Math on CRG4.com

Uninteresting Numbers

I've often heard without attribution the 'proof' that all natural numbers are interesting (because being the smallest uninteresting number is an interesting property). Along those lines, I've decided to collect lists of numbers with the interesting property of being deemed uninteresting.

Ramanujan's taxicab number 1729 = 12³ + 1³ = 10³ + 9³ is perhaps the most famous interesting number. In order to list these numbers in a concrete way, I have found several lists of interesting numbers and given the first few positive integers missing from those lists. These are of course subject to change as interesting properties are discovered; these lists are as of July 2009.

Notice that 488 is uninteresting in the first seven lists above, making it a good candidate for an all-around uninteresting number. Beyond that, the numbers listed for the OEIS do not appear in the other lists; this seems to be the ultimate test for interesting numbers.

Quotes

Of 39: This appears to be the first uninteresting number, which of course makes it an especially interesting number… (David Wells, in his first edition)

Of 51: This appears to be the first uninteresting number, which of course makes it an especially interesting number… (David Wells, in his second edition)

I remember once going to see him when he was lying ill at Putney. I had ridden in taxi cab number 1729 and remarked that the number seemed to me rather a dull one, and that I hoped it was not an unfavorable omen. No, he replied, it is a very interesting number; it is the smallest number expressible as the sum of two cubes in two different ways. (G. H. Hardy)

11630 is the first number that is not listed in a single sequence in the OEIS. It is not prime, nor is it highly composite (11630 = 2×5×1163). It doesn’t have any particularly notable residue properties, and it doesn’t come up in counting problems. It’s boring in every way, and it seems as though not a single mathematician has found a use for it in the last dozen or so years (let me know if you’ve discovered otherwise). (Nathaniel Johnston, 11630 is the First Uninteresting Number)

Is 8795 a boring number?, Ingo Althofer. Remarks on the first number then missing from the OEIS.

I hate 14! What a stupid number! (Weird Al in a fake interview with Celine Dion)

I will note that 338 is uninteresting in the first six lists above, making it a good candidate for an all-around uninteresting number. (me, in the first version [2006-09] of this page)

Notice that 488 is uninteresting in the first seven lists above[…] (me, in the 2009-07 version of this page)


* Original edition, 1986.

** Revised edition, 1997.

† After I wrote this page, I discovered that Chris Caldwell has a similar page about the numbers he was missing from his curios list. His list does not match mine—it seems to omit many small numbers.

‡ This database is of course not designed as a list of interesting numbers, but arguably interesting numbers should appear in some sequence. Since all positive numbers are in some list, extended appropriately (A000027 and in either A018252 or A000040, etc.) this list includes only those enumerated.