## Why is the prime factorization of 542,160 written as 2^{4} x 3^{3} x 5^{1} x 251^{1}?

### What is prime factorization?

**Prime factorization** or **prime factor decomposition** is the process of finding which prime numbers can be multiplied together to make the original number.

### Finding the prime factors of 542,160

To find the prime factors, you start by dividing the number by the first prime number, which is 2. If there
**is not** a remainder, meaning you can divide evenly, then 2 is a factor of the number. Continue dividing by 2 until you cannot divide evenly anymore. Write down how many 2's you were able to divide by evenly.
Now try dividing by the next prime factor, which is 3. The goal is to get to a quotient of 1.

#### If it doesn't make sense yet, let's try it...

Here are the first several prime factors: 2, 3, 5, 7, 11, 13, 17, 19, 23, 29...

Let's start by dividing 542,160 by 2

542,160 ÷ 2 = 271,080 - No remainder! 2 is one of the factors!

271,080 ÷ 2 = 135,540 - No remainder! 2 is one of the factors!

135,540 ÷ 2 = 67,770 - No remainder! 2 is one of the factors!

67,770 ÷ 2 = 33,885 - No remainder! 2 is one of the factors!

33,885 ÷ 2 = 16,942.5 - There is a remainder. We can't divide by 2 evenly anymore. Let's try the next prime number

33,885 ÷ 3 = 11,295 - No remainder! 3 is one of the factors!

11,295 ÷ 3 = 3,765 - No remainder! 3 is one of the factors!

3,765 ÷ 3 = 1,255 - No remainder! 3 is one of the factors!

1,255 ÷ 3 = 418.3333 - There is a remainder. We can't divide by 3 evenly anymore. Let's try the next prime number

1,255 ÷ 5 = 251 - No remainder! 5 is one of the factors!

251 ÷ 5 = 50.2 - There is a remainder. We can't divide by 5 evenly anymore. Let's try the next prime number

251 ÷ 7 = 35.8571 - This has a remainder. 7 is not a factor.

251 ÷ 11 = 22.8182 - This has a remainder. 11 is not a factor.

251 ÷ 13 = 19.3077 - This has a remainder. 13 is not a factor.

...

**Keep trying increasingly larger numbers until you find one that divides evenly.**

...

251 ÷ 251 = 1 - No remainder! 251 is one of the factors!

The orange divisor(s) above are the prime factors of the number 542,160. If we put all of it together we have the factors 2 x 2 x 2 x 2 x 3 x 3 x 3 x 5 x 251 = 542,160. It can also be written in exponential form as 2^{4} x 3^{3} x 5^{1} x 251^{1}.

### Factor Tree

Another way to do prime factorization is to use a factor tree. Below is a factor tree for the number 542,160.

| 542,160 | | | | | | | | |

| | | | | | | | | |

**2** | | 271,080 | | | | | | | |

| | | | | | | | | |

| **2** | | 135,540 | | | | | | |

| | | | | | | | | |

| | **2** | | 67,770 | | | | | |

| | | | | | | | | |

| | | **2** | | 33,885 | | | | |

| | | | | | | | | |

| | | | **3** | | 11,295 | | | |

| | | | | | | | | |

| | | | | **3** | | 3,765 | | |

| | | | | | | | | |

| | | | | | **3** | | 1,255 | |

| | | | | | | | | |

| | | | | | | **5** | | **251** |

### More Prime Factorization Examples

Try the

factor calculator