For $a,b \in \mathbb{N}$ two positive natural numbers, their least common multiple $LCM(a,b) \in \mathbb{N}$ is the smallest natural number that is divisible by both $a$ and $b$, i.e. such that there exist $n_a, n_n \in \mathbb{N}$ with $n_a \cdot a = n_b \cdot b = LCM(a,b)$.
Spelled out, this means that the least common multiple of $a, b \in \mathbb{N}$, denoted $\mathrm{lcm}(a, b)$, is the element $d \in \mathbb{N}$ uniquely characterized by the following two conditions:
$a|d$ and $b|d$;
if $a|c$ and $b|c$, then $d|c$.
One could equivalently equip the natural numbers with a function $\mathrm{lcm}:\mathbb{N} \times \mathbb{N} \to \mathbb{N}$ which satisfies the two conditions:
$a|\mathrm{lcm}(a, b)$ and $b|\mathrm{lcm}(a, b)$;
if $a|c$ and $b|c$, then $\mathrm{lcm}(a, b)|c$.
It is not true that “least” means least with respect to the usual ordering $\leq$. In particular, $1$ is the minimal element with respect to the divisibility ordering, and $\mathrm{lcm}(1, 1) = 1$ according to the definition above. However, if we construe “least” in the sense of $\leq$, since every natural number is a common multiple of $1$ with itself, then $0$ is the $\leq$-least natural number!
Furthermore, it is also less robust, because the notion of $lcm$ is at bottom an ideal-theoretic notion: the divisibility order on elements of a principal ideal domain is a preorder whose posetal collapse is the collection of ideals, ordered oppositely to inclusion. Thus, in ring-theoretic contexts where there is no sensible notion of $\leq$, for example in the ring of Gaussian integers, the notion of $\mathrm{lcm}$ still makes perfectly good sense if we use the first formulation above, expressed purely in terms of divisibility.
From the point of view of principal ideals in a pid or Bézout domain $R$, the lcm corresponds to taking their meet: $(\mathrm{lcm}(a, b)) = (a) \cap (b)$.
In an arbitrary Bézout unique factorization domain $R$, the least common multiple function is only a prelattice, because the minimum elements with respect to the least common multiple are given by the group of units $R^\times$. One usually takes the quotient monoid? of the multiplicative structure on $R$ by the group of units $R^\times$ to get a lattice: thus, the least common multiple is a function $\mathrm{lcm}:R \times R \to R/R^\times$. In particular, in a discrete field $K$, the quotient $K/K^\times$ is the boolean domain $\mathrm{bool}$ and the lcm is thus a function $\mathrm{lcm}:K \times K \to \mathrm{bool}$, and in a Heyting field $F$, the quotient $F/F^\times$ is the set of truth values $\Omega$ whose divisibility partial order is the opposite poset of the usual partial order via entailment, and the lcm is thus a function $\mathrm{lcm}:F \times F \to \Omega$, defined as $\mathrm{lcm}(a, b) \coloneqq \mathrm{isInvertible}(a) \wedge \mathrm{isInvertible}(b)$
Last revised on January 23, 2023 at 17:31:16. See the history of this page for a list of all contributions to it.