A 14-year-old wins award for program that calculates antiprime numbers

Congratulations to Akilan Sankaran (14) of Albuquerque, New Mexico for winning the Samueli Foundation Prize in Broadcom's Masters competition for middle school students. Sankaran won the $25,000 prize for writing a computer program that calculates antiprime numbers.

An antiprime has more divisors than any number smaller than itself. For example, 24 has 8 divisors (1, 2, 3, 4, 6, 8, 12, 24). Every number smaller than 24 has has fewer than 8 divisors.

Plato's favorite number was an antiprime (also called a highly composite number): 5040, which has 60 divisors.

Antiprimes come in handy for all sorts of applications, as mathematician James Grimes describes in this Numberphile video.

From Popular Mechanics:

The highly composite number 60, for example, has become our standard for measuring time as it can be split into convenient equal portions of whole numbers—30 minutes (half an hour), 15 minutes (a quarter of an hour), 10 minutes (a sixth of an hour), and so on. 360 is likewise a highly composite number, and the foundation of circular geometry, unlocking more complicated equations that can do things like predict the orbits of the planets years in advance. Highly composite numbers make it easier to understand the world around us and, really, make it possible for our species to coordinate at all and build civilization.