The
integers are formed by the natural numbers (including 0) (
00 is both a numberand the numerical digit used to represent that number in numerals.It fulfills a central role in mathematics as the additive identity of the integers, real numbers, and many other algebraic structures. As a digit, 0 is used as a placeholder in place value systems...
,
1,
2,
3, ...) together with the negatives of the nonzero natural numbers (−1, −2, −3, ...).They are known as Positive and Negative Integers respectively. Viewed as a subset of the
real numberIn mathematics, a real number is a value that represents a quantity along a continuum, such as 5 , 4/3 , 8.6 , √2 and π...
s, they are numbers that can be written without a fractional or decimal component, and fall within the set {..., −2, −1, 0, 1, 2, ...}. For example, 21, 4, and −2048 are integers; 9.75, 5½, and 14% are not integers.
The set of all integers is often denoted by a boldface
Z (or
blackboard boldBlackboard bold is a typeface style that is often used for certain symbols in mathematical texts, in which certain lines of the symbol are doubled. The symbols usually denote number sets...
,
UnicodeUnicode is a computing industry standard for the consistent encoding, representation and handling of text expressed in most of the world's writing systems...
U+2124 ), which stands for
Zahlen (
GermanGerman is a West Germanic language, related to and classified alongside English and Dutch. With an estimated 90 – 98 million native speakers, German is one of the world's major languages and is the most widelyspoken first language in the European Union....
for
numbers, pronounced ˈtsaːlən). The set
is the finite set of integers
moduloIn mathematics, modular arithmetic is a system of arithmetic for integers, where numbers "wrap around" after they reach a certain value—the modulus....
n (for example,
).
The integers (with addition as operation) form the smallest
groupIn mathematics, a group is an algebraic structure consisting of a set together with an operation that combines any two of its elements to form a third element. To qualify as a group, the set and the operation must satisfy a few conditions called group axioms, namely closure, associativity, identity...
containing the additive monoid of the
natural numberIn mathematics, the natural numbers are the ordinary whole numbers used for counting and ordering . These purposes are related to the linguistic notions of cardinal and ordinal numbers, respectively...
s. Like the natural numbers, the integers form a
countably infiniteIn mathematics, a countable set is a set with the same cardinality as some subset of the set of natural numbers. A set that is not countable is called uncountable. The term was originated by Georg Cantor...
set.
In
algebraic number theoryAlgebraic number theory is a major branch of number theory which studies algebraic structures related to algebraic integers. This is generally accomplished by considering a ring of algebraic integers O in an algebraic number field K/Q, and studying their algebraic properties such as factorization,...
, these commonly understood integers, embedded in the
fieldIn abstract algebra, a field is a commutative ring whose nonzero elements form a group under multiplication. As such it is an algebraic structure with notions of addition, subtraction, multiplication, and division, satisfying certain axioms...
of
rational numberIn mathematics, a rational number is any number that can be expressed as the quotient or fraction a/b of two integers, with the denominator b not equal to zero. Since b may be equal to 1, every integer is a rational number...
s, are referred to as
rational integers to distinguish them from the more broadly defined
algebraic integerIn number theory, an algebraic integer is a complex number that is a root of some monic polynomial with coefficients in . The set of all algebraic integers is closed under addition and multiplication and therefore is a subring of complex numbers denoted by A...
s (but with "rational" meaning "quotient of integers", this attempt at precision suffers from circularity).
Algebraic properties
Like the natural numbers,
Z is
closedIn mathematics, a set is said to be closed under some operation if performance of that operation on members of the set always produces a unique member of the same set. For example, the real numbers are closed under subtraction, but the natural numbers are not: 3 and 8 are both natural numbers, but...
under the
operationsIn mathematics, a binary operation is a calculation involving two operands, in other words, an operation whose arity is two. Examples include the familiar arithmetic operations of addition, subtraction, multiplication and division....
of
additionAddition is a mathematical operation that represents combining collections of objects together into a larger collection. It is signified by the plus sign . For example, in the picture on the right, there are 3 + 2 apples—meaning three apples and two other apples—which is the same as five apples....
and
multiplicationMultiplication is the mathematical operation of scaling one number by another. It is one of the four basic operations in elementary arithmetic ....
, that is, the sum and product of any two integers is an integer. However, with the inclusion of the negative natural numbers, and, importantly,
zero0 is both a numberand the numerical digit used to represent that number in numerals.It fulfills a central role in mathematics as the additive identity of the integers, real numbers, and many other algebraic structures. As a digit, 0 is used as a placeholder in place value systems...
,
Z (unlike the natural numbers) is also closed under
subtractionIn arithmetic, subtraction is one of the four basic binary operations; it is the inverse of addition, meaning that if we start with any number and add any number and then subtract the same number we added, we return to the number we started with...
.
Z is not closed under
divisionrightthumb200px20 \div 4=5In mathematics, especially in elementary arithmetic, division is an arithmetic operation.Specifically, if c times b equals a, written:c \times b = a\,...
, since the quotient of two integers (
e.g., 1 divided by 2), need not be an integer. Although the natural numbers are closed under
exponentiationExponentiation is a mathematical operation, written as an, involving two numbers, the base a and the exponent n...
, the integers are not (since the result can be a fraction when the exponent is negative).
The following lists some of the basic properties of addition and multiplication for any integers
a,
b and
c.

Addition 
Multiplication 
Closure In mathematics, a set is said to be closed under some operation if performance of that operation on members of the set always produces a unique member of the same set. For example, the real numbers are closed under subtraction, but the natural numbers are not: 3 and 8 are both natural numbers, but... : 
a + b is an integer 
a × b is an integer 
AssociativityIn mathematics, associativity is a property of some binary operations. It means that, within an expression containing two or more occurrences in a row of the same associative operator, the order in which the operations are performed does not matter as long as the sequence of the operands is not... : 
a + (b + c) = (a + b) + c 
a × (b × c) = (a × b) × c 
Commutativity In mathematics an operation is commutative if changing the order of the operands does not change the end result. It is a fundamental property of many binary operations, and many mathematical proofs depend on it... : 
a + b = b + a 
a × b = b × a 
Existence of an identity element In mathematics, an identity element is a special type of element of a set with respect to a binary operation on that set. It leaves other elements unchanged when combined with them... : 
a + 0 = a 
a × 1 = a 
Existence of inverse element In abstract algebra, the idea of an inverse element generalises the concept of a negation, in relation to addition, and a reciprocal, in relation to multiplication. The intuition is of an element that can 'undo' the effect of combination with another given element... s: 
a + (−a) = 0 
An inverse element usually does not exist at all. 
Distributivity In mathematics, and in particular in abstract algebra, distributivity is a property of binary operations that generalizes the distributive law from elementary algebra.For example:... : 
and 
No zero divisor In abstract algebra, a nonzero element a of a ring is a left zero divisor if there exists a nonzero b such that ab = 0. Similarly, a nonzero element a of a ring is a right zero divisor if there exists a nonzero c such that ca = 0. An element that is both a left and a right zero divisor is simply... s: 

If a × b = 0, then a = 0 or b = 0 (or both) 
In the language of
abstract algebraAbstract algebra is the subject area of mathematics that studies algebraic structures, such as groups, rings, fields, modules, vector spaces, and algebras...
, the first five properties listed above for addition say that
Z under addition is an
abelian groupIn abstract algebra, an abelian group, also called a commutative group, is a group in which the result of applying the group operation to two group elements does not depend on their order . Abelian groups generalize the arithmetic of addition of integers...
. As a group under addition,
Z is a
cyclic groupIn group theory, a cyclic group is a group that can be generated by a single element, in the sense that the group has an element g such that, when written multiplicatively, every element of the group is a power of g .Definition:A group G is called cyclic if there exists an element g...
, since every nonzero integer can be written as a finite sum 1 + 1 + ... + 1 or (−1) + (−1) + ... + (−1). In fact,
Z under addition is the
only infinite cyclic group, in the sense that any infinite cyclic group is
isomorphicIn abstract algebra, a group isomorphism is a function between two groups that sets up a onetoone correspondence between the elements of the groups in a way that respects the given group operations. If there exists an isomorphism between two groups, then the groups are called isomorphic...
to
Z.
The first four properties listed above for multiplication say that
Z under multiplication is a commutative monoid. However not every integer has a multiplicative inverse; e.g. there is no integer
x such that because the left hand side is even, while the right hand side is odd. This means that
Z under multiplication is not a group.
All the rules from the above property table, except for the last, taken together say that
Z together with addition and multiplication is a commutative
ringIn mathematics, a ring is an algebraic structure consisting of a set together with two binary operations usually called addition and multiplication, where the set is an abelian group under addition and a semigroup under multiplication such that multiplication distributes over addition...
with unity. Adding the last property says that
Z is an
integral domain. In fact,
Z provides the motivation for defining such a structure.
The lack of multiplicative inverses, which is equivalent to the fact that
Z is not closed under division, means that
Z is
not a
fieldIn abstract algebra, a field is a commutative ring whose nonzero elements form a group under multiplication. As such it is an algebraic structure with notions of addition, subtraction, multiplication, and division, satisfying certain axioms...
. The smallest field containing the integers is the field of
rational numberIn mathematics, a rational number is any number that can be expressed as the quotient or fraction a/b of two integers, with the denominator b not equal to zero. Since b may be equal to 1, every integer is a rational number...
s. The process of constructing the rationals from the integers can be mimicked to form the
field of fractionsIn abstract algebra, the field of fractions or field of quotients of an integral domain is the smallest field in which it can be embedded. The elements of the field of fractions of the integral domain R have the form a/b with a and b in R and b ≠ 0...
of any integral domain.
Although ordinary division is not defined on
Z, it does possess an important property called the
division algorithmIn mathematics, and more particularly in arithmetic, the usual process of division of integers producing a quotient and a remainder can be specified precisely by a theorem stating that these exist uniquely with given properties. An integer division algorithm is any effective method for producing...
: that is, given two integers
a and
b with
b ≠ 0, there exist unique integers
q and
r such that and 0 ≤
r < 
b , where 
b  denotes the
absolute valueIn mathematics, the absolute value a of a real number a is the numerical value of a without regard to its sign. So, for example, the absolute value of 3 is 3, and the absolute value of 3 is also 3...
of
b. The integer
q is called the
quotient and
r is called the
remainderIn arithmetic, the remainder is the amount "left over" after the division of two integers which cannot be expressed with an integer quotient....
, resulting from division of
a by
b. This is the basis for the
Euclidean algorithmIn mathematics, the Euclidean algorithm is an efficient method for computing the greatest common divisor of two integers, also known as the greatest common factor or highest common factor...
for computing
greatest common divisorIn mathematics, the greatest common divisor , also known as the greatest common factor , or highest common factor , of two or more nonzero integers, is the largest positive integer that divides the numbers without a remainder.For example, the GCD of 8 and 12 is 4.This notion can be extended to...
s.
Again, in the language of abstract algebra, the above says that
Z is a
Euclidean domainIn mathematics, more specifically in abstract algebra and ring theory, a Euclidean domain is a ring that can be endowed with a certain structure – namely a Euclidean function, to be described in detail below – which allows a suitable generalization of the Euclidean algorithm...
. This implies that
Z is a
principal ideal domainIn abstract algebra, a principal ideal domain, or PID, is an integral domain in which every ideal is principal, i.e., can be generated by a single element. More generally, a principal ideal ring is a nonzero commutative ring whose ideals are principal, although some authors refer to PIDs as...
and any positive integer can be written as the products of
primesA prime number is a natural number greater than 1 that has no positive divisors other than 1 and itself. A natural number greater than 1 that is not a prime number is called a composite number. For example 5 is prime, as only 1 and 5 divide it, whereas 6 is composite, since it has the divisors 2...
in an essentially unique way. This is the
fundamental theorem of arithmeticIn number theory, the fundamental theorem of arithmetic states that any integer greater than 1 can be written as a unique product of prime numbers...
.
Ordertheoretic properties
Z is a
totally ordered setIn set theory, a total order, linear order, simple order, or ordering is a binary relation on some set X. The relation is transitive, antisymmetric, and total...
without upper or lower bound. The ordering of
Z is given by:
 ... −3 < −2 < −1 < 0 < 1 < 2 < 3 < ...
An integer is
positive if it is greater than zero and
negative if it is less than zero. Zero is defined as neither negative nor positive.
The ordering of integers is compatible with the algebraic operations in the following way:
 if a < b and c < d, then a + c < b + d
 if a < b and 0 < c, then ac < bc.
It follows that
Z together with the above ordering is an
ordered ringIn abstract algebra, an ordered ring is a commutative ring R with a total order ≤ such that for all a, b, and c in R:* if a ≤ b then a + c ≤ b + c.* if 0 ≤ a and 0 ≤ b then 0 ≤ ab....
.
The integers are the only
integral domain whose positive elements are wellordered, and in which order is preserved by
additionAddition is a mathematical operation that represents combining collections of objects together into a larger collection. It is signified by the plus sign . For example, in the picture on the right, there are 3 + 2 apples—meaning three apples and two other apples—which is the same as five apples....
.
Construction
The integers can be formally constructed as the
equivalence classes of
ordered pairIn mathematics, an ordered pair is a pair of mathematical objects. In the ordered pair , the object a is called the first entry, and the object b the second entry of the pair...
s of
natural numberIn mathematics, the natural numbers are the ordinary whole numbers used for counting and ordering . These purposes are related to the linguistic notions of cardinal and ordinal numbers, respectively...
s (
a,
b).
The intuition is that (
a,
b) stands for the result of subtracting
b from
a. To confirm our expectation that and denote the same number, we define an
equivalence relationIn mathematics, an equivalence relation is a relation that, loosely speaking, partitions a set so that every element of the set is a member of one and only one cell of the partition. Two elements of the set are considered equivalent if and only if they are elements of the same cell...
~ on these pairs with the following rule:
precisely when
Addition and multiplication of integers can be defined in terms of the equivalent operations on the natural numbers; denoting by [(
a,
b)] the equivalence class having (
a,
b) as a member, one has:
The negation (or additive inverse) of an integer is obtained by reversing the order of the pair:
Hence subtraction can be defined as the addition of the additive inverse:
The standard ordering on the integers is given by:
iffIn logic and related fields such as mathematics and philosophy, if and only if is a biconditional logical connective between statements....
It is easily verified that these definitions are independent of the choice of representatives of the equivalence classes.
Every equivalence class has a unique member that is of the form (
n,0) or (0,
n) (or both at once). The natural number
n is identified with the class [(
n,0)] (in other words the natural numbers are
embeddedIn mathematics, an embedding is one instance of some mathematical structure contained within another instance, such as a group that is a subgroup....
into the integers by map sending
n to [(
n,0)]), and the class [(0,
n)] is denoted −
n (this covers all remaining classes, and gives the class [(0,0)] a second time since −0 = 0.
Thus, [(
a,
b)] is denoted by
If the natural numbers are identified with the corresponding integers (using the embedding mentioned above), this convention creates no ambiguity.
This notation recovers the familiar
representationIn the mathematical field of representation theory, group representations describe abstract groups in terms of linear transformations of vector spaces; in particular, they can be used to represent group elements as matrices so that the group operation can be represented by matrix multiplication...
of the integers as {... −3,−2,−1, 0, 1, 2, 3, ...}.
Some examples are:
Integers in computing
An integer is often a primitive datatype in computer languages. However, integer datatypes can only represent a
subsetIn mathematics, especially in set theory, a set A is a subset of a set B if A is "contained" inside B. A and B may coincide. The relationship of one set being a subset of another is called inclusion or sometimes containment...
of all integers, since practical computers are of finite capacity. Also, in the common
two's complementThe two's complement of a binary number is defined as the value obtained by subtracting the number from a large power of two...
representation, the inherent definition of
signIn mathematics, the word sign refers to the property of being positive or negative. Every nonzero real number is either positive or negative, and therefore has a sign. Zero itself is signless, although in some contexts it makes sense to consider a signed zero...
distinguishes between "negative" and "nonnegative" rather than "negative, positive, and 0". (It is, however, certainly possible for a computer to determine whether an integer value is truly positive.) Fixed length integer approximation datatypes (or subsets) are denoted
int or Integer in several programming languages (such as Algol68, C,
JavaJava is a programming language originally developed by James Gosling at Sun Microsystems and released in 1995 as a core component of Sun Microsystems' Java platform. The language derives much of its syntax from C and C++ but has a simpler object model and fewer lowlevel facilities...
,
DelphiObject Pascal refers to a branch of objectoriented derivatives of Pascal, mostly known as the primary programming language of Embarcadero Delphi.Early history at Apple:...
, etc.).
Variablelength representations of integers, such as bignums, can store any integer that fits in the computer's memory. Other integer datatypes are implemented with a fixed size, usually a number of bits which is a power of 2 (4, 8, 16,
etc.) or a memorable number of decimal digits (
e.g., 9 or 10).
Cardinality
The
cardinality of the set of integers is equal to
(
alephnullIn set theory, a discipline within mathematics, the aleph numbers are a sequence of numbers used to represent the cardinality of infinite sets. They are named after the symbol used to denote them, the Hebrew letter aleph...
). This is readily demonstrated by the construction of a
bijectionA bijection is a function giving an exact pairing of the elements of two sets. A bijection from the set X to the set Y has an inverse function from Y to X. If X and Y are finite sets, then the existence of a bijection means they have the same number of elements...
, that is, a function that is injective and surjective from
Z to
N.
If
N = {0, 1, 2, ...} then consider the function:
{ ... (4,8) (3,6) (2,4) (1,2) (0,0) (1,1) (2,3) (3,5) ... }
If
N = {1,2,3,...} then consider the function:
{ ... (4,8) (3,6) (2,4) (1,2) (0,1) (1,3) (2,5) (3,7) ... }
If the domain is restricted to
Z then each and every member of
Z has one and only one corresponding member of
N and by the definition of cardinal equality the two sets have equal cardinality.
See also
 0.999...
In mathematics, the repeating decimal 0.999... denotes a real number that can be shown to be the number one. In other words, the symbols 0.999... and 1 represent the same number...
 Algebraic integer
In number theory, an algebraic integer is a complex number that is a root of some monic polynomial with coefficients in . The set of all algebraic integers is closed under addition and multiplication and therefore is a subring of complex numbers denoted by A...
 Canonical representation of a positive integer
 Hyperinteger
In nonstandard analysis, a hyperinteger N is a hyperreal number equal to its own integer part. A hyperinteger may be either finite or infinite. A finite hyperinteger is an ordinary integer...
 Integer (computer science)
In computer science, an integer is a datum of integral data type, a data type which represents some finite subset of the mathematical integers. Integral data types may be of different sizes and may or may not be allowed to contain negative values....
 Integer lattice
In mathematics, the ndimensional integer lattice , denoted Zn, is the lattice in the Euclidean space Rn whose lattice points are ntuples of integers. The twodimensional integer lattice is also called the square lattice, or grid lattice. Zn is the simplest example of a root lattice...
 Integer part
 Integer sequence
In mathematics, an integer sequence is a sequence of integers.An integer sequence may be specified explicitly by giving a formula for its nth term, or implicitly by giving a relationship between its terms...
External links