# Prove that $\frac{ 5^{125}-1}{ 5^{25}-1}$ is a composite number

Prove that $\dfrac {\left( 5^{125}-1\right)}{\left( 5^{25}-1\right)}$ is composite number using number theory. Do not use calculator or Wolfram alpha or anything like that.

• What is composite number? Commented Jul 1, 2015 at 11:00
• A composite number is an integer which is NOT a prime number. Commented Jul 1, 2015 at 11:02
• if $x=5^{25}$ then your formula gives $\frac{x^5-1}{x-1}$ right? Commented Jul 1, 2015 at 11:04
• Yes! correct. Go ahead. Commented Jul 1, 2015 at 11:05
• @AkshayHegde use that fact with this answer here Commented Jul 1, 2015 at 11:07

Hint $$\$$ The factorization arises by applying a variation of cyclotomic factorization known as Aurifeuillian factorization (aka Aurifeuillean). For the OP we can employ the following one

\begin{align}\frac{(5x^2)^5-1}{5x^2-1} =\, (25x^4\!+15x^2+1)^2 - (5x(5x^2\!+1))^2\\[4pt] \overset{\large x\, =\, 5^{\large 12}}\Longrightarrow\ \ \frac{5^{125}-1}{5^{25}-1}\, =\, (5^{50}+3\cdot 5^{25}+1)^2 - (5^{13}(5^{25}+1))^2\end{align}

Remark $$\$$ There are many known Aurifeuillian factorizations (e.g. see below for a few more). For more see this answer and see Aurifeuillian Factorization by A. Granville and P. Pleasants.

\begin{align} \frac{(3x^2)^3+1}{3x^2+1} &=\, (3x^2\!+1)^2-(3x)^2\\[4pt] \frac{(5x^2)^5-1}{5x^2-1} &=\, (25x^4\!+15x^2+1)^2 - (5x)^2(5x^2\!+1)^2\\[4pt] \frac{(7x^2)^7+1}{7x^2+1} &=\, (7x^2\!+1)^6-(7x)^2(49 x^4\!+7x^2+1)^2 \end{align}

This is problem $87$ of Putnam and Beyond. Here is the solution:

$\dfrac{5^{125}-1}{5^{25}-1}=1+a+a^2+a^3+a^4$ where $a=5^{25}$.

We have $1+a+a^2+a^3+a^4+a^5=(a^2+3a+1)^2-(5^{13}(a+1))^2=(a^2+3a+1+5^{13}(a+1))(a^2+3a+1-5^{13}(a+1))$

The reason the second factor is larger than $1$ is $a^2=5^{50}>5^{39}>5^{13}(a+1)$

This problem was also part of the 1992 imo shortlist and was proposed by Korea, here is a link with the same solution but shorter: https://mks.mff.cuni.cz/kalva/short/soln/sh9216.html

• Wow, now how were you expected to realize that as a difference of squares in the first place? Is it just a puzzle-math mantra that that's one of the first things you try on such a problem? Commented Jul 1, 2015 at 11:17
• @gamamal Thanks a lot for the solution and citing the source. I came across it in a local math competition. Commented Jul 1, 2015 at 11:28
• No problem, happy to help. Wow, those are some hardcore local competitions ! Commented Jul 1, 2015 at 11:29
• (+1) @Gamamal, the trick was to show that $1 + a + a^2 + a^3 + a^4 = xy$ as in can be written as a product of two other numbers? Which would show it isnt prime? Another Question - Can proof by contradiction be used in such cases? Commented Jul 1, 2015 at 11:32
• This is a special case of a general class of factorizations - see my answer. Commented Jul 1, 2015 at 15:41

HINT:

$x^5-1=(x-1)(x^4+x^3+x^2+x+1)$

and $5^{25}=(5^5)^5$, whilst $5^{125}=((5^5)^5)^5$

Does this get you anywhere?

• $x^4+x^3+x^2+x+1$ can be prime, for example when x = 7. So now you figure out why x = $5^{25}$ is special. Commented Jul 1, 2015 at 16:00

Put $x = 525$. Then $\frac{5^{125}-1}{5^{25}-1} = x^4+x^3+x^2+x+1 = (x^2+3^x+1)^2 - 5x(x+1)^2$ which has factor $(x^2+3x+1-513x-513)$ which is obviously $> 1$ and $< x^4+x^3+x^2+x+1$.