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In mathematics, the p-adic number systems were first described by Kurt Hensel in 1897. For each prime number p, the p-adic
number system extends the ordinary arithmetic of the rational numbers in a way different from the extension of the rational
number system to the real and complex number systems. The main use of these other systems is in number theory.

The extension is achieved by an alternative interpretation of the concept of absolute value. The p-adic numbers were motivated
primarily by an attempt to bring the ideas and techniques of power series methods into number theory. Their influence now
extends far beyond this. For example, the field of p-adic analysis essentially provides an alternative form of calculus.

More formally, for a given prime p, the field Qp of p-adic numbers is a completion of the rational numbers. The field Qp is also
given a topology derived from a metric, which is itself derived from an alternative valuation on the rational numbers. This metric
space is complete in the sense that every Cauchy sequence converges. This is what allows the development of calculus on Qp,
and it is the interaction of this analytic and algebraic structure which gives the p-adic number systems their power and utility.

The p in p-adic is a dummy variable. Advanced articles in number theory often speak of the l-adic numbers without explanation.
The l-adic numbers are the same thing as the p-adic numbers; the l is used to not conflict with other uses of p.

Contents
 1 Introduction
 2 p-adic expansions
 3 Notation
 4 Constructions
 4.1 Analytic approach
 4.2 Algebraic approach
 5 Properties
 6 Rational arithmetic
 7 Generalizations and related concepts
 8 Local-global principle
 10 References
 11 Notes
 12 External links

Introduction
This section is an informal introduction to p-adic numbers, using examples from the ring of 10-adic numbers. More formal
constructions and properties are given below.

In the standard decimal representation, many (in fact, most) real numbers do not have a terminating decimal expansion. For
example, 1/3 is represented as a non-terminating decimal as follows

Informally, most people are comfortable with non-terminating decimals because it is clear that a real number can be
approximated to any required degree of closeness by a terminating decimal that uses enough decimal places. If two decimal
expansions differ only after the 10th decimal place they are quite close to one another, and if they differ only after the 20th
decimal place they are even closer.

10-adic numbers use a similar non-terminating expansion, but with a different concept of "closeness" (which mathematicians call
a metric). Whereas two decimal expansions are close to one another if they differ by a large negative power of 10, two 10-adic
expansions are close if they differ by a large positive power of 10. Thus 3333 and 4333 are close in the 10-adic metric, and
33333333 and 43333333 are even closer.

In the 10-adic metric, the following sequence of numbers gets closer and closer to −1

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9 = − 1 + 10
99 = − 1 + 102
999 = − 1 + 103
9999 = − 1 + 104

and taking this sequence to its limit, we can say (informally) that the 10-adic expansion of −1 is

In this notation, 10-adic expansions can be extended indefinitely to the left, in contrast to decimal expansions, which can be
extended indefinitely to the right. Note that this is not the only way to write p-adic numbers—for alternatives see the Notation
section below.

More formally, a 10-adic number can be defined as

where each of the ai is a digit taken from the set {0, 1, …..., 9} and the initial index n may be positive, negative or 0, but must be
finite. From this definition, it is clear that positive integers and positive rational numbers with terminating decimal expansions
will have terminating 10-adic expansions that are identical to their decimal expansions. Other numbers may have non-

It is possible to define addition, subtraction, and multiplication on 10-adic numbers in a consistent way, so that the 10-adic
numbers form a commutative ring. We can create 10-adic expansions for negative numbers as follows

and fractions which have non-terminating decimal expansions also have non-terminating 10-adic expansions. For example

Generalizing the last example, we can find a 10-adic expansion for any rational number p⁄q such that q is co-prime to 10; Euler's
theorem guarantees that if q is co-prime to 10, then there is an n such that 10n − 1 is a multiple of q.

However, 10-adic numbers have one major drawback. It is possible to find pairs of non-zero 10-adic numbers whose product is
0. In other words, the 10-adic numbers are not a domain because they contain zero divisors. This turns out to be because 10 is a
composite number. Fortunately, this problem can be avoided by using a prime number p as the base of the number system instead
of 10.

If p is a fixed prime number, then any positive integer can be written in a base p expansion in the form

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where the a i are integers in {0, …, p − 1}. For example, the binary expansion of 35 is 1·25 + 0·24 + 0·23 + 0·22 + 1·21 + 1·20,
often written in the shorthand notation 1000112.

The familiar approach to generalizing this description to the larger domain of the rationals (and, ultimately, to the reals) is to
include sums of the form:

A definite meaning is given to these sums based on Cauchy sequences, using the absolute value as metric. Thus, for example, 1/3
can be expressed in base 5 as the limit of the sequence 0.1313131313... 5. In this formulation, the integers are precisely those
numbers which can be represented in the form where ai = 0 for all i < 0.

As an alternative, if we extend the base p expansions by allowing infinite sums of the form

where k is some (not necessarily positive) integer, we obtain the p-adic expansions defining the field Qp of p-adic numbers.
Those p-adic numbers for which ai = 0 for all i < 0 are also called the p-adic integers. The p-adic integers form a subring of Qp,
denoted Zp. (Note: Zp is often used to represent the ring of integers modulo p. If each ring is needed, the latter is usually written
Z/pZ or Z/(p). Be sure to check the notation for any text you read.)

Intuitively, as opposed to p-adic expansions which extend to the right as sums of ever smaller, increasingly negative powers of
the base p (as is done for the real numbers as described above), these are numbers whose p-adic expansion to the left are allowed
to go on forever. For example, the p-adic expansion of 1/3 in base 5 is …1313132, i.e. the limit of the sequence 2, 32, 132, 3132,
13132, 313132, 1313132,… . Multiplying this infinite sum by 3 in base 5 gives …0000001. As there are no negative powers of 5
in this expansion of 1/3 (i.e. no numbers to the right of the decimal point), we see that 1/3 is a p-adic integer in base 5.

While it is possible to use this approach to rigorously define p-adic numbers and explore their properties, just as in the case of
real numbers other approaches are generally preferred. Hence we want to define a notion of infinite sum which makes these
expressions meaningful, and this is most easily accomplished by the introduction of the p-adic metric. Two different but
equivalent solutions to this problem are presented in the Constructions section below.

Notation
There are several different conventions for writing p-adic expansions. So far this article has used a notation for p-adic expansions
in which powers of p increase from right to left. With this right-to-left notation the 3-adic expansion of 1/5, for example, is
written as

When performing arithmetic in this notation, digits are carried to the left. It is also possible to write p-adic expansions so that the
powers of p increase from left to right, and digits are carried to the right. With this left-to-right notation the 3-adic expansion of
1/ is
5

p-adic expansions may be written with other sets of digits instead of {0, 1, …, p − 1}. For example, the 3-adic expansion of 1/5
can be written using balanced ternary digits {1,0,1} as

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In fact any set of p integers which are in distinct residue classes modulo p may be used as p-adic digits. In number theory,
Teichmüller digits are sometimes used.

Constructions
Analytic approach

The real numbers can be defined as equivalence classes of Cauchy sequences of rational numbers; this allows us to, for example,
write 1 as 1.000… = 0.999… . However, the definition of a Cauchy sequence relies on the metric chosen and, by choosing a
different one, numbers other than the real numbers can be constructed. The usual metric which yields the real numbers is called
the Euclidean metric.

For a given prime p, we define the p-adic norm in Q as follows: for any non-zero rational number x, there is a unique integer n
allowing us to write x = pn(a/b), where neither of the integers a and b is divisible by p. Unless the numerator or denominator of x
in lowest terms contains p as a factor, n will be 0. Now define |x|p = p−n. We also define |0|p = 0.

For example with x = 63/550 = 2−1 32 5−2 7 11−1

This definition of |x|p has the effect that high powers of p become "small".

In general, for distinct primes and with for all and , and non-zero
integers ai and bj we can write any non-zero rational number n as follows:

It now follows that and for any other prime

It is a theorem of Ostrowski that each norm on Q is equivalent either to the Euclidean norm, the trivial norm, or to one of the p-
adic norms for some prime p. The p-adic norm defines a metric dp on Q by setting

The field Qp of p-adic numbers can then be defined as the completion of the metric space (Q,dp); its elements are equivalence
classes of Cauchy sequences, where two sequences are called equivalent if their difference converges to zero. In this way, we
obtain a complete metric space which is also a field and contains Q.

It can be shown that in Qp, every element x may be written in a unique way as

where k is some integer and each ai is in {0, …, p − 1}. This series converges to x with respect to the metric dp.

With this norm, the field Qp is a local field.

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Algebraic approach

In the algebraic approach, we first define the ring of p-adic integers, and then construct the field of quotients of this ring to get
the field of p-adic numbers.

We start with the inverse limit of the rings Z/pnZ (see modular arithmetic): a p-adic integer is then a sequence (an)n≥1 such that
an is in Z/pnZ, and if n < m, an ≡ am (mod pn).

Every natural number m defines such a sequence (m mod pn), and can therefore be regarded as a p-adic integer. For example, in
this case 35 as a 2-adic integer would be written as the sequence (1, 3, 3, 3, 3, 35, 35, 35, …).

Note that pointwise addition and multiplication of such sequences is well defined, since addition and multiplication commute
with the mod operator, see modular arithmetic. Also, every sequence (an) where the first element is not 0 has an inverse: since in
that case, for every n, an and p are coprime, and so an and pn are relatively prime. Therefore, each an has an inverse mod pn, and
the sequence of these inverses, (bn), is the sought inverse of (an).

Every such sequence can alternatively be written as a series of the form we considered above. For instance, in the 3-adics, the
sequence (2, 8, 8, 35, 35, ...) can be written as 2 + 2·3 + 0·32 + 1·33 + 0·34 + ... The partial sums of this latter series are the
elements of the given sequence.

The ring of p-adic integers has no zero divisors, so we can take the field of fractions to get the field Qp of p-adic numbers. Note
that in this field of fractions, every non-integer p-adic number can be uniquely written as p−nu with a natural number n and a unit
in the p-adic integers u. This means that

in which the terms with superscript multiplication sign designate the part of the field or ring that constitues a multiplicative
group.

Properties
The ring of p-adic integers is the inverse limit of the finite rings Z/pkZ, but is nonetheless uncountable, and has the cardinality
of the continuum. Accordingly, the field Qp is uncountable. The endomorphism ring of the Prüfer p-group of rank n, denoted Z
(p∞)n, is the ring of n×n matrices over the p-adic integers; this is sometimes referred to as the Tate module.

The p-adic numbers contain the rational numbers Q and form a field of characteristic 0. This field cannot be turned into an
ordered field.

Let the topology τ on Zp be defined by taking as a basis all sets of the form Ua(n) = {n + λ pa for λ in Zp and a in N}. Then Zp is
a compactification of Z, under the derived topology (it is not a compactification of Z with its usual topology). The relative
topology on Z as a subset of Zp is called the p-adic topology on Z.

The topology of the set of p-adic integers is that of a Cantor set; the topology of the set of p-adic numbers is that of a Cantor set
minus a point (which would naturally be called infinity). In particular, the space of p-adic integers is compact while the space
of p-adic numbers is not; it is only locally compact. As metric spaces, both the p-adic integers and the p-adic numbers are
complete.
The real numbers have only a single proper algebraic extension, the complex numbers; in other words, this quadratic extension is
already algebraically closed. By contrast, the algebraic closure of the p-adic numbers has infinite degree. Furthermore, Qp has
infinitely many inequivalent algebraic extensions. Also contrasting the case of real numbers, the algebraic closure of Qp is not
(metrically) complete . Its (metric) completion is called Cp. Here an end is reached, as Cp is algebraically closed .
The field Cp is isomorphic to the field C of complex numbers, so we may regard Cp as the complex numbers endowed with an
exotic metric. It should be noted that the existence of such a field isomorphism relies on the axiom of choice, and no explicit
isomorphism can be given.

The p-adic numbers contain the nth cyclotomic field (n>2) if and only if n divides p − 1. For instance, the nth cyclotomic field
is a subfield of Q13 if and only if n = 1, 2, 3, 4, 6, or 12. In particular, there is no p-torsion in the p-adic numbers, if p > 2.

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Given a natural number k, the index of the multiplicative group of the k-th powers of the non-zero elements of Qp in the
multiplicative group of Qp is finite.

The number e, defined as the sum of reciprocals of factorials, is not a member of any p-adic field; but ep is a p-adic number for
all p except 2, for which one must take at least the fourth power . (Thus a number with similar properties as e - namely a pth
root of ep - is a member of the algebraic closure of the p-adic numbers for all p.)

Over the reals, the only functions whose derivative is zero are the constant functions. This is not true over Qp. For instance,
the function

has zero derivative everywhere but is not even locally constant at 0.

Given any elements r∞, r2, r3, r5, r7, ... where rp is in Qp (and Q∞ stands for R), it is possible to find a sequence (xn) in Q such
that for all p (including ∞), the limit of xn in Qp is rp.

The field Qp is a locally compact Hausdorff space.

Rational arithmetic
Hehner and Horspool proposed in 1979 the use of a p-adic representation for rational numbers on computers. The primary
advantage of such a representation is that addition, subtraction, and multiplication can be done in a straightforward manner
analogous to similar methods for binary integers; and division is even simpler, resembling multiplication. However, it has the
disadvantage that representations can be much larger than simply storing the numerator and denominator in binary; for example,
if 2n−1 is a Mersenne prime, its reciprocal will require 2n−1 bits to represent.

Generalizations and related concepts

The reals and the p-adic numbers are the completions of the rationals; it is also possible to complete other fields, for instance
general algebraic number fields, in an analogous way. This will be described now.

Suppose D is a Dedekind domain and E is its field of fractions. Pick a non-zero prime ideal P of D. If x is a non-zero element of
E, then xD is a fractional ideal and can be uniquely factored as a product of positive and negative powers of non-zero prime
ideals of D. We write ordP(x) for the exponent of P in this factorization, and for any choice of number c greater than 1 we can set

Completing with respect to this absolute value |.|P yields a field EP, the proper generalization of the field of p-adic numbers to
this setting. The choice of c does not change the completion (different choices yield the same concept of Cauchy sequence, so the
same completion). It is convenient, when the residue field D/P is finite, to take for c the size of D/P.

For example, when E is a number field, Ostrowski's theorem says that every non-trivial non-Archimedean absolute value on E
arises as some |.|P. The remaining non-trivial absolute values on E arise from the different embeddings of E into the real or
complex numbers. (In fact, the non-Archimedean absolute values can be considered as simply the different embeddings of E into
the fields Cp, thus putting the description of all the non-trivial absolute values of a number field on a common footing.)

Often, one needs to simultaneously keep track of all the above mentioned completions when E is a number field (or more
generally a global field), which are seen as encoding "local" information. This is accomplished by adele rings and idele groups.

Local-global principle
Helmut Hasse's local-global principle is said to hold for an equation if it can be solved over the rational numbers if and only if it
can be solved over the real numbers and over the p-adic numbers for every prime p.

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 Hensel's lemma
 Mahler's theorem
 C-minimal theory

References
 Gouvêa, Fernando Q. (2000). p-adic Numbers : An Introduction, 2nd edition, Springer. ISBN 3540629114.
 Koblitz, Neal (1996). P-adic Numbers, p-adic Analysis, and Zeta-Functions, 2nd edition, Springer. ISBN 0387960171.
 Robert, Alain M. (2000). A Course in p-adic Analysis. Springer. ISBN 0387986693.
 Steen, Lynn Arthur (1978). Counterexamples in Topology. Dover. ISBN 048668735X.

Notes
1. ^ Hensel, Kurt (1897). "Über eine neue Begründung der Theorie der algebraischen Zahlen". Jahresbericht der Deutschen
Mathematiker-Vereinigung 6 (3): 83–88.
2. ^ The number of real numbers with terminating decimal expansions is countably infinite, while the number of real numbers without
such a representation is uncountably infinite.
3. ^ Robert (2000) Section 1.1
4. ^ Robert (2000) Section 2.3
5. ^ Gouvêa (2000) Corollary 3.3.8
6. ^ Gouvêa (2000) Corollary 5.3.10
7. ^ Gouvêa (2000) Theorem 5.7.4
8. ^ Gouvêa (2000) Proposition 5.7.8
9. ^ Gouvêa (2000) Proposition 3.4.2
10. ^ Robert (2000) Section 4.1
11. ^ Robert (2000) Section 5.1
12. ^ Eric C. R. Hehner, R. Nigel Horspool, A new representation of the rational numbers for fast easy arithmetic. SIAM Journal on
Computing 8, 124-134. 1979.

 Eric W. Weisstein, p-adic Number at MathWorld.
 p-adic integers on PlanetMath
 p-adic number at Springer On-line Encyclopaedia of Mathematics
 Completion of Algebraic Closure - on-line lecture notes