Eratosthenes, sieve of

      systematic procedure for finding prime numbers (prime) that begins by arranging all of the natural numbers (1, 2, 3, …) in numerical order. After striking out the number 1, simply strike out every second number following the number 2, every third number following the number 3, and continue in this manner to strike out every nth number following the number n. The numbers that remain are prime. The procedure is named for the Greek astronomer Eratosthenes of Cyrene (c. 276–194 BC).

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