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The Collatz conjecture is a conjecture (an idea which many people think is likely) in mathematics. It is named after Lothar Collatz. He first proposed it in 1937. It is about what happens when something is done repeatedly (over and over) starting at some integer n:
- If n is even (divisible by two), n is halved (divide by two = take its half).
- If n is odd (not divisible by two), n is changed to [math]3n+1[/math].
- 28 (9 is odd, so we triple it and add one)
- 14 (28 is even; 14 is half of 28)
- 7 (14 is even, 7 is its half)
- 22 ([math]22 = 3 \times 7 + 1[/math])
- 16 (16 is a power of two, so it will lead to 1, halving each time)
- 1 (after 1 comes 4, 2, 1, 4, 2, 1, etc.)
Many mathematicians argue over if it is really true. Numbers in the quadrillions have been tested but it has still remained true. However, this is still very less compared to another conjecture that had been proved false in 1978. There are two outcomes where it is false: a number keeps growing towards infinity, or an extremely large number forms its own loop.