Definitions for p-adic number

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  1. p-adic number(Noun)

    An element of a completion of the field of rational numbers which has a p-adic ultrametric as its metric.

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  1. p-adic number

    In mathematics the p-adic number system for any prime number p 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 extension is achieved by an alternative interpretation of the concept of "closeness" or absolute value. In particular, p-adic numbers have the interesting property that they are said to be close when their difference is divisible by a high power of p – the higher the power the closer they are. This property enables p-adic numbers to encode congruence information in a way that turns out to have powerful applications in number theory including, for example, in the famous proof of Fermat's Last Theorem by Andrew Wiles. p-adic numbers were first described by Kurt Hensel in 1897, though with hindsight some of Kummer's earlier work can be interpreted as implicitly using p-adic numbers. 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.


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