Euler Problem 12: Highly Divisible Triangular Number

Euler Problem 12: Divisors of triangular numbers.

The divisors of 10 illustrated with Cuisenaire rods: 1, 2, 5, and 10 (Wikipedia).

Euler Problem 12 takes us to the realm of triangular numbers and proper divisors.

The image on the left shows a hands-on method to visualise the number of divisors of an integer. Cuisenaire rods are learning aids that provide a hands-on way to explore mathematics.

Euler Problem 12 Definition

The sequence of triangle numbers is generated by adding the natural numbers. So the 7th triangle number would be 1 + 2 + 3 + 4 + 5 + 6 + 7 = 28 . The first ten terms would be: 1, 3, 6, 10, 15, 21, 28, 36, 45, 55, \ldots Let us list the factors of the first seven triangle numbers:

1: 1

3: 1, 3

6: 1, 2, 3, 6

10: 1, 2, 5, 10

15: 1, 3, 5, 15

21: 1, 3, 7 ,21

28: 1, 2, 4, 7, 14, 28

We can see that 28 is the first triangle number to have over five divisors. What is the value of the first triangle number to have over five hundred divisors?


Vishal Kataria explains a simple method to determine the number of divisors using prime factorization as explained by in his video below. The prime factorization of n is given by:

n = p^{\alpha_1}_1 \times p^{\alpha_2}_2 \times p^{\alpha_k}_k

The number of proper divisors is:

d = (\alpha_1 + 1) (\alpha_2 + 1) \ldots (\alpha_k + 1)

The code reuses the prime factorisation function developed for Euler Problem 3. This function results in a vector of all prime factors, e.g. the prime factors of 28 are 2, 2 and 7.

The code to solve this problem determines the values for alpha using the run length function. This function counts the number of times each element in a sequence is repeated. The outcome of this function is a vector of the values and the number of times each is repeated. The prime factors of 28 are 2 and 7 and their run lengths are 2 and 1. The number of divisors can now be determined.

28 = 2^2 \times 7^1

d = (2+1)(1+1) = 6

The code to solve Euler Problem 12 is shown below. The loop continues until it finds a triangular number with 500 divisors. The first two lines increment the index and create the next triangular number. The third line in the loop determines the number of times each factor is repeated (the run lengths). The last line calculates the number of divisors using the above-mentioned formula.

i <- 0
divisors <- 0
while (divisors < 500) {
    i <- i + 1
    triangle <- (i * (i+1)) / 2
    pf <- prime.factors(triangle)
    alpha <- rle(pf)
    divisors <- prod(alpha$lengths+1)
answer <- triangle

Euler Problem 10: Summation of Primes

Euler Problem 10 asks for the summation of primes. Computationally this is a simple problem because we can re-use the prime sieve developed for problem 3.

When generating a large number of primes the erratic pattern at which they occur is much more interesting than their sum. Mathematicians consider primes the basic building blocks of number theory. No matter how hard we look, however, they do not seem to obey any logical sequence. This Euler Problem is simply

Euler Problem 10 Definition

The sum of the primes below 10 is 2 + 3 + 5 + 7 = 17. Find the sum of all the primes below two million.


The sieve of Eratosthenes function used in Euler Problem 3 can be reused once again to generate the prime numbers between two and two million. An interesting problem occurs when I run the code. When I sum all the primes without the as.numeric conversion, R throws an integer overflow error and recommends the conversion.

primes <- esieve(2e6)
answer <- (sum(as.numeric(primes)))

This results in a vector containing the first 148,933 prime numbers. The largest prime gap is 132 and it seems that sexy primes are more common than any of the other twin primes (note the spikes at intervals of 6 in the bar chart).

Euler Problem 10: Prime gaps for all primes up to two million

The summing of primes reveals an interesting problem in mathematics. Goldbach’s conjecture is one of the oldest and best-known unsolved problems in number theory and states that:

Every even integer greater than 2 can be expressed as the sum of two primes.

Note that this conjecture is only about even numbers. Goldbach also theorised that every odd composite number can be written as the sum of a prime and twice a square. This conjecture is the subject of the Euler Problem 46, which I will work on soon.

Euler Problem 7: 10,001st Prime

Euler Problem 7 Definition

By listing the first six prime numbers: 2, 3, 5, 7, 11, and 13, we can see that the 6th prime is 13. What is the 1,0001st prime number?


The function determines whether a number is a prime number by checking that it is not divisible by any prime number up to the square root of the number.

The Sieve of used in Euler Problem 3 can be reused to generate prime numbers.

This problem can only be solved using brute force because prime gaps (sequence A001223 in the OEIS) do not follow a predictable pattern. <- function(n) {
    primes <- esieve(ceiling(sqrt(n)))

i <- 2 # First Prime
n <- 1 # Start counter
while (n<10001) { # Find 10001 prime numbers
    i <- i + 1 # Next number
    if( { # Test next number
        n <- n + 1 # Increment counter
        i <- i + 1 # Next prime is at least two away

answer <- i-1

The largest prime gap for the first 10,001 primes is 72. Sexy primes with a gap of 6 are the most common and there are 1270 twin primes.

Euler Problem 7: Prime gap frequency distribution for the first 10001 primes.

Prime gap frequency distribution for the first 10001 primes.

Euler Problem 3: Largest Prime Factor

Euler Problem 3 Definition

The prime factors of 13195 are 5, 7, 13 and 29. What is the largest prime factor of the number 600851475143?

Generating Prime Numbers

This solution relies on two functions that can be used for multiples problems. The Sieve of Eratosthenes generates prime numbers from 2 to n. The code is commented to explain the sieve and the image shows how numbers from 1 to 100 are sieved to find the primes.

Sieve of Eratosthenes.

Sieve of Eratosthenes. Green are multiples of 2, Blue are multiples of 3, the orange coloured numbers are multiples of 5 and purple the multiples of 7. The remaining numbers (except 1) are the prime numbers (black).

The prime.factors function generates the list of unique prime divisors and then generates the factors. The factors are identified by dividing the number by the candidate prime factors until the result is 1.


# Sieve of Eratosthenes for generating primes 2:n
esieve <- function(n) {
    if (n==1) return(NULL)
    if (n==2) return(n)
    # Create a list of consecutive integers {2,3,…,N}.
    l <- 2:n
    # Start counter
    i <- 1
    # Select p as the first prime number in the list, p=2.
    p <- 2
    while (p^2<=n) {
        # Remove all multiples of p from the l.
        l <- l[l==p | l%%p!=0]
        # set p equal to the next integer in l which has not been removed.
        i <- i+1 # Repeat steps 3 and 4 until p2 > n, all the remaining numbers in the list are primes
        p <- l[i]

# Prime Factors
prime.factors <- function (n) {
    factors <- c() # Define list of factors
    primes <- esieve(floor(sqrt(n))) # Define primes to be tested
    d <- which(n%%primes == 0) # Idenitfy prime divisors
    if (length(d) == 0) # No prime divisors
    for (q in primes[d]) { # Test candidate primes
        while (n%%q == 0) { # Generate list of factors
            factors <- c(factors, q)
            n <- n/q } } if (n > 1) factors <- c(factors, n)


The solution can also be found by using the primeFactors function in the numbers package. This package provides a range of functions related to prime numbers and is much faster than the basic code provided above.