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What are lychrel numbers?

Ayesha Naeem

Lychrel numbers are natural numbers that can never form a palindrome after an iterative process of adding the number to its reverse. The first few numbers that fail to form a palindrome are known as lychrel numbers.


  • To determine if a number is lychrel, check if the number is a palindrome or not.
  • If the number is a palindrome, the number is not a lychrel; otherwise, the number is added to its reverse and the new number is checked as a palindrome.
  • The process is repeated until a palindrome is found.
  • For example, the number 35 is not a palindrome. In the first iteration, 35 is added to 53 to form 88. The number 88 is a palindrome, therefore it takes one iteration to prove that 35 is not a lychrel.


The following code demonstrates how to find lychrel numbers in C++:

#include <iostream>
using namespace std;

int reverse(int num)
  int reversed = 0;
    int mod = num%10;
    reversed = (reversed*10) + mod;
    num = num/10;

  return reversed;

void isLychrel(int num, int max)
  //variable that holds 0 if lychrel and 1 if not
  int lychrel = 0;
  //duplicate the number for checking later
  int num_temp=num;

    // get the reverse
    int palindrome = reverse(num);
    // compare with original
    if(palindrome == num)
    // set the check to 1 and exit loop
      lychrel = 1;
    // if not a palindrom, reverse the number and add to the original number
    num = reverse(num) + num;
    // decrease the iteration count
  // display results
    cout<< "The number "<<num_temp<<" is not lycheral."<<endl;
    cout<< "The number "<<num_temp<<" is lycheral."<<endl;

int main() {

  int max = 10;
  int num_1 = 35;
  int num_2 = 295;
  //check if the number is lychrel or not
  isLychrel(num_1, max);
  isLychrel(num_2, max);



For the sake of implementation, the above code uses a maximum number to limit the iterations. If a palindrome is found within the limit, it is not lychrel.

  • The program is implemented for two numbers, 35 and 295.
  • The program calls the isLychrel function, which performs iterations until it finds a palindrome or reaches the maximum limit of iterations.
  • The isLychrel function calls the reverse function and compares the returned value with the original value to check if the original number is a palindrome or not.
  • If the number is not a palindrome, the program calls the reverse function again, adds the returned value to the original number, and repeats the process.



Ayesha Naeem
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