How a child math prodigy sees numbers as shapes

When 60 Minutes profiled child math whiz Jacob Barnett, he demonstrated how he imagined numbers as shapes. Numberphile's Simon Pampena analyzed Jacob's thought process.

Jacob's method uses some well-established mathematical principles. Any whole number can be written in an "atomic form" of primes, called factorization. Once an integer has been subjected to prime decomposition, those primes can be imagined as shapes. The technique involves layering each successive prime shape while retaining the vertices. In other words, six (2,3) is represnted by two triangles and not a hexagon, because preserving the vertices is important for future layering.

Imagining Numbers as Shapes (YouTube / Numberphile)

Start the discussion at