For any integer n the "left factorial function" is defined as !n = 0!+1!+2!+...+(n-1)!. The conjecture that n does not divide !n for any n>2 was listed as B44 in R. Guy's "Unsolved Problems in Number Theory" back in 1981. In the 2nd edition of Guy's book, he says, "In a 91-03-21 letter, Reg. Bond offers an as yet unpublished proof of the conjecture." I'm not aware that this claimed proof has ever been published. Perhaps it's considered too trivial to be worth publishing(?) In any case, while we await Reg.Bond's proof, here's a geometrical approach to the problem. Consider a p-dimensional Euclidean space with orthogonal coordinates, and take the two vectors X = [ 0!, 1!, 2!,..., (p-1)! ] Y = [ (p-1)!,..., 2!, 1!, 0! ] The dot product (i.e., the scalar product) of X and Y is X.Y = (0!)(p-1)! + (1!)(p-2)! + ... + (p-1)!(0!) = -1 (mod p) = |X| |Y| cos(alpha) where alpha is the angle between X and Y. Since X and Y have the same components in reverse order, we know that |X| = |Y|, so we have [ (0!)^2 + (1!)^2 + ... + ((p-1)!)^2 ] cos(alpha) = -1 (mod p) This relates the sum of the squares of the factorials 0! to (p-1)! with the cosine of the angle between X and Y. Of course, this doesn't prove that the sum of squares is not divisible by p, it just rephrases the question in terms of the cosine of the angle between two vectors. Anyway, for any positive integer n let ![n,k] denote the sum of the kth powers of the factorials from 0! to (n-1)!. For example, the preceding formula can be written as ![p,2] cos(alpha) = -1 (mod p). By Fermat's Little Theorem, the sequence of integers ![p,k] (mod p) for k=0,1,2,... is periodic with a period dividing p-1. Therefore, we have ![p,(p-1)m] = 0 (mod p) for any natural number m. In general, we have ![p,k]=0 (mod p) if and only k is of the form (p-1)m + c where c is one of a finite set of values for any given prime p. The question of whether !p is ever divisibly by p is equivalent to asking if c can ever be 1. The values of c for the first few primes are tabulated below: p c values p c values p c values ---- ---------- ---- ----------- ---- --------------------- 2 0 53 0 127 0 57 3 0 59 0 53 131 0 105 5 0 3 61 0 25 137 0 55 7 0 67 0 139 0 11 0 71 0 149 0 4 23 26 122 144 13 0 11 73 0 10 62 151 0 17 0 7 79 0 157 0 19 0 83 0 61 163 0 23 0 6 16 89 0 33 167 0 29 0 9 23 97 0 173 0 31 0 101 0 179 0 37 0 35 103 0 44 58 181 0 6 163 174 41 0 107 0 191 0 43 0 109 0 18 57 90 193 0 139 47 0 9 15 113 0 50 62 197 0 Some additional conjectures arise from the following table: k values of p^n such that ![p^n,k] = 0 (mod p^n) ----- ----------------------------------------------- 1 2 2 2, 3 3 2, 5, 25 4 2, 3, 5, 9, 149 5 2 6 2, 3, 7, 23, 181, 443 7 2, 5, 17 8 2, 3, 5, 367 9 2, 29, 47 10 2, 3, 11, 73 11 2, 5, 13 12 2, 3, 5, 7, 13 Note that if a1, a2,... are the highest powers of the primes p1, p2,... such that (pj)^(aj) divides ![(pj)^(aj),k], then the integers N that divide ![N,k] are all those of the form N = (p1)^(b1) (p2)^(b2)... with bj <= aj. Hare-brained Conjectures: 1. ![n,1] is not divisible by n for any n>2. (This is the original) 2. ![n,5] is not divisible by n for any n>2. (verified for p<1000) 3. For any k the number of primes p that divide !(p,k) is finite. 4. There is at least one odd prime p that divides !(p,k) for each k except k=1 and k=5.

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