We have seen that it was possible to use the sum of two squares to factor numbers (see Can the sum of two squares be used to factor large numbers? )
The main drawback is the fact that the method cannot factor numbers of the form $N=(4k_1-1)*(4k_2-1)$. Since every integer can be expressed as a sum of 4 squares, the method should be able to handle all numbers.
We start with the following example: $N=7*13=91$. We calculate its sum of 4 squares representation (4sq rep) $N=a^2+b^2+c^2+d^2$ and we get:
The idea is to look for the lower factor as one possible square or a combination of squares $c=(a^2+b^2+...)$ or a mixed combination $c=(a^2+b+...)$ or just $c=(a+b+...)$ that, when added together, will provide a number which shares a factor with the number $N$ we want to factor. We then take the $gcd(N,c)$ to see if we have a factor.
The second 4sq rep provides the square of the factor $7^2$ but also $5^2+4^2+1^2=42=7*6$. The third representation provides an example of factor by adding $a+b=5+8=13$. The forth representation provides an example of a mixed mode $8^2+3+3=70=7*10$. The last one provides an example of $(a+b+c)=9+3+1=13$, the larger factor.
Some of the problems are:
1-for small numbers with not many 4sq rep's, it doesn't take a lot of time to calculate them and check the different combinations to find a factor.
2-for large numbers, it takes a long time to calculate all these 4 sq rep's.
3-Checking all the combinations also can take a lot of time.
4-good representations are not always among the first to be calculated and tested. There is no known method to change the order in which useful representations appear.
One way to speed up the process is to calculate one representation at a time, test it and if no factors are found, calculate another one and test it.
Another way is to calculate just one representation and, if no factor is found, calculate the 4sq rep of the squares of the first representation. The number of combinations to check can rise quickly when we go from $4$ squares to $16$ squares. For small numbers, it's probably better to calculate the next 4sq rep than to expand the squares of the first 4sq rep.
A faster way to find a factor for small numbers is to expand the squares into sums of triangular numbers and try to find a combination that can lead to a factor. I have not tested the decomposition of squares in triangular numbers with large numbers.
There are probably other ways to speed up the process but I can't seem to find them.
The question is: Can this method be made efficient?
The other, more fundamental question, is which sum of squares is better suited to factoring large numbers, $4$, $6$, $8$...?