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Willans' Formula in APL

I saw this video from Eric Rowland a few days back, about an exact mathematical formula to derive the nth prime.

13:21: It shows that you can use basic arithmetic functions in a programming language
13:25: and that that programming language is expressive enough to describe the nth prime number.

This quote instantly reminded me of APL, so I obviously had to try implementing it.


The obvious takeaway from this video is that this is effectively a toy formula that uses several tricks to achieve a “closed form”. I was still very curious about it since it did resemble an APLesque function:

Actually, there’s too much overcomputation.

      cmpx 'Willans¨a' 'pco¨a'
  Willans¨a → 3.1E¯4 |   0% ⎕⎕⎕⎕⎕⎕⎕⎕⎕⎕⎕⎕⎕⎕⎕⎕⎕⎕⎕⎕⎕⎕⎕⎕⎕⎕⎕⎕⎕⎕⎕⎕⎕⎕⎕⎕⎕⎕⎕⎕
  pco¨a     → 1.1E¯4 | -65% ⎕⎕⎕⎕⎕⎕⎕⎕⎕⎕⎕⎕⎕⎕

It fails above ⍵=6 due to hitting the integer limit (factorials, yay!), but it’s a nice thing to learn APL’s basic ideas from. One can use bignum support like the Python and Mathematica shown in the video, but I don’t recommend it.