Euclid's lemma — If a prime p divides the product ab of two integers a and b, then p must divide at least one of those integers a or b.
For example, if p = 19, a = 133, b = 143, then ab = 133 × 143 = 19019, and since this is divisible by 19, the lemma implies that one or both of 133 or 143 must be as well. In fact, 133 = 19 × 7.
If the premise of the lemma does not hold, i.e., p is a composite number, its consequent may be either true or false. For example, in the case of p = 10, a = 4, b = 15, composite number 10 divides ab = 4 × 15 = 60, but 10 divides neither 4 nor 15.
This property is the key in the proof of the fundamental theorem of arithmetic.[note 2] It is used to define prime elements, a generalization of prime numbers to arbitrary commutative rings. Euclid's Lemma shows that in the integers irreducible elements are also prime elements. The proof uses induction so it does not apply to all integral domains.
- If and , then .
- If and , then .
Euclid's lemma can be generalized from prime numbers to any integers:
Theorem — If , and is relatively prime to , then .
This is a generalization because if is prime, either
- is relatively prime to . In this second possibility, so .
In Carl Friedrich Gauss's treatise Disquisitiones Arithmeticae, the statement of the lemma is Euclid's Proposition 14 (Section 2), which he uses to prove the uniqueness of the decomposition product of prime factors of an integer (Theorem 16), admitting the existence as "obvious". From this existence and uniqueness he then deduces the generalization of prime numbers to integers. For this reason, the generalization of Euclid's lemma is sometimes referred to as Gauss's lemma, but some believe this usage is incorrect due to confusion with Gauss's lemma on quadratic residues.
The two first subsections, are proofs of the generalized version of Euclid's lemma, namely that: if n divides ab and is coprime with a, then it divides b.
The original Euclid's lemma follows immediately, since, if n is prime, it is coprime with a if and only if it does not divide a.
Using Bézout's identity
In modern mathematics, a common proof involves Bézout's identity, which was unknown at Euclid's time. Bézout's identity states that if x and y are coprime integers (i.e. they share no common divisors other than 1 and −1) there exist integers r and s such that
Let a and n be relatively prime, and assume that n|ab. By Bézout's identity, there are r and s such that
Multiply both sides by b:
The first term on the left is divisible by n, and the second term is divisible by ab, which by hypothesis is divisible by n. Therefore their sum, b, is also divisible by n.
The following proof is inspired by Euclid's version of Euclidean algorithm, which proceeds by using only subtractions.
Suppose that and that n and a are coprime (that is, their greatest common divisor is 1). One has to prove that n divides b. Since there is a integer q such that Without loss of generality, one can suppose that n, q, a, and b are positive, since the divisibility relation is independent from the signs of the involved integers.
For proving this by strong induction, we suppose that the result has been proved for all positive lower values of ab.
There are three cases:
If n = a, coprimality implies n = 1, and n divides b trivially.
If n < a, one has
The positive integers a – n and n are coprime: their greatest common divisor d must divide their sum, and thus divides both n and a. It results that d = 1, by the coprimality hypothesis. So, the conclusion follows from the induction hypothesis, since 0 < (a – n) b < ab.
Similarly, if n > a one has
and the same argument shows that n – a and a are coprime. Therefore, one has 0 < a (b − q) < ab, and the induction hypothesis implies that n − a divides b − q; that is, for some integer. So, and, by dividing by n − a, one has Therefore, and by dividing by a, one gets the desired result.
Proof of Elements
- Proposition 19
- If four numbers be proportional, the number produced from the first and fourth is equal to the number produced from the second and third; and, if the number produced from the first and fourth be equal to that produced from the second and third, the four numbers are proportional.[note 3]
- Proposition 20
- The least numbers of those that have the same ratio with them measures those that have the same ratio the same number of times—the greater the greater and the less the less.[note 4]
- Proposition 21
- Numbers prime to one another are the least of those that have the same ratio with them.[note 5]
- Proposition 29
- Any prime number is prime to any number it does not measure.[note 6]
- Proposition 30
- If two numbers, by multiplying one another, make the same number, and any prime number measures the product, it also measures one of the original numbers.[note 7]
- Proof of 30
- If c, a prime number, measure ab, c measures either a or b.
Suppose c does not measure a.
Therefore c, a are prime to one another. ［VII. 29］
Therefore c : a ＝ b : m. ［VII. 19］
Hence ［VII. 20, 21］ b＝nc, where n is some integer.
Therefore c measures b.
Similarly, if c does not measure b, c measures a.
Therefore c measures one or other of the two numbers a, b.
- It is also called Euclid's first theorem although that name more properly belongs to the side-angle-side condition for showing that triangles are congruent.
- In general, to show that a domain is a unique factorization domain, it suffices to prove Euclid's lemma and the ascending chain condition on principal ideals (ACCP)
- If a ： b＝c ： d, then ad＝bc; and conversely.
- If a ： b＝c ： d, and a, b are the least numbers among those that have the same ratio, then c＝na, d＝nb, where n is some integer.
- If a ： b＝c ： d, and a, b are prime to one another, then a, b are the least numbers among those that have the same ratio.
- If a is prime and does not measure b, then a, b are prime to one another.
- If c, a prime number, measure ab, c measures either a or b.
- Bajnok 2013, Theorem 14.5
- Joyner, Kreminski & Turisco 2004, Proposition 1.5.8, p. 25
- Martin 2012, p. 125
- Gauss 2001, p. 14
- Hardy, Wright & Wiles 2008, Theorem 3
- Ireland & Rosen 2010, Proposition 1.1.1
- Landau & Goodman 1999, Theorem 15
- Riesel 1994, Theorem A2.1
- Euclid 1994, pp. 338–339
- Gauss 2001, Article 19
- Weisstein, Eric W. "Euclid's Lemma". MathWorld.
- Hardy, Wright & Wiles 2008, §2.10
- Euclid 1956, p. 319
- Euclid 1956, p. 321
- Euclid 1956, p. 323
- Euclid 1956, p. 331
- Euclid 1956, p. 332
- Euclid 1956, pp. 331−332
- Bajnok, Béla (2013), An Invitation to Abstract Mathematics, Undergraduate Texts in Mathematics, Springer, ISBN 978-1-4614-6636-9.
- Euclid (1956), The Thirteen Books of the Elements, vol. 2 (Books III-IX), translated by Heath, Thomas Little, Dover Publications, ISBN 978-0-486-60089-5- vol. 2
- Euclid (1994), Les Éléments, traduction, commentaires et notes (in French), vol. 2, translated by Vitrac, Bernard, pp. 338–339, ISBN 2-13-045568-9
- Gauss, Carl Friedrich (2001), Disquisitiones Arithmeticae, translated by Clarke, Arthur A. (Second, corrected ed.), New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, ISBN 978-0-300-09473-2
- Gauss, Carl Friedrich (1981), Untersuchungen uber hohere Arithmetik [Investigations on higher arithmetic], translated by Maser, H. (Second ed.), New York: Chelsea, ISBN 978-0-8284-0191-3
- Hardy, G. H.; Wright, E. M.; Wiles, A. J. (2008-09-15), An Introduction to the Theory of Numbers (6th ed.), Oxford: Oxford University Press, ISBN 978-0-19-921986-5
- Ireland, Kenneth; Rosen, Michael (2010), A Classical Introduction to Modern Number Theory (Second ed.), New York: Springer, ISBN 978-1-4419-3094-1
- Joyner, David; Kreminski, Richard; Turisco, Joann (2004), Applied Abstract Algebra, JHU Press, ISBN 978-0-8018-7822-0.
- Landau, Edmund; Goodman, J. E. (translator into English) (1999), Elementary Number Theory (2nd ed.), Providence, Rhode Island: American Mathematical Society, ISBN 978-0-821-82004-9
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- Martin, G. E. (2012), The Foundations of Geometry and the Non-Euclidean Plane, Undergraduate Texts in Mathematics, Springer, ISBN 978-1-4612-5725-7.
- Riesel, Hans (1994), Prime Numbers and Computer Methods for Factorization (2nd ed.), Boston: Birkhäuser, ISBN 978-0-8176-3743-9.