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# 11 Algorithms for groups

The following section is loosely based on the study of algorithms for groups as in the work of Schoup, Schnorr, Buchmann and others. How does one specify a group to a computer? First of all the elements of the group are represented by words'' of some fixed length (bitstrings of a fixed length). Let us denote the set of such words by F. However, since the group does not have order a power of two, not all such words will be elements of the group. Thus we have a membership function : F{0, 1} that takes the value 1 for elements of the group. We then have the group operations which usually expand'' the word length. In other words we have a superset F2 containing F which has double words'' (words of twice the size of those in F) and the group multiplication operation usually gives m : F×FF2. There is usually also an inverse operation i : F2F2 which takes F to itself; more often a ratio'' operation d : F×FF2 is provided instead. Finally, there is a reduction operation r : F2F. The actual group operations are defined by
 x . y = r(m(x, y)) x . y-1 = r(d (x, y)) x-1 = r(i(x, y))

This specification should satisfy the condition that these operations, when restricted to the set G = (1) satisfy the axioms for an abelian group. We will assume that such a collection of operations has indeed been provided to us as a black box''. We will look at algorithms that study the properties of this group without looking into the details of how the maps , m, d and r are defined. Some have called this the study of generic group algorithms''.

One way to represent a finite abelian group G and compute its structure is to write it via generators and relations. Suppose we are given a collection g1, g2, ..., gr of generators of G and we can find a collection , , ..., of relations of the form

= giaij

If this collection of relations is sufficient, we obtain an exact sequence

sArgG 0

where A is given by the matrix (aij) and g the vector'' of generators of G. Such a description reduces the computation of the abstract structure of G to matrix manipulations. For example, by reducing the matrix to echelon form we can exhibit an isomorphism from a product of cyclic groups to the group G. However, it is not so easy(!) to write the inverse of this isomorphism. To do that one must exhibit a (computable) set-theoretic splitting Gr. One way to compute such a splitting on an element g of G is to find enough relations between g and the collection of the gi's. It is thus clear that the important problem in the algorithmic analysis of finite abelian groups is that of finding (sufficiently many) relations between elements of the group.

There are essentially three classes of generic group algorithms'' which can be called the Pollard method, Shanks' Baby Step Giant Step method and the Pohlig-Hellman factor method. We illustrate these methods by seeing how they can be used to find a relation between some given elements g1, g2, ..., gr of the group.

Subsections

Next: 11.1 Pollard's Up: Some Lectures on Number Previous: 10.3 Cryptanalytic methods
Kapil Hari Paranjape 2002-10-20