Happy Happy Joy Joy

Wherein we ponder the inner complexities of life as a number…


“Some cause happiness wherever they go; others whenever they go.”

— Oscar Wilde

Happy Numbers

Submitted by: Robert DiCicco

Write a script to find the first 8 Happy Numbers in base 10. For more information, please check out Wikipedia.

Starting with any positive integer, replace the number by the sum of the squares of its digits, and repeat the process until the number equals 1 (where it will stay), or it loops endlessly in a cycle which does not include 1.

Those numbers for which this process end in 1 are happy numbers, while those numbers that do not end in 1 are unhappy numbers.


19 is Happy Number in base 10, as shown:

19 => 1^2 + 9^2
   => 1   + 81
   => 82 => 8^2 + 2^2
         => 64  + 4
         => 68 => 6^2 + 8^2
               => 36  + 64
               => 100 => 1^2 + 0^2 + 0^2
                      => 1 + 0 + 0
                      => 1


What makes a number happy? According to one theory, whose origins appear to be lost to history, it’s the presence of a numeric imperative — of a timeline; of eventual closure to its existence.

In short, as we travel through life, we find ourselves repeating similar actions again and again. The particulars my change, but the framework is what we know and how we know that, and this remains consistent. If that process ultimately resolves, then we get closure and from this a sense of purpose. Alternately, if we find ourselves in the exact same situation again and again, so much that we recognize and know the outcome before we start, then we become unhappy, stuck in a loop, going nowhere, without meaning in the future and by extension the past.

This is a pretty heady philosophical position for a number — unexpected, too, as we generally consider the entities of the mathematical realm removed from the internal conflicts the physical plane.

I personally have always considered the numbers to be above such emotional tethers, otherwise engaged in cosmic connections that we mortals here on Earth are only just at the dawn of comprehension.

This in turn leads to questions of anthropomorphization of these abstract concepts, and whether the idea itself of happiness transcends the human condition, as something somehow wrapped in larger concepts of unity and truth to a broader nature — that we experience what we call happiness because we are engaging in the meta-process without conflict. This brings to mind questions about the apparent singular directionality of time, and with that temporal movement direction — of action combined with data.

This last idea is modeled in group and container theory, providing another bridge between the worlds, so with that context the fundamental premise does seem somewhat less far-fetched.

As stated before, the source of this philosophical premise about the happy — and by extension unhappy — numbers is itself unknown, which is somehow consistent and ultimately fitting to the depths of the subject matter.

The numbers themselves are notoriously tight-lipped on the subject.


At the intersection of dynamical systems and number theory lies the field of arithmetic dynamics, examining the evolving state of parameters in a transformation equation repeatedly applied to the same mutating data pool. This process of re-applying a mapping to a field of data points is known as an iterated function. In arithmetic dynamics these methods are used on number-theoretical functions, looking for underlying structures behind these equation classes.

The transformation of squaring and summing the coefficients of a polynomial expansion of a representational number, repeatedly applied until the result stabilizes into either a set result of a known cyclic pattern is one such system, and the determination of a number’s happiness an analysis the process.

The most familiar application of dynamical systems analysis if the preparation of the Mandelbrot set, which is constucted from points on the complex plane repeatedly iterated through the transformation

z = z² + c

The set, visualized for a given constant c, is those points where the reperated application of the iterated function is determined to converge, versus those where the result is unbounded, with emphasis placed on the properties of the edge between the two possible outcomes and its particular fractal nature.

In general, the actual parameter ranges observed in a dynamical system are known as the state space, and the meta-analytical analysis and mapping of the possible parameter states for a given equation is known as the phase space.


To actually accompish the task we will revisit a technique we developed back in PWC106, where we had to recognize a repeating cycle of digits in a decimal representation of a fraction. In identifying a reptend, we modeled long division, and recognized that should a given remainder repeat once when we were carrying down 0s, then that cycle would continue indefinitely. In a similar way, if one of our arthimetic transformations produces a previously seen result then we know that some repeating cycle will bring us around to that point again, as no variance is allowed in the process.

Thus we establish a “seen” hash of all results caluculated, and after a transormation compare the result to the keys in this hash. If the key is present we are trapped in a repeating cycle and cannot escape.

Alternately, if our reduction reaches 1 then we have won the day and can stop the transformation loop, our happiness ensured.


use warnings;
use strict;
use utf8;
use feature ":5.26";
use feature qw(signatures);
no warnings 'experimental::signatures';

use List::Util qw( sum );

my $q = shift // 8;
my @out;

while ( @out < $q and ++$_ ){
    push @out, $_ if happy($_);

    local $" = ', ';
    $_ = "@out";

sub happy ($num) {
    my %seen = ( $num => 1 );
    while ( $num != 1 ) {
        $num = sum map { $_ ** 2 } split //, $num;
        return 0 if $seen{$num};
        $seen{$num} = 1;
    return $num;

Raku Solution

unit sub MAIN ( $q = 8 ) ;

put ((1..*).grep({ happy($_) }))[0..7] ;

sub happy ($num is copy) {
    my %seen = $num, 1;
    while ( $num != 1 ) {
        $num = $num.comb.map(*²).sum and %seen{$num} ?? return 0
                                                     !! %seen{$num}++;
    return 1;

The Perl Weekly Challenge, that idyllic glade wherein we stumble upon the holes for these sweet descents, is now known as

The Weekly Challenge – Perl and Raku

It is the creation of the lovely Mohammad Sajid Anwar and a veritable swarm of contributors from all over the world, who gather, as might be expected, weekly online to solve puzzles. Everyone is encouraged to visit, learn and contribute at