In

integer
An integer is the number zero (), a positive natural number
In mathematics, the natural numbers are those number
A number is a mathematical object used to count, measure, and label. The original examples are the natural number ...

s . The algebraic closure of , i.e. the field of roots of rational polynomials, is the field of algebraic numbers.
The rationals are a densely ordered set: between any two rationals, there sits another one, and, therefore, infinitely many other ones. For example, for any two fractions such that
:$\backslash frac\; <\; \backslash frac$
(where $b,d$ are positive), we have
:$\backslash frac\; <\; \backslash frac\; <\; \backslash frac.$
Any totally ordered set which is countable, dense (in the above sense), and has no least or greatest element is order isomorphic to the rational numbers.

"Rational Number" From MathWorld – A Wolfram Web Resource

{{Authority control Elementary mathematics Field (mathematics) Fractions (mathematics) Sets of real numbers

mathematics
Mathematics is an area of knowledge that includes the topics of numbers, formulas and related structures, shapes and the spaces in which they are contained, and quantities and their changes. These topics are represented in modern mathematics ...

, a rational number is a number
A number is a mathematical object used to count, measure, and label. The original examples are the natural numbers 1, 2, 3, 4, and so forth. Numbers can be represented in language with number words. More universally, individual number ...

that can be expressed as the quotient or fraction of two integer
An integer is the number zero (), a positive natural number
In mathematics, the natural numbers are those number
A number is a mathematical object used to count, measure, and label. The original examples are the natural number ...

s, a numerator and a non-zero denominator . For example, is a rational number, as is every integer (e.g. ). The set of all rational numbers, also referred to as "the rationals", the field of rationals or the field of rational numbers is usually denoted by boldface , or blackboard bold $\backslash mathbb.$
A rational number is a real number
In mathematics
Mathematics is an area of knowledge that includes the topics of numbers, formulas and related structures, shapes and the spaces in which they are contained, and quantities and their changes. These topics are represented in ...

. The real numbers that are rational are those whose decimal expansion either terminates after a finite number of digits (example: ), or eventually begins to repeat the same finite sequence
In mathematics, a sequence is an enumerated collection of objects in which repetitions are allowed and order matters. Like a set, it contains members (also called ''elements'', or ''terms''). The number of elements (possibly infinite) is cal ...

of digits over and over (example: ). This statement is true not only in base 10, but also in every other integer base, such as the binary and hexadecimal
In mathematics
Mathematics is an area of knowledge that includes the topics of numbers, formulas and related structures, shapes and the spaces in which they are contained, and quantities and their changes. These topics are represented i ...

ones (see ).
A real number
In mathematics
Mathematics is an area of knowledge that includes the topics of numbers, formulas and related structures, shapes and the spaces in which they are contained, and quantities and their changes. These topics are represented in ...

that is not rational is called irrational. Irrational numbers include , , , and . Since the set of rational numbers is countable, and the set of real numbers is uncountable, almost all real numbers are irrational.
Rational numbers can be formally defined as equivalence class
In mathematics
Mathematics is an area of knowledge that includes the topics of numbers, formulas and related structures, shapes and the spaces in which they are contained, and quantities and their changes. These topics are represented in ...

es of pairs of integers with , using the equivalence relation
In mathematics
Mathematics is an area of knowledge that includes the topics of numbers, formulas and related structures, shapes and the spaces in which they are contained, and quantities and their changes. These topics are represented i ...

defined as follows:
: $\backslash left(\; p\_1,\; q\_1\; \backslash right)\; \backslash sim\; \backslash left(\; p\_2,\; q\_2\; \backslash right)\; \backslash iff\; p\_1\; q\_2\; =\; p\_2\; q\_1.$
The fraction then denotes the equivalence class of .
Rational numbers together with addition
Addition (usually signified by the plus symbol ) is one of the four basic operations of arithmetic, the other three being subtraction, multiplication and division. The addition of two whole numbers results in the total amount or '' sum'' ...

and multiplication
Multiplication (often denoted by the cross symbol , by the mid-line dot operator , by juxtaposition, or, on computer
A computer is a machine that can be programmed to carry out sequences of arithmetic or logical operations ( c ...

form a field which contains the integer
An integer is the number zero (), a positive natural number
In mathematics, the natural numbers are those number
A number is a mathematical object used to count, measure, and label. The original examples are the natural number ...

s, and is contained in any field containing the integers. In other words, the field of rational numbers is a prime field, and a field has characteristic zero if and only if it contains the rational numbers as a subfield. Finite extensions of are called algebraic number fields, and the algebraic closure of is the field of algebraic numbers.
In mathematical analysis, the rational numbers form a dense subset of the real numbers. The real numbers can be constructed from the rational numbers by completion, using Cauchy sequences, Dedekind cuts, or infinite decimal
The decimal numeral system (also called the base-ten positional numeral system and denary or decanary) is the standard system for denoting integer and non-integer number
A number is a mathematical object used to count, measure, and ...

s (see Construction of the real numbers).
Terminology

The term ''rational'' in reference to the set refers to the fact that a rational number represents a '' ratio'' of two integers. In mathematics, "rational" is often used as a noun abbreviating "rational number". The adjective ''rational'' sometimes means that the coefficients are rational numbers. For example, a rational point is a point with rational coordinates (i.e., a point whose coordinates are rational numbers); a ''rational matrix'' is a matrix of rational numbers; a ''rational polynomial'' may be a polynomial with rational coefficients, although the term "polynomial over the rationals" is generally preferred, to avoid confusion between " rational expression" and " rational function" (apolynomial
In mathematics
Mathematics is an area of knowledge that includes the topics of numbers, formulas and related structures, shapes and the spaces in which they are contained, and quantities and their changes. These topics are represented in mo ...

is a rational expression and defines a rational function, even if its coefficients are not rational numbers). However, a rational curve ''is not'' a curve defined over the rationals, but a curve which can be parameterized by rational functions.
Etymology

Although nowadays ''rational numbers'' are defined in terms of ''ratios'', the term ''rational'' is not a derivation of ''ratio''. On the opposite, it is ''ratio'' that is derived from ''rational'': the first use of ''ratio'' with its modern meaning was attested in English about 1660, while the use of ''rational'' for qualifying numbers appeared almost a century earlier, in 1570. This meaning of ''rational'' came from the mathematical meaning of ''irrational'', which was first used in 1551, and it was used in "translations of Euclid (following his peculiar use of )". This unusual history originated in the fact that ancient Greeks "avoided heresy by forbidding themselves from thinking of those rrationallengths as numbers". So such lengths were ''irrational'', in the sense of ''illogical'', that is "not to be spoken about" ( in Greek). This etymology is similar to that of ''imaginary'' numbers and ''real'' numbers.Arithmetic

Irreducible fraction

Every rational number may be expressed in a unique way as anirreducible fraction
An irreducible fraction (or fraction in lowest terms, simplest form or reduced fraction) is a fraction in which the numerator and denominator are integers that have no other common divisor
In mathematics
Mathematics is an area of kno ...

, where and are coprime integers and . This is often called the canonical form of the rational number.
Starting from a rational number , its canonical form may be obtained by dividing and by their greatest common divisor, and, if , changing the sign of the resulting numerator and denominator.
Embedding of integers

Any integer can be expressed as the rational number , which is its canonical form as a rational number.Equality

:$\backslash frac\; =\; \backslash frac$ if and only if $ad\; =\; bc$ If both fractions are in canonical form, then: :$\backslash frac\; =\; \backslash frac$ if and only if $a\; =\; c$ and $b\; =\; d$Ordering

If both denominators are positive (particularly if both fractions are in canonical form): :$\backslash frac\; <\; \backslash frac$ if and only if $ad\; <\; bc.$ On the other hand, if either denominator is negative, then each fraction with a negative denominator must first be converted into an equivalent form with a positive denominator—by changing the signs of both its numerator and denominator.Addition

Two fractions are added as follows: :$\backslash frac\; +\; \backslash frac\; =\; \backslash frac.$ If both fractions are in canonical form, the result is in canonical form if and only if and are coprime integers.Subtraction

:$\backslash frac\; -\; \backslash frac\; =\; \backslash frac.$ If both fractions are in canonical form, the result is in canonical form if and only if and are coprime integers.Multiplication

The rule for multiplication is: :$\backslash frac\; \backslash cdot\backslash frac\; =\; \backslash frac.$ where the result may be a reducible fraction—even if both original fractions are in canonical form.Inverse

Every rational number has an additive inverse, often called its ''opposite'', :$-\; \backslash left(\; \backslash frac\; \backslash right)\; =\; \backslash frac.$ If is in canonical form, the same is true for its opposite. A nonzero rational number has amultiplicative inverse
In mathematics
Mathematics is an area of knowledge that includes the topics of numbers, formulas and related structures, shapes and the spaces in which they are contained, and quantities and their changes. These topics are represented in ...

, also called its ''reciprocal'',
:$\backslash left(\backslash frac\backslash right)^\; =\; \backslash frac.$
If is in canonical form, then the canonical form of its reciprocal is either or , depending on the sign of .
Division

If , , and are nonzero, the division rule is :$\backslash frac\; =\; \backslash frac.$ Thus, dividing by is equivalent to multiplying by the reciprocal of : :$\backslash frac\; =\; \backslash frac\; \backslash cdot\; \backslash frac.$Exponentiation to integer power

If is a non-negative integer, then :$\backslash left(\backslash frac\backslash right)^n\; =\; \backslash frac.$ The result is in canonical form if the same is true for . In particular, :$\backslash left(\backslash frac\backslash right)^0\; =\; 1.$ If , then :$\backslash left(\backslash frac\backslash right)^\; =\; \backslash frac.$ If is in canonical form, the canonical form of the result is if or is even. Otherwise, the canonical form of the result is .Continued fraction representation

A finite continued fraction is an expression such as :$a\_0\; +\; \backslash cfrac,$ where are integers. Every rational number can be represented as a finite continued fraction, whose coefficients can be determined by applying theEuclidean algorithm
In mathematics
Mathematics is an area of knowledge that includes the topics of numbers, formulas and related structures, shapes and the spaces in which they are contained, and quantities and their changes. These topics are represented in ...

to .
Other representations

* common fraction: * mixed numeral: * repeating decimal using a vinculum: * repeating decimal using parentheses: * continued fraction using traditional typography: * continued fraction in abbreviated notation: * Egyptian fraction: * prime power decomposition: * quote notation: are different ways to represent the same rational value.Formal construction

The rational numbers may be built asequivalence class
In mathematics
Mathematics is an area of knowledge that includes the topics of numbers, formulas and related structures, shapes and the spaces in which they are contained, and quantities and their changes. These topics are represented in ...

es of ordered pairs of integer
An integer is the number zero (), a positive natural number
In mathematics, the natural numbers are those number
A number is a mathematical object used to count, measure, and label. The original examples are the natural number ...

s.
More precisely, let be the set of the pairs of integers such . An equivalence relation
In mathematics
Mathematics is an area of knowledge that includes the topics of numbers, formulas and related structures, shapes and the spaces in which they are contained, and quantities and their changes. These topics are represented i ...

is defined on this set by
: $\backslash left(m\_1,\; n\_1\; \backslash right)\; \backslash sim\; \backslash left(m\_2,\; n\_2\; \backslash right)\; \backslash iff\; m\_1\; n\_2\; =\; m\_2\; n\_1.$
Addition and multiplication can be defined by the following rules:
:$\backslash left(m\_1,\; n\_1\backslash right)\; +\; \backslash left(m\_2,\; n\_2\backslash right)\; \backslash equiv\; \backslash left(m\_1n\_2\; +\; n\_1m\_2,\; n\_1n\_2\backslash right),$
:$\backslash left(m\_1,\; n\_1\backslash right)\; \backslash times\; \backslash left(m\_2,\; n\_2\backslash right)\; \backslash equiv\; \backslash left(m\_1m\_2,\; n\_1n\_2\backslash right).$
This equivalence relation is a congruence relation, which means that it is compatible with the addition and multiplication defined above; the set of rational numbers is the defined as the quotient set by this equivalence relation, , equipped with the addition and the multiplication induced by the above operations. (This construction can be carried out with any integral domain and produces its field of fractions.)
The equivalence class of a pair is denoted .
Two pairs and belong to the same equivalence class (that is are equivalent) if and only if . This means that if and only .
Every equivalence class may be represented by infinitely many pairs, since
:$\backslash cdots\; =\; \backslash frac\; =\; \backslash frac\; =\; \backslash frac\; =\; \backslash frac\; =\; \backslash cdots.$
Each equivalence class contains a unique '' canonical representative element''. The canonical representative is the unique pair in the equivalence class such that and are coprime, and . It is called the representation in lowest terms of the rational number.
The integers may be considered to be rational numbers identifying the integer with the rational number .
A total order
In mathematics
Mathematics is an area of knowledge that includes the topics of numbers, formulas and related structures, shapes and the spaces in which they are contained, and quantities and their changes. These topics are represented in ...

may be defined on the rational numbers, that extends the natural order of the integers. One has
:$\backslash frac\; \backslash le\; \backslash frac$
if
:$(n\_1n\_2\; >\; 0\; \backslash quad\; \backslash text\; \backslash quad\; m\_1n\_2\; \backslash le\; n\_1m\_2)\backslash qquad\; \backslash text\backslash qquad\; (n\_1n\_2\; <\; 0\; \backslash quad\; \backslash text\; \backslash quad\; m\_1n\_2\; \backslash ge\; n\_1m\_2).$
Properties

The set of all rational numbers, together with the addition and multiplication operations shown above, forms a field. has no field automorphism other than the identity. (A field automophism must fix 0 and 1; as it must fix the sum and the difference of two fixed elements, it must fix every integer; as it must fix the quotient of two fixed elements, it must fix every rational number, and is thus the identity.) is a prime field, which is a field that has no subfield other than itself. The rationals are the smallest field with characteristic zero. Every field of characteristic zero contains a unique subfield isomorphic to . With the order defined above, is an ordered field that has no subfield other than itself, and is the smallest ordered field, in the sense that every ordered field contains a unique subfield isomorphic to . is the field of fractions of theCountability

The set of all rational numbers is countable, as is illustrated in the figure to the right. As a rational number can be expressed as a ratio of two integers, it is possible to assign two integers to any point on a square lattice as in a Cartesian coordinate system, such that any grid point corresponds to a rational number. This method, however, exhibits a form of redundancy, as several different grid points will correspond to the same rational number; these are highlighted in red on the provided graphic. An obvious example can be seen in the line going diagonally towards the bottom right; such ratios will always equal 1, as any non-zero number divided by itself will always equal one. It is possible to generate all of the rational numbers without such redundancies: examples include the Calkin–Wilf tree and Stern–Brocot tree. As the set of all rational numbers is countable, and the set of all real numbers (as well as the set of irrational numbers) is uncountable, the set of rational numbers is a null set, that is, almost all real numbers are irrational, in the sense of Lebesgue measure.Real numbers and topological properties

The rationals are a dense subset of thereal numbers
In mathematics
Mathematics is an area of knowledge that includes the topics of numbers, formulas and related structures, shapes and the spaces in which they are contained, and quantities and their changes. These topics are represented in ...

every real number has rational numbers arbitrarily close to it. A related property is that rational numbers are the only numbers with finite expansions as regular continued fractions.
In the usual topology
In mathematics
Mathematics is an area of knowledge that includes the topics of numbers, formulas and related structures, shapes and the spaces in which they are contained, and quantities and their changes. These topics are represented i ...

of the real numbers, the rationals are neither an open set nor a closed set.
By virtue of their order, the rationals carry an order topology. The rational numbers, as a subspace of the real numbers, also carry a subspace topology. The rational numbers form a metric space
In mathematics
Mathematics is an area of knowledge that includes the topics of numbers, formulas and related structures, shapes and the spaces in which they are contained, and quantities and their changes. These topics are represented in m ...

by using the absolute difference
The absolute difference of two real numbers x and y is given by , x-y, , the absolute value of their difference. It describes the distance on the real line between the points corresponding to x and y. It is a special case of the Lp distance f ...

metric , and this yields a third topology on . All three topologies coincide and turn the rationals into a topological field. The rational numbers are an important example of a space which is not locally compact. The rationals are characterized topologically as the unique countable metrizable space without isolated points. The space is also totally disconnected. The rational numbers do not form a complete metric space, and the real numbers
In mathematics
Mathematics is an area of knowledge that includes the topics of numbers, formulas and related structures, shapes and the spaces in which they are contained, and quantities and their changes. These topics are represented in ...

are the completion of under the metric above.
-adic numbers

In addition to the absolute value metric mentioned above, there are other metrics which turn into a topological field: Let be aprime number
A prime number (or a prime) is a natural number greater than 1 that is not a product of two smaller natural numbers. A natural number greater than 1 that is not prime is called a composite number. For example, 5 is prime because the only wa ...

and for any non-zero integer , let , where is the highest power of dividing .
In addition set . For any rational number , we set .
Then defines a metric
Metric or metrical may refer to:
* Metric system
The metric system is a system of measurement that succeeded the decimalised system based on the metre that had been introduced in France in the 1790s. The historical development of these s ...

on .
The metric space is not complete, and its completion is the -adic number field . Ostrowski's theorem states that any non-trivial absolute value on the rational numbers is equivalent to either the usual real absolute value or a -adic absolute value.
See also

*Dyadic rational
In mathematics, a dyadic rational or binary rational is a number that can be expressed as a fraction whose denominator is a power of two. For example, 1/2, 3/2, and 3/8 are dyadic rationals, but 1/3 is not. These numbers are important in compu ...

* Floating point
* Ford circles
* Gaussian rational
* Naive height—height of a rational number in lowest term
* Niven's theorem
* Rational data type
*'' Divine Proportions: Rational Trigonometry to Universal Geometry''
References

External links

*"Rational Number" From MathWorld – A Wolfram Web Resource

{{Authority control Elementary mathematics Field (mathematics) Fractions (mathematics) Sets of real numbers