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You are on page 1of 2

Thomas Belulovich

December 19, 2007

Theorems

Today, we discuss three useful theorems on congruences.

**Theorem 1 (Fermat’s Little Theorem). Let a be an integer and p a prime integer. Then ap ≡ a (mod p).
**

Theorem 2 (Euler’s Theorem). Let a, n be relatively prime integers where n is positive. Then aϕ(n) ≡ 1

(mod n).

Notice that Euler’s theorem is a strengthening of Fermat’s Little Theorem, as ϕ(p) = p − 1 for prime

integers p.

Proof. We prove Euler’s theorem. Let k = ϕ(n) and let x1 , . . . , xk ≤ n be the distinct integers relatively

prime to n. Then x1 , . . . xk are distinct modulo n as well. Since gcd(a, n) = 1, we have that ax1 , . . . axk are

distinct modulo n, and each is relatively prime to n. Therefore, there exists a permutation σ of 1, 2, . . . , k

such that axi ≡ axσ(i) (mod p) for each i.

So,

Y Y

ak xi = (axi )

i i

Y

≡ xi (mod p),

i

and therefore ak ≡ 1 (mod p).

**Theorem 3 (Wilson’s Theorem). Let p be a prime integer. Then (p − 1)! ≡ −1 (mod p).
**

Proof. Assume p ≥ 3 for otherwise the result is trivial. For nonzero residues x other than 1, −1 modulo p,

we have x−1 6= x, and (x−1 )−1 = x. Therefore, we can pair off multiplicative inverses, and find residues

x1 , . . . , x(p−3)/2 such that 1, −1, x1 , x−1 −1

1 , . . . , x(p−3)/2 , x(p−3)/2 form a complete set of nonzero residues modulo

p. Therefore, (p − 1)! ≡ 1(−1)(x1 x−1 −1

1 ) . . . (x(p−3)/2 x(p−3)/2 ) ≡ −1 (mod p).

**Here is a secondary proof using Fermat’s Little Theorem and polynomials
**

Proof. Consider p(x) = xp−1 − 1. By Fermat’s little theorem, p(x) = 0 for every nonzero residue x modulo p.

Therefore, p(x) = (x−1)(x−2) . . . (x−(p−1)), taking coefficients mod p. So, −1 ≡ (−1)p−1 (p−1)! ≡ (p−1)!

(mod p).

1

Thomas Belulovich

IdeaMath 2007-8 Congruence Theorems thobel@mit.edu

Examples

Exercise 1. Show that if p ≥ 5 is a prime, then 6(p − 4)! ≡ 1 (mod p).

Solution. Using Wilson’s theorem, we have

6(p − 4)! = −(−1)(−2)(−3)(p − 4)!

≡ −(p − 1)! (mod p)

≡1 (mod p),

as desired.

**Exercise 2. Define f : N → Z by f (m) = 6m + 3m + 2m − 1. Find all positive integers n such that n does
**

not divide f (m) for every positive integer m.

Solution. The only such integer is n = 1; that n = 1 satisfies the condition is evident. To check that

no other value for n will work, it suffices to disprove all choices of n = p for some positive prime p. Suppose

that p > 3. Then p is relatively prime to 6, 3 and 2. Consequently,

**6f (p − 2) = 6(6p−2 + 3p−2 + 2p−2 − 1) ≡ 6p−1 + 2(3p−1 ) + 3(2p−1 ) − 6 (mod p)
**

≡1+2+3−6 (mod p) (by Fermat’s Little Theorem)

≡0 (mod p).

Since p 6| 6, it follows that p | f (p − 2). Now, we just need to check that p = 2 and p = 3 fail. Indeed, we

can see 2 | f (1) and 3 | f (2).

Exercise 3. Find all prime numbers p and q such that pq divides the product (5p − 2p )(5q − 2q ).

Solution.

Lemma. Let r be a prime, and suppose that r | 5r − 2r . Then r = 3.

Proof. Clearly r is distinct from 5 and 2. The condition tells us (5/2)r ≡ 1 (mod r). Yet, by Fermat’s little

theorem, (5/2)r−1 ≡ 1 (mod r). Therefore, 5 ≡ 2 (mod r) and so r = 3.

WLOG, suppose p ≤ q. Since (5p − 2p )(5q − 2q ) is odd, 2 ≤ p ≤ q. Suppose that p 6= 3. Then, by the

lemma, p | 5q − 2q =⇒ p | 5d − 2d , where d = gcd(q, p − 1) = 1, since p − 1 < q. Therefore, p | 3 =⇒ p = 3,

a contradiction. Therefore, p = 3.

We can check that p = 3, q = 3 is indeed a solution. Otherwise, q > 3, and so q | 53 − 23 = 117 = 9(13).

Therefore, q = 13.

So, the solutions for (p, q) are (3, 3), (13, 3), and (3, 13).

Problems

Problem 1. Find all pairs of integers (x, y) such that x2 = y 5 + 29.

Problem 2. Let a, n be positive integers with a > 1. Show that n | ϕ(an − 1).

Problem 3. Let a, m, n be integers with m and n both positive. Show that gcd(an −1, am −1) = agcd(m,n) −1.

Problem 4. Let p = 3k + 2 be a prime dividing a2 + ab + b2 for some integers a, b. Prove that a and b are

both divisible by p.

Problem 5. Let p be a prime. Show that there are infinitely many positive integers n such that p divides

2n − n.

Problem 6. Let p = 4k + 1 be a prime. Show that there is an integer x such that x2 ≡ −1 (mod p).

Problem 7. Show that, if n is a positive integer not divisible a square of a prime number such that n divides

2n + 1, then n = 3.

2

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