I'm doing a bit of extra reading on the Extended Euclidean Algorithm and had a side-thought that I couldn't find an answer to in the book.

I understand that the Extended Euclidean Algorithm can express the GCD of two numbers as a linear combination of those two numbers.

My question is, is the linear combination acquired unique? (My gut is telling me that it not, but I'd like some verification as I cannot produce a proof of uniqueness).

If the answer is 'No', then my follow-up question is "What is so special about the specific linear combination acquired by the EEC?"


Given two integers $a$ and $b$, the Extended Euclidean algorithm calculates the $\gcd$ and the coefficients $x$ and $y$ of Bézout's identity: $ax+by=\gcd(a,b)$. These coefficients are not unique (see linked article).

The specific coefficients created by the algorithm satisfy these conditions: $$|x|<|\frac{b}{\gcd(a,b)}|$$ $$|y|<|\frac{a}{\gcd(a,b)}|$$


In fact, the pair of $(x,y)$ obtained using extended Euclidean algorithm, is the "smallest" pair possible, which means for all other pairs $(x_1,y_1)$, $|x|<|x_1|$ and $|y|<|y_1|$

Lemma: Such "smallest" pair must exist.


With $ax+by=(a,b)$ and $ax_1+by_1=(a,b)$, WLOG we first assume the sign of $x,x_1$ are the positive, $x\le x_1$ Then $y_1,y_2$ must be both negative.

$\implies a(x_1-x)=b(y-y_1)$

Left side is positive, so $(y-y_1)$ is also positive, $\implies y\ge y_1 \longrightarrow -y\le -y_1\longrightarrow |y|\le |y_1|$.

For if signs of $x_1,x_2$ are different, $|x|\le |x_1|$,

$\implies a(x_1+x)=b(y+y_1)$ ....(1)

For any pair $(x,y)$, $x,y$ must be of opposite signs.

(1) will prove that $|y|\le |y_1|$ no matter $x$ is positive or negative.

Finally, given $|x|<|\frac{b}{\gcd(a,b)}|$, $|y|<|\frac{a}{\gcd(a,b)}|$.

By adding the equation $a(\frac{b}{\gcd(a,b)})-b(\frac{a}{\gcd(a,b)})=0$ or $b(\frac{a}{\gcd(a,b)})-a(\frac{b}{\gcd(a,b)})=0$,

it can (actually cannot) be concluded that $|x|<|\frac{b}{2\gcd(a,b)}|$ and $|y|<|\frac{a}{2\gcd(a,b)}|$ as upper bounds.

Geometric meaning of this is as follows enter image description here


The Extended Euclidean Algorithm finds the solution closest to the origin.


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