How can I solve (find all the solutions) the nonlinear Diophantine equation $x^2-3x=2y^2$?

I included here what I had done so far. Thanks for your help.

Note: The equation above can be rewritten into $x^2-3x-2y^2=0$ which is quadratic in $x$. By quadratic formula we have the following solutions for $x$.

\begin{equation} x=\frac{3\pm\sqrt{9+8y^2}}{2} \end{equation}

I want $x$ to be a positive integer so I will just consider: \begin{equation} x=\frac{3+\sqrt{9+8y^2}}{2} \end{equation}

From here I don't know how to proceed but after trying out values for $1\leq y\leq 1000$ I only have the following $y$ that yields a positive integer $x$.

\begin{equation} y=\{0,3,18,105,612\}. \end{equation}

Again, thanks for any help.


3 Answers 3


Multiply through by $4$ and complete the square, $(2x-3)^2 - 8 y^2 = 9,$ so that $(2x-3)^2 + y^2 \equiv 0 \pmod 3.$ It follows that both $(2x-3)$ and $y$ are divisible by $3,$ therefore $x$ as well. Write $x=3t, y=3v.$ So far $(2t-1)^2 - 8 v^2 = 1.$ Let $u=2t-1,$ so $u^2 - 8 v^2 = 1.$

...if we write $$ x = \frac{3(1+u)}{2} $$ and $$ y = 3v, $$ we get $$ u^2 - 8 v^2 = 1. $$ This gives a sequence of pairs, $u=1,3,17,99,...$ and $v=0,1,6,35...$

see https://oeis.org/A001541 and https://oeis.org/A001109

These obey $$ u_{n+1} = 3 u_n + 8 v_n, $$ $$ v_{n+1} = u_n + 3 v_n. $$ By Cayley-Hamiton $$ u_{n+2} = 6 u_{n+1} - u_n, $$ $$ v_{n+2} = 6 v_{n+1} - v_n. $$ Then

$$ x_{n+2} = 6 x_{n+1} - x_n - 6, $$ $$ y_{n+2} = 6 y_{n+1} - y_n. $$ The (non-negative) $(x,y)$ pairs begin $$ (3,0) $$ $$ (6,3) $$ $$ (27,18) $$ $$ (150,105) $$ $$ (867,612) $$ $$ (5046,3567) $$

  • $\begingroup$ Thanks Sir @WillJagy for the comprehensive answer. This is exactly the answer I am looking for. Thanks again. $\endgroup$
    – Jr Antalan
    Sep 17, 2015 at 21:48
  • $\begingroup$ Good Day Sir @WillJagy. I just want to ask if you can suggest a reference in helping me solving equations of this type: $x^2-3x=2y^n$ where $n\geq 2$. This is a generalization of my question here on MSE. Thanks a lot. $\endgroup$
    – Jr Antalan
    Sep 20, 2015 at 0:13
  • $\begingroup$ @JrAntalan, no particular reference. When $n=3,$ it might be (I'm not sure) that it separates into a small number of Mordell curves, in which case the answers are sometimes tabulated on websites. For $n \geq 4$ i have no idea, except to point out the great likelihood of finiteness. $\endgroup$
    – Will Jagy
    Sep 20, 2015 at 0:22
  • $\begingroup$ ok Sir, thanks a lot. $\endgroup$
    – Jr Antalan
    Sep 20, 2015 at 0:30
  • $\begingroup$ Sir, I am trying to revisit your answer and it was brilliant! But I am curious about your method on solving this non-homogeneous Diophantine Equation. Is there a general method on solving 2nd order non-homogeneous Diophantine Equations such as the given here? If so, can you recommend some readings on it Sir? I do not find any method on my search over the web. Thank you so much Sir, I will also send some message thru email Sir about this topic. Again thank you. $\endgroup$
    – Jr Antalan
    Oct 24, 2015 at 12:34

I'll solve it in integers instead. $x^2-3x=2y^2$, by the quadratic formula, is equivalent to


So i.e. the problem is equivalent to solving $8y^2+9=m^2$ in integers.

$8y^2\equiv m^2\pmod{3}$, so $(y,m)=\left(3y_1,3m_1\right)$ for some $y_1,m_1\in\Bbb Z$, because $h^2\equiv \{0,1\}\pmod{3}$ for any integer $h$.

The problem is equivalent to $m_1^2-8y_1^2=1$ with $m_1,y_1\in\Bbb Z$. This is a Pell's Equation and has infinitely many solutions given exactly by $\pm\left(3+\sqrt{8}\right)^n=x_n+y_n\sqrt{8}$ for $n\ge 0$ (because $(m_1,y_1)=(3,1)$ is the minimal non-trivial solution), so for example $\pm\left(3+\sqrt{8}\right)^2=\pm17\pm6\sqrt{8}$ and $(m_1,y_1)=(\pm 17,\pm 6)$ is another solution.

In general, Pell's Equation $x^2-dy^2=1$ with $d$ not a square has infinitely many solutions; which are given exactly by $\pm\left(x_m+ y_m\sqrt{d}\right)^n=x_n+y_n\sqrt{d}$, $n\ge 0$, where $(x_m,y_m)$ is the minimal solution, i.e. the solution with $x_m,y_m$ positive integers and minimal value of $x_m+ y_m\sqrt{d}$.

  • $\begingroup$ thanks for the answer @user236182 . I have a question from your answer since Im a bit confused. the expression $3\cdot [(3+\sqrt{8}^n)]_{\sqrt{8}}$ is always an integer? I am not familiar with the notation$_{\sqrt{8}}$ $\endgroup$
    – Jr Antalan
    Sep 17, 2015 at 14:09
  • $\begingroup$ @JrAntalan I created the notation myself. I thought the example would make it clear, sorry for the confusion. $\endgroup$
    – user236182
    Sep 17, 2015 at 14:10
  • $\begingroup$ it is okay, thanks for the answer. an up vote for that, will consider it as a correct answer once I understand the whole thing. Thanks again. $\endgroup$
    – Jr Antalan
    Sep 17, 2015 at 14:12
  • $\begingroup$ @JrAntalan Please tell me if anything is unclear about my answer. I've edited it. $\endgroup$
    – user236182
    Oct 25, 2015 at 4:46

It is evident that equation.


This is a Pell equation. And we have to use solutions which are determined by the sequence. The next value from the previous one.



If we use the sequence where the first number. $(p_1 ;s_1) - (1 ; 1)$

Decisions will be.



If we use the sequence where the first number. $(p_1 ;s_1) - (3 ; 2)$

Decisions will be.



  • $\begingroup$ You mean "solutions", not "decisions". $\endgroup$
    – user236182
    Sep 18, 2015 at 6:23

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