There is a very interesting story by Hack a Day about a Mechanical engineer Carlos Paris using AutoCAD to generate an amazing visualization to find a solution to a prime number challenge and claim a $250,000 dollar prize. Carlos did not get to the billion digit prime number, but in the pursuit generated an amazing visualization of prime numbers on a line as well as the justification of the the twin prime conjecture.
So while this might not be a typical use of AutoCAD, it was used by Carlos to explore some heavy mathematic visualizations. AutoCAD is used all the time in ways we at Autodesk never expected, and this is true of almost all of our products and technologies. You just never know how people will use a feature or the software to accomplish.
Check out the interesting details in the story by Hack a Day: http://bit.ly/TEC3eY
Looking deeper into his graph, [Carlos] discovered there were certain primes that had another prime number just two places down the number line. For example, the numbers 3 and 5, 29 and 31, and 41,and 43 are twin primes, as the difference between the primes is only 2. The idea there are infinitely many twin primes is a famous unsolved problem in mathematics – it’s obvious it must be true, but no mathematician has yet come up with a proof of this conjecture.
[Carlos] looked at his number line and simplified it to a generic prime number. By taking a generic number line and overlaying the multiples of other prime numbers on this graph, [Carlos] had a very, very clever way of understanding exactly how twin primes come into existence.
Check out the videos in the story including this first one of an hour length. Carlos got really really serious in his pursuit of the prime number challenge. It is detailed very well and factually fun to watch.This is what they should do for the Autodesk University Top DAUG contest. I do hope Carlos attends Autodesk University this year as it would be wild to sit and chat with him about this as well as how much it consumed his life and what he does for fun. He should consider teaching something at Khan Academy.
Huge CAD Geek kudos to Carlos for taking this on and then sharing with the world.
UPDATE 11/06/2012: Autodesk’s own programming genius Kean Walmsley wrote a DesignScript method on his Through the Interface Blog to replicate this research visualization.
Using AutoCAD to hunt prime numbers