Closing in on the Primes

  • Calvin C. Clawson


To fully comprehend the natural number sequence, we must look once again at prime numbers. We have already mentioned that the Greeks knew the distinction between prime and composite numbers, and even proved useful theorems concerning them. All natural numbers (excluding 1) can be categorized as either prime numbers (primes) or composite numbers (composites). Why are we interested in prime and composite numbers? Because every composite number “decomposes” into a unique set of prime numbers multiplied together. As mentioned earlier, this is the Fundamental Theorem of Arithmetic: Every natural number greater than 1 can be expressed as a product of prime numbers in one and only one way.


Natural Number Percent Error Prime Factor Prime Number Cube Root 
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End Notes

  1. 1.
    H.G. Wells, The Time Machine (CD: DeskTop BookShop) (Indianapolis: WeMake CDs, Inc., 1994).Google Scholar
  2. 2.
    Paulo Ribenboim, The Little Book of Big Primes (New York: Springer-Verlag, 1991), p. 142.CrossRefzbMATHGoogle Scholar
  3. 3.
    For a further discussion of this equation see Paulo Ribenboim, The Book of Prime Number Records, second edition (New York: Springer-Verlag, 1989), p. 190.CrossRefGoogle Scholar

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© Calvin C. Clawson 1996

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  • Calvin C. Clawson

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