One of the most basic sets of numbers is the whole numbers: the set of numbers that includes zero and all the counting numbers--no fractions or decimals (0, 1, 2, 3, 4, etc.) This chapter will focus on the general properties of whole numbers, as well as the specific properties of each individual whole number and the way two whole numbers interact. Starting with the general principles of our number system, this chapter will move toward characteristics that distinguish one number from another. We will then see how these numbers are related to each other.

The first section will deal with how our decimal system represents numbers and why our system is called a base ten system. We will learn the meaning of place value and how to describe numbers by their place value.

The second section will deal with divisibility. We will learn tricks for determining whether a number is divisible by another number without actually carrying out the division.

Knowing divisibility rules is a great help in determining factors, which begin the discussion of section three. Section three will also deal with prime numbers and composite numbers. These numbers play a huge role in mathematics, ranging from pre-algebra to advanced number theory.

One way in which the prime numbers are useful in pre-algebra is in prime factorization. This is the topic of section four. In exploring prime factorization, we will learn how to find the greatest common factor and the least common multiple of two or more numbers. This will be of great use when we talk about fractions.