# The GMAT Guru. Prime Factorization: Theory and Practice

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1 . Prime Factorization: Theory and Practice The following is an ecerpt from The GMAT Guru Guide, available eclusively to clients of The GMAT Guru. If you would like more information about GMAT Guru services, visit or e- mail Prime Factor Rule : The factors of any number are completely determined by the prime factors of that number. Think of prime factorization as a way to break a positive integer into its smallest parts, as you might break a molecule into its component atoms. Once you know the atoms of a number, you know that any of its factors must be made up of these component atoms. For eample, the prime factorization of is 5 Factors of, therefore, must be composed entirely of these parts. Every factor of is just a regrouping of these prime numbers: Eample : Find all factors of Number: = 5 Factors: = 5 5 = 5 5 = 5 = 5 = 5 5 = 5 = 5 = 5 = 5 Most students aren t particularly impressed with the above eample; finding the factors of doesn t really demand the use of prime factorization. For more abstract questions, however, prime factorization is the ONLY way to solve. Eample : How many factors does the integer k have if prime numbers? k = s t where s and t are distinct Number: k = s t Factors: k = s t s st s t = s t (Answer: 6 factors) Copyright 7 by The GMAT Guru. All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced or transmitted in any form,

2 Prime factor rule # and the two eamples on the previous page can also be visualized with Venn Diagrams, where factors of a number are formed from the product of any subset of the number s prime factors. Eample 3: What are the factors of 9? Prime Factorize: 9= 3 5 We could depict this with a Venn diagram, where factors could be formed by subsets Factors: 3=6 33=8 35=5 etc. GCF and LCM: Venn Diagrams become particularly useful when we need to solve for the Greatest Common Factor (GCF) or Lowest Common Multiple (LCM) of two or more numbers. The GCF of two or more numbers is the largest number that divides evenly into those numbers. For eample, 6 is the GCF of and 8. The GCF can also be understood as the product of overlapping prime factors (see below). The LCM is the smallest number into which the numbers divide. The LCM of and 8, for eample, is 36. The LCM can also be understood as the product of all the factors in the Venn diagram. Note also that the LCM is the product of the two numbers divided by the GCF GCF = overlapping factors = 3 = 6 LCM = all factors = 33 =36 Or LCM = (8)/GCF = (8)/6 =36 If you are not a fan of Venn Diagrams, Purple Math presents the same concepts as above in a slightly different way: Copyright 7 by The GMAT Guru. All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced or transmitted in any form,

3 Prime Factor Rule : If two integers are equal, they must have the same prime factors. Prime factorization not only is helpful in finding the possible factors of a particular integer, but also is useful in finding the factors of another, equal integer: Eample 3: If the price of an item is increased by eactly %, which of the following COULD NOT be the final price of the item? a. \$. b. \$37.7 c. \$5.5 d. \$3. e. \$3.57 The first step to solve this problem is to write the equation relating the starting price, p, with the final price, f. As always, we epress the percent increase as a fractional scalar: 7 f = p 5 When you are given two variables and one equation, you will never be able to use algebra to solve for the two variables. If both of the variables are integers, however, you can find out what factors must be on both sides of the equation. To do this however, you need to get rid of any fractions so that only integers are left in the equation. 5 f= 7 p If f and p are both integers then both sides of the equation must now be integers. Since both sides of the equation are equal, they are the same integer and, therefore, must share the same prime factorization. In order to balance the prime factors on each side, f MUST have a factor of 7 and p MUST have a factor of 5. If f must have a factor of 7, the final price couldn t be \$37.7 (Answer b) because this number is the only answer that can t be divided by 7. Copyright 7 by The GMAT Guru. All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced or transmitted in any form,

4 Prime Factorization Problem Set. What are the GCF and LCM of and 5?. If the GCF of and y is, what are the GCF and LCM of 3 and 3y? 3. If the GCF of 3 and 5 y is 5, what are the FOUR possible GCFs of and y?. What are the GCF and LCM of! And! + 3? 5. If and y are integers and 63 = 5 y, what must be a factor of y? a. b. 35 c. 98 d. 78 e Four players play a tournament of chess. Each player starts with point, but increases his point total in the following way: Player A multiplies his score by 5 every time he wins. Player B multiplies his score by 3 whenever he wins. Player C multiplies his score by, and player D multiplies his score by. If at the end of the game, the total of all the players scores multiplied together is 3,56, what is the number of games that player B won? 7. If the total of the game above was 79,685, how many times did player D win? 8. ( y) z prime factorization of z has no more than one of each factor), solve for. z = If,y, and z are integers, and y are prime and z has no repeated factors (i.e. the 9. Bob is buying office supplies. Chairs cost \$.5. File Cabinets cost \$5.75. Keyboards cost \$ If he buys at least one of the above items and spends the same amount on each of the above items, what is the lowest number of total items he could buy? Copyright 7 by The GMAT Guru. All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced or transmitted in any form,

5 . Which of the following decimals terminates? (non-terminating means never ending) a. b. c. d. e If t is the product of all integers from to, what is the largest value k for which k is a factor of t?. (Data Sufficiency) If is the cube of an integer, is divisible by 63?. is divisible by 7. 5 is divisible by 9 3. If y is divisible by, yz is divisible by 5 and z is divisible by, yz must be divisible by which of the following? (more than one answer possible) a. 3 b. c. 6 d. 8. If for the integer n, <n<, for how many values of n will n(n+)(n+)(n+3)(n+) be divisible by? 5. If w= l m where l and m are DISTINCT prime numbers, how many possible factors does w have? If z= p q r where p,q, and r are DISTINCT prime numbers, how many possible factors does z have? Copyright 7 by The GMAT Guru. All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced or transmitted in any form,

6 Prime Factorization Solutions. Using the Venn Diagram method: GCF = overlapping factors = 5 = LCM = all factors = 55 = Alternate Method: If, in the future, you understand the meaning of the diagrams above, you can skip the drawings altogether and just look at the prime factorization of the two numbers: 3 = 5 and 5 = 5 To calculate the GCF, look for the highest number of any prime factor found in BOTH of the numbers: and 5, so the GCF is 5= In order to calculate the LCM, you need to include the highest number of any prime factor found in EITHER of the numbers. In this case has three factors of and 5 has two factors of 5, so the LCM is 55=. You could also calculate the LCM by dividing the product of the two numbers by the GCF: (5)/ =. First, epress the info given as equations. The best way to do this is as follows: s = and y = t, where s and t are integers that have NO common prime factors. (we need to specify this since, if s and t had common factors, these factors would have to be included in the GCF, which would no longer be. Now we manipulate the equations to solve for 3 and 3y s = = s 3 = 6s y t = y= t 3 y= 6t Since 3 and 3y share 6 and no other factors (since, by definition s and t have no common factors), the GCF of 3 and 3y is 6. The LCM, is 6st, the product of the two numbers divided by the GCF. (though we don t know the values of s and t. ) Copyright 7 by The GMAT Guru. All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced or transmitted in any form,

9 have multiples of which each contribute an additional factor of. By the same reasoning, we have 5 multiples of 8, which each contribute an additional factor of beyond what we have already counted for the multiples of. Each of the multiples of 6 contributes one more factor of and, finally, 3 contributes one etra factor. Total factors of = =38. By the same reasoning, we have 3 multiples of 3, multiples of 9, and multiple of 7. Total factors of 3= 3++=8. The maimum multiples of we can form is 8 since we have 9 pairs of twos, but only 8 factors of 3. k=8. Answer: A. Before evaluating the statements, make sure you understand the question: If is divisible by 63, it must have all the prime factors of 63, namely 63= 3 7 Write the information given as a prime factorized equation. We can prime factorize, but will need to leave the cube of an integer as an unknown t to the third power: = 3 5 = ( t) 3 Since the prime factorization of both sides of an equation must match, we know that the factors of must be in t also. We DO NOT need to put all four factors of in t, however, since the cube automatically triples the eponent of any particular factor in t (two factors of will be sufficient). We should also include an integer variable, z, in the cube to represent all other factors that COULD be in t: 3 5 = ( 3 5 z) 3. Since the cube triples all eponents, we now have too many factors on the right side: = 3 5 z. These etra factors (two etra s, two etra 3 s, two etra 5 s, and the 3 cube of some unknown integer, z) must be in : = 3 5 z So, before we even start looking at the statements, we know that is divisible by 3 = 9 ; the question, then, isn t really whether is divisible by 63, but whether it is divisible by 7. Any information that could definitely include or eclude a factor of 7 in either or the cubed integer would be a sufficient statement. (They either both have the factor of 7 or neither of them does.) Therefore, the answer is A, because statement tells you that is divisible by 7 and statement does not include or eclude divisibility by 7 Copyright 7 by The GMAT Guru. All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced or transmitted in any form,

10 3. First, write down the equations in prime factorization form and solve for all factors on both sides. Remember: the factors on both sides of the equation must match. a. y = 5 r where r is an unknown integer b. yz = 3 5 s where s is an unknown integer c. z = 7 t where t is an unknown integer ( 7 q ) = 7 t this step) where q is an unknown integer (see question #8 if you got lost on Therefore z = 7 q where q is an unknown integer What can we conclude from equations a and b? Since the factors of y and yz must also be factors of yz, yz must have at least the following three factors: (,3,5). We DO NOT, however, know which of the variables (,y, or z) contribute these particular factors. Since it is possible that z already contains the factor, equation c only provides one piece of additional relevant information, that yz must also contain a factor of 7. Taken all together, the three equations tell us that yz must be divisible by (factors,3,5, and 7). With this information in mind, let s evaluate the answer choices: e. 3 (YES. If yz is a multiple of, it certainly is a multiple of 3) f. (NO. Not all multiples of are multiples of ) g. 6 (NO. Not all multiples of are multiples of 6) h. 8 (NO. Not all multiples of are multiples of 8). n(n+)(n+)(n+3)(n+) is another way of epressing the product of five consecutive numbers, starting with n. The divisibility of this product will be completely dependant on the prime factors of n, (n+), (n+), etc. Any string of five consecutive numbers must have at least one multiple of 5, one multiple of, one multiple of 3, and one multiple of (not including the multiple of ). Therefore, regardless of n s value, ( n)( n+ )( n+ )( n+ 3)( n+ ) = 3 5 t= t where t is an unknown integer. EVERY one of the values of n will yield a product divisible by. Copyright 7 by The GMAT Guru. All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced or transmitted in any form,

11 5. This question is testing second rule of prime factorization, that all the possible factors of w must be derived from the prime components of w. The easiest way to answer this question is to list out the possible factors as we did in the eample at the beginning of the Prime Factorization Worksheet: Number: Factors: = l m = l m w l = l m l = l m m = l m lm = l m l m= l m m = l m lm = l m w = l m = l m (Answer: 9 factors) 6. We certainly can t list all the factors as we did in question #. Is there a more mathematical way of calculating the number of factors? Essentially, we can make a factor with varying numbers of p, q, and r factors. For eample, we may choose to build a factor with zero factors of p,q, and r: p q r = or we might build a factor with one factor of p and zero factors of q and r: p q r = p Every different combination of eponents on the prime numbers will yield a different factor. You can verify this by looking at the list of factors given in question #. Let s turn our attention back to question #: How many choices do we have for the p eponent? Si (Eponent can be,,,3,, or 5). How many choices do we have for the q eponent? Five (-). For the r eponent? Four There are 65= different ways can we choose all the eponents, each way yielding a different factor. We could have also used this approach to solve #: If the eponent on l can be one of three numbers (,,) and the eponent on m can be one of three numbers (,,), there are 9 (33) possible factors. Copyright 7 by The GMAT Guru. All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced or transmitted in any form,

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