is:

0, 1, 12, 123, 1234, 12345, 123456, 1234567, 12345678, 123456789, 1234567900, ... (sequence A014824 in the OEIS).
f(49) = 1234567901234567901234567901234567901234567901229

The integer parts of their square roots,

1, 3, 11, 35, 111, 351, 1111, 3513, 11111, 35136, 111111, 351364, 1111111, ... (sequence A068995 in the OEIS),

alternate between numbers with irregular digits and numbers with repeating digits, in a similar way to the alternations appearing within the fractional part of each square root.


Clifford A. Pickover has said that the schizophrenic numbers were discovered by Kevin Brown.

In his book Wonders of Numbers he has so described the history of schizophrenic numbers:

The construction and discovery of schizophrenic numbers was prompted by a claim (posted in the Usenet newsgroup sci.math) that the digits of an irrational number chosen at random would not be expected to display obvious patterns in the first 100 digits. It was said that if such a pattern were found, it would be irrefutable proof of the existence of either God or extraterrestrial intelligence. (An irrational number is any number that cannot be expressed as a ratio of two integers. Transcendental numbers like e and π, and noninteger surds such as square root of 2 are irrational.)[2]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Darling, David (2004), The Universal Book of Mathematics: From Abracadabra to Zeno's Paradoxes, John Wiley & Sons, p. 12, ISBN 9780471667001
  2. ^ Pickover, Clifford A. (2003), "Schizophrenic Numbers", Wonders of Numbers: Adventures in Mathematics, Mind, and Meaning, Oxford University Press, pp. 210–211, ISBN 9780195157994

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