Why can’t we predict prime numbers? © Alamy

Why can’t we predict prime numbers?

Asked by: Ismail Fulat

Prime numbers, which can only be divided by themselves and 1, are the building blocks of all whole numbers, yet no comprehensive formula for them has ever been found. The most famous is N2 + N + 41, which generates primes for every value of N from 0 to 39 – which isn’t very impressive, given there’s an infinite number of primes.

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Such failure has led to an assumption that primes must be randomly distributed. But in 2016, a team of mathematicians at Stanford University found that primes ending in 1 were less likely to be followed by another ending in 1 than would be expected from a random sequence – hinting at some sort of hidden pattern.

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