# [thechat] Word Calculator

rudy r937 at interlog.com
Mon Oct 1 17:45:26 CDT 2001

Here's an interesting challenge. If a=26, b=25, and so on down to z=1, then
the value of any word is calculated by multiplying together the values of
its letters. For the word cow, c=24, o=12, and w=4, so the value of cow is
1152. Similarly, frenzy=108108 and imagine=674593920.

Now the challenge: find the English word with the highest value not
exceeding 500000. Clearly, frenzy is too small and imagine is way too big.
It must be a real word, verifiable in a standard dictionary, no proper
noun, contraction, or slang.

Want a suggestion? 500000 is not prime, and can be factored as follows:

500000 = 2**5 x 5**6

You can combine the factors in whatever way is convenient. However, none of
the resulting words (that I could come up with) is a real English word:

500000 = 2**4 x 2**1 x (5x5)**3 = kybbb

Of course, if you use a letter that has anything other than a 2 or a 5 as a
factor, then you're not gonna hit 500000 dead on. But maybe you can come
close.

The amazing part of this story? This was a homework assignment in my
daughter's Grade 5 math class! I asked her if it was okay to create a tool
to help her check her words, and she said yes, so I wrote a quick little
program in Javascript that calculates the "value" of any word. We found it
most helpful to get a real feel for the problem, to say nothing of being a
supreme time saver:

http://rudy.ca/wordcalculator.html

And yes, we found several really good words with values over 499000.

rudy
http://rudy.ca/