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simplify 272?

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Think of the smallest prime number that 272 can be divided by, then divide it by that number.  Since prime numbers can only be divided by themselves and 1, you don't have to worry about simplifying the number you divided by.  Replace 272 with the answer you got when you divided, and repeat the process.  Keep doing this until you are down to nothing but prime numbers.

As an example, simplifying 500:

500 = 5 * 100

5 is prime, but 100 isn't.  100 = 5 * 20.

5 is prime, but 20 isn't.  20 = 4 * 5.

5 is prime, but 4 isn't. 4 = 2 * 2.

2 is prime, and so is 2.

So the simplification of 500 would be: 2 * 2 * 5 * 5 * 5