An integer is the number zero (0), a positive natural number (1, 2, 3, etc.) or a negative integer with a minus sign (−1, −2, −3, etc.). The negative numbers are the additive inverses of the corresponding positive numbers. In the language of mathematics, the set of integers is often denoted by the boldface Z or blackboard bold .
|Algebraic structure → Group theory|
The set of natural numbers is a subset of , which in turn is a subset of the set of all rational numbers , itself a subset of the real numbers . Like the natural numbers, is countably infinite. An integer may be regarded as a real number that can be written without a fractional component. For example, 21, 4, 0, and −2048 are integers, while 9.75, 5+1/2, and √ are not.
The integers form the smallest group and the smallest ring containing the natural numbers. In algebraic number theory, the integers are sometimes qualified as rational integers to distinguish them from the more general algebraic integers. In fact, (rational) integers are algebraic integers that are also rational numbers.