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I'm have difficulty solving a problem in my textbook. I'm hoping someone out there can help me out, so that I can understand this. The problem is listed below

Given that $p$ is an odd prime. Prove that the $\frac{p-1}{2}$ quadratic residues mod p are congruent to the following:

$$1^2, 2^2, 3^2, \space \ldots, \space (\frac{p-1}{2})^2$$

Any ideas on how to solve this would be great.

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What are your own thoughts? Where are you stuck? – Tobias Kildetoft Mar 20 '13 at 17:36
Not really sure how to approach it, do you have any ideas of were to start? – Samantha Smith Mar 20 '13 at 17:37
Well, do you see why it will be enough to show that those numbers are distinct? – Tobias Kildetoft Mar 20 '13 at 17:39
I do not know why that'd be enough, why? – Samantha Smith Mar 20 '13 at 17:40
Well, can you show that those numbers are in fact quadratic residues? – Tobias Kildetoft Mar 20 '13 at 17:41
up vote 1 down vote accepted

Hint: These are obviously quadratic residues, and there are $\frac{p-1}{2}$ numbers in the list $1^2, 2^2, \dots, \left(\frac{p-1}{2}\right)^2$.

You will be finished if you can show they are all distinct modulo $p$.

Suppose to the contrary that $a^2\equiv b^2\pmod{p}$, where $a$ and $b$ are distinct numbers in the interval from $1$ to $\frac{p-1}{2}$, with say $b\gt a$.

Then $p$ divides $(b-a)(b+a)$. Argue now that this is impossible, since $b-a$ and $b+a$ are too small.

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