Mersenne primes are prime numbers of the form 2p – 1. It turns out that if 2p – 1 is a prime, so is p; the requirement that p is prime is a theorem, not part of the definition. So far 51 Mersenne primes have discovered [1]. Maybe that’s all there are, but it is […]

# Category: Number theory

## Beating the odds on the Diffie-Hellman decision problem

There are a couple variations on the Diffie-Hellman problem in cryptography: the computation problem (CDH) and the decision problem (DDH). This post will explain both and give an example of where the former is hard and the latter easy. The Diffie-Hellman problems The Diffie-Hellman problems are formulated for an Abelian group. The main group we […]

## Fame, difficulty, and usefulness

Pierre Fermat is best known for two theorems, dubbed his “last” theorem and his “little” theorem. His last theorem is famous, difficult to prove, and useless. His little theorem is relatively arcane, easy to prove, and extremely useful. There’s little relation between technical difficulty and usefulness. Fermat’s last theorem Fermat’s last theorem says there are […]

## Twisted elliptic curves

This morning I was sitting at a little bakery thinking about what to do before I check out of my hotel. I saw that the name of the bakery was Twist Bakery & Cafe, and that made me think of writing about twisted elliptic curves when I got back to my room. Twist of an […]

## Distribution of quadratic residues

Let p be an odd prime number. If the equation x² = n mod p has a solution then n is a square mod p, or in classical terminology, n is a quadratic residue mod p. Half of the numbers between 0 and p are quadratic residues and half are not. The residues are distributed […]

## Software to factor integers

In my previous post, I showed how changing one bit of a semiprime (i.e. the product of two primes) creates an integer that can be factored much faster. I started writing that post using Python with SymPy, but moved to Mathematica because factoring took too long. SymPy vs Mathematica When I’m working in Python, SymPy […]

## Making public keys factorable with Rowhammer

The security of RSA encryption depends on the fact that the product of two large primes is difficult to factor. So if p and q are large primes, say 2048 bits each, then you can publish n = pq with little fear that someone can factor n to recover p and q. But if you […]

## Bounds on the nth prime

The nth prime is approximately n log n. For more precise estimates, there are numerous upper and lower bounds for the nth prime, each tighter over some intervals than others. Here I want to point out upper and lower bounds from a dissertation by Christian Axler on page viii. First, define Then for sufficiently large […]

## Feller-Tornier constant

Here’s kind of an unusual question: What is the density of integers that have an even number of prime factors with an exponent greater than 1? To define the density, you take the proportion up to an integer N then take the limit as N goes to infinity. It’s not obvious that the limit should […]

## Strong primes

There are a couple different definitions of a strong prime. In number theory, a strong prime is one that is closer to the next prime than to the previous prime. For example, 11 is a strong prime because it is closer to 13 than to 7. In cryptography, a strong primes are roughly speaking primes […]

## Golden ratio primes

The golden ratio is the larger root of the equation φ² – φ – 1 = 0. By analogy, golden ratio primes are prime numbers of the form p = φ² – φ – 1 where φ is an integer. When φ is a large power of 2, these prime numbers are useful in cryptography […]

## Goldilocks and the three multiplications

Mike Hamburg designed an elliptic curve he calls Ed448-Goldilocks. The prefix Ed refers to the fact that it’s an Edwards curve. The number 448 refers to the fact that the curve is over a prime field where the prime p has size 448 bits. But why Goldilocks? Golden primes and Goldilocks The prime in this […]

## Tricks for arithmetic modulo NIST primes

The US National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) originally recommended 15 elliptic curves for use in elliptic curve cryptography [1]. Ten of these are over a field of size 2n. The other five are over prime fields. The sizes of these fields are known as the NIST primes. The NIST curves over prime fields […]

## Improving on the sieve of Eratosthenes

Ancient algorithm Eratosthenes had a good idea for finding all primes less than an upper bound N over 22 centuries ago. Make a list of the numbers 2 to N. Circle 2, then scratch out all the larger multiples of 2 up to N. Then move on to 3. Circle it, and scratch out all […]

## All elliptic curves over fields of order 2 and 3

Introductions to elliptic curves often start by saying that elliptic curves have the form y² = x³ + ax + b. where 4a³ + 27b² ≠ 0. Then later they say “except over fields of characteristic 2 or 3.” What does characteristic 2 or 3 mean? The order of a finite field is the number of […]

## Efficient modular arithmetic technique for Curve25519

Daniel Bernstein’s Curve25519 is the elliptic curve y² = x³ + 486662x² + x over the prime field with order p = 2255 – 19. The curve is a popular choice in elliptic curve cryptography because its design choices are transparently justified [1] and because cryptography over the curve can be implemented very efficiently. This […]

## Public key encryption based on squares and non squares

The RSA encryption algorithm depends indirectly on the assumption that factoring the product of large primes is hard. The algorithm presented here, invented by Shafi Goldwasser and Silvio Micali, depends on the same assumption but in a different way. The Goldwasser-Micali algorithm is more direct than RSA, thought it is also less efficient. One thing […]

## An infinite product challenge

Gil Kalai wrote a blog post yesterday entitled “Test Your Intuition (or knowledge, or programming skills) 36.” The challenge is to evaluate the infinite product I imagine there’s an elegant analytical solution, but since the title suggested that programming might suffice, I decided to try a little Python. I used primerange from SymPy to generate […]

## Testing for primes less than a quintillion

The most common way to test whether a large number is prime is the Miller-Rabin test. If the test says a number is composite, it’s definitely composite. Otherwise the number is very likely, but not certain, to be prime. A pseudoprime is a composite number that slips past the Miller-Rabin test. (Actually, a strong pseudoprime. […]

## Regression, modular arithmetic, and PQC

Linear regression Suppose you have a linear regression with a couple predictors and no intercept term: β1×1 + β2×2 = y + ε where the x‘s are inputs, the β are fixed but unknown, y is the output, and ε is random error. Given n observations (x1, x2, y + ε), linear regression estimates the parameters β1 […]