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The morphology of ${\mathbb{Z}}\sqrt {{\rm{[10]}}} $

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  21 October 2019

Andrew J. Simoson*
King University, Bristol, Tennessee 37620, USA e-mail:


What are the units, irreducibles, and primes of the ring ${\mathbb{Z}}\sqrt n $, the set of all numbers $a + b\sqrt n $ where a and b are integers and n is a fixed positive square-free integer? In the ring ${\mathbb{Z}}$, primes and irreducibles are synonymous and its units are ±1. ${\mathbb{Z}}\sqrt n $ is wilder, and our modest goal here is to catalogue all such numbers for ${\mathbb{Z}}\sqrt {{\rm{[10]}}} $, where a and b range from 0 to 10; the result appears in Figure 1. Here are a few teasers that may induce a reader to read on: $3 + \sqrt {10} $ is a unit; 2, 3, 5, and 7 are irreducibles, but not 31; and 7 is the least positive integer that is prime in both ${\mathbb{Z}}$ and ${\mathbb{Z}}\sqrt {{\rm{[10]}}} $.

© Mathematical Association 2019 

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