Refined Analysis of the Asymptotic Complexity of the Number Field Sieve


Asymptotic optimization
Number Field Sieve

How to Cite

Le Gluher, A., Spaenlehauer, P.-J., & Thomé, E. (2021). Refined Analysis of the Asymptotic Complexity of the Number Field Sieve. Mathematical Cryptology, 1(1), 71–88. Retrieved from


The classical heuristic complexity of the Number Field Sieve (NFS) involves an unknown function, usually noted o(1) and called xi(N) throughout this paper,
which tends to zero as the entry N grows. The aim of this paper is to find optimal asymptotic choices of the parameters of NFS as N grows, in order to minimize
its heuristic asymptotic computational cost. This amounts to minimizing a function of the parameters of NFS bound together by a non-linear constraint.
We provide precise asymptotic estimates of the minimizers of this optimization problem, which yield refined formulas for the asymptotic complexity of NFS.
One of the main outcomes of this analysis is that xi(N) has a very slow rate of convergence: We prove that it is equivalent to (4logloglog N)/(3loglog N).
Moreover, xi(N) has an unpredictable behavior for practical estimates of the complexity. Indeed, we provide an asymptotic series expansion of xi
and numerical experiments indicate that this series starts converging only for N>exp(exp(25)), far beyond the practical range of NFS. This raises
doubts on the relevance of NFS running time estimates that are based on setting xi=0 in the asymptotic formula.

It is the authors' responsibility that all submitted material, including supplementary files, can be made publicly accessible.