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Provides an introduction to modular arithmetic and it's application to encryption via RSA, intended for talented year 10 students (though should be fairly widely applicable)

Provides an introduction to modular arithmetic and it's application to encryption via RSA, intended for talented year 10 students (though should be fairly widely applicable)

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Modular Arithmetic & RSA Encryption

Philip Tromanshttp://pjtlog.blogspot.com/March 2008

1 Introduction

With the rise of the internet, information security has become enormously important to every internet user.After all, no-one wants their credit card details stolen when they shop online. All modern cryptography (theart of encoding messages so that only the desired recipient can understand the message) is based on maths,and huge amounts of money are directed at research into these ﬁelds. In this talk we intend to explorethe most prominent form of encryption used on the internet (RSA encryption) and some of the theory thatmakes us believe it’s safe to use.As for the exercises in this set of notes, don’t be worried if you can’t do all of them. The ﬁrst few aregenerally intended to be do-able, but the latter ones are supposed to be hard, and are supposed to stretchyou (hopefully you’ll ﬁnd them interesting too).

2 Prime numbers

Prime numbers are sometimes said to be the

building blocks

of the number system. A number is

prime

if and only if the only two numbers that divide it are 1 and itself. For example: 11, 17, 23 and 2 are all prime,and 4 and 33 aren’t prime as 4 = 2

×

2 and 33 = 3

×

11. Every number that isn’t prime can be expressed asa product of primes, for example:53158732 = 2

×

2

×

11

×

19

×

63587Note: 1 is

deﬁned

not to be a prime.

2.1 Coprime numbers

Two numbers are

coprime

if they don’t share any common factors. If they don’t have any common factors,then they deﬁnitely can’t have any common prime factors (if you can’t see why that’s true, then think aboutit for a little while or ask someone). So for example, 9 and 10 are coprime as 9 = 3

×

3 and 10 = 2

×

5, and8 and 12 are not coprime as 8 = 2

×

2

×

2 and 12 = 2

×

2

×

3 (both have a factor of 2).Note: 1 is coprime to every number apart from 1 (and anything being coprime to 0 makes no sense).

2.2 Exercises

1. Which of 68, 50, 37, 97, 5, 43 are prime? If not, why not?2. Express 18 as a product of primes.3. Are any two diﬀerent prime numbers coprime?4. What’s the highest common factor (HCF) of any two coprime numbers?1

5. Is

x

3

prime where

x

is any positive integer (i.e. a counting number: 1, 2, 3 ...).6. Consider the sequence of numbers: 41, 43, 47, 53, 61, ...(where the diﬀerence between each pair of numbers increases by 2 each time). Are all of these numbers in the sequence (up to inﬁnity) prime?

3 Euler’s Totient Function,

φ

(

x

)

Euler’s totient function is generally written

φ

(

x

), and only exists when

x

is a positive integer. It is deﬁnedby:

φ

(

x

) = the number of positive integers less than

x

(and greater than or equal to 1) that are coprime to

x

. For example:

φ

(9) = 6as 1, 2, 4, 5, 7 and 8 are coprime to 9. Also,

φ

(13) = 12as 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12 are all coprime to 13.

3.1 Properties

(You might like to write reasons why this is true after it’s been explained on the board).For a prime number

p

:

φ

(

p

) =

p

−

1

φ

(

p

2

) =

p

2

−

p

For distinct primes

p

,

q

:

φ

(

pq

) =

pq

−

q

−

p

+ 1= (

p

−

1)(

q

−

1)

3.2 Exercises

1. Calculate

φ

(16),

φ

(21),

φ

(25),

φ

(7).

4 Modular Arithmetic

You might not have ever heard of modular arithmetic, but the chances are you use it every day. It’s justa posh name for arithmetic on remainders. For example, when you tell the time, if it’s 2pm you say it’s 2o’clock and not 14 o’clock. We say that the time is told

mod 12

(mod stands for modulo). We write this as:

t

≡

2 (mod 12)What this means is ”when t is divided by 12, the remainder is 2”. Some more examples are: 7

≡

2 (mod 5),6

≡

0 (mod 6).

4.1 Exercises

1. Calculate 7 (mod 3), 6 (mod 4), 100 (mod 9).2. What is

p

+ 3 (mod

p

) for any postive integer

p

bigger than 3?.3. What is

p

2

(mod

p

) for any positive integer

p

?. What about

p

2

+

p

+ 1 (mod

p

)?4. Does 2

x

≡

3 (mod 6) have any solutions if

x

is a positive integer? (if it does, state one, if not thensay why not)5. Solve 2

x

≡

4 (mod 6).2

5 Encryption

Encryption is the art of transforming text (called a

plaintext

) so that it is unreadable unless you have specialknowledge (a

key

). So, if you want to communicate in secret with someone, you give them a key (and youhave the same key) and encrypt some information for them. If this is intercepted by someone else, then inan ideal world it is useless to them, as they don’t have the key. If the message is received as intended, thenthat person has the key and can decrypt it, and read the contents.

5.1 The Key Distribution Problem

Think of a way of encryption (say swap A with B, B with C, C with D, ..., Z with A). Chances are, you’vethought of something that is

symmetric

. This means that you need the

same

key to decrypt it as to encryptit.

Plaintext CiphertextKey

Now imagine you are somewhere where

all

your communications are intercepted. How will you get the keyto the recipient? This is what is known as the

key distribution problem

.What we need is an

asymmetric

cipher, i.e. one where there is a

diﬀerent

encryption key and decryptionkey (and ideally it needs to be hard to work out the decryption key from the encryption key).

Plaintext CiphertextEncryption KeyDecryption Key

With this setup, you can publish your encryption key (write it on your door or whatever) and keep yourdecryption key secret. Then, if anyone wants to communicate with you, then they just encrypt it using yourencryption key, and only you should be able to decrypt and read the message. One such algorithm existsand is called RSA (after the initials of its inventors).

6 RSA Encryption

Before we can actually look at the RSA algorithm, we need one more tool. It’s called the Fermat-EulerTheorem.Note: This section is the hardest so far, and takes the ideas from before and makes quite a lot of use of them. Don’t be put oﬀ if you don’t understand this straight away. It’s meant to be challenging.

6.1 The Fermat-Euler Theorem

The Fermat-Euler Theorem states that:

a

φ

(

n

)

≡

1 (mod

n

)for all integers

a

in the range 1 ...

n

(not including

n

) that are coprime to

n

. This is quite a complicatedstatement, so read it a few times to make sure you’ve understood it.Proving this isn’t too hard, but we don’t have time to do it now. It requires a bit more background inmodular arithmetic, but if you’re interested then either me or one of your maths teachers would be happy3

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