Dear GAP Forum,
Michel Lavrauw wrote
To find a primitive polynomial over a finite field,
I did the following:
Suppose the field is GF(q) and I want a primitive polynomial of degree 3.
Then I generate a random polynomial by generating random coefficients
in the field. Let f be such a random polynomial. To check if it is primitive
I make a list of all divisors d of q^3-1 such that (q^3-1)/x is prime.
Then f is primitive if X^d mod f is different from One(GF(q)) for all
d in list with d < q^3-1.
Calculating X^d mod f takes a long time in Gap ( even if we work over a
In Maple however, (over a prime field) it takes no time at all to check
if a polynomial is primitive.
Is there a better way in Gap4 to find a primitive polynomial ?
One reason why checking primitivity (for example in Maple) is faster
than the GAP code sketched above is that writing down `X^d mod f' in GAP
means first to compute the power `X^d' and then to reduce
this polynomial modulo `f'.
Here one can do better by reducing modulo `f' during the powering.
A (documented) GAP function for this purpose is `PowerModCoeffs'.
For small prime values of q and small degrees,
GAP stores a list of Conway polynomials.
These are special primitive polynomials
that are used to implement GAP's finite field arithmetic.
For example, GAP stores the degree 3 Conway polynomials for
all primes q up to 100;
for larger primes q, the Conway polynomial of degree 3 can
be computed in acceptable time using `ConwayPolynomial'.
(The computation of Conway polynomials becomes more time
consuming for larger degree, in particular if the degree is
not a prime.)
One possibility to write GAP code for finding an arbitrary primitive
polynomial would be to modify the code for `ConwayPolynomial' accordingly,
which mainly means to remove the compatibility checks from this code.