# Euclid’s Algorithm

Recently I’ve started to implement (or reimplement) the most common algorithms a software developer should know . One of the nicest books I found on this topic is Algorithms in C (Robert Sedgewick) .

Of course, there is this and this, but lately I am more interested on the “implementation” side of things than on maths and theory .

# Algorithm Description

Euclid’s Algorithm is an efficient method for calculating the greatest common divisor of two numbers (aka GCD) . The GCD of two numbers is considered the largest number that divides both of them (without leaving a reminder) .

Euclid’s algorithm is based on the principle that given two numbers `a` and `b`, if `a` is greater than `b` than the greatest common divisor of `a` and `b` is the same with the common divisor of `b` and `(b - a)` .

If we transform the above property into “code” (pseudo-code) the algorithm looks like this:

``````FUNCTION GCD(num1, num2)
WHILE num1 > 0
IF num1 < num2
SWAP (num1, num2)
num1 := num1 - num2
RETURN num2
``````

The above pseudo-code is called the subtraction-variant . We can of course replace the repetitive subtractions with one division .

The division-based version looks like this (pseudo-code):

``````FUNCTION GCD(num1, num2)
WHILE num1 > 0
tmp  := num1
num1 := num2 MOD num1
num2 := tmp
RETURN num2
``````

There is also a recursive version of the algorithm:

``````FUNCTION GCD(num1, num2)
IF num1 <> 0 THEN
RETURN GCD(num2 MOD num1, num1)
RETURN num2
``````

# Algorithm Implementation

For this implementation I’ve written 4 functions that do the same thing (calculate the greatest common divisor) but in a slightly different manner:

Method Description
`int gcd1(a, b)` The naive implementation, using repeated subtractions.
`int gcd2(a, b)` Uses division instead of repeated subtractions.
`int gcd3(a, b)` Alternative implementation using a `for` loop.
`int gcd4(a, b)` The recursive version.

Code:

``````#include <stdio.h>
#include <stdlib.h>

//
// @author Andrei Ciobanu
// @date DEC 11, 2010
//

int gcd1(int num1, int num2);
int gcd2(int num1, int num2);
int gcd3(int num1, int num2);
int gcd4(int num1, int num2);

//
// Calculates the greatest common divisor .
// @param num1
// @param num2
// @return The greatest common divisor of num1 and num2
//
int gcd1(int num1,int num2)
{
int tmp;
while(num1 > 0) {
if (num1 < num2) {
// Swap
tmp = num1;
num1 = num2;
num2 = tmp;
}
num1 -= num2;
}
return num2;
}

//
// Calculates the greatest common divisor . (Instead of using multiple
// substractions we use division)
// @param num1
// @param num2
// @return The greatest common divisor of num1 and num2
//
int gcd2(int num1, int num2)
{
int tmp;
while (num1 > 0) {
tmp = num1;
num1 = num2 % num1;
num2 = tmp;
}
return num2;
}

//
// Calculates the greatest common divisor . (The same as gcd2 but instead
// using a FOR loop)
// @param num1
// @param num2
// @return The greatest common divisor of num1 and num2
//
int gcd3(int num1, int num2)
{
int tmp;
for(num1 = abs(num1), num2 = abs(num2); num1 > 0; tmp = num1,
num1 = num2 % num1, num2 = tmp);
return num2;
}

//
// Calculates the greatest common divisor . (Recursive way)
// @param num1
// @param num2
// @return The greatest common divisor of num1 and num2
//
int gcd4(int num1, int num2)
{
if (num1) {
return gcd4(num2 % num1, num1);
}
return num2;
}

int main(int argc, char *argv[])
{
printf("gcd1(%u, %u) = %u\n", 10, 25, gcd1(10, 25));
printf("gcd1(%u, %u) = %u\n", 100, 24, gcd1(100, 24));

printf("gcd2(%u, %u) = %u\n", 10, 25, gcd2(10, 25));
printf("gcd2(%u, %u) = %u\n", 100, 24, gcd2(100, 24));

printf("gcd3(%u, %u) = %u\n", 10, 25, gcd3(10, 25));
printf("gcd3(%u, %u) = %u\n", 100, 24, gcd3(100, 24));

printf("gcd4(%u, %u) = %u\n", 10, 25, gcd4(10, 25));
printf("gcd4(%u, %u) = %u\n", 100, 24, gcd4(100, 24));
return (0);
}
``````

Output:

``````gcd(10, 25) = 5
gcd(100, 24) = 4
gcd2(10, 25) = 5
gcd2(100, 24) = 4
gcd3(10, 25) = 5
gcd3(100, 24) = 4
gcd4(10, 25) = 5
gcd4(100, 24) = 4
``````

Note:

If you are interested to read about a more performance-wise way to find the greatest common divisor of two numbers you can read this article on Stein’s Algorithm .

Updated: