<*algorithm*> (Or "Euclidean Algorithm") An algorithm for
finding the greatest common divisor (GCD) of two numbers.
It relies on the identity

gcd(a, b) = gcd(a-b, b)To find the GCD of two numbers by this algorithm, repeatedly replace the larger by subtracting the smaller from it until the two numbers are equal. E.g. 132, 168 -> 132, 36 -> 96, 36 -> 60, 36 -> 24, 36 -> 24, 12 -> 12, 12 so the GCD of 132 and 168 is 12.

This algorithm requires only subtraction and comparison operations but can take a number of steps proportional to the difference between the initial numbers (e.g. gcd(1, 1001) will take 1000 steps).

Last updated: 1997-06-30

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**Nearby terms:**
Euclid « Euclidean Algorithm « Euclidean norm « **Euclid's Algorithm** » Eudora » EULA » EULER

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Copyright Denis Howe 1985