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Composite number is translated as 合数, which do make sense;
Prime number is called 素数, what does 素 means here?
Is it possible to trace the source of such translation?
「素」generically means basal, essential, intrinsic, primal. Hence you have vocabulary like
素 can mean 物的基本成分 (basic element of something) as an extension from its base meaning of plain, natural, pure, unmodified.
In its synonym 质数, 质 also means the nature of something or being plain and simple.
素 can mean prime in some way. See this definition in dictionaries:
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