# 6.5. Goldbach conjecture#

In this section, we will write a longer program that checks for a given number if the Goldbach conjecture is verified or rejected.

## 6.5.1. Problem Statement#

A conjecture is a proposition/opinion/observation that is not proven yet. For example, the Goldbach conjecture states:

Every even integer greater than $$2$$ can be written as the sum of two prime numbers.

A prime number is a number divisible only by two distinct numbers: 1 and itself. For example, $$2$$, $$3$$, $$5$$, $$7$$, $$11$$, $$13$$, $$17$$. Keep in mind that $$1$$ is not a prime number because it is divisible by $$1$$ only, not two distinct numbers.

Let’s write a program that asks for the user to input a number that is even and greater than $$2$$, and then checks if this number verifies or rejects the Goldbach conjecture.

## 6.5.2. Divide Problem into sub-problems#

Let’s list the tasks to be done by this program:

1. Take input number from the user

2. Verify if the number is even and greater than $$2$$

3. Test the Goldbach conjecture

4. Print if the number verifies or rejects the conjecture

Next, we tackle each task and decide if we can put it in a separate function or if it requires multiple functions. This helps us in easily managing a larger piece of software.

### 6.5.2.1. Take input from the user#

As we take input from the user, we need to validate that it is even and greater than $$2$$ before proceeding with testing the Goldbach conjecture.

Loop type. As we discussed in Do-while loop vs. while loop, taking input from the user and validating it requires repetition until a valid input is made. Doing so requires that we first take the input from the user then validating it. This is what a do-while loop is best fit for. This is because a do-while loop will run its statements before checking the condition. Similarly, we want to take input from the user before checking it is even and greater than $$2$$.

Function prototype. The following code is a function that takes the address of an int variable, i.e. int*, then the value at that address is changed to the input of the user. This is why we received a pointer int* to the function and return void.

Code in-progress

1void getUserInput(int *number) {
2  // Get user input from the keyboard
3  // and validates it is even and greater than 2
4
5  do {
6    printf("Enter a number to test the Goldbach conjecture: ");
7    scanf("%d", number);
8  } while (*number <= 2 || *number % 2 != 0);
9}


Important!

In line 6, we are using scanf without an & because number is already an address to the int we want to change.

In line $$8$$, we are referring to the int variable that number has it’s address. This is why we dereference number to get to the int it is pointing to.

Test with main function


#include <stdio.h>

void getUserInput(int *);

int main(void) {
int num;
getUserInput(&num);
return 0;
}

void getUserInput(int *number) {
// Get user input from the keyboard
// and validates it is even and greater than 2

do {
printf("Enter a number to test the Goldbach conjecture: ");
scanf("%d", number);
} while (*number <= 2 || *number % 2 != 0);
}



Currently, the prompt message is not telling the user why is their first and second input invalid. To have a clarifying prompt message after the user enters an invalid input, we can have a bool variable that indicates if it is the first time the user enters an input. We can use this bool variable to better explain to the user what is the expected input. The modified function is shown below. We added lines $$17$$, $$19$$$$22$$.

Improved getUserInput function


#include <stdbool.h>
#include <stdio.h>

void getUserInput(int*);

int main(void) {
int num;
getUserInput(&num);
return 0;
}

void getUserInput(int *number) {
// Get user input from the keyboard
// and validates it is even and greater than 2
bool firstEntry = true;
do {
if (firstEntry) {
printf("Enter a number to test the Goldbach conjecture: ");
firstEntry = false;
} else {
printf("Your input was invalid, please enter another even number > 2: ");
}
scanf("%d", number);
} while (*number <= 2 || *number % 2 != 0);
}



### 6.5.2.2. Test the Goldbach conjecture#

Step 1: Toy example. For example, if the user enters $$12$$. Logically, we can think that 12 can be written as $$12 = 5 + 7$$.

Step 2: Think of a solution and decompose into steps! The user entered $$12$$ which is a sum of two int prime numbers, x and y, i.e. $$12 = x + y$$. To find x and y, we can

1. Get the first prime number in x, which is $$2$$.

2. Then get y, which is $$y = 12 - x$$.

3. Check if y is prime.

4. If y, is not prime, we increment x to the next prime number.

5. Then we repeat steps $$2$$$$4$$

6. We stop repeating till we find y is prime or if the conjecture is rejected. When is the conjecture rejected?

For example, in Fig. 6.14, we show the steps/iterations to verify the Goldbach conjecture for $$12$$. The conjecture gets rejected when we continue looking for x and y, but realize they will never be both prime numbers. This happens when x prime numbers start to surpass the values of y. This is also around when x becomes greater than the half of $$12$$, which is the number we are testing.

Summary! We stop iterating and looking for x and y prime numbers either: (i) when the conjecture is verified (x and y are prime) or (ii) when x becomes greater than y and we have never verified the conjecture before!

Step 3: Write a pseudo-code. We can write the pseudo-code of the above steps. Pseudo-code is an informal language used to write code. It is intended to simplify a piece of code by writing it in plain English language mixed with a program language too. For example, we can translate the above steps to the following pseudo-code.

Pseudo-code

// first prime number
x = 2
while(not verified and not rejected){
// look for x and y
// N is user input
y = N - x
if(y is Prime){
conjecture is verified
}else if (x > y){
conjecture is rejected
}else{
x is advanced to the next prime number
}
}


Step 5: Write the code. There are two tasks in the previous pseudo-code that require a few lines of code to accomplish. These are: (i) if y is prime, and (ii) to get the next prime number after x. These two will be completed by different functions. We can define their function prototypes before proceeding with writing the code for testing Goldbach conjecture.

1. Check if a number is prime. This can be a function that returns true is a number is prime and false if the number is not prime. The only input this function requires is the int value it will check. This makes the function prototype:

bool isPrime(int);

2. Get the next prime number. There are many ways to advance to the next prime number. All what you need is to pass the address of x to that function, and the function will change the value of x and return void. This makes the function prototype:

void nextPrimeNumber(int*);

In the following code, we convert the pseudo-code to a function written in C programming language.

 1bool testGoldbach(int N) {
2  // Tests the Goldbach conjecture and
3  // returns true if verified or false if rejected
4  int x = 2, y;
5  bool rejected = false;
6  bool verified = false;
7  while (!rejected && !verified) {
8    y = N - x;
9    if (isPrime(y)) {
10      verified = true;
11    } else if (y < x) {
12      rejected = true;
13    } else {
15    }
16  }
17  return verified;
18}


In line $$7$$, we check if rejected and verified are both false. This is by adding a ! before rejected and ! before verified and ANDing them: !rejected && !verified.

In line $$9$$, we immediately use isPrime as we know it returns either true if y is a prime number or false otherwise: isPrime(y).

In line $$14$$, we use nextPrimeNumber by passing the address of x to it, and inside the function we will shortly implement the advancement of x to the next prime number: nextPrimeNumber(&x).

### 6.5.2.3. Get the Next Prime Number#

To implement void nextPrimeNumber(int*);, we need to first think of how to find the next prime number.

Step 1: Toy example. For example, the next prime number after $$3$$ is $$5$$.

Step 2: Think of a solution and decompose into steps. The next number after $$3$$ is $$4$$, but it is not prime number. We can continue advancing to $$5$$ and then checking if it is prime! Given that, the steps to get the next prime number are

1. Add $$1$$ to that value

2. Check if it is prime

3. Repeat $$1$$$$2$$ till value becomes a prime number

Step 3: Write the code. The following code implements the steps discussed. Caution! We are receiving the address of a int, which is int*.

1void nextPrimeNumber(int *px) {
2  // We will look for the numbers after *pFrist one by one
3  // until we find the next prime number
4  int value = *px + 1;
5  while (!isPrime(value)) {
6    value += 1;
7  }
8  *px = value;
9}


In line $$5$$, we check if value is prime or not using isPrime function, which we know it will return true if value is prime and false otherwise. !isPrime(value) is true as long as value is not prime. Once value is prime, !isPrime(value) becomes false, and we exit the loop.

In line $$8$$, we are not returning any values because nextPrimeNumber does not return any number. Instead, we change the value at address px to the prime number we found next.

Step 4: Test your code in isolation. You should be testing your code when called only by the main function to see if it works.

### 6.5.2.4. Find If a Number Is Prime or Not#

To implement bool isPrime(int);, we need to first think of how to know if a number is prime.

Step 1: Toy example. For example, $$12$$ is not a prime number.

Step 2: Think of a solution and decompose into steps. We know that a prime number num is divisible only by $$1$$ and num. This means that between $$2$$ and the num - 1 there are no divisibles of num. We can do the following steps to see if num is prime:

1. Denominator denom is set to $$2$$

2. Find if num / $$2$$ gives no remainder, i.e. num % denom == 0

3. If num % denom == 0, then num is not prime, because it is divisible by denom.

4. Otherwise, add $$1$$ to denom

5. Repeat $$2$$$$4$$, until either you found out num is not prime, or when num % denom == 0 has been checked on all denom values from $$2$$ to num - 1 and was never true. This is when num is true.

Step 4: Write pseudo-code.

Pseudo-code

// We can start with good intentions that a number is prime

if (number is less than 2){
number is not prime
}else{
denom = 2
while(denom < num -1 and number is still prime)
if (num % denom == 0){
number is not prime
}else{
denom = denom + 1
}
}
}


Step 3: Write the code. To implement the bool isPrime(int);, we will convert the pseudo-code into code.

Code

 1bool isPrime(int num) {
2  // check if num is prime, by checking the remainder of num / all numbers from
3  // 2 to num - 1
4  bool prime = true;
5  if (num < 2) {
6    prime = false;
7  } else {
8    for (int denom = 2; denom <= num - 1 && prime; denom++) {
9      if (num % denom == 0) {
10        prime = false;
11      }
12    }
13  }
14  return prime;
15}


Step 4: Test your function in isolation. Think of numbers to test your function. Numbers less than, greater than or equal to 2.

1. Does the function work with numbers less than 2? Yes. Line $$6$$ will set prime to false.

2. Does the function work with 2? In line $$8$$, denom starts from $$2$$, and then denom is checked with num - 1. The condition denom <= num - 1 is false if num is set to $$2$$. Hence, the function will return the preset value of prime, which is true.

3. Does the function work with numbers above 2? In lines $$8$$ – 10, the function will set prime to false if num is divisible by another number between $$2$$ and num - 1. It will exist the loop because this condition denom <= num - 1 && prime becomes false. The function will not change prime value if the loop tries over all denom values from $$2$$ to num - 1 and does not find num to be divisible. Hence, prime will continue to be true.

## 6.5.3. Integrate all pieces/functions#

In the previous sections, we have divided the steps into two main ones: getting input through getUserInput and printing if the conjecture is verified through printConjResult.

This eases the task of writing the main function. The main function should only call getUserInput and printConjResult. This is shown in the following code.

Code

int main(void){
int number;
getUserInput(&number);
printConjResult(number);
return 0;
}


Output1

Enter a number to test the Goldbach conjecture: 9
Goldbach conjecture is verified.


Please refer to goldbach-conjecture.c if you want to view the entire program and test it yourself.

### Quiz

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Inputs to programs are in bold.