In number theory, **integer factorization** or **prime factorization** is the decomposition of a composite number into smaller non-trivial divisors, which when multiplied together equal the original integer.

When the numbers are very large, no efficient, non-quantum integer factorization algorithm is known; an effort concluded in 2009 by several researchers factored a 232-digit number (RSA-768), utilizing hundreds of machines over a span of 2 years. The presumed difficulty of this problem is at the heart of widely used algorithms in cryptography such as RSA. Many areas of mathematics and computer science have been brought to bear on the problem, including elliptic curves, algebraic number theory, and quantum computing.

Not all numbers of a given length are equally hard to factor. The hardest instances of these problems (for currently known techniques) are semiprimes, the product of two prime numbers. When they are both large, for instance more than 2000 bits long, randomly chosen, and about the same size (but not too close, e.g. to avoid efficient factorization by Fermat's factorization method), even the fastest prime factorization algorithms on the fastest computers can take enough time to make the search impractical; that is, as the number of digits of the primes being factored increases, the number of operations required to perform the factorization on any computer increases drastically.

Many cryptographic protocols are based on the difficulty of factoring large composite integers or a related problem, the RSA problem. An algorithm that efficiently factors an arbitrary integer would render RSA-based public-key cryptography insecure.

Read more about Integer Factorization: Prime Decomposition, Current State of The Art, Heuristic Running Time, Rigorous Running Time