Why Are Prime Numbers Important in Math?

By Staff WriterLast Updated Mar 27, 2020 12:23:47 PM ET

Prime numbers are important in mathematics because they function as indivisible units and serve as the foundation of several mathematical disciplines. Because a prime number is a natural number greater than 1 that can only be divided by itself and 1, all non-prime numbers, which are called composite numbers, can be factored into a unique set of prime numbers. Computer security programs and cryptology are two fields that have made use of prime numbers to code and decode sensitive information.


In information technology, encryption algorithms, such as the Diffie-Hellman key exchange and RSA, revolve around large prime numbers. Encryption technologies have placed prime numbers at the core of electronic commerce and allow credit card information to be transmitted over the Internet in relative safety.