Perfect totient number

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In number theory, a perfect totient number is an integer that is equal to the sum of its iterated totients. That is, we apply the totient function to a number n, apply it again to the resulting totient, and so on, until the number 1 is reached, and add together the resulting sequence of numbers; if the sum equals n, then n is a perfect totient number. For example, there are six positive integers less than 9 and relatively prime to it, so the totient of 9 is 6; there are two numbers less than 6 and relatively prime to it, so the totient of 6 is 2; and there is one number less than 2 and relatively prime to it, so the totient of 2 is 1; and 9 = 6 + 2 + 1, so 9 is a perfect totient number.

The first few perfect totient numbers are

3, 9, 15, 27, 39, 81, 111, 183, 243, 255, 327, 363, 471, 729, 2187, 2199, 3063, 4359, 4375, ... (sequence A082897 in the OEIS).

In symbols, one writes

[math]\displaystyle{ \varphi^i(n) = \begin{cases} \varphi(n), &\text{ if } i = 1 \\ \varphi(\varphi^{i-1}(n)), &\text{ if } i \geq 2 \end{cases} }[/math]

for the iterated totient function. Then if c is the integer such that

[math]\displaystyle{ \displaystyle\varphi^c(n)=2, }[/math]

one has that n is a perfect totient number if

[math]\displaystyle{ n = \sum_{i = 1}^{c + 1} \varphi^i(n). }[/math]

Multiples and powers of three

It can be observed that many perfect totient are multiples of 3; in fact, 4375 is the smallest perfect totient number that is not divisible by 3. All powers of 3 are perfect totient numbers, as may be seen by induction using the fact that

[math]\displaystyle{ \displaystyle\varphi(3^k) = \varphi(2\times 3^k) = 2 \times 3^{k-1}. }[/math]

Venkataraman (1975) found another family of perfect totient numbers: if p = 4 × 3k + 1 is prime, then 3p is a perfect totient number. The values of k leading to perfect totient numbers in this way are

0, 1, 2, 3, 6, 14, 15, 39, 201, 249, 1005, 1254, 1635, ... (sequence A005537 in the OEIS).

More generally if p is a prime number greater than 3, and 3p is a perfect totient number, then p ≡ 1 (mod 4) (Mohan and Suryanarayana 1982). Not all p of this form lead to perfect totient numbers; for instance, 51 is not a perfect totient number. Iannucci et al. (2003) showed that if 9p is a perfect totient number then p is a prime of one of three specific forms listed in their paper. It is not known whether there are any perfect totient numbers of the form 3kp where p is prime and k > 3.


  • Pérez-Cacho Villaverde, Laureano (1939). "Sobre la suma de indicadores de ordenes sucesivos". Revista Matematica Hispano-Americana 5 (3): 45–50. 
  • Guy, Richard K. (2004). Unsolved Problems in Number Theory. New York: Springer-Verlag. p. §B41. ISBN 0-387-20860-7. 
  • Mohan, A. L.; Suryanarayana, D. (1982). "Perfect totient numbers". Lecture Notes in Mathematics, vol. 938, Springer-Verlag. pp. 101–105. 
  • Venkataraman, T. (1975). "Perfect totient number". The Mathematics Student 43: 178.