Shanks’ SQUFOF according to McMath

In 2003, a math major named Steven McMath approached Fred Crabbe and I about directing his Trident thesis. (A Trident is like an honors thesis, but the student gets essentially the whole year to focus on writing the project.) After he graduated, I put a lot of his work online at the USNA website. Of course, I’ve retired since then and the materials were removed. This blog post is simply to try to repost a lot of the materials which arose as part of his thesis (which are, as official works of the US government, all in the public domain; of course, Dan Shanks notes are copyright of his estate and are posted for scholarly use only).

McMath planned to study Dan ShanksSQUFOF method, which he felt could be exploited more than had been so far up to that time (in 2004). This idea had a little bit of a personal connection for me. Dan Shanks was at the University of Maryland during the time (1981-1983) I was a grad student there. While he and I didn’t talk as much as I wish we had, I remember him as friendly guy, looking a lot like the picture below, with his door always open, happy to discuss mathematics.

One of the first things McMath did was to type up the handwritten notes we got (I think) from Hugh Williams and Duncan Buell. A quote from a letter from Buell:

Dan probably invented SQUFOF in 1975. He had just bought an HP 67 calculator, and the algorithm he invented had the advantages of being very simple to program, so it would fit on the calculator, very powerful as an algorithm when measured against the size of the program, and it factors double precision numbers using single precision arithmetic.

Here are some papers on this topic (with thanks to Michael Hortmann for the references to Gower’s papers):

David Joyner, Notes on indefinite integral binary quadratic forms with SageMath, preprint 2004. pdf

F. Crabbe, D. Joyner, S. McMath, Continued fractions and Parallel SQUFOF, 2004. arxiv

D. Shanks, Analysis and Improvement of the Continued Fraction Method of Factorization, handwritten notes 1975, typed into latex by McMath 2004. pdf.

D. Shanks, An Attempt to Factor N = 1002742628021, handwritten notes 1975, typed into latex by McMath 2004. pdf.

D. Shanks, SQUFOF notes, handwritten notes 1975, typed into latex by McMath 2004. pdf.

S. McMath, Daniel Shanks’ Square Forms Factorization, 2004 preprint. pdf1, pdf2.

S. McMath, Parallel Integer Factorization Using Quadratic Forms, Trident project, 2004. pdf.

Since that time, many excellent treatments of SQUFOF have been presented. For example, see

J. Gower, S. Wagstaff, Square Form Factorization, Math Comp, 2008. pdf.

J. Gower, Square Form Factorization, PhD Thesis, December 2004. pdf.