Narcissarithmetic

Why is 438,579,088 a beautiful number? Simple: it may seem entirely arbitrary, but it’s actually self-empowered:

438,579,088 = 4^4 + 3^3 + 8^8 + 5^5 + 7^7 + 9^9 + 0^0 + 8^8 + 8^8 = 256 + 27 + 16777216 + 3125 + 823543 + 387420489 + 0 + 16777216 + 16777216 (usually 0^0 = 1, but the rule is slightly varied here)

438,579,088 is so beautiful, in fact, that it’s in love with itself as a narcissistic number, or number that can be generated by manipulation of its own digits. 89 = 8^1 + 9^2 = 8 + 81 and 135 = 1^1 + 3^2 + 5^3 = 1 + 9 + 125 are different kinds of narcissistic number. 3435 is self-empowered again:

3435 = 3^3 + 4^4 + 3^3 + 5^5 = 27 + 256 + 27 + 3125

But that’s your lot: there are no more numbers in base-10 that are equal to the sum of their self-empowered digits (apart from the trivial 0 and 1). To prove this, start by considering that there is a limit to the size of a self-empowered number. 9^9 is 387,420,489, which is nine digits long. The function autopower(999,999,999) = 387,420,489 x 9 = 3,486,784,401, which is ten digits long. But autopower(999,999,999,999) = 387,420,489 x 12 = 4,649,045,868, also ten digits long.

The Metamorphosis of Narcissus by Salvador Dalí

Salvador Dalí, La Metamorfosis de Narciso (1937)

So you don’t need to check numbers above a certain size. There still seem a lot of numbers to check: 438,579,088 is a long way above 3435. However, the search is easy to shorten if you consider that checking 3-3-4-5 is equivalent to checking 3-4-3-5, just as checking 034,578,889 is equivalent to checking 438,579,088. If you self-empower a number and the result has the same digits as the original number, you’ve found what you’re looking for. The order of digits in the original number doesn’t matter, because the result has automatically sorted them for you. The function autopower(3345) produces 3435, therefore 3435 must be self-empowered.

So the rule is simple: Check only the numbers in which any digit is greater than or equal to all digits to its left. In other words, you check 12 and skip 21, check 34 and skip 43, check 567 and skip 576, 657, 675, 756 and 765. That reduces the search-time considerably: discarding numbers is computationally simpler than self-empowering them. It’s also computationally simple to vary the base in which you’re searching. Base-10 produces only two self-empowered numbers, but its neighbours base-9 and base-11 are much more fertile:

30 = 3^3 + 0^0 = 30 + 0 (b=9)
27 = 27 + 0 (b=10)

31 = 3^3 + 1^1 = 30 + 1 (b=9)
28 = 27 + 1 (b=10)

156262 = 1^1 + 5^5 + 6^6 + 2^2 + 6^6 + 2^2 = 1 + 4252 + 71000 + 4 + 71000 + 4 (b=9)
96446 = 1 + 3125 + 46656 + 4 + 46656 + 4 (b=10)

1647063 = 1^1 + 6^6 + 4^4 + 7^7 + 0^0 + 6^6 + 3^3 = 1 + 71000 + 314 + 1484617 + 0 + 71000 + 30 (b=9)
917139 = 1 + 46656 + 256 + 823543 + 0 + 46656 + 27 (b=10)

1656547 = 1^1 + 6^6 + 5^5 + 6^6 + 5^5 + 4^4 + 7^7 = 1 + 71000 + 4252 + 71000 + 4252 + 314 + 1484617 (b=9)
923362 = 1 + 46656 + 3125 + 46656 + 3125 + 256 + 823543 (b=10)

34664084 = 3^3 + 4^4 + 6^6 + 6^6 + 4^4 + 0^0 + 8^8 + 4^4 = 30 + 314 + 71000 + 71000 + 314 + 0 + 34511011 + 314 (b=9)
16871323 = 27 + 256 + 46656 + 46656 + 256 + 0 + 16777216 + 256 (b=10)

66500 = 6^6 + 6^6 + 5^5 + 0^0 + 0^0 = 32065 + 32065 + 2391 + 0 + 0 (b=11)
96437 = 46656 + 46656 + 3125 + 0 + 0 (b=10)

66501 = 6^6 + 6^6 + 5^5 + 0^0 + 1^1 = 32065 + 32065 + 2391 + 0 + 1 (b=11)
96438 = 46656 + 46656 + 3125 + 0 + 1 (b=10)

517503 = 5^5 + 1^1 + 7^7 + 5^5 + 0^0 + 3^3 = 2391 + 1 + 512816 + 2391 + 0 + 25 (b=11)
829821 = 3125 + 1 + 823543 + 3125 + 0 + 27 (b=10)

18453278 = 1^1 + 8^8 + 4^4 + 5^5 + 3^3 + 2^2 + 7^7 + 8^8 = 1 + 9519A75 + 213 + 2391 + 25 + 4 + 512816 + 9519A75 (b=11)
34381388 = 1 + 16777216 + 256 + 3125 + 27 + 4 + 823543 + 16777216 (b=10)

18453487 = 1^1 + 8^8 + 4^4 + 5^5 + 3^3 + 4^4 + 8^8 + 7^7 = 1 + 9519A75 + 213 + 2391 + 25 + 213 + 9519A75 + 512816 (b=11)
34381640 = 1 + 16777216 + 256 + 3125 + 27 + 256 + 16777216 + 823543 (b=10)

It’s easy to extend the concept of self-empowered narcisso-numbers. The prime 71 = 131 in base-7 and the prime 83 = 146 in base-7. If 131[b=7] is empowered to the digits of 146[b=7], you get 146[b=7]; and if 146[b=7] is empowered to the digits of 131[b=7], you get 131[b=7], like this:

71 = 131[b=7] → 1^1 + 3^4 + 1^6 = 1 + 81 + 1 = 83 = 146[b=7]

83 = 146[b=7] → 1^1 + 4^3 + 6^1 = 1 + 64 + 6 = 71 = 131[b=7]

But it’s not easy to find more examples. Are there other-empowering pairs like that in base-10? I don’t know.

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