[S] Factoring an integer

Gunter, Bert (bert_gunter@merck.com)
Thu, 10 Sep 1998 09:58:44 -0400


As a postscript to Bill Venables's integer factorization code, it is perhaps
worthwhile mentioning that factoring an integer into its prime factors is a
classical problem, a standard exercise in a first programming course (using
the sieve procedure that Bill coded), and a topic of intense current
research. The latter is because it is relatively easy to multiply (very
large) primes to find their product but relatively difficult to factor a
large integer into its prime factors. This dichotomy is the basis of
so-called trap door algorithms that are at the heart of many current public
key encryption systems; which in turn supposedly hold the key to to secure
transactions and therefore commercialization of the Internet. Funny how
"simple" mathematical issues can lead to such important consequences.

Cheers,

Bert Gunter
Biometrics Research RY 70-38
Merck & Company
P.O. Box 2000
Rahway, NJ 07065-0900
Phone: (732) 594-7765 Fax: (732) 594-1565

"The business of the statistician is to catalyze the scientific learning
process." -- George E.P. Box
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