Arithmetic

Summing Divisors

In searching for answers about counting divisors over the last couple weeks, I found a few that are about the similar question of finding the sum of a number’s divisors. In fact, a couple questions and answers confuse the two problems. Let’s finish off the topic by looking at these. (Keep in mind that “divisor” …

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The Locker Problem

A classic problem we’ve seen hundreds of times involves students opening and closing lockers. I have often told people that, believe it or not, they could find the answer by searching the Ask Dr. Math site for the word “locker”. But I prefer to give them a reference to one of the answers in which …

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Counting Divisors of a Number

How many divisors (also called factors) does a number have? We’ve answered many questions about that over the years, sometimes by just guiding a student to discover it, sometimes either deriving the formula for them or just showing and using it. Let’s look at a few. Discovering the trick We’ll start with a question from …

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Leap Years: When and Why

Last week we looked at some questions that arose leading up to the year 2000, triggered by the 20th anniversary of that event. Now we’ll start from a different question about that year, to look at the story of leap years. Was 2000 a leap year, or not? Here is the question from 1999: Year …

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2020 and the Y0K Problem

The arrival of 2020 has brought to mind the various controversies at the start of the year 2000, also called Y2K. As a software engineer responsible for date-sensitive communications within large computer systems, I well recall being on call that Saturday, in case something went wrong. I also recall all the questions we got in …

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One More Way to Find GCF and LCM

There are so many ways to find a Least Common Multiple that I had to omit one method we have been asked about several times. This one doesn’t require finding prime factors, but focuses on division by whatever factors you see. Divide everything by whatever works The first reference to the method I have found …

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