Residue number system

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A residue numeral system (RNS) represents a large integer using a set of smaller integers, so that computation may be performed more efficiently. It relies on the Chinese remainder theorem of modular arithmetic for its operation, a mathematical idea from Sun Tsu Suan-Ching (Master Sun’s Arithmetic Manual) in the 4th century AD.

Practical applications[edit]

RNS have applications in the field of digital computer arithmetic. By decomposing in this a large integer into a set of smaller integers, a large calculation can be performed as a series of smaller calculations that can be performed independently and in parallel.

Defining a residue numeral system[edit]

A residue numeral system is defined by a set of N integer constants,

{m1, m2, m3, ... , mN },

referred to as the moduli. Let M be the least common multiple of all the mi.

Any arbitrary integer X smaller than M can be represented in the defined residue numeral system as a set of N smaller integers

{x1, x2, x3, ... , xN}


xi = X modulo mi

representing the residue class of X to that modulus.

For representational efficiency the moduli should be pairwise coprime; that is, no modulus should have a common factor with any other. M is then the product of all the mi.

For example RNS(4|2) has non-coprime moduli, with an LCM of 4, and a product of 8, resulting in the same representation for different values smaller than the product.[1]

 (3)decimal = (3|1)RNS(4|2)
 (7)decimal = (3|1)RNS(4|2)

Operations on RNS numbers[edit]

Once represented in RNS, many arithmetic operations can be efficiently performed on the encoded integer. For the following operations, consider two integers, A and B, represented by ai and bi in an RNS system defined by mi (for i from 0 ≤ iN).

Addition and subtraction[edit]

Addition (or subtraction) can be accomplished by simply adding (or subtracting) the small integer values, modulo their specific moduli. That is,

can be calculated in RNS as

One does not have to check for overflow in these operations.


Multiplication can be accomplished in a manner similar to addition and subtraction. To calculate

we can calculate:

Again overflows are not possible.


Division in residue numeral systems is problematic. A paper describing one possible algorithm is available at [1]. On the other hand, if B is coprime with M (that is ) then

can be easily calculated by

where is multiplicative inverse of B modulo M, and is multiplicative inverse of modulo .

Integer factorization[edit]

The RNS can improve efficiency of trial division, essentially a form of wheel sieving. The RNS using n primes represents a number coprime to their product if and only if it has no 0s. For example, using the primes 2, 3, and 5, the RNS can automatically eliminate all numbers but

1,7,11,13,17,19,23,29 mod 30

or 73% of numbers. Using the prime numbers below 100, the RNS eliminates about 88% of numbers. One can see from the above formula the diminishing returns from the larger sets of moduli.

Associated mixed radix system[edit]

A numeral given by in the RNS can be naturally represented in the associated mixed radix system (AMRS)


for and

Note that after conversion from the RNS to AMRS, the comparison of numbers becomes straightforward.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Parhami, Computer Arithmetic, Algorithms and Hardware Design