Much less is known about the total stopping time function than about the stopping time function. One phenomenon immediately observable from a table of the total stopping times of small integers is the occurrence of many pairs and triples of integers having the same finite total stopping time. From Figure 1 we see that , , , , and . Indeed for larger values of n, multiple consecutive values occur with the same total stopping time. For example there are 17 consecutive values of n with for . A related phenomenon is that over short ranges of n the function tends to assume only a few values (C. W. Dodge [70]). As an example the values of for are given in Table 3. Only 19 values for are observed, for which a frequency count is given in Table 4. Both of these phenomena have a simple explanation; they are caused by coalescence of trajectories of different n's after a few steps. For example the trajectories of 8k + 4 and 8k + 5 coalesce after 3 steps, for all . More generally, the large number of coalescences of numbers and close together in size can be traced to the trivial cycle (1,2), as follows. Suppose and have , and let . Then the trajectories of and coalesce after at most iterations, since , since the trajectory of continues to cycle around the trivial cycle. If in addition , which nearly always happens if and are about the same size, then the trajectories of , and coalesce after at most iterations, for . In particular, then holds for . In this case the original coalescence of and has produced an infinite arithmetic progression of coalescences. The gradual accumulation of all these arithmetic progressions of coalescences of numbers close together in size leads to the phenomena observed in Tables 3 and 4.
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