# What is the largest three-digit integer that when cubed, the result ends in itself

Let $$N =\overline{abc}$$ be a three-digit integer with distinct digits $$a$$, $$b$$, and $$c$$. What is the largest possible integer $$N$$ such that, when $$N$$ is cubed, the resulting integer ends with the same three digits as $$N$$?

Here is what I did: I know that $$N^3\equiv N \pmod{1000}.$$ That means that $$N^3-N\equiv 0 \pmod{1000}$$ or $$N(N-1)(N+1)\equiv0 \pmod{1000}.$$ However, I don't know how to quickly find numbers that fit the properties without brute force. What do I do?

• surely either $N\equiv1($mod$1000)$ or $N\equiv999($mod$1000)$? – Seth Mar 13 at 2:58
• There are other solutions to $N^3\equiv N\pmod {1000}$ besides $0, 1,$ and $999$ (e.g., 125), but $999$ works for this problem – J. W. Tanner Mar 13 at 3:08
• However, $N$ has distinct digits, so 999 is not an answer. – A R Mar 13 at 3:12
• Oops, I missed that the digits are distinct. Maybe $875?$ – J. W. Tanner Mar 13 at 3:18
• I think you meant $N^\mathbb 3-N$ – J. W. Tanner Mar 13 at 15:41

As stated in the question, we are looking for a solution of $$N^3\equiv N\pmod{1000}.$$

This means $$1000$$ divides $$N^3-N$$, so $$125$$ and $$8$$ divide $$N^3-N=N(N-1)(N+1).$$

$$5$$ can divide only one of $$N, N-1$$, and $$N+1$$, so this means $$125$$ divides $$N$$, $$N-1$$, or $$N+1$$.

That means, if $$N$$ is a positive integer less than $$1000,$$

$$N \in \{0,1,124,125,126,249,250,251,374,375,376,499,500,501,624,625,626,749,750,751,874,875,876,999\}.$$

If $$8$$ divides $$N(N-1)(N+1)$$ then $$N$$ is odd or $$8$$ divides $$N.$$

That means $$N\in\{0,1,125,249,251,375,376,499,501,624,625,749,751,875,999\}.$$

Now that we have found solutions of $$N^3\equiv N\pmod{1000}$$, the problem is easily solved.

OK, I got it. So, based on my initial trial, I know that $$N(N-1)(N+1)\equiv0 \pmod{1000}.$$ Now there are two cases. Why? Because $$N+1$$ and $$N-1$$ must have the same parity, meaning that they must both be even or they must both be odd. Note that $$1000=2^3\times5^3$$. Using this, we can rule out the case where $$N$$ is even. Why? Because if $$N$$ is even, $$N+1$$ and $$N-1$$ must be odd. $$N$$ must be divisible by 2, 4, or 8, but the two odd numbers should be divisible by 5, an impossibility (Note that $$500$$ is both divisible by 125 and 4, but not, 8, and since the other two numbers are odd. This means that $$N$$ must be odd, and if $$N$$ should be maximized, it should be a factor of 125. Note that there is at least one multiple of 4 next to a number ending in 25 or 75, so this assumption works. This gives us the largest three digit multiple of 125, $$\boxed{875}$$.

• Why can't we have $N=376$ (even and $125$ divides $N-1$) as a solution to $N(N-1)(N+1)\equiv0\pmod{1000}$? – J. W. Tanner Mar 13 at 14:22