# Syracuse problem

* $ ( 3x + 1 ) $-*
problem, Collatz problem, Hasse algorithm, Hasse–Collatz problem, Kakutani problem, Ulam problem

This problem concerns the iteration of the Collatz mapping that sends a positive integer $ a _ {n} $ to $ a _ {n + 1 } = { {a _ {n} } / 2 } $( $ a _ {n} $ even) or to $ 3a _ {n + 1 } + 1 $( $ a _ {n} $ odd). The $ ( 3x + 1 ) $- conjecture (also called the Collatz conjecture) asserts that for any starting value $ a _ {0} \geq 2 $ there is some iterate $ a _ {n} = 1 $.

Some examples are:

a) $ 1 \rightarrow 4 \rightarrow 2 \rightarrow 1 $;

b) $ 5 \rightarrow 16 \rightarrow 8 \rightarrow 4 \rightarrow 2 \rightarrow 1 $;

c) $ 7 \rightarrow 22 \rightarrow 11 \rightarrow 34 \rightarrow 17 \rightarrow 52 \rightarrow 26 \rightarrow 13 \rightarrow 40 \rightarrow 20 \rightarrow 10 \rightarrow 5 \rightarrow 16 \rightarrow 8 \rightarrow 4 \rightarrow 2 \rightarrow 1 $.

If $ a _ {0} $ is allowed to be a negative integer, the conjecture is not true, as is shown by the example $ - 5 \rightarrow - 14 \rightarrow - 7 \rightarrow - 20 \rightarrow - 10 \rightarrow - 5 $. In other words: the Collatz conjecture with $ 3 a _ {n} + 1 $ replaced by $ 3 a _ {n} - 1 $ does not hold.

This conjecture is generally attributed to L. Collatz, who studied similar problems in the 1930s. It has been numerically verified for all $ a _ {0} < 6 \times 10 ^ {13 } $[a5]. The conjecture is unsolved (1996) and apparently extremely difficult despite its simple appearance. General references and surveys on the problem are [a3], [a4], [a6].

There is no periodic orbit of the Collatz mapping of period less than $ 17087915 $, except the orbit $ \{ 1,4,2 \} $. The set of positive integers $ a _ {0} $ that have some iterate $ a _ {n} $ less than $ a _ {0} $ has density one. At least $ x ^ {8/10 } $ of all positive integers $ a _ {0} $ less than $ x $ have some iterate $ a _ {n} = 1 $, [a1].

J.H. Conway [a2] showed that a certain generalization of the $ ( 3x + 1 ) $- problem is non-computable. He defined a particular mapping $ f $ from the positive integers into the positive integers of the form $ f ( n ) = b _ {n} n $, in which $ \{ b _ {n} \} $ is periodic (modulo some $ N _ {0} $) for a fixed modulus $ N _ {0} $, which has the property that the set

$$ \left \{ m : {\textrm{ some iterate } f ^ {( k ) } ( m ) = 2 ^ {j} , \textrm{ some } j \geq 0 } \right \} $$

is recursively enumerable but not recursive.

#### References

[a1] | D. Applegate, J.C. Lagarias, "Density bounds for the problem II. Krasikov inequalities" Math. Comp. , 64 (1995) pp. 427–438 |

[a2] | J.H. Conway, "Unpredictable Iterations" , Proc. 1972 Number Theory Conf. Univ. Colorado, Boulder (1972) pp. 49–52 |

[a3] | R.K. Guy, "Unsolved problems in number theory" , Springer (1994) pp. Problem E16 (Edition: Second) |

[a4] | J.C. Lagarias, "The problem and its generalizations" Amer. Math. Monthly , 92 (1985) pp. 3–23 |

[a5] | G. Leavens, M. Vermeulen, " search programs" Computers & Mathematics, with Applications , 24 : 11 (1992) pp. 79–99 |

[a6] | H.A. Müller, "Das "3n+1" Problem" Mitteil. Math. Ges. Hamburg , 12 (1991) pp. 231–251 |

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Syracuse problem.

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