# Quadratic Reciprocity

This is a reference document on Quadratic Reciprocity by Fengyang Wang. It covers a subset of the material of PMATH 340 or PMATH 440.

We will use Baker, 1984 as a reference.

## Quadratic Reciprocity

Let $p$ be a prime number, and consider the additive group

which is a finite group of order $p$. This group contains elements of the form

which is naturally isomorphic to the set

For those who have taken MATH 145, note that the former set is the set of equivalence classes of the integers, modulo $p$, and the latter set is the set of canonical representatives for those equivalence classes.

The additive group $\mathbf{Z}/p\mathbf{Z}$ has additional structure. It inherits an associative and commutative multiplication operation from the integers; this multiplication operation remains well-defined on this quotient group. Furthermore, each element admits a multiplicative inverse. Thus, $\mathbf{Z}/p\mathbf{Z}$ is actually a field.

## Quadratic Residues

Consider the sequence of perfect squares, modulo prime number $p$. As an example, set $p=11$. Then the perfect squares are:

Since these are all the integers modulo $11$, the only possible perfect squares, modulo $11$, are $\{0, 1, 3, 4, 5, 9\}$. These numbers are known as the **quadratic residues** modulo $11$.

In general, given prime number $p$, the quadratic residues modulo $p$ are the elements $n\in\mathbf{Z}/p\mathbf{Z}$ such that there exists $q\in\mathbf{Z}/p\mathbf{Z}$ with $q^2=n$. We can extend this concept to the integers by considering the canonical projection of an integer $z$ onto quotient group $\mathbf{Z}/p\mathbf{Z}$. That is, an integer $z$ is a quadratic residue modulo $p$ if its canonical projection modulo $p$ is a quadratic residue modulo $p$.

Modulo an odd prime number (like $p=11$), there will be exactly $\frac{p-1}{2}$ non-residues, and exactly $\frac{p-1}{2}$ non-zero residues. Again, I state this without proof, but the proof is not too difficult.

## Legendre Symbol

Let $p$ be an odd prime number, and let $a$ be an integer. Define the Legendre Symbol $\left(\frac{a}{p}\right)$ as follows:

## Euler’s Criterion

Let $p$ be an odd prime number, and let $a$ be an integer. Then (everything being modulo $p$)

We will provide an incomplete proof (we don’t have time to cover all the steps).

**Proof**. First note that if $a = 0$, then the statement is true by definition. Otherwise by Fermat’s Little Theorem, we have $a^{p-1} = 1$. We write this as $a^{p-1} - 1 = 0$. Factoring,

Now if $a$ is a quadratic residue, then $a=x^2$. Then the first factor of this product becomes $x^{p-1}-1$, which by Fermat’s Little Theorem, is $0$. It is a theorem (known as Lagrange’s Theorem) that at most $\frac{p-1}{2}$ values can make the first factor zero. Those must therefore correspond to the $\frac{p-1}{2}$ nonzero quadratic residues. Otherwise, the second factor must be zero, which completes the proof of Euler’s Criterion.

## Quadratic Reciprocity

The Law of Quadratic Reciprocity states that if $p$ and $q$ are odd prime numbers, then

We will not have time to prove this theorem. However, what it is saying, intuitively, is that unless $p$ and $q$ are both $3$ modulo $4$, then $p$ is a quadratic residue of $q$ if and only if $q$ is a quadratic residue of $p$. If both $p$ and $q$ are $3$ modulo $4$, then we have a special case where the opposite occurs. Hence, this theorem is called the **law of quadratic reciprocity**.

### Example

Show that there is no integer $n$ such that $2017 \mid n^2 - 5$ (note that $2017$ is an odd prime number).

**Proof**. We seek to show that $5$ is not a quadratic residue of $2017$. By quadratic reciprocity, it suffices to show that $2017$ is not a quadratic residue of $5$. Indeed, the quadratic residues modulo $5$ are $1$ and $-1$, and $2017 = 2 \not\in \{-1, 1\}$.