# Superparticular ratio

__: Ratio of two consecutive integers__

**Short description**In mathematics, a **superparticular ratio**, also called a **superparticular number** or **epimoric ratio**, is the ratio of two consecutive integer numbers.

More particularly, the ratio takes the form:

- [math]\displaystyle{ \frac{n + 1}{n} = 1 + \frac{1}{n} }[/math] where n is a positive integer.

Thus:

A superparticular number is when a great number contains a lesser number, to which it is compared, and at the same time one part of it. For example, when 3 and 2 are compared, they contain 2, plus the 3 has another 1, which is half of two. When 3 and 4 are compared, they each contain a 3, and the 4 has another 1, which is a third part of 3. Again, when 5, and 4 are compared, they contain the number 4, and the 5 has another 1, which is the fourth part of the number 4, etc.—Throop (2006),^{[1]}

Superparticular ratios were written about by Nicomachus in his treatise *Introduction to Arithmetic*. Although these numbers have applications in modern pure mathematics, the areas of study that most frequently refer to the superparticular ratios by this name are music theory^{[2]} and the history of mathematics.^{[3]}

## Mathematical properties

As Leonhard Euler observed, the superparticular numbers (including also the multiply superparticular ratios, numbers formed by adding an integer other than one to a unit fraction) are exactly the rational numbers whose continued fraction terminates after two terms. The numbers whose continued fraction terminates in one term are the integers, while the remaining numbers, with three or more terms in their continued fractions, are superpartient.^{[4]}

The Wallis product

- [math]\displaystyle{ \prod_{n=1}^{\infty} \left(\frac{2n}{2n-1} \cdot \frac{2n}{2n+1}\right) = \frac{2}{1} \cdot \frac{2}{3} \cdot \frac{4}{3} \cdot \frac{4}{5} \cdot \frac{6}{5} \cdot \frac{6}{7} \cdots = \frac{4}{3}\cdot\frac{16}{15}\cdot\frac{36}{35}\cdots=2\cdot\frac{8}{9}\cdot\frac{24}{25}\cdot\frac{48}{49}\cdots=\frac{\pi}{2} }[/math]

represents the irrational number π in several ways as a product of superparticular ratios and their inverses. It is also possible to convert the Leibniz formula for π into an Euler product of superparticular ratios in which each term has a prime number as its numerator and the nearest multiple of four as its denominator:^{[5]}

- [math]\displaystyle{ \frac{\pi}{4} = \frac{3}{4} \cdot \frac{5}{4} \cdot \frac{7}{8} \cdot \frac{11}{12} \cdot \frac{13}{12} \cdot\frac{17}{16}\cdots }[/math]

In graph theory, superparticular numbers (or rather, their reciprocals, 1/2, 2/3, 3/4, etc.) arise via the Erdős–Stone theorem as the possible values of the upper density of an infinite graph.^{[6]}

## Other applications

In the study of harmony, many musical intervals can be expressed as a superparticular ratio (for example, due to octave equivalency, the ninth harmonic, 9/1, may be expressed as a superparticular ratio, 9/8). Indeed, whether a ratio was superparticular was the most important criterion in Ptolemy's formulation of musical harmony.^{[7]} In this application, Størmer's theorem can be used to list all possible superparticular numbers for a given limit; that is, all ratios of this type in which both the numerator and denominator are smooth numbers.^{[2]}

These ratios are also important in visual harmony. Aspect ratios of 4:3 and 3:2 are common in digital photography,^{[8]} and aspect ratios of 7:6 and 5:4 are used in medium format and large format photography respectively.^{[9]}

Every pair of adjacent positive integers represent a superparticular ratio, and similarly every pair of adjacent harmonics in the harmonic series (music) represent a superparticular ratio. Many individual superparticular ratios have their own names, either in historical mathematics or in music theory. These include the following:

Ratio | Cents | Name/musical interval | Ben Johnston notation above C |
Audio |
---|---|---|---|---|

2:1 | 1200 | duplex:^{[lower-alpha 1]} octave |
C' | File:Perfect octave on C.mid |

3:2 | 701.96 | sesquialterum:^{[lower-alpha 1]} perfect fifth |
G | File:Just perfect fifth on C.mid |

4:3 | 498.04 | sesquitertium:^{[lower-alpha 1]} perfect fourth |
F | File:Just perfect fourth on C.mid |

5:4 | 386.31 | sesquiquartum:^{[lower-alpha 1]} major third |
E | File:Just major third on C.mid |

6:5 | 315.64 | sesquiquintum:^{[lower-alpha 1]} minor third |
E♭ | File:Just minor third on C.mid |

7:6 | 266.87 | septimal minor third | E♭ | File:Septimal minor third on C.mid |

8:7 | 231.17 | septimal major second | D- | File:Septimal major second on C.mid |

9:8 | 203.91 | sesquioctavum:^{[lower-alpha 1]} major second |
D | File:Major second on C.mid |

10:9 | 182.40 | sesquinona:^{[lower-alpha 1]} minor tone |
D- | File:Minor tone on C.mid |

11:10 | 165.00 | greater undecimal neutral second | D↑♭- | File:Greater undecimal neutral second on C.mid |

12:11 | 150.64 | lesser undecimal neutral second | D↓ | File:Lesser undecimal neutral second on C.mid |

15:14 | 119.44 | septimal diatonic semitone | C♯ | File:Septimal diatonic semitone on C.mid |

16:15 | 111.73 | just diatonic semitone | D♭- | File:Just diatonic semitone on C.mid |

17:16 | 104.96 | minor diatonic semitone | C♯ | File:Minor diatonic semitone on C.mid |

21:20 | 84.47 | septimal chromatic semitone | D♭ | File:Septimal chromatic semitone on C.mid |

25:24 | 70.67 | just chromatic semitone | C♯ | File:Just chromatic semitone on C.mid |

28:27 | 62.96 | septimal third-tone | D♭- | File:Septimal third-tone on C.mid |

32:31 | 54.96 | 31st subharmonic, inferior quarter tone |
D♭- | File:Thirty-first subharmonic on C.mid |

49:48 | 35.70 | septimal diesis | D♭ | File:Septimal diesis on C.mid |

50:49 | 34.98 | septimal sixth-tone | B♯- | File:Septimal sixth-tone on C.mid |

64:63 | 27.26 | septimal comma, 63rd subharmonic |
C- | File:Septimal comma on C.mid |

81:80 | 21.51 | syntonic comma | C+ | File:Syntonic comma on C.mid |

126:125 | 13.79 | septimal semicomma | D | File:Septimal semicomma on C.mid |

128:127 | 13.58 | 127th subharmonic | File:127th subharmonic on C.mid | |

225:224 | 7.71 | septimal kleisma | B♯ | File:Septimal kleisma on C.mid |

256:255 | 6.78 | 255th subharmonic | D- | File:255th subharmonic on C.mid |

4375:4374 | 0.40 | ragisma | C♯- | File:Ragisma on C.mid |

The root of some of these terms comes from Latin *sesqui-* "one and a half" (from *semis* "a half" and *-que* "and") describing the ratio 3:2.

## Notes

- ↑
^{1.0}^{1.1}^{1.2}^{1.3}^{1.4}^{1.5}^{1.6}Ancient name

## Citations

- ↑ Throop, Priscilla (2006).
*Isidore of Seville's Etymologies: Complete English Translation, Volume 1*, p. III.6.12, n. 7. ISBN:978-1-4116-6523-1. - ↑
^{2.0}^{2.1}Halsey, G. D.; Hewitt, Edwin (1972). "More on the superparticular ratios in music".*American Mathematical Monthly***79**(10): 1096–1100. doi:10.2307/2317424. - ↑ Robson, Eleanor; Stedall, Jacqueline (2008),
*The Oxford Handbook of the History of Mathematics*, Oxford University Press, ISBN 9780191607448. On pp. 123–124 the book discusses the classification of ratios into various types including the superparticular ratios, and the tradition by which this classification was handed down from Nichomachus to Boethius, Campanus, Oresme, and Clavius. - ↑ Leonhard Euler; translated into English by Myra F. Wyman and Bostwick F. Wyman (1985), "An essay on continued fractions",
*Mathematical Systems Theory***18**: 295–328, doi:10.1007/bf01699475, https://kb.osu.edu/dspace/bitstream/handle/1811/32133/Wyman.pdf. See in particular p. 304. - ↑ Debnath, Lokenath (2010),
*The Legacy of Leonhard Euler: A Tricentennial Tribute*, World Scientific, p. 214, ISBN 9781848165267, https://books.google.com/books?id=K2liU-SHl6EC&pg=PA214. - ↑ Erdős, P.; Stone, A. H. (1946). "On the structure of linear graphs".
*Bulletin of the American Mathematical Society***52**(12): 1087–1091. doi:10.1090/S0002-9904-1946-08715-7. - ↑ Barbour, James Murray (2004),
*Tuning and Temperament: A Historical Survey*, Courier Dover Publications, p. 23, ISBN 9780486434063, https://books.google.com/books?id=G-pG77pmlp4C&pg=PA23. - ↑ Ang, Tom (2011),
*Digital Photography Essentials*, Penguin, p. 107, ISBN 9780756685263, https://books.google.com/books?id=2EF4t2qkd5cC&pg=PT108. Ang also notes the 16:9 (widescreen) aspect ratio as another common choice for digital photography, but unlike 4:3 and 3:2 this ratio is not superparticular. - ↑ The 7:6 medium format aspect ratio is one of several ratios possible using medium-format 120 film, and the 5:4 ratio is achieved by two common sizes for large format film, 4×5 inches and 8×10 inches. See e.g. Schaub, George (1999),
*How to Photograph the Outdoors in Black and White*, How to Photograph Series,**9**, Stackpole Books, p. 43, ISBN 9780811724500, https://books.google.com/books?id=3uv3iRGXjH4C&pg=PA43.

## External links

- Superparticular numbers applied to construct pentatonic scales by David Canright.
*De Institutione Arithmetica, liber II*by Anicius Manlius Severinus Boethius

Original source: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Superparticular ratio.
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