Irreducible element

From formulasearchengine
Jump to navigation Jump to search

In abstract algebra, a non-zero non-unit element in an integral domain is said to be irreducible if it is not a product of two non-units.

Relationship with prime elements

Irreducible elements should not be confused with prime elements. (A non-zero non-unit element in a commutative ring is called prime if, whenever for some and in , then or .) In an integral domain, every prime element is irreducible,[1][2] but the converse is not true in general. The converse is true for UFDs[2] (or, more generally, GCD domains.)

Moreover, while an ideal generated by a prime element is a prime ideal, it is not true in general that an ideal generated by an irreducible element is an irreducible ideal. However, if is a GCD domain, and is an irreducible element of , then the ideal generated by is a prime ideal of .[3]


In the quadratic integer ring , it can be shown using norm arguments that the number 3 is irreducible. However, it is not a prime element in this ring since, for example,

but does not divide either of the two factors.[4]

See also


  1. Consider p a prime that is reducible: p=ab. Then p | ab => p | a or p | b. Say p | a => a = pc, then we have: p=ab=pcb => p(1-cb)=0. Because R is an integral domain we have: cb=1. So b is a unit and p is irreducible.
  2. 2.0 2.1 Sharpe (1987) p.54
  4. William W. Adams and Larry Joel Goldstein (1976), Introduction to Number Theory, p. 250, Prentice-Hall, Inc., ISBN 0-13-491282-9
  • {{#invoke:citation/CS1|citation

|CitationClass=book }}