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Generating prime numbers in poly-time


To show that I can generate a list of the first J primes in time polynomial in J, I need to work out the cost of however I am generating the list.

If I am generating the list by checking numbers one after the other and discarding non-primes, there are two parts to the cost of generating the list - how long it takes to check each number, and how many numbers I need to check.

If primes were vanishingly rare, then I couldn't afford to check every number from 2 on, because simply listing all those numbers would be too expensive. But if I know that the Jth prime is no larger than 2j*ln(j) I can at least list them all in polynomial time.

In fact, if I have to generate J primes, and I start by taking the first 2J*ln(J) numbers, and I decide to check each number for being prime by test dividing it by every prime found so far, I never have more than J primes on hand at any time, so I cannot end up doing more than 2J^2*ln(J) trial divisions. This won't win me any prize for efficiency or clever algorithms, or even sharp bounds for computational cost, but it is no worse than polynomial.


Categories : Algorithm

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Print prime numbers in an interval
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