Prime vs Composite Numbers: Difference and Comparison

Some math concepts frequently confuse learners; a prime example is differentiating between “prime numbers” and “composite numbers.” It may appear hard to some, although it is actually fairly easy.

It ultimately comes down to the theory of natural numbers and their components.  

Key Takeaways

  1. Prime numbers have only two factors: 1 and the number itself, while composite numbers have more than two factors.
  2. The number 1 is neither prime nor composite, as it has only one factor.
  3. Prime numbers serve as building blocks for composite numbers through multiplication.

Prime Numbers vs Composite Numbers  

The difference between prime and composite numbers is that a prime number only has two variables: one and the number itself, but a composite number has many more: 1, the number itself, and additional numbers. A prime number (excluding 2) is odd, whereas a composite number is even. 

Prime Numbers vs Composite Numbers

A prime number (or prime) is a natural number higher than one that is not the sum of two lower natural numbers. It is divisible by one and by itself. Hence it has just two factors. There are fewer primes than composites, with the smallest prime number being 2. 


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A composite number (or mixed) is a positive integer with at least one divisor apart from 1 and itself, implying it has far more than two elements. Every composite number is the combination of two or even more prime numbers.

There are many more composites than primes, with four being the lowest. 

Comparison Table

Parameters of Comparison Prime Numbers Composite Numbers 
Definition A number divisible by itself, 1, and another number is a composite number. A number divisible by itself, 1, and another number is composite. 
Number of Factors They have only two factors- 1 and the number itself.  They have more than two factors.  
Smallest Number 2 is the lowest prime number. 4 is the lowest composite number. 
Quantity of Numbers Prime numbers are less common than composite numbers. Composite numbers outnumber prime numbers. 
Odd/Even Number All prime numbers are odd (except 2) All composite numbers are even 

What are Prime Numbers? 

A prime number is a natural number greater than one and isn’t essentially the product of two low natural numbers.

Based on the fundamental theorem, every natural number higher than one will either be a prime or be treated as a rare combination of heights up to their sequential manner.

The characteristic of being prime is primality. Trial division is a straightforward but time-consuming approach for establishing the primality of a given integer n, which determines if n is a multiple of just about any integer among two and √n. 

The fundamental theorem of arithmetic underpins prime numbers’ significant relevance in number theory and arithmetic in general. According to this theory, each integer greater than one may be expressed as a combination of one or more primes.  

This arrangement is worth mentioning that almost any two prime factorizations of the very same number will feature the same number of clones of the same primes, even if their ordering changes. 

prime numbers

What are Composite Numbers? 

It is a positive number created by simply multiplying relatively small positive numbers. It is a positive integer with a minimum of 1 divisor apart from 1 and itself.

The integer 14 is a composite number since it combines two smaller numbers, 2×7. Similarly, the numerals 2 and 3 are not mixed since they can only be divided by one and themselves.  

Every composite number may be represented as combining two or more (non-identical) prime numbers.

The composite number 360, for instance, can be expressed as 23x32x5; moreover, this expression is exclusive to the sequence of the elements. This is characterized as the fundamental theorem of arithmetic. 

Counting the number of prime components is one method for classifying composite numbers. A semiprime or 2-almost prime number is a composite number containing two excellent elements (the factors need not be distinct. Hence squares of primes are included).  

A sphenic number is a composite number with three different prime elements. It is required in some situations to distinguish between mixed numbers with only an odd number of separate excellent components and those with an even number of unique prime factors. 

Main Differences Between Prime Numbers and Composite Numbers  

  1. A prime number is defined as a number that is divisible by both one and itself. In contrast, a composite number is defined as a number that is divisible by 1, itself and another number. 
  2. A prime number has only two factors, while a composite number has more than 2 factors. 
  3. The smallest prime number is 2 meanwhile, the lowest composite number is 4. 
  4. There are fewer prime numbers than composite numbers, and there are more composite numbers. 
  5. All prime numbers except 2 are odd, and all composite numbers are even. 


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