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MIT staff blogger Matt McGann '00

Numbers, Perfect and Imperfect by Matt McGann '00

Math geeking, and a guessing game.

A quick entry, before returning to reading applications…

I am perfect today.

Perfect? What do you mean, “perfect,” you ask? Well, today is my birthday, and my age is now a perfect number.

Perfect numbers are pretty cool, and have been discussed at least since the time of Euclid. They are also related to Mersenne primes: every Mersenne prime corresponds to exactly one perfect number. If you’re even a little bit of a math geek (like me), it’s hard not to be fascinated by perfect numbers and Mersenne primes.

Also, I expect that the number of applications we received this year will be published on Tuesday. To make this a little fun, we’ll play this as a guessing game: how many freshman applications do you think MIT received this year? Many thanks to fellow admissions blogger Daniel Creasy at the Johns Hopkins University (a fantastic school, btw) for the idea.

To give you some basis to work from, here are our freshman application numbers for the past five years, starting with last year and working backwards: 11,373; 10,440; 10,466; 10,549; 10,664. One guess per person. This is just for fun. No prizes will be awarded, just pride and bragging rights. Oh, and in case you’re wondering — this number has nothing to do with Mersenne primes or perfect numbers (no, we did not receive 33,550,336 applications).

Leave your guesses in the comments, and good luck!

100 responses to “Numbers, Perfect and Imperfect”

  1. Stephen says:

    I say an even 12,000.

  2. Sh1fty says:

    happy birthday! i’d say you got about 10700 applications this year smile btw this whole perfect numbers theory is wrong, everyone knows that there’s only one perfect number, the answer to life, the universe and everything and that number is 42 smile

  3. José P. says:

    I’d agree with Stephen… somewhere between 12,000 and 13,000.

  4. Viksit says:

    Hey Happy Birthday Matt.

    I’d say something around 11000 applications. Well to choose a number ..mmmmmmm 11330.

  5. Jen says:

    I heard numbers were up around 10% this year…I’d say about 12,250.

  6. Mrinal Monga says:

    I say 11,999 (hey just a guess!)

  7. Mrinal Monga says:

    Hey Jen we managed to blog at the same time smile

  8. Mrinal Monga says:

    Hey Jen we gave our answers at the same time !

  9. Reg says:

    I say 12,345 coz everyone likes numbers in a row :D

  10. milena says:

    Stephen, that is the same number that crossed my mind… but I think I’ll go with 12,120 ish. Just because it’s a pretty number.

  11. Adam S. says:

    Lets do this the fun way.
    Difference in applicants
    Difference in the difference of applicants

    Now.. going backward, we get


    which yields a final applicant pool of 15,044!

    Of course, the reason for this large prediction is because of the huge jump in applicants last year. Too bad the data wasn’t more consistent. grin

    I’ll base my actual guess on the EA data, though. There were 3493 applicants EA this year, 2,965 last year. Assuming the ratio between EA and RA stayed consistent between the two years, there’d be a total of 13398 received applications. That’s kinda scary.

    So yeah. My guess is 13398 applications. Let’s hope I’m not right.

    Sorry for this ridiculously long post. grin

  12. Paritosh says:

    Hey Happy B’day!!!…..
    My guess is around 11,300

  13. I’ll venture an educated guess by means of polynomial extrapolation…

    Year: # of applicants
    2002: 10,664
    2003: 10,549
    2004: 10,466
    2005: 10,440
    2006: 11,373
    2007: 15,426
    2008: 24,197
    2009: 39,859
    2010: 64,918

    Within about 150 years, the number of applicants to MIT will far exceed the population of the Earth, which is clear proof that intelligent life exists elsewhere in the universe, and wants to attend MIT.

  14. Amjad says:

    happy birthday!
    I say 11,252

  15. Meng says:

    11,476. haha just a guess. Anyway, happy birthday to u, Matt.

  16. Oh, and happy birthday. grin

  17. Arkajit says:

    Happy Birthday Matt! And I’m guessing since you’re neither 6 nor 496 years old, you’re age is the perfect number between those two. That also made me realize that my age is exactly half-way between the only two perfect number ages anyone is likely to reach. smile

    And for the number of freshmen applicants, my guess is around 11,800.

  18. Solomon says:

    Happy Birthday Mr. McGann. I bet you are 28 years old today. Well I know for a fact that the number of applicants this year is 11,229

  19. Nedyalko says:

    Hope to be one of the admitted smile

  20. Nedyalko says:

    Oh, and happy birthday of course! smile

  21. Jillian says:

    Happy Birthday!!!

    I guess 11,534.

  22. Austin says:

    Happy Birthday!

  23. Karin says:

    Who knows, it just popped in my head.
    I hope for your sake that it’s closer to 11,000 than that.

  24. Shawn says:

    I’d guess it’s probably infinity, give or take a few.

  25. Keri says:


    Why not?

  26. Austin says:

    No… I take that back.

    Let’s instead gamble with the harmonic mean of everyone else’s response: I say 11940 freshmen applicants. =)

  27. Kenechi says:

    Happy Birthday Matt!

    My guess is 11578.

  28. Camille says:

    Happy Birthday!!!…My guess in your little competition would have to be 12,007. Seems reasonable right? =)

  29. Justin says:

    10,575 for the win! I only say so thinking in the mindset that more applied EA.

    Happy 28th Matt! :D

  30. Anonymous says:

    600. 600. <== I wish


  31. Kevin (MA) says:

    If this were Price is Right, I’d be the annoying guy who bets $1…

    But since it’s not, I’ll say 13,129

  32. Jenny says:


    and happy birthday :D

  33. Arthur says:

    12924 (+/- 3)

    happy birthday matt!

  34. Steve says:

    12853 – 13% increase for EA, so hopefully regular is the same. (rounded up to a prime number!)

    And happy birthday!

  35. Peter says:

    13428, i’d guess… the last two digits put there in honour of your birthday, if i guessed correctly…=)

    anyway, happy birthday!

  36. Brett says:

    Happy Birthday.
    I’m Guessing 11,750

  37. Prashanth says:

    Happy birthday!
    My guess : 11,953

  38. Anna S says:

    Happy Birthday!

    I guess 11,590 (just a random guess).

  39. Herman N says:

    I’d say 12,013

    Regarding an earlier post about the answer to the universe being 42…I watched a video in physics this year about integration, and apparently the integral of a tea pot is also 42…go figure…

  40. Kelvin says:

    (that’s my lucky number, by the way!!)
    oh no, wait its one of my lucky numbers.
    Have a lovely day, everybody!!

  41. vanessa says:

    ah, no sha, it´s not ^^
    so cause nobody else has said it yet I guess it´s
    E1337 raspberry seems to fit perfectely

    and happy birthday!!!!

  42. nnnoooo says:

    the golden ratio raised to e all times pi what exactedly does that mean? (i´m an international app)

  43. Roseanne says:

    Haha you can integrate teapots…?

    Um, I think it’s over 12,000 so I’ll just use my birthday for the last 3 digits. 12,413.

    And Happy Birthday!

  44. Siddharth says:

    Happy Birthday Matt!

    I guess 11,969 applications.

  45. Happy Birthday
    And the no. of app. could be – 11,694

    HEY ALL I’M comin to MIT this year.


  46. Ankur M says:

    Happy Birthday Matt..

    My guess: 10,566

  47. Golden Girl says:

    Happy 28th Perfect birthday Matt!!! Next time you will be perfect , none of us will be around. I wander what will be mit admission like then. My guess for number of applicants in mit will be in between 2*fourth perfect number and 160th triangular number.

  48. Sarah says:

    13,727 applications…. and Happy Birthday!

  49. Gomodrilcheg says:

    Great site. Admin cool boy!!!
    Thanx for resoure

  50. As a long-time computer person and former mainframe user, I have to guess 13,030.

  51. Snively says:

    390/3493 = .111652 (EA Acceptance Rate)

    Since they are dedicated to only accepting 30% of their admits in EA, the total accepted will have to be 1300.

    (Total number of applicants)x(.111652)=1300

    Total number of applicants = 11643.3 [floor it]



  52. Anon says:

    I bid:


    and the actual retail value is…..?

  53. Wild guess!

    the number of apps may be 10110110010011 in binary!

    But is your age just a perfect number, i dont think so! here are some fun facts about your present age:

    1.) 28 is also a trianular number,hexagonal number, centered nanogonal number. also keith number.
    2.)Last number in Indian magic Square or order 3.
    3.)its also a mersenne prime
    4.)4th magic number in physics.
    5.)its 11100 in binary and 1C in hexa
    6.)its XXVIII in romans
    7.)number of human teeth w/o molers.
    8.)saturn revolves round sun in 28 years.
    9.)hey wait! its also on padovan sequence, how can i forget to think about it before? man!
    10.)2^2(2^3 – 1) = 28 grin

    alrite, i cant remem any other, but really, 28 is the cool number.

  54. Snively says:

    For those of you who like averages, here’s all the guesses from the previous posts (excluding Ian’s second guess, only one guess per person). Happy averaging!


  55. Anonymous says:

    Hey I posted my last entry, just before going to bed last night. And guess what.. Matt you were there, in my dream, telling me that the no. of applcations this year was 12392. =P

  56. Anonymous says:

    Hey I posted my last entry, just before going to bed last night. And guess what.. Matt you were there, in my dream, telling me that the no. of applcations this year was 12392. =P

  57. Viksit says:

    It was me with the above posts.

  58. Meara says:

    Happy Birthday!

    13,056, for no particular reason.

  59. 32sII says:

    28…a mersenne prime?

    My guess is OVERFLOW.

  60. Millikan says:


  61. oops! i meant to say that a mersenne prime is its factor! sorry for that!

    talkin of mersenne prime, the 44th of it and largest till date was discovered by steven boone on 6th sepetember, 2006! and its this:

    (2^32,582,657 – 1) or simply M32582657

  62. Sabina says:

    Ohh, Happy Belated Birthday,
    I don’t know why but i feel its 19,000 or close to it.

  63. Vihang says:

    Happy B’Day Matt.

    I’d say 12459 applicants.

  64. Sabina says:

    Can we fax our mid-year grade report?

  65. Sarab says:

    Happy Birthday!
    And my guess is 17,359 applicants

  66. Ben says:

    Happy Birthday, Matt!

    I’ll say 12539.

  67. KAR says:

    Happy Birthday, Matt! I’d have to venture a guess at, oh say 11,846 though the thought of more applications scares me as a deferred applicant.

  68. Justin says:

    I was the min! until Millikan came along =—–
    AUTHOR: Jennifer
    DATE: 02/05/2007 01:39:13 AM
    My guess is 12,201. I would have said 12,200 but these types of things never seem to be nicely rounded numbers.

  69. Sanja says:

    Happy b-day Matt!

    btw, my guess is 13370 smile

  70. Anshu says:

    Happy Birthday!!!

  71. Hi Matt,

    Happy Birthday!

    I’d say, given the surge in EA Applicants all of a sudden… That MIT’s overall count of Undergraduate Applications would go to 13,648… Not because of any calculation lol… but it might be around what should come in…

    Its odd, but lets see!

  72. Vignan says:

    Have a super birthday Matt!

    Guessing that your post on perfect numbers is a clue to the answer- 11213

  73. Guess Who? says:

    Christ!! Everybody seems here had been fascinated by Hardy & Littlewood Inc. at one point *tilts his head* or this time around.
    Anyway since the prime occasain of this blog seems to be B’day of Mr. McGann so Happy B’Day. And yes I am not in this guessing game. Since there are already many and Snively’s enough for it. Anyway gotta do the job. So….Bye. And please do not guess my name, if you know it then keep it to yourself.
    Ah! Gotta move fast.

  74. Timothy says:

    I am with Solomon. You are 28 and I wish today turns out as the happiest day of your life.

    I can’t settle on a particular number, but I suspect it’ll be between 12500 and 13000.

  75. Happy Birthday be lated
    13435(error +-1%)

  76. Shashank says:

    umm…lemme c… 22,326 apps in 2007…hw abt tht

  77. Shashank says:

    Oh ya…n HAPPY BDAY – BE LATED!…=D

  78. Happy birthday Matt, suprisingly enough, it is my birthday as well, apparently making me both practical and poweful in mathematical terms (I could only wish in realistic terms). You can see Wolfram for definitions. My guess is 11,621 (the golden ratio raised to e all times pi). Have a good one.

  79. Bianca says:

    Have a Happy Birthday Matt!

    I would guess 13289 applications (or my birthday in the European format) smile.

  80. Sha says:

    I’ll say 10,497, because I want to have either the highest or the lowest guess so far, but saying something higher than 42,575 would probably be pushing it.

  81. Rose says:

    Well, considering the idea the factors that more people are adopting the ideology that colleges don’t look at test scores, immigration statistics and the years people from Asia and other regions of the world came to the US so that there children could pursue higher education, and the fact that last years number could have very well been just a outlier in the data pool, I think that this years admissions will be roughly the same as last years +/- 300. Maybe, 11,621, I like Scott Mitchell’s logic.

  82. Rose says:

    OH! I almost forgot, Happy Birthday!

  83. Matthew Ché, I guess you are 28 years old now,(You are too old to be 6) Happy Birthday to you.

    I close my eyes, and randomly hit the numeric pad 5 times, here we go……….42575…….. eek it’s too much, but ok, it’s my guess

  84. Josh V says:

    I’m going to say 11,237. Completely random.

    Aaaaannnnd, Happy Birthday.

  85. Basant says:

    Happy B’Day Matt. I guess it’s 12568 apps (ran a random number generator)