# Quadratic Equations in Finite Fields of Characteristic 2

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1 Quadratic Equations in Finite Fields of Characteristic 2 Klaus Pommerening May 2000 english version February 2012 Quadratic equations over fields of characteristic 2 are solved by the well known quadratic formula that up to rational operations reduces the general case to the square root function, the inverse of the square map x x 2 The solvability of a quadratic equation can be decided by looking at the discriminant essentially the argument of the square root in the formula The situation in characteristic 2 is somewhat different 1 The general solution Let K be a field of characteristic 2 We want to study the roots of a quadratic polynomial f = at 2 + bt + c K[T ] with a 0 The case b = 0 the degenerate case is very simple We have a f = (at ) 2 + ac = g(at ) with g = T 2 + ac K[T ] The squaring map x x 2 is an F 2 -linear monomorphism of K, an automorphism if K is perfect, for example finite Therefore ac has at most one square root in K, and exactly one square root in the algebraic closure K Let ac = d 2 Then g has exactly the one root d, and f has exactly the one root d a in K For an explicit determination we have to extract the square root from ac in K or in an extension field L of degree 2 of K, i e to invert the square map in K or L Remember that the square map is linear over F 2 For examples see Section 3 below Now let b 0 Because the derivative f = b is constant 0, f has two distinct (simple) roots in the algebraic closure K The transformation a f = (a b T )2 + a b T + ac = g(a b T ) with g = T 2 + T + d, d = ac K, reduces our task to the roots of the polynomial g Let u be a root of g in K Then u + 1 is the other root by Vieta s formula, and u(u + 1) = d, that is d = u 2 + u Therefore the problem for the general quadratic polynomial is reduced to the Artin-Schreier polynomial T 2 + T + d, and thereby to inverting the Artin-Schreier map K K, x x 2 + x Note that this map also is linear However in general it is neither injective 1

2 nor surjective Its kernel is the set of elements x with x 2 = x, that is the prime field F 2 inside of K The preimages u and u + 1 of a given element d K may be found in K or in a quadratic extension L = K(u) of K To get the roots of f we set d = ac and determine a preimage u of d under the Artin-Schreier map Then a root of f is x = bu a ; the other root is x + b a 2 The case of a finite field Now we consider the case where K is finite Then K has 2 n elements for some n, and coincides with the field F 2 n up to isomorphism The trace of an element x K is given by the formula Tr(x) = x + x x 2n 1 It is an element of the prime field F 2, i e, 0 or 1, and Tr(x 2 ) = Tr(x) Lemma 1 Let K be a finite field with 2 n elements Then the polynomial g = T 2 + T + d K[T ] has a root u in K, if and only if Tr(d) = 0 In this case g = h(t + u) with h = T 2 + T Proof = : If u K, then Tr(d) = Tr(u 2 ) + Tr(u) = 0 = : For the converse let Tr(d) = 0 Then 0 = Tr(d) = d + d d 2n 1 = (u 2 + u) + (u 4 + u 2 ) + + (u 2n + u 2n 1 ) = u + u 2n, hence u 2n = u, and therefore u K The addendum is trivial Remark Let L be a quadratic extension of K, and Tr : L F 2 its trace function Then L = F 2 2n and Tr(x) = x + x x 2n 1 + x 2n + + x 22n 1 For x K we have x 2n = x, hence Tr(x) = 0 This is consistent with the statement of the lemma that g = T 2 + T + d K[T ] has a root in L Corollary 1 g = T 2 + T + d K[T ] is irreducible, if and only if Tr(d) = 1 If this is the case, then g = h(t +r) with h = T 2 +T +e, where e is an arbitrarily chosen element of K with Trace Tr(e) = 1, and r K is a solution of r 2 + r = d + e Proof g is irreducible in K[T ], if and only if it has no root in K The addendum follows because d + e has trace 0, hence has the form r 2 + r 2

3 Note 1 The lemma is a special case of Hilbert s Theorem 90, additive form Note 2 The Artin-Schreier Theorem generalizes these results to arbitrary finite base fields F q instead of F 2, and to polynomials T q T d It characterizes the cyclic field extensions of degree q We have shown: Proposition 1 (Roots) Let K be a finite field of characteristic 2, and let f = at 2 + bt + c K[T ] be a polynomial of degree 2 Then: (i) f has exactly one root in K b = 0 (ii) f has exactly two roots in K b 0 and Tr( ac ) = 0 (iii) f has no root in K b 0 and Tr( ac ) = 1 Proposition 2 (Normal form) Let K be a finite field of characteristic 2, and f = at 2 + bt + c K[T ] be a polynomial of degree 2 i e a 0 Then there is a k K and an affine transformation α: K K, α(x) = rx + s with r K and s K, such that k f α = T 2, T 2 + T, or T 2 + T + e, where e K is a fixed (but arbitrarily chosen) element of Trace Tr(e) = 1 In the case of odd n = dim K we may chose e = 1 3 Examples As we have seen the key to solving quadratic equations in characteristic 2 is solving systems of linear equations whose coefficient matrix is the matrix of the Artin-Schreier map, or the square map in the degenerate case To explicitly solve quadratic equations over a finite field K of characteristic 2 we first have to fix a basis of K over F 2 There are several options, and none of them is canonical One option is to build a basis successively along a chain of intermediate fields between F 2 and K For this we first consider a field extension L of K of degree 2 If K has 2 n elements, then the cardinality of L is 2 2n, and we may construct L from K by adjoining a root t of an irreducible degree 2 polynomial T 2 + T + d K[T ] where Tr(d) = 1, see Lemma 1 Then a basis of L over K is {1, t}, and if {u 1,, u n } is a basis of K over F 2, then {u 1,, u n, tu 1,, tu n } is a basis of L over F 2 Now the square map has the same effect on the u i in L as in K, and (tu i ) 2 = t 2 u 2 i = (t + d)u 2 i = t u 2 i + d u 2 i If we denote by Q n resp Q 2n the matrices of the square maps of K or L with respect to the chosen bases, then Qn L Q 2n = d Q n, 0 Q n 3

4 where L d is the matrix of the left multiplication by d in K The Q n in the right lower corner of the matrix comes from the fact that t u 2 i = t q ij u j = q ij tu j where the q ij are the matrix coefficients of Q n Note that for odd n we may choose d = 1, hence L d = 1 n, the n n unit matrix The matrix A n of the Artin-Schreier map is 1 n + Q n, this means that in Q n we simply have to complement the diagonal entries, i e interchange 0 and 1 The case n = 1 Let us first consider the simplest case K = F 2 Its F 2 -basis is {1}, and the matrices are the 1 1-matrices Q n = (1) and A n = (0) Solving quadratic equations is trivial The case n = 2 The field F 4 is an extension of F 2 of degree 2 An F 2 -basis is {1, t} where t 2 = t + 1 The general consideration above gives Q 2 =, A = 0 0 Solving quadratic equations (in the nondegenerate case) amounts to finding a preimage x = (x 1, x 2 ) of b = (b 1, ) in the 2-dimensional vectorspace F 2 2 under A 2 This gives a system of 2 linear equations over F 2 : ( x2 0 ) x1 = A 2 x 2 = ( b1 ) This is solvable if and only if = 0, and all (in fact two) solutions are x 1 arbitrary (i e 0 or 1) and x 2 = b 1 For later use we note that Tr(t) = t + t 2 = 1 and 0 1 L t = 1 1 The case n = 3 The field F 8 has an F 2 -basis {1, s, s 2 } where s 3 +s = 1 The square map maps 1 1, s s 2, s 2 s 2 + s We have the matrices Q 3 = 0 0 1, A 3 =

5 For preimages under the Artin-Schreier map we have the system of 3 linear equations A 3 x = b, or 0 b 1 x 2 + x 3 = x 2 b 3 It has a solution if and only if b 1 = 0, and then its two solutions are The case n = 4 x 1 arbitrary, x 2 = b 3, x 3 = + b 3 The field F 16 is an extension of F 4 of degree 2 and has an F 2 -basis {1, t, u, tu} where u 2 + u = t We have Q2 L Q 4 = t Q 2 = Q , A 4 = The system of 4 linear equations to solve becomes A 4 x = b, or x 2 + x 4 b 1 x 3 x 4 = b 3 0 b 4 It is solvable if and only if b 4 = 0, and then its two solutions are x 1 arbitrary, x 2 = b 1 + b 3, x 3 =, x 4 = b 3 For use with F 256 we note that Tr(tu) = 1 and L tu = , L tuq 4 = The case n = 5 The field F 32 has an F 2 -basis {1, t, t 2, t 3, t 4 } with t 5 = t Squaring maps 1 1, t t 2, t 2 t 4, t 3 t 3 + t, t 4 t 3 + t Therefore Q 5 = , A =

6 The system A 5 x = b of 5 linear equations is x 5 b 1 x 2 + x 4 x 2 + x 3 + x 5 x 5 = b 3 b 4 x 3 + x 5 b 5 It has a solution if and only if b 1 = b 4, and then its two solutions are x 1 arbitrary, x 2 = b 3 + b 5, x 3 = b 1 + b 5, x 4 = + b 3 + b 5, x 5 = b 1 The case n = 6 The field F 64 is an extension of F 8 of degree 2 Therefore after choosing a suitable basis we have Q3 Q Q 6 = 3 = Q , A 6 = The system of 6 linear equations to solve becomes A 6 x = b, or x 4 b 1 x 2 + x 3 + x 6 x 2 + x 5 + x 6 0 = b 3 b 4 x 5 + x 6 b 5 x 5 b 6 It is solvable if and only if b 4 = 0, and then its two solutions are x 1 arbitrary, x 2 = b 3 + b 5, x 3 = + b 3 + b 6, x 4 = b 1, x 5 = b 6, x 6 = b 5 + b 6 The case n = 8 As a final example we consider F 256, a quadratic extension of F 16 It has a basis {1, t, u, tu, v, tv, uv, tuv} with t and u as in F 16 and v 2 = v + tu By the general principle 6

7 and knowing L tu we have Q 8 = , A 8 = Solving for preimages of A 8 runs as before 7

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