Hanukkah starts today at sundown, so in honor of the holiday here is the Star of David Theorem. In simplest terms, this theorem says that the greatest common divisor of , , and is equal to the greatest common divisor of , , and . To see why it’s called the Star of David, look at the following visual. the greatest common divisor of the blue corners and the greatest common divisor of the purple corners are equal. Together, the two triangles form the Star of David.

For example, if and , this says that the greatest common divisor of , , and is equal to the greatest common divisor of , , and . As it turns out, this is one of the less interesting examples because both sides simplify to gcd(3,4,10), which is 1. So let’s look for another example.

Where there are binomial coefficients, Pascal’s triangle can’t be too far behind. Sadly, when the above Theorem is placed visually into Pascal’s triangle, it ends up looking kind of turned and squooshed.

Visually, the top star illustrates the previous not-so-interesting example of how gcd(3,4,10) is equal to gcd(3,4,10). But the lower star illustrates that that gcd(36,210,165) is equal to gcd(84,45,330), and this is a little less obvious. In this second case, but greatest common divisors are equal to 3.

*According to Wolfram’s Mathworld, the Star of David Theorem was first stated by H. W. Gould in 1972, and there were several generalization in the years immediately following. Apprently the association with Pascal’s triangle wasn’t noticed until 6 years ago, however, by B. Butterworth in this article (which is originally about using Pascal’s triangle to illustrate the song “The Twelve Days of Christmas”). *

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Tags: Pascal's Triangle, Star of David

This entry was posted on December 21, 2008 at 10:57 am and is filed under Holiday-related Math. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed.
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December 21, 2008 at 3:45 pm |

[...] 360 blog has a post today about the Star of David Theorem. See the original post for an explanation of the figure below and to learn how this theorem relates [...]

December 23, 2008 at 1:48 pm |

Hello

This looks like a great post to add to the end of year Christmas carnival – is that OK? Feel free to submit others too.

Merry Xmas.

Mike

December 23, 2008 at 3:08 pm |

Mike — thanks, that’d be great! I’m glad to know you’re hosting the Carnival on Sunday!

December 25, 2008 at 12:10 am |

[...] deze leuke stelling: de stelling van de Davidsster. Ik las hierover enkele dagen geleden op de blog 360. De stelling zegt: Om te zien waar de stelling zijn naam vandaan haalt, helpt het om de [...]

February 26, 2010 at 8:18 am |

[...] source : threesixty360 [...]

December 21, 2011 at 11:34 am |

[...] now known under the moniker of The Star of David Theorem. They were mentioned in the blogosphere here and [...]

April 3, 2012 at 9:34 am |

How I perfectly numbered the Star of David using the 2 mystery numbers, #137 and #9

May 16, 2012 at 10:36 am |

Cool!! I never knew you could do that. Why is it starring on Christmas??? O.O I’m going to go there.