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Factors and Multiples

Updated: May 11


Factors and Multiples

Factors and multiples are fundamental concepts in mathematics, particularly useful when dealing with division and multiplication.

Factors and Multiples

A factor is a number that divides another number without leaving a remainder. In other words, if 𝑎a divides 𝑏b exactly, then 𝑎a is a factor of 𝑏b.

Example:

Consider the number 12:

  • The factors of 12 are 1, 2, 3, 4, 6, and 12.

  • 1 × 12 = 12

  • 2 × 6 = 12

  • 3 × 4 = 12 Each of these pairs multiplies to give 12, indicating that all these numbers are factors of 12.

Multiples

A multiple of a number is the product of that number and an integer. Multiples can be thought of as the result of multiplying a number by the counting numbers.

Example:

The multiples of 5 include:

  • 5 × 1 = 5

  • 5 × 2 = 10

  • 5 × 3 = 15

  • 5 × 4 = 20

  • and so on... These results are all multiples of 5.

Applications and Importance

  • Factors are crucial in simplifying fractions, where finding the greatest common factor can reduce a fraction to its simplest form.

  • Multiples are essential when finding the least common multiple, which is used to add or subtract fractions with different denominators.

Further Examples:

  1. Finding the GCF (Greatest Common Factor):

  • For the numbers 18 and 24, the factors are:

  • Factors of 18: 1, 2, 3, 6, 9, 18

  • Factors of 24: 1, 2, 3, 4, 6, 8, 12, 24

  • The common factors are 1, 2, 3, 6, and the greatest is 6.

  1. Finding the LCM (Least Common Multiple):

  • For the numbers 4 and 6, the first few multiples are:

  • Multiples of 4: 4, 8, 12, 16, 20, 24, ...

  • Multiples of 6: 6, 12, 18, 24, 30, ...

  • The common multiples are 12, 24, ... and the least is 12.

Understanding and using factors and multiples efficiently can help streamline solving problems, particularly those involving fractions and divisibility rules, making them integral to math education at all levels.


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