Most real numbers can only be approximated by decimal numerals, in which a decimal point is placed to the right of the digit with place value 1. Each digit to the right of the decimal point has a place value one-tenth of the place value of the digit to its left. For example, 123. 456 represents 123456/1000, or, in words, one hundred, two tens, three ones, four tenths, five hundredths, and six thousandths. A real number can be expressed by a finite number of decimal digits only if it is rational and its fractional part has a denominator whose prime factors are 2 or 5 or both, because these are the prime factors of 10, the base of the decimal system. Thus, for example, one half is 0. 5, one fifth is 0. 2, one-tenth is 0. 1, and one fiftieth is 0. 02. Representing other real numbers as decimals would require an infinite sequence of digits to the right of the decimal point. If this infinite sequence of digits follows a pattern, it can be written with an ellipsis or another notation that indicates the repeating pattern. Such a decimal is called a repeating decimal. Thus 1/3 can be written as 0. 333. . . , with an ellipsis to indicate that the pattern continues. Forever repeating 3s are also written as 0. 3.
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