# 1.4: Prime Factorization

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In the statement 3 · 4 = 12, the number 12 is called the product, while 3 and 4 are called factors.

Example 1

Find all whole number factors of 18.

Solution

We need to find all whole number pairs whose product equals 18. The following pairs come to mind.

1 · 18 = 18 and 2 · 9 = 18 and 3 · 6 = 18.

Hence, the factors of 18 are (in order) 1, 2, 3, 6, 9, and 18.

Exercise

Find all whole number factors of 21.

1, 3, 7, and 21

## Divisibility

In Example 1, we saw 3 · 6 = 18, making 3 and 6 factors of 18. Because division is the inverse of multiplication, that is, division by a number undoes the multiplication of that number, this immediately provides

18 ÷ 6 = 3 and 18 ÷ 3=6.

That is, 18 is divisible by 3 and 18 is divisible by 6. When we say that 18 is divisible by 3, we mean that when 18 is divided by 3, there is a zero remainder.

Divisible

Let a and b be whole numbers. Then a is divisible by b if and only if the remainder is zero when a is divided by b. In this case, we say that “b is a divisor of a.”

Example 2

Find all whole number divisors of 18.

Solution

In Example 1, we saw that 3 · 6 = 18. Therefore, 18 is divisible by both 3 and 6 (18 ÷ 3 = 6 and 18 ÷ 6 = 3). Hence, when 18 is divided by 3 or 6, the remainder is zero. Therefore, 3 and 6 are divisors of 18. Noting the other products in Example 1, the complete list of divisors of 18 is 1, 2, 3, 6, 9, and 18.

Exercise

Find all whole number divisors of 21.

1, 3, 7, and 21.

Example 1 and Example 2 show that when working with whole numbers, the words factor and divisor are interchangeable.

Factors and Divisors

If c = a · b, then a and b are called factors of c. Both a and b are also called divisors of c.

## Divisibility Tests

There are a number of very useful divisibility tests.

Divisible by 2. If a whole number ends in 0, 2, 4, 6, or 8, then the number is called an even number and is divisible by 2. Examples of even numbers are 238 and 1,246 (238 ÷ 2 = 119 and 1, 246 ÷ 2 = 623). A number that is not even is called an odd number. Examples of odd numbers are 113 and 2,339.

Divisible by 3. If the sum of the digits of a whole number is divisible by 3, then the number itself is divisible by 3. An example is 141. The sum of the digits is 1 + 4 + 1 = 6, which is divisible by 3. Therefore, 141 is also divisible by 3 (141 ÷ 3 = 47).

Divisible by 4. If the number represented by the last two digits of a whole number is divisible by 4, then the number itself is divisible by 4. An example is 11,524. The last two digits represent 24, which is divisible by 4 (24 ÷ 4 = 6). Therefore, 11,524 is divisible by 4 (11, 524 ÷ 4=2, 881).

Divisible by 5. If a whole number ends in a zero or a 5, then the number is divisible by 5. Examples are 715 and 120 (715÷5 = 143 and 120÷5 = 24).

Divisible by 6. If a whole number is divisible by 2 and by 3, then it is divisible by 6. An example is 738. First, 738 is even and divisible by 2. Second, 7+3+8=18, which is divisible by 3. Hence, 738 is divisible by 3. Because 738 is divisible by both 2 and 3, it is divisible by 6 (738 ÷ 6 = 123).

Divisible by 8. If the number represented by the last three digits of a whole number is divisible by 8, then the number itself is divisible by 8. An example is 73,024. The last three digits represent the number 24, which is divisible by 8 (24÷8 = 3). Thus, 73,024 is also divisible by 8 (73, 024÷8 = 9, 128).

Divisible by 9. If the sum of the digits of a whole number is divisible by 9, then the number itself is divisible by 9. An example is 117. The sum of the digits is 1 + 1 + 7 = 9, which is divisible by 9. Hence, 117 is divisible by 9 (117 ÷ 9 = 13).

## Prime Numbers

We begin with the definition of a prime number.

Prime Number

A whole number (other than 1) is a prime number if its only factors (divisors) are 1 and itself. Equivalently, a number is prime if and only if it has exactly two factors (divisors).

Example 3

Which of the whole numbers 12, 13, 21, and 37 are prime numbers?

Solution

• The factors (divisors) of 12 are 1, 2, 3, 4, 6, and 12. Hence, 12 is not a prime number.
• The factors (divisors) of 13 are 1 and 13. Because its only divisors are 1 and itself, 13 is a prime number.
• The factors (divisors) of 21 are 1, 3, 7, and 21. Hence, 21 is not a prime number.
• The factors (divisors) of 37 are 1 and 37. Because its only divisors are 1 and itself, 37 is a prime number.

Exercise

Which of the whole numbers 15, 23, 51, and 59 are prime numbers?

23 and 59

Example 4

List all the prime numbers less than 20.

Solution

The prime numbers less than 20 are 2, 3, 5, 7, 11, 13, 17, and 19.

You try it!

List all the prime numbers less than 100.

Composite Numbers

If a whole number is not a prime number, then it is called a composite number.

Example 5

Is the whole number 1,179 prime or composite?

Solution

Note that 1 + 1 + 7 + 9 = 18, which is divisible by both 3 and 9. Hence, 3 and 9 are both divisors of 1,179. Therefore, 1,179 is a composite number.

Exercise

Is the whole number 2,571 prime or composite?

Composite

## Factor Trees

We will now learn how to express a composite number as a unique product of prime numbers. The most popular device for accomplishing this goal is the factor tree.

Example 6

Express 24 as a product of prime factors.

Solution

We use a factor tree to break 24 down into a product of primes. At each level of the tree, break the current number into a product of two factors. The process is complete when all of the “circled leaves” at the bottom of the tree are prime numbers. Arranging the factors in the “circled leaves” in order,

24 = 2 · 2 · 2 · 3.

The final answer does not depend on product choices made at each level of the tree. Here is another approach. The final answer is found by including all of the factors from the “circled leaves” at the end of each branch of the tree, which yields the same result, namely 24 = 2 · 2 · 2 · 3.

Alternate Approach

Some favor repeatedly dividing by 2 until the result is no longer divisible by 2. Then try repeatedly dividing by the next prime until the result is no longer divisible by that prime. The process terminates when the last resulting quotient is equal to the number 1. The first column reveals the prime factorization; i.e., 24 = 2 · 2 · 2 · 3.

Exercise

Express 36 as a product of prime factors.

2 · 2 · 3 · 3.

The fact that the alternate approach in Example 6 yielded the same result is significant.

Unique Factorization Theorem

Every whole number can be uniquely factored as a product of primes.

This result guarantees that if the prime factors are ordered from smallest to largest, everyone will get the same result when breaking a number into a product of prime factors.

## Exponents

We begin with the definition of an exponential expression.

Exponents

The expression am is defined to mean

$$a^{m}=\underbrace{a \cdot a \cdot \ldots \cdot a}_{m \text { times }}$$

The number a is called the base of the exponential expression and the number m is called the exponent. The exponent m tells us to repeat the base a as a factor m times.

Example 7

Evaluate 25, 23, and 52.

Solution

• In the case of 25, we have

25 = 2 · 2 · 2 · 2 · 2

= 32.

• In the case of 33, we have

33 = 3 · 3 · 3

= 27.

• In the case of 52, we have

52 = 5 · 5

= 25.

Exercise

Evaluate: 35.

243.

Example 8

Express the solution to Example 6 in compact form using exponents.

Solution

In Example 6, we determined the prime factorization of 24.

24 = 2 · 2 · 2 · 3

Because 2 · 2 · 2=23, we can write this more compactly.

24 = 23 · 3

Exercise

Prime factor 54.

2 · 3 · 3 · 3

Example 9

Evaluate the expression 23 · 32 · 52.

Solution

First raise each factor to the given exponent, then perform the multiplication in order (left to right).

23 · 32 · 52 = 8 · 9 · 25

= 72 · 25

= 1800

Exercise

Evaluate: 33 · 52.

675

## Application

A square is a rectangle with four equal sides.

Area of a Square

Let s represent the length of each side of a square. Because a square is also a rectangle, we can find the area of the square by multiplying its length and width. However, in this case, the length and width both equal s, so A = (s)(s) = s2. Hence, the formula for the area of a square is

A = s2.

Example 10

The edge of a square is 13 centimeters. Find the area of a square.

Solution

Substitute s = 13 cm into the area formula.

A = s2

= (13 cm)2

= (13 cm)(13 cm)

= 169 cm2

Hence, the area of the square is 169 cm2; i.e., 169 square centimeters.

Exercise

The edge of a square is 15 meters. Find the area of a square.

225 square meters

## Exercises

In Exercises 1-12, find all divisors of the given number.

1. 30

2. 19

3. 83

4. 51

5. 91

6. 49

7. 75

8. 67

9. 64

10. 87

11. 14

12. 89

In Exercises 13-20, which of the following numbers is not divisible by 2?

13. 117, 120, 342, 230

14. 310, 157, 462, 160

15. 30, 22, 16, 13

16. 382, 570, 193, 196

17. 105, 206, 108, 306

18. 60, 26, 23, 42

19. 84, 34, 31, 58

20. 66, 122, 180, 63

In Exercises 21-28, which of the following numbers is not divisible by 3?

21. 561, 364, 846, 564

22. 711, 850, 633, 717

23. 186, 804, 315, 550

24. 783, 909, 504, 895

25. 789, 820, 414, 663

26. 325, 501, 945, 381

27. 600, 150, 330, 493

28. 396, 181, 351, 606

In Exercises 29-36, which of the following numbers is not divisible by 4?

29. 3797, 7648, 9944, 4048

30. 1012, 9928, 7177, 1592

31. 9336, 9701, 4184, 2460

32. 2716, 1685, 2260, 9788

33. 9816, 7517, 8332, 7408

34. 1788, 8157, 7368, 4900

35. 1916, 1244, 7312, 7033

36. 7740, 5844, 2545, 9368

In Exercises 37-44, which of the following numbers is not divisible by 5?

37. 8920, 4120, 5285, 9896

38. 3525, 7040, 2185, 2442

39. 8758, 3005, 8915, 3695

40. 3340, 1540, 2485, 2543

41. 2363, 5235, 4145, 4240

42. 9030, 8000, 5445, 1238

43. 1269, 5550, 4065, 5165

44. 7871, 9595, 3745, 4480

In Exercises 45-52, which of the following numbers is not divisible by 6?

45. 328, 372, 990, 528

46. 720, 288, 148, 966

47. 744, 174, 924, 538

48. 858, 964, 930, 330

49. 586, 234, 636, 474

50. 618, 372, 262, 558

51. 702, 168, 678, 658

52. 780, 336, 742, 312

In Exercises 53-60, which of the following numbers is not divisible by 8?

53. 1792, 8216, 2640, 5418

54. 2168, 2826, 1104, 2816

55. 8506, 3208, 9016, 2208

56. 2626, 5016, 1392, 1736

57. 4712, 3192, 2594, 7640

58. 9050, 9808, 8408, 7280

59. 9808, 1232, 7850, 7912

60. 3312, 1736, 9338, 3912

In Exercises 61-68, which of the following numbers is not divisible by 9?

61. 477, 297, 216, 991

62. 153, 981, 909, 919

63. 153, 234, 937, 675

64. 343, 756, 927, 891

65. 216, 783, 594, 928

66. 504, 279, 307, 432

67. 423, 801, 676, 936

68. 396, 684, 567, 388

In Exercises 69-80, identify the given number as prime, composite, or neither.

69. 19

70. 95

71. 41

72. 88

73. 27

74. 61

75. 91

76. 72

77. 21

78. 65

79. 23

80. 36

In Exercises 81-98, find the prime factorization of the natural number.

81. 224

82. 320

83. 108

84. 96

85. 243

86. 324

87. 160

88. 252

89. 32

90. 128

91. 360

92. 72

93. 144

94. 64

95. 48

96. 200

97. 216

98. 392

In Exercises 99-110, compute the exact value of the given exponential expression.

99. 52 · 41

100. 23 · 41

101. 01

102. 13

103. 33 · 02

104. 33 · 22

105. 41

106. 52

107. 43

108. 42

109. 33 · 12

110. 52 · 23

In Exercises 111-114, find the area of the square with the given side.

111. 28 inches

112. 31 inches

113. 22 inches

114. 13 inches

Create factor trees for each number in Exercises 115-122. Write the prime factorization for each number in compact form, using exponents.

115. 12

116. 18

117. 105

118. 70

119. 56

120. 56

121. 72

122. 270

123. Sieve of Eratosthenes. This exercise introduces the Sieve of Eratosthenes, an ancient algorithm for finding the primes less than a certain number n, first created by the Greek mathematician Eratosthenes. Consider the grid of integers from 2 through 100. To find the primes less than 100, proceed as follows.

i) Strike out all multiples of 2 (4, 6, 8, etc.)

ii) The list’s next number that has not been struck out is a prime number.

iii) Strike out from the list all multiples of the number you identified in step (ii).

iv) Repeat steps (ii) and (iii) until you can no longer strike any more multiples.

v) All unstruck numbers in the list are primes.

1. 1, 2, 3, 5, 6, 10, 15, 30

3. 1, 83

5. 1, 7, 13, 91

7. 1, 3, 5, 15, 25, 75

9. 1, 2, 4, 8, 16, 32, 64

11. 1, 2, 7, 14

13. 117

15. 13

17. 105

19. 31

21. 364

23. 550

25. 820

27. 493

29. 3797

31. 9701

33. 7517

35. 7033

37. 9896

39. 8758

41. 2363

43. 1269

45. 328

47. 538

49. 586

51. 658

53. 5418

55. 8506

57. 2594

59. 7850

61. 991

63. 937

65. 928

67. 676

69. prime

71. prime

73. composite

75. composite

77. composite

79. prime

81. 2 · 2 · 2 · 2 · 2 · 7

83. 2 · 2 · 3 · 3 · 3

85. 3 · 3 · 3 · 3 · 3

87. 2 · 2 · 2 · 2 · 2 · 5

89. 2 · 2 · 2 · 2 · 2

91. 2 · 2 · 2 · 3 · 3 · 5

93. 2 · 2 · 2 · 2 · 3 · 3

95. 2 · 2 · 2 · 2 · 3

97. 2 · 2 · 2 · 3 · 3 · 3

99. 100

101. 0

103. 0

105. 4

107. 64

109. 27

111. 784 in2

113. 484 in2

115. 12 = 22 · 3

117. 105 = 3 · 5 · 7

119. 56 = 23 · 7

121. 72 = 23 · 32

123. Unstruck numbers are primes: 2, 3, 5, 7, 11, 13, 17, 19, 23, 29, 31, 37, 41, 43, 47, 53, 59, 61, 67, 71, 73, 79, 83, 89, 97

This page titled 1.4: Prime Factorization is shared under a CC BY-NC-SA license and was authored, remixed, and/or curated by David Arnold.