Introduction to the GCD and LCM (greatest common divisor and least common multiple)
The legendary Greek mathematician Euclid (ca. 325–270 BC) suggested an algorithm for finding the greatest common divisor of two integers, which was later named the Euclidean algorithm. This algorithm, as well as computationally refined versions, are in widespread use today.
Definitions of GCD and LCM
The GCD and LCM group of functions includes the following three functions:
• the greatest common divisor (gcd):
• the least common multiple (lcm):
• the extended greatest common divisor (egcd):
These functions are defined in the following ways:
is the greatest common divisor of the integers (or rational) . It is the greatest integer factor common to all the .
is the least common multiple of the integers (or rational) . It is the minimal positive integer that divides all the .
is the extended greatest common divisor of the integers . In particular,
The greatest common divisor of 21 and 48, is 3. Similar examples are , , .
The least common multiple of the three numbers 2, 4, and 5, is . Similar examples are , , .
The extended greatest common divisor of 21 and 48 is because the greatest common divisor and . Similarly, .
Connections within the group of the GCD and LCM and with other function groups
Representations through equivalent functions
The functions and satisfy the following interrelations:
The best-known properties and formulas of the GCD and LCM
Specific values for specialized variables
The functions GCD and LCM , , and have the following values for specialized values:
The first values of the greatest common divisor (gcd(m, n)) of the integers and for and are described in the following table:
The first values of the extended greatest common divisor () of the integers and for and are described in the following table:
The first values of the least common multiple () of the integers and for and are described in the following table:
The functions and are nonanalytical functions defined over with values in .
The function is a vector‐valued nonanalytical function defined over .
All three functions , , and do not have periodicity.
Parity and symmetry
The functions and are even functions:
The functions and have permutation symmetry:
The function has the following sum representations:
where is the floor function and is the Kronecker delta function.
The functions and have the following product representations:
The function can be represented as the coefficients of the series expansion of corresponding generating functions, which includes a sum of the Euler totient function:
Transformations with multiple arguments
The GCD and LCM functions , , and satisfy special relations including multiple arguments, for example:
The GCD and LCM functions satisfy some parallel identities that can be presented in the forms shown in the following table:
There are many finite and infinite sums containing GCD and LCM functions, for example:
The following two related limits include the function . The third limit includes lcm():
The functions and satisfy various inequalities, for example:
Applications of the GCD and LCM
The GCD and LCM functions have numerous applications throughout mathematics, number theory, symbolic algorithms, and linear Diophantine equations.