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Prime Factorization

"Prime Factorization" is finding which prime numbers you need to multiply together to get the original number.

Example 1

What are the prime factors of 12?

It is best to start working from the smallest Prime number, which is 2, so let's check:

12 ÷ 2 = 6

But 6 is not a prime number, so we need to factor it further:

6 ÷ 2 = 3

And 3 is a prime number, so:

12 = 2 × 2 × 3

As you can see, every factor is a prime number, so the answer must be right - the prime factorization of 12 is 2 × 2 × 3, which can also be written as 22 × 3

Example 2

What is the prime factorization of 147?

Can we divide 147 evenly by 2? No, so we should try the next prime number, 3:

147 ÷ 3 = 49

Then we try factoring 49, and find that 7 is the smallest prime number that works:

49 ÷ 7 = 7

And that is as far as we need to go, because all the factors are prime numbers.

147 = 3 × 7 × 7 = 3 × 72

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Q: How can you find the prime factorization of numbers?
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