Finding LCDs, LCMs, and GCFs
Date: 06/09/98 at 20:50:15 From: Cheryl Subject: LCD, LCM, GCF I don't know how to do the greatest common factor, the least common multiple, and the least common denominator.
Date: 06/09/98 at 21:21:57 From: Doctor Gary Subject: Re: LCD, LCM, GCF Let's focus on what you do know, and maybe we'll discover that you know more than you think you do. Do you know how to express a number as the product of its prime factors? For example, do you know that 120 can be expressed (using x to indicate multiplication) as 2 x 2 x 2 x 3 x 5? There are some very useful shortcuts for factoring a number. You should be familiar with how to tell if a number is divisible by 2 or 5 just by looking at the last digit. (If the last digit is 0, 2, 4, 6, or 8, it's divisible by 2. If the last digit is 0 or 5, it's divisible by 5.) You should also know that numbers are divisible by 3 only when the sum of the digits of the number is divisible by 3. When you do factor, it's always a very good idea to list the factors in increasing order, because it makes it much easier to see "common" factors. GCF --- The greatest common factor of two (or more) numbers is the product of all the factors the numbers have in common. If you wanted to find the greatest common factor of 32 and 76, you would express both as products of their prime factors, and look for factors common to both: 32 = 2 x 2 x 2 x 2 x 2 76 = 2 x 2 x 19 There are two 2s common to both numbers, so 2 x 2 = 4 is the "greatest common factor" of 32 and 76. LCM --- The least common multiple of two (or more) numbers is the product of one number times the factors of the other number(s) that aren't common. If you wanted to find the least common multiple of 32 and 76, you'd multiply 32 by 19, because 19 is the only factor of 76 that isn't common to the factors of 32. LCD --- Least common denominators is just a fancy way of saying least common multiple for two (or more) different denominators, so if you know how to find least common multiples, you can find least common denominators. Once you've found a least common denominator, you re-express each fraction by multiplying by a carefully chosen fraction which is equal to 1 (remember that multiplying by 1 doesn't change the value of a number). For example, in order to add 1/6 and 1/8, we find the least common multiple of the denominators, which is 24. Then we multiply 1/6 by 4/4 and multiply 1/8 by 3/3, to re-express each addend as some number of "24ths": 1/6 x 4/4 = 4/24 1/8 x 3/3 = 3/24 1/6 + 1/8 = 4/24 + 3/24 = (4+3)/24 = 7/24 Remember, whether you're trying to find the greatest common factor (a fancy way of saying biggest number by which two or more numbers are divisible), or the least common multiple (a fancy way of saying the smallest number which is divisible by two or more numbers), the key is factoring the numbers to their prime factors, and then noting which factor(s) the numbers have in common. The product of the common factors will be the greatest common factor. The product of one number and the factors of the other that are NOT common to the first will be the least common multiple. Enjoy. Once you understand it, it's actually sort of fun. -Doctor Gary, The Math Forum Check out our web site! http://mathforum.org/dr.math/
Search the Dr. Math Library:
Ask Dr. MathTM
© 1994-2015 The Math Forum