Prime power

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In mathematics, a prime power is a positive integer power of a single prime number. For example: 5 = 51, 9 = 32 and 16 = 24 are prime powers, while 6 = 2 × 3, 15 = 3 × 5 and 36 = 62 = 22 × 32 are not. The twenty smallest prime powers are:

2, 3, 4, 5, 7, 8, 9, 11, 13, 16, 17, 19, 23, 25, 27, 29, 31, 32, 37, 41, ... (sequence A246655 in OEIS).

The prime powers are those positive integers that are divisible by exactly one prime number; prime powers and related concepts are also called primary numbers, as in the primary decomposition.


Algebraic properties

Prime powers are powers of prime numbers. Every prime power (except powers of 2) has a primitive root; thus the multiplicative group of integers modulo pn (or equivalently, the group of units of the ring Z/pnZ) is cyclic.

The number of elements of a finite field is always a prime power and conversely, every prime power occurs as the number of elements in some finite field (which is unique up to isomorphism).

Combinatorial properties

A property of prime powers used frequently in analytic number theory is that the set of prime powers which are not prime is a small set in the sense that the infinite sum of their reciprocals converges, although the primes are a large set.

Divisibility properties

The totient function (φ) and sigma functions (σ0) and (σ1) of a prime power are calculated by the formulas:

All prime powers are deficient numbers. A prime power pn is an n-almost prime. It is not known whether a prime power pn can be an amicable number. If there is such a number, then pn must be greater than 101500 and n must be greater than 1400.

Popular media

In the 1997 film Cube, prime powers play a key role, acting as indicators of lethal dangers in a maze-like cube structure.

See also


  • Elementary Number Theory. Jones, Gareth A. and Jones, J. Mary. Springer-Verlag London Limited. 1998.

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