# MATH10040 Chapter 2: Prime and relatively prime numbers

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1 MATH10040 Chapter 2: Prime and relatively prime numbers Recall the basic definition: 1. Prime numbers Definition 1.1. Recall that a positive integer is said to be prime if it has precisely two positive divisors (which are necessarily 1 and the number itself) An integer greater than 1 which is not prime is said to be composite. Thus a prime number p is a number greater than 1 which has no factorizations other that the trivial factorizations p = 1 p = p 1 = ( 1) ( p) = ( p) ( 1). By definition, a (positive) composite number n admits at least one nontrivial factorization n = rs where 2 r, s n 1. Given a large integer, it can be a difficult task to determine whether it is prime or composite. 1 With not-too-large integers the following observation helps: Lemma 1.2. Let n be a composite number. Then n has a prime divisor p satisfying 2 p n. Proof. We have n = rs with 2 r, s n 1. But, by a previous result, either r n of s n. Without loss of generality, r n. Now take p to be any prime divisor of r. Thus, if an integer n has no prime divisor less than or equal to n, it cannot be composite and so must be prime. Example 1.3. Is the number 211 prime? Solution: If 211 were composite it would have a prime divisor smaller than 211 < 15. Thus one of the primes 2, 3, 5, 7, 11, 13 would divide it. Since none of these divide it, it must be prime. 1 The problem of distinguishing prime numbers from composite numbers and of resolving the latter into their prime factors is known to be one of the most important and useful in arithmetic. C.F Gauss, Disquisitiones Arithmeticae,

2 2 There is a polynomial time algorithm (i.e. an efficient computer programme) discovered only recently by an Indian computer scientist and two undergraduate students to determine whether a given integer is prime or not. Such an algorithm is said to be a test for primality. Amazingly, the algorithm can determine that a number is composite without finding any factors. (We will see later in the course how this is possible.) In fact, it turns out that the problem of factoring large integers (eg with several hundred digits) even when we can prove that they are not prime is still intractable. There is no known efficient algorithm or programme for finding the factors of a large composite integer. Given a 300-hundred digit integer which is the product of two 150-digit prime numbers, all the supercomputers in the world running from now until the death of the sun will not find these prime factors using current techniques (unless the factors are of some very particular form). In fact the security of the modern cryposystems that are used in banking and national security rely on this fact. (More on this later in the course.) 2. Relatively prime numbers Definition 2.1. Two nonzero integers a and b are said to be relatively prime if (a, b) = 1. Example and 35 are relatively prime. 12 and 15 are not relatively prime. Remark 2.3. If p is prime and a Z, then the only positive divisors of p are 1 and p and hence either (a, p) = 1 or (a, p) = p. In the first case, a and p are relatively prime. In the second, p a. Thus, when p is prime, either (a, p) = 1 or p a. Example and 6 are not relatively prime. Observe that 4 60 = 10 6 but 4 10 and 4 6. The following is the key property of relatively prime numbers, which we will use repeatedly throughout the remainder of the course: Theorem 2.5. Suppose that (a, b) = 1 and that a bc. Then a c. Proof. Since (a, b) = 1, there exist s, t Z with 1 = as + bt. Since a bc there exists n Z with bc = na. Thus c = c 1 = c (as + bt) = a(sc) + (bc)t = a(sc) + nat = a (sc + nt) is a multiple of a.

3 Corollary 2.6. Let p be a prime number and suppose that p ab. Then p a or p b. Proof. If p a we are done. Otherwise, (a, p) = 1 (see remarks above) and hence p b by Theorem 2.5. Corollary 2.7. If p is prime and p a 2 then p a. Proof. Take a = b in Corollary 2.6. Example 2.8. Of course, the corresponding statement for composite numbers is usually false. For example but We can generalize these last two corollaries: Corollary 2.9. Let p be a prime number. Suppose that a 1,..., a n are integers and that p a 1 a 2 a n. Then p a i for some i n. Proof. We ll prove this by induction on n 2. 2 The case n = 2 is precisely Corollary 2.6. Suppose now that the result is true for some n 2 and that we are given n + 1 integers a 1,..., a n, a n+1 and that p a 1 a n+1. Take a = a 1 a n and b = a n+1 in Corollary 2.6. It follows that p a 1 a n or p a n+1. By our inductive hypothesis, it follows that p a i for some i n or p a n+1. Corollary If p is a prime number and if p a n, then p a. 3 Proof. Let a 1 = a 2 = = a n = a in Corollary Irrationality of certain roots The ancient sect of Pythagoreans (ca 400BC) were convinced that all essential facts about the universe were determined by whole numbers and their ratios. For example, they discovered the importance of ratios of musical string lengths in the creation of harmonies. Thus it caused them some difficulties that, try as they might, they could not find a pair of whole numbers m and n such that the diagonal of a unit square is exactly equal to m/n. If d is the length of the diagonal of a square of side 1, then (by Pythagoras s Theorem), we have d 2 = = 2; in modern notation, d = 2. Eventually, one of their number (Hippasus of Metapontum) discovered the shocking truth: there are naturally ocurring magnitudes which cannot be expressed as a ratio of whole numbers. The diagonal of a unit square is one such number: 2 So the statement P(n) is: Given any n integers a 1,..., a n, if p a 1 a 2 a n then p a i for some i

4 4 Lemma is not a rational number. Proof. Suppose for the sake of contradiction that 2 is rational. Then we can write this rational number in reduced form; there are nonzero integers a, b satisfying (a, b) = 1 and 2 = a/b. Squaring we get 2 = a2 b 2 = 2b 2 = a 2. This equation shows that 2 a 2 (i.e. a 2 is even). By Corollary 2.7 with p = 2 it follows that 2 a (i.e. a is even). Thus a = 2c for some integer c. Then 2b 2 = a 2 = (2c) 2 = 4c 2 = b 2 = 2c 2. But this implies that b 2 is even, and hence that b is even by the same argument as for a. Thus 2 a and 2 b; a contradiction, since (a, b) = 1. In fact, this proof can be applied equally to any prime number: Theorem 3.2. Let p be a prime number. Then p is irrational. Proof. Suppose for the sake of contradiction that p is rational. Then we can write this rational number in reduced form; there are nonzero integers a, b satisfying (a, b) = 1 and p = a/b. Squaring we get p = a2 b 2 = pb 2 = a 2. This equation shows that p a 2. By Corollary 2.7 it follows that p a. Thus a = pc for some integer c. Then pb 2 = a 2 = (pc) 2 = p 2 c 2 = b 2 = pc 2. But this implies that p b 2, and hence that p b by the same argument as for a. Thus p a and p b; a contradiction, since (a, b) = 1. Remark 3.3. It follows that we have a list of infinitely many irrational numbers: 2, 3, 5, 7, 11,... and we can find many more:

5 For example the number φ := was particular revered by the Pythagoreans. It is called the golden ratio or golden section. (It arises as the ratio of the diagonal to the side of a regular pentagon.) It is easy to see that φ is irrational: Suppose FTSOC that φ were rational. Then 2φ = would be rational, and hence 2φ 1 = 5 would be rational a contradiction. Exercise 3.4. Let p be a prime and n > 1. Prove that n p is not rational Solving the equation ax + by = c Let a, b, c be nonzero integers. In this section we describe how to find all integer solutions x and y of the equation ax + by = c. (The equation ax + by = c is of course the equation of a straight line in the cartesian plane R 2. The subset Z 2 of R 2 consists of all those points whose coordinates are integers. It is called the integer lattice in R 2. Draw a picture of (part of) this lattice. Geometrically, what we are doing is finding the points in the integer lattice through which the line ax + by = c passes. ) We have already seen in Chapter 1 that a necessary and sufficient condition for the equation ax + by = c to have a solution is that (a, b) c. Thus, if (a, b) c, there are no points on the line ax+by = c with integer coordinates. So we may assume that c is a multiple of g = (a, b). Thus there are integers a, b, c such that a = a g, b = b g and c = c g. Recall furthermore that (a, b ) = 1 in these circumstances. Finally, observe that the equations ax + by = c and a x + b y = c have the same integer solutions (since the second is obtained from the first by dividing across by g). Thus it s enough to figure out how to solve the second equation. In other words we just have to figure out how to find integer solutions of equations ax + by = c where (a, b) = 1 (replacing a, b, c by a, b, c if necessary). Recall from Chapter 1, that we find one solution of the equation as follows. Use Euclid s algorithm to find s, t Z satisfying as+bt = 1. Then multiply across by c: c = a(cs) + b(ct). So x = cs, y = ct is a solution. Lemma 4.1. Suppose that (a, b) = 1 and that x = s, y = t is an integer solution of the equation (1) ax + by = c. (1) For any m Z, x = s + mb, y = t ma is also a solution.

6 6 (2) This accounts for all integer solutions of (1): If x = S, y = T is any solution, then there exists m Z with S = s + mb, T = t ma. Thus the general solution of (1) is x = s + mb, y = t ma m Z. Proof. (1) Given that as + bt = c, we have a(s + mb) + b(t ma) = as + mab + bt mab = as + bt = c. (2) Let x = S, y = T be a solution. Then as + bt = c = as + bt = a(s s) = b(t T ). It follows that a b(t T ) and, since (a, b) = 1, we deduce that a t T ; i.e. t T = ma for some integer m and hence T = t ma. But then a(s s) = b(t T ) = b (ma) = S s = mb = S = s + mb. Example 4.2. Find all integer solutions of the equation 57x + 31y = 3. Find the solution with the smallest positive value for x. Solution: First use Euclid s algorithm: So Multiplying across by 3 gives 57 = = = = = 26 5 (31 26) = = 6 (57 31) 5 31 = = So x = 18, y = 33 is one solution. By the Lemma, the general solution is x = m, y = 33 57m, m =..., 2, 1, 0, 1, 2,... (In other words, the solutions are the pairs..., ( 44, 81), ( 13, 24), (18, 33), (49, 90), (80, 147),...) Since any solution x must differ from 18 by a multiple of 31, 18 is the smallest possible positive value of x.

7 7 Example 4.3. Find all integer solutions of the equation 72x + 51y = 15. Solution: Since (72, 51) = 3 and since 3 15, we divide across by 3 to get the equation 24x + 17y = 5. Using Euclid s algorithm we find that 1 = and hence 5 = Thus x = 25, y = 35 is a solution. Hence the general solution is x = m, y = 35 24m, m Z (So a smaller solution is x = = 8, y = = 11, on taking m = 1.) 5. The Fundamental Theorem of Arithmetic We have seen that every number can be expressed as a product of prime numbers. Example = = = = = = etc However it is not immediately obvious that this can be done in only one way. For example, is the following equation true or false: = In this case, we can easily use the properties of prime numbers to show that the equation must be false: Suppose FTSOC that it were true. Then = But this latter implies 3 5 or 3 13 by Corollary 2.9 a contradiction. How about the following equation?: = Again, we can see after a bit of thought that this can t happen: Suppose we had equality. Divide both sides by 7 5. Since 7 still divides the left-handside, it must also divide This implies (by Corollary 2.9 again) that 7 3 or 7 11, a contradiction.

8 8 These ideas can be adapted to show that if one product of primes is equal to another product of primes then the primes occurring in both expressions must be the same, and they must occur the same number of times in each expression; i.e. a natural number can be expressed in one and only one way as a product of prime numbers: Remark 5.2. From now on, to keep our statements simple, when we say that a number is expressed as a product of primes, we include the possibility that the product has only one factor; i.e. that it is just a single prime. Theorem 5.3 (The Fundamental Theorem of Arithmetic). Every positive integer greater than 1 is equal to a product of prime numbers, uniquely up to order. To be precise about the uniqueness statement: If n > 1 and n = p 1 p t = q 1 q s where the p 1,..., p t, q 1,..., q t are all prime numbers and p 1 p 2 p t and q 1 q 2 q s then s = t and p 1 = q 1, p 2 = q 2,...,p t = q t. Proof. We have already proved that every integer greater than 1 factors as a product of primes. It remains to prove the uniqueness assertion. We ll use strong induction on n > 1. Now n = 2 is prime and hence has only the trivial factorization 2. Suppose the result is known for 2,..., n and that we have two (possibly the same) factorizations n + 1 = p 1 p t = q 1 q s, with p 1 p 2 p t, q 1 q 2 q s Let r be the largest prime number that divides n + 1. Then r p 1 p t = r p i for some i (by Corollary 2.9) and hence r = p i (since p i is prime). But then we must have r = p t since r is the largest prime dividing n + 1. An identical argument with the other expression shows r = q s. Thus p t = r = q s. It follows (on dividing by r) that n + 1 = p 1 p t 1 = q 1 q s 1. r Since (n + 1)/r < n + 1, it follows from our induction hypothesis that t 1 = s 1 (and hence t = s) and that p 1 = q 1,..., p t 1 = q t 1. The Fundamental Theorem of Arithmetic says that integers greater than 1 factorize in a unique way as a product of prime numbers n = p 1 p 2 p t with p 1 p 2 p t. Thus 7000 =

9 We can collect together equal primes and write them as powers. We then get n = q a 1 1 qr ar with q 1 < < q r and a 1,..., a r 1. For example, 7000 = Notation 5.4. Given a prime p and a nonzero integer n, we write p a n to mean that p a n but p a+1 n; i.e. that a is the exact power of p which divides n. Example , , , etc Recall that n! := 1 2 (n 1) n. Let p < n be a prime. What is the exact power of p that divides n!? Solution: The number of integers smaller than or equal to n which are divisible by p is n/p. Of these, some are divisible by p 2 and so contribute an extra factor of p in n!. There are n/p 2 numbers less than or equal to n which are divisible by p 2. Similarly, there are n/p 3 numbers less than or equal to n which are divisible by p 3, and each of these contributes yet another factor of p. Continuing like this (until p k is too large), the total power of p which divides n! is n n n p p 2 p 3 Example 5.6. What is the exact power of 3 which divides 20!. Answer: So !. 20 = = 8. 9 Example 5.7. Factorize 20! as a product of prime numbers. Solution: For each prime up to 19, we determine the exact power that divides 20! (as in the last example): !, !, !, !, 11, 13, 17, 19 20!. Thus 20! =

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