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1 Prime numbers from an algebraic viewpoint

We try to develop basic results concerning prime numbers from scratch. The reader should be familiar with undergraduate algebra, but we will dene any needed concept except for the most basic ones, which include Groups, Rings and Ideals. Familiarity with algebra is only needed for the intuition about the approach. We will also assume that the reader knows the denitions of the natural numbers and integers, as an additive abelian monoid and a commutative unital ring respectively. All rings in this exposition are commutative and unital. Let us rst recall some features of the integers: Theorem 1. Let a, b Z. Then we can divide a by b with rest, that is there exist (x, r) Z2 such that a = bx + r. This division is unique, if we reqire 0 r < b. Proof. Let r be the smallest positive integer in a + (b). This means there exists an s Z such that r = a + bs. Then (r, x = s) is our required pair. This is uniqe, because if we take another pair (r , x ) such that a = bx + r , 0 r < b, then r a + (b). Thus r = r + bs for some s N0 . But if r = r then s = 0 and r r + b b, so r = r . Then we have bx + r = bx + r, so bx = bx and because Z has no zero divisors, x = x . Denition 1. Let p be a proper ideal of a ring R. It is called prime if S = R/p is an intergal domain, that is, S has no zero-divisors (and is nontrivial). Theorem 2. Let p be an ideal of a ring R. Then p is prime, if and only if for all a, b R such that a b p either a p or b p. Proof. Let the quotiont ring be integral, R R/p the canonical projection, and ab p. Then (ab) = 0 and (ab) = (a) (b). Thus either (a) = 0 a p or (b) = 0 b p. Now let a p or b p whenever ab p and consider the projection map R R/p again. Also, let r, s R/p such that rs = 0. This implies that every representative of rs is in p. Let r , s be representatives of r, s respectively, then r s p thus r p or s p. But then r = 0 or s = 0. We now want to dene prime numbers of Z. Recall that Z is a euclidian ring, so we have division with rest and also that Z is a PID. Denition 2. Let 0 = p Z. Then p is called prime number if (p) is a prime ideal. The set of all prime numbers is denoted P. Because Z is a PID, every prime ideal (except for the zero ideal) corresponds to a prime number. Thus we have a bijection P {0} Spec(Z). We need some further denitions: Denition 3. Let R be a ring. We say that a divides b, usually written a | b if b (a), that is there exists s R such that b = sa. If a doesnt divide b then we write a b if we want to emphasize this fact. In case of the integers, we usually restrict to positive numbers.

Theorem 3. Every n N\{1} is divisible by a prime. Proof. Suppose the contrary and let q be the smallest natural number such that q is not divisible by a prime. Then q is not a prime, because q | q . Now there exists a pair (a, b) N2 such that q | ab but q a, q b. Now let (a, b) a pair, such that ab st for any other such pair (s, t). Now divide b by q with rest: b = qx + r, r < q . Then we also have ab = aqx + ar ar = ab aqx and ar (q ) because ab (q ) and aqx (q ). But then ar < ab and q r (because r < q ). This is a contradiction to (a, b) being the minimal such pair.