# How to Find Prime Number Efficiently

**Translator: ****shazi4399**

**Author: ****labuladong**

The definition of a prime number seems simple,which is said to be prime number if it can be divided by 1 and itself.

However,don't think that the definition of prime numbers is simple. I am afraid that few people can write a prime-related algorithm that works really efficiently. Let's say you write a function like this:

How would you program this function? I think you maybe write like this:

The time complexity is O (n ^ 2), which is a big problem.**First of all, the idea of using the isPrime function to assist is not efficient; and even if you want to use the isPrime function, there is computational redundancy in writing the algorithm**.

Let's briefly talk about **how to write an algorithm if you want to determine whether a number is prime or not**. Just slightly modify the for loop condition in the isPrim code above:

In other words, `i`

does not need to traverse to`n`

, but only to `sqrt (n)`

. Why? let's take an example, suppose `n = 12`

.

As you can see, the last two products are the reverse of the previous two, and the critical point of inversion is at `sqrt (n)`

.

In other words, if no divisible factor is found within the interval `[[2, sqrt (n)]`

, you can directly conclude that `n`

is a prime number, because in the interval `[[sqrt (n), n]`

Nor will you find a divisible factor.

Now, the time complexity of the `isPrime`

function is reduced to O (sqrt (N)), ** but we don't actually need this function to implement the`countPrimes`

function. The above just hope that readers understand the meaning of `sqrt (n)`

, because it will be used again later.

## Efficient implementation `countPrimes`

`countPrimes`

The core idea of efficiently solving this problem is to reverse the conventional idea above:

First from 2, we know that 2 is a prime number, then 2 × 2 = 4, 3 × 2 = 6, 4 × 2 = 8 ... all are not prime numbers.

Then we found that 3 is also a prime number, so 3 × 2 = 6, 3 × 3 = 9, 3 × 4 = 12 ... are also impossible to be prime numbers.

Seeing this, do you understand the logic of this exclusion method a bit? First look at our first version of the code:

If you can understand the above code, then you have mastered the overall idea, but there are two subtle areas that can be optimized.

First of all, recall the `isPrime`

function that just judges whether a number is prime. Due to the symmetry of the factors, the for loop only needs to traverse`[2, sqrt (n)]`

. Here is similar, our outer for loop only needs to traverse to `sqrt (n)`

:

In addition, it is difficult to notice that the inner for loop can also be optimized. Our previous approach was:

This can mark all integer multiples of `i`

as`false`

, but there is still computational redundancy.

For example, when `n = 25`

and`i = 4`

, the algorithm will mark numbers such as 4 × 2 = 8, 4 × 3 = 12, and so on, but these two numbers have been marked by 2 × 4 and 3 × 4 that is `i = 2`

and`i = 3`

.

We can optimize it slightly so that `j`

traverses from the square of`i`

instead of starting from `2 * i`

:

In this way, the algorithm for counting prime numbers is efficiently implemented. In fact, this algorithm has a name, which called Sieve of Eratosthenes. Take a look at the complete final code:

**The time complexity of this algorithm is difficult to calculate**.It is obvious that the time is related to these two nested for loops. The operands should be:

n/2 + n/3 + n/5 + n/7 + ... = n × (1/2 + 1/3 + 1/5 + 1/7...)

In parentheses, ther is the inverse of the prime number .The final result is O(N * loglogN),and readers interested in this can refer to the time complexity of the algorithm

That is all about how to find prime Numbers.The seemingly simple problem does has a lot of details to polish

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