Least Common Multiple

This lesson will teach you 3 methods for finding the least common multiple(LCM) of two whole numbers. We will start with a definition of the word multiple.

The multiples of a number are the answers that you get when you multiply that number by the whole numbers except 0.

Remember that the whole numbers are all numbers from 0 to infinity

whole number = {0, 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8,........}

So multiply any number  1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8,........ to get the multiples of that number.

For instance, you get the multiples of 4 by multiplying 4 by 1, 2, 3, 4, 5,....

I put the dots to show that the sets of whole numbers continues forever.

The answer is { 4, 8, 12, 16, 20, .....}

In the same way, the multiples of 9 are all the numbers that you get when you multiply 9 by 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6,.....

After you do that, you will get { 9, 18, 27, 36, 45, 54,....}

The LCM of two numbers is the smallest number that is a multiple for both numbers.

Method #1: Set intersection method:

Example: Find LCM of 6 and 9

First list all the multiples of 6

You get {6, 12, 18, 24, 30, 36, 42, 48, 54, 60,....}

Next,list all the multiples of 9

You get {9, 18, 27, 36, 45, 54, 63, 72, 81, 90....}

Pull out all the common multiples or find the intersection of the two sets

The common multiples are {18, 36, 54,.....} Looking at the list of common multiples immediately above, you can see that the smallest number that is a multiple of both 6 and 9 is 18.

Of course, 36 is also a common multiple of 6 and 9. However, it is not the smallest common multiple.

Example: Find LCM of 2 and 3

Multiples of 2 are {2, 4, 6, 8, 10,....}

Multiples of 3 are {3, 6, 9, 12, 15....}

The least common multiple of 2 and 3 is 6

You can also write LCM(2,3) = 6

Method #2: My teacher's method: find LCM( 6, 9) and LCM (120, 180)


Technique:

Start by dividing each number by 2. (If 2 does not work, start with 3 instead, and so forth)

Keep dividing by 2 until 2 does not work anymore

When 2 does not work anymore, divide by 3

When 3 does not work anymore, divide by 4

Keep doing this until you can no longer divide


LCM = The product of all the numbers on the left of the red line.

Least common multiple of 6 and 9
least common multiple of 120 and 180
Method #3: Prime factoriZation method


Find LCM(120, 180)

First, find the prime factorization of the numbers

120 = 12 × 10 = 2 × 2 × 3 × 2 × 5 = 23 × 31 × 51

180 = 18 × 10 = 2 × 3 × 3 × 2 × 5 = 22 × 32 × 51

The least common multiple will be 2x × 3y × 5z

x is the bigger exponent of 23 and 22

y is the bigger exponent of 31 and 32

y is the bigger exponent of 51 and 51

The least common multiple is 23 × 32 × 5 = 2 × 2 × 2 × 3 × 3 × 5 = 360


Take the quiz below to see how well you understand the LCM.





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