coprime

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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 modern mathematics ...
, two
integer An integer is the number zero (), a positive natural number (, , , etc.) or a negative integer with a minus sign (−1, −2, −3, etc.). The negative numbers are the additive inverses of the corresponding positive numbers. In the language of ...
s and are coprime, relatively prime or mutually prime if the only positive integer that is a
divisor 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 both of them is 1. Consequently, any
prime 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 ...
that divides does not divide , and vice versa. This is equivalent to their
greatest common divisor 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 ...
(GCD) being 1. One says also '' is prime to '' or '' is coprime with ''. The numbers 8 and 9 are coprime, despite the fact that neither considered individually is a prime number, since 1 is their only common divisor. On the other hand, 6 and 9 are not coprime, because they are both divisible by 3. The numerator and denominator of a reduced fraction are coprime, by definition.

# Notation and testing

Standard notations for relatively prime integers and are: and . In their 1989 textbook '' Concrete Mathematics'', Ronald Graham, Donald Knuth, and Oren Patashnik proposed that the notation $a\perp b$ be used to indicate that and are relatively prime and that the term "prime" be used instead of coprime (as in is ''prime'' to ). A fast way to determine whether two numbers are coprime is given by the Euclidean algorithm and its faster variants such as binary GCD algorithm or Lehmer's GCD algorithm. The number of integers coprime with a positive integer , between 1 and , is given by Euler's totient function, also known as Euler's phi function, . A set of integers can also be called coprime if its elements share no common positive factor except 1. A stronger condition on a set of integers is pairwise coprime, which means that and are coprime for every pair of different integers in the set. The set is coprime, but it is not pairwise coprime since 2 and 4 are not relatively prime.

# Properties

The numbers 1 and −1 are the only integers coprime with every integer, and they are the only integers that are coprime with 0. A number of conditions are equivalent to and being coprime: *No
prime 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 ...
divides both and . *There exist integers and such that (see Bézout's identity). *The integer has a
multiplicative inverse In mathematics, a multiplicative inverse or reciprocal for a number ''x'', denoted by 1/''x'' or ''x''−1, is a number which when Multiplication, multiplied by ''x'' yields the multiplicative identity, 1. The multiplicative inverse of a rat ...
modulo , meaning that there exists an integer such that . In ring-theoretic language, is a unit in the ring of integers modulo . *Every pair of
congruence relation In abstract algebra, a congruence relation (or simply congruence) is an equivalence relation on an algebraic structure (such as a group (mathematics), group, ring (mathematics), ring, or vector space) that is compatible with the structure in the ...
s for an unknown integer , of the form and , has a solution ( Chinese remainder theorem); in fact the solutions are described by a single congruence relation modulo . *The least common multiple of and is equal to their product , i.e. . As a consequence of the third point, if ''a'' and ''b'' are coprime and ''br'' ≡ ''bs'' ( mod ''a''), then ''r'' ≡ ''s'' (mod ''a''). That is, we may "divide by ''b''" when working modulo ''a''. Furthermore, if ''b''1 and ''b''2 are both coprime with ''a'', then so is their product ''b''1''b''2 (i.e., modulo ''a'' it is a product of invertible elements, and therefore invertible); this also follows from the first point by Euclid's lemma, which states that if a prime number ''p'' divides a product ''bc'', then ''p'' divides at least one of the factors ''b'', ''c''. As a consequence of the first point, if ''a'' and ''b'' are coprime, then so are any powers ''a''''k'' and ''b''''m''. If ''a'' and ''b'' are coprime and ''a'' divides the product ''bc'', then ''a'' divides ''c''. This can be viewed as a generalization of Euclid's lemma. The two integers ''a'' and ''b'' are coprime if and only if the point with coordinates (''a'', ''b'') in a
Cartesian coordinate system A Cartesian coordinate system (, ) in a plane (geometry), plane is a coordinate system that specifies each point (geometry), point uniquely by a pair of number, numerical coordinates, which are the positive and negative numbers, signed distance ...
would be "visible" via an unobstructed line of sight from the origin (0,0), in the sense that there is no point with integer coordinates anywhere on the line segment between the origin and (''a'', ''b''). (See figure 1.) In a sense that can be made precise, the probability that two randomly chosen integers are coprime is , which is about 61% (see , below). Two
natural number In mathematics, the natural numbers are those numbers used for counting (as in "there are ''six'' coins on the table") and ordering (as in "this is the ''third'' largest city in the country"). Numbers used for counting are called ''Cardinal n ...
s ''a'' and ''b'' are coprime if and only if the numbers 2''a'' − 1 and 2''b'' − 1 are coprime. As a generalization of this, following easily from the Euclidean algorithm in base ''n'' > 1: : $\gcd\left\left(n^a - 1, n^b - 1\right\right) = n^ - 1.$

# Coprimality in sets

A set of integers ''S'' = can also be called ''coprime'' or ''setwise coprime'' if the
greatest common divisor 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 ...
of all the elements of the set is 1. For example, the integers 6, 10, 15 are coprime because 1 is the only positive integer that divides all of them. If every pair in a set of integers is coprime, then the set is said to be ''pairwise coprime'' (or ''pairwise relatively prime'', ''mutually coprime'' or ''mutually relatively prime''). Pairwise coprimality is a stronger condition than setwise coprimality; every pairwise coprime finite set is also setwise coprime, but the reverse is not true. For example, the integers 4, 5, 6 are (setwise) coprime (because the only positive integer dividing ''all'' of them is 1), but they are not ''pairwise'' coprime (because gcd(4, 6) = 2). The concept of pairwise coprimality is important as a hypothesis in many results in number theory, such as the Chinese remainder theorem. It is possible for an
infinite set In set theory Set theory is the branch of mathematical logic that studies Set (mathematics), sets, which can be informally described as collections of objects. Although objects of any kind can be collected into a set, set theory, as a bran ...
of integers to be pairwise coprime. Notable examples include the set of all prime numbers, the set of elements in Sylvester's sequence, and the set of all Fermat numbers.

# Coprimality in ring ideals

Two ideals ''A'' and ''B'' in a
commutative ring In mathematics, a commutative ring is a Ring (mathematics), ring in which the multiplication operation is commutative. The study of commutative rings is called commutative algebra. Complementarily, noncommutative algebra is the study of ring proper ...
''R'' are called coprime (or ''comaximal'') if ''A'' + ''B'' = ''R''. This generalizes Bézout's identity: with this definition, two principal ideals (''a'') and (''b'') in the ring of integers Z are coprime if and only if ''a'' and ''b'' are coprime. If the ideals ''A'' and ''B'' of ''R'' are coprime, then ''AB'' = ''A''∩''B''; furthermore, if ''C'' is a third ideal such that ''A'' contains ''BC'', then ''A'' contains ''C''. The Chinese remainder theorem can be generalized to any commutative ring, using coprime ideals.

# Probability of coprimality

Given two randomly chosen integers ''a'' and ''b'', it is reasonable to ask how likely it is that ''a'' and ''b'' are coprime. In this determination, it is convenient to use the characterization that ''a'' and ''b'' are coprime if and only if no prime number divides both of them (see
Fundamental theorem of arithmetic In mathematics, the fundamental theorem of arithmetic, also called the unique factorization theorem and prime factorization theorem, states that every integer greater than 1 can be represented uniquely as a product of prime numbers, up to the ord ...
). Informally, the probability that any number is divisible by a prime (or in fact any integer) $p$ is $1/p$; for example, every 7th integer is divisible by 7. Hence the probability that two numbers are both divisible by ''p'' is $1/p^2$, and the probability that at least one of them is not is $1-1/p^2$. Any finite collection of divisibility events associated to distinct primes is mutually independent. For example, in the case of two events, a number is divisible by primes ''p'' and ''q'' if and only if it is divisible by ''pq''; the latter event has probability 1/''pq''. If one makes the heuristic assumption that such reasoning can be extended to infinitely many divisibility events, one is led to guess that the probability that two numbers are coprime is given by a product over all primes, : $\prod_ \left\left(1-\frac\right\right) = \left\left( \prod_ \frac \right\right)^ = \frac = \frac \approx 0.607927102 \approx 61\%.$ Here ''ζ'' refers to the Riemann zeta function, the identity relating the product over primes to ''ζ''(2) is an example of an Euler product, and the evaluation of ''ζ''(2) as ''π''2/6 is the Basel problem, solved by
Leonhard Euler Leonhard Euler ( , ; 15 April 170718 September 1783) was a Swiss mathematician, physicist, astronomer, geographer, logician and engineer who founded the studies of graph theory and topology and made pioneering and influential discoveries in ma ...
in 1735. There is no way to choose a positive integer at random so that each positive integer occurs with equal probability, but statements about "randomly chosen integers" such as the ones above can be formalized by using the notion of '' natural density''. For each positive integer ''N'', let ''P''''N'' be the probability that two randomly chosen numbers in $\$ are coprime. Although ''P''''N'' will never equal $6/\pi^2$ exactly, with work one can show that in the limit as $N \to \infty$, the probability $P_N$ approaches $6/\pi^2$. More generally, the probability of ''k'' randomly chosen integers being coprime is $1/$.

# Generating all coprime pairs

All pairs of positive coprime numbers $\left(m, n\right)$ (with $m > n$) can be arranged in two disjoint complete ternary trees, one tree starting from $\left(2,1\right)$ (for even–odd and odd–even pairs), and the other tree starting from $\left(3,1\right)$ (for odd–odd pairs). The children of each vertex $\left(m,n\right)$ are generated as follows: *Branch 1: $\left(2m-n,m\right)$ *Branch 2: $\left(2m+n,m\right)$ *Branch 3: $\left(m+2n,n\right)$ This scheme is exhaustive and non-redundant with no invalid members.

# Applications

In machine design, an even, uniform gear wear is achieved by choosing the tooth counts of the two gears meshing together to be relatively prime. When a 1:1 gear ratio is desired, a gear relatively prime to the two equal-size gears may be inserted between them. In pre-computer
cryptography Cryptography, or cryptology (from grc, , translit=kryptós "hidden, secret"; and ''graphein'', "to write", or ''-logy, -logia'', "study", respectively), is the practice and study of techniques for secure communication in the presence of ...
, some Vernam cipher machines combined several loops of key tape of different lengths. Many
rotor machine In cryptography, a rotor machine is an electro-mechanical stream cipher device used for encryption, encrypting and decrypting messages. Rotor machines were the cryptographic state-of-the-art for much of the 20th century; they were in widespread u ...
s combine rotors of different numbers of teeth. Such combinations work best when the entire set of lengths are pairwise coprime. Gustavus J. Simmons
"Vernam-Vigenère cipher"

# Generalizations

This concept can be extended to other algebraic structures than $\mathbb$; for example,
polynomial In mathematics, a polynomial is an expression (mathematics), expression consisting of indeterminate (variable), indeterminates (also called variable (mathematics), variables) and coefficients, that involves only the operations of addition, subtrac ...
s whose
greatest common divisor 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 1 are called coprime polynomials.