# 17 Greatest Common Factors and Least Common Multiples

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1 17 Greatest Common Factors and Least Common Multiples Consider the following concrete problem: An architect is designing an elegant display room for art museum. One wall is to be covered with large square marble tiles. To obtain the desired visual effect, the architect wants to use the largest tiles possible. If the wall is to be 12 feet high and 42 feet long, how large can the tiles be? The length of the size of a tile must be a factor of both the height and the length of the wall. But the factors of 12 are 1, 2, 3, 4, 6, and 12, and those of 42 are 1, 2, 3, 6, 7, 14, 21, and 42. Thus, the tile size must be chosen from the list 1, 2, 3, 6, the set of common factors. Since 6 is the largest common factor then the tiles must measure 6 feet on a side. Consideration lie these lead to the notion of the greatest common factor of two nonzero whole numbers. Greatest Common Factors The Greatest Common Factor is the largest whole number that divides evenly two or more nonzero whole numbers. The greatest common factor of a and b will be denoted by GCF(a,b). There are three ways for finding GCF(a,b). The first one uses sets, the second one uses prime factorizations, and the third one uses the division algorithm. Set Intersection Method In this method we list all of the factors of each number, then list the common factors and choose the largest one. Example 17.1 Find GCF(36,54). Let F 36 denote the set of factors of 36. Then F 36 = {1, 2, 3, 4, 6, 9, 12, 18, 36} Similarly, Thus, F 54 = {1, 2, 3, 6, 9, 18, 27, 54} F 36 F 54 = {1, 2, 3, 6, 9, 18}. 1

2 So, GCF(36,54) = 18. Prime Factorization In this method we list the prime factors, then multiply the common prime factors. Example 17.2 Find GCF(36,54) using prime factorization. Writing the prime factorization of both 36 and 54 we find 36 = = Notice that the prime factorizations of 36 and 54 both have one 2 and two 3s in common. So, we simply multiply these common prime factors to find the greatest common factor. That is, GCF (36, 54) = = 18. Remar 17.1 In general, if a = p s 1 1 p s 2 2 p s and b = p t 1 1 p t 2 2 p t then GCF (a, b) = p min{s 1,t 1 } 1 p min{s 2,t 2 } 2 p min{s,t } To discuss the third method we proceed as follows. Let a and b be whole numbers with a b. Then by the division algorithm (See Section 13) we can find unique whole numbers q and r such that Theorem 17.1 a = bq + r, 0 r < b. GCF (a, b) = GCF (b, r). Proof. If c is a common factor of a and b then c a and c b. Thus, c a and c bq. Hence, c (a bq) which means c r. Since c b and c r then c is a common factor of b and r. Similarly, if d is a common factor of b and r. Then d b and d r. So d r and d bq. Hence, d (bq + r) = a. This says that d is also a common factor of a and b. It follows that the pairs of numbers {a, b} and {b, r} have the same common factors. This implies that they have the same greatest common factor. 2

3 Euclidean Algorithm Let s find the greatest common factor of 36 and 54 using the division algorithm. 54 = GCF (54, 36) = GCF (36, 18) 36 = GCF (36, 18) = GCF (18, 0) Thus, GCF(54,36) = GCF(36,18) = GCF(18,0)=18. Hence, to find the GCF of two numbers, apply the above theorem repeatedly until a remainder of zero is obtained. The final divisor that leads to the zero remainder is the GCF of the two numbers. Example 17.3 Use the three methods discussed above to find GCF (42, 24). Set Intersection Method: and Thus, so that GCF (42, 24) = 6. F 42 = {1, 2, 3, 6, 7, 14, 21, 42} F 24 = {1, 2, 3, 4, 6, 8, 12, 24} F 42 F 24 = {1, 2, 3, 6} Prime Factorization: Since 42 = and 24 = then GCF (42, 24) = 2 3 = 6. Euclidean Algorithm: Thus, GCF (42, 24) = = GCF (42, 24) = GCF (24, 18) 24 = GCF (24, 18) = GCF (18, 6) 18 = GCF (18, 6) = GCF (6, 0) = 6 Least Common Multiple The least common multiple is useful when adding or subtracting fractions. These two operations require what is called finding the common denominator which turns out to be the least common multiple. 3

4 The least common multiple of a and b, denoted by LCM(a,b), is the smallest nonzero whole number that is a multiple of both a and b. As with the GCFs, there are three different ways for finding LCM(a,b): the set intersection method, the prime factorization method, and the build-up method. Set Intersection Method In this method list the nonzero multiples of each number until a first common multiple appears. This number is the LCM(a,b). Example 17.4 Find LCM(12,8). Let M 8 and M 12 denote the set of nonzero multiples of 8 and 12 respectively. Then M 8 = {8, 16, 24, } and Thus, LCM(8,12) = 24. M 12 = {12, 24, } Prime Factorization Method To find the LCM using this method we first find the prime factorization of each number. Then tae each of the primes that are factors of either of the given numbers. The LCM is the product of these primes, each raised to the greatest power of the prime that occurs in either of the prime factorizations. That is, if a = p s 1 1 p s 2 2 p s and then b = p t 1 1 p t 2 2 p t LCM(a, b) = p max{s 1,t 1 } 1 p max{s 2,t 2 } 2 p max{s,t } We illustrate the above method in the following example. Example 17.5 Find LCM(2520,10530). 4

5 Writing the prime factorization of each number we find 2520 = = So LCM(2520, 10530) = = 294, 840. Euclidean Algorithm The following theorem is useful in finding the LCM of two numbers a and b when their prime factorization is not easy to find. We find the GCF(a,b) using the Euclidean algorithm. The LCM is found by dividing the product a b by the GCF. Theorem 17.2 For any two nonzero whole numbers a and b we have LCM(a, b)gcf (a, b) = a b. Proof. The justification of this theorem uses the prime factorizations of a and b. So write But Hence, a = p s 1 1 p s 2 2 p s b = p t 1 1 p t 2 2 p t a b = p s 1+t 1 1 p s 2+t 2 2 p s +t LCM(a, b) = p max{s 1,t 1 } 1 p max{s 2,t 2 } 2 p max{s,t } GCF (a, b) = p min{s 1,t 1 } 1 p min{s 2,t 2 } 2 p min{s,t } LCM(a, b) GCF (a, b) = p max{s 1,t 1 }+min{s 1,t 1 } 1 p max{s 2,t 2 }+min{s 2,t 2 } 2 p max{s,t }+min{s,t }. But for any index i, we have max{s i, t i } + min{s i, t i } = s i + t i. Thus, LCM(a, b) GCF (a, b) = a b 5

6 Example 17.6 Find LCM(731,952). Using the Euclidean algorithm one will find that GCF (731, 952) = 17. Thus, by the above theorem Practice Problems LCM(731, 952) = = 40, 936. Problem 17.1 Find the GCF and LCM for each of the following using the set intersection method. (a) 18 and 20 (b) 24 and 36 (c) 8, 24, and 52 (d) 7 and 9. Problem 17.2 Find the GCF and LCM for each of the following using the prime factorization method. (a) 132 and 504 (b) 65 and 1690 (c) 900, 96, and 630 (d) 108 and 360 (e) 11 and 19. Problem 17.3 Find the GCF and LCM for each of the following using the Euclidean algorithm method. (a) 220 and 2924 (b) 14,595 and 10,856 (c) 122,368 and 123,152. Problem 17.4 Find the LCM using any method. (a) 72, 90, and 96 (b) 90, 105, and

7 Problem 17.5 Find the LCM of the following numbers using Theorem (a) 220 and 2924 (b) 14,595 and 10,856 (c) 122,368 and 123,152. Problem 17.6 If a and b are nonzero whole numbers such that GCF (a, b) = 1 then we say that a and b are relatively prime. Determine whether the following pairs of numbers are relatively prime. (a) 7 and 19 (b) 27 and 99 (c) 8 and 6 (d) 157 and 46. Problem 17.7 (a) Draw a Venn diagram showing the factors and common factors of 10 and 24. (b) What is the greatest common factor of 10 and 24? Problem 17.8 Suppose that a = and GCF (a, b) = Give two possible values of b. Problem 17.9 To find the GCF and LCM of three or more nonzero whole numbers the prime factorization method is the most desirable. (a) Find the GCF and the LCM of a = , b = , c = (b) Is it necessarily true that LCM(a, b, c) GCF (a, b, c) = a b c? Problem Use the method of intersection to find LCM(18,24,12) and GCF(18,24,12). Problem Find all whole numbers x such that GCF(24,x)=1 and 1 x 24. Problem George made enough money by selling candy bars at 15 cents each to buy several cans pop at 48 cents each. If he had no money left over, what is the fewest number of candy bars he could have sold? 7

8 Problem In the set {18, 96, 54, 27, 42}, find the pair(s) of numbers with the greatest GCF and the pair(s) with the smallest LCM. Problem Which is larger GCF(a,b) or LCM(a,b)? Problem Suppose that a and 10 are relatively prime. Find all the possible values of a that are less than 10. Problem LCM(24,x)=168 and GCF(24,x)=2. Find x. Problem (a) Show that for any nonzero whole numbers a and b with a b we have GCF(a,b)=GCF(a-b,b). (b) Use part (a) to find GCF(546,390). Problem Suppose that a = , GCF (a, b) = , and LCM(a, b) = Find the value of b. Problem Suppose 0 were included as a possible multiple in the definition of LCM. What would be the LCM of any two whole numbers? Problem Assume a and b are nonzero whole numbers. Answer the following: (a) If GCF(a,b) = 1, find LCM(a,b). (b) Find GCF(a,a) and LCM(a,a). (c) Find GCF(a 2,a) and LCM(a 2,a). (d) If a b, find GCF(a,b) and LCM(a,b). (e) If a and b are two primes, find GCF(a,b) and LCM(a,b). (f) What is the relationship between a and b if GCF(a,b) = a? (g) What is the relationship between a and b if LCM(a,b) = a? 8

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