Is it correct to say that RSA operates over a Finite Field (Galois Field)? In this case GF(p)? I do understant that the modulo in RSA is not itself a prime number, but all the operations (multiplication, inversion) occur as if it is a GF(p).

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    $\begingroup$ Nope, RSA is defined over an residue class ring. $\endgroup$
    – DrLecter
    Dec 17, 2014 at 17:49
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    $\begingroup$ @DrLecter: Technically, your comment does not contradict the statement in question: a residue class ring may be (isomorphic to) a finite field. You want to append "that is not a field". $\endgroup$
    – yyyyyyy
    Dec 17, 2014 at 19:36
  • $\begingroup$ @yyyyyy jup, thats correct! :) $\endgroup$
    – DrLecter
    Dec 17, 2014 at 19:40

2 Answers 2


No, RSA encryption and signature is performed in (the multiplicative semigroup of) the factor ring $\mathbb Z/n\mathbb Z$ which is not a field since the non-zero elements $kp+n\mathbb Z$ (for $0<k<q$) and $kq+n\mathbb Z$ (for $0<k<p$) do not have multiplicative inverses. (However, one easily observes that all other non-zero elements are invertible, as their representants are coprime to $n=pq$).

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    $\begingroup$ While the correct answer to the question is "no", the RSA definitions also can work for those elements, which are not coprime to $n$. Since they are zero divisors, they dont have inverse elements, but it can still be true that $x^{ed} = x$, with $x$ not coprime to $n$. I cant recall the exact requirement there, but there are topics on this on crypto-SE. $\endgroup$
    – tylo
    Dec 18, 2014 at 22:29
  • $\begingroup$ @tylo $x^{ed} = x$ holds for all $x$ in RSA. $\endgroup$
    – fkraiem
    Jan 1, 2015 at 17:59

William Stalling says

RSA is based on exponentiation in a finite (Galois) field over integers modulo a prime

Source: http://williamstallings.com/Extras/Security-Notes/lectures/publickey.html

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    $\begingroup$ The RSA modulus is not prime, so arithmetic modulo n is no finite field. So that statement is either wrong, or at least very misleading. (Using a sufficiently loose interpretation of "based on" you could say that private key arithmetic using the Chinese-Remainder-Theorem works in several finite fields, one per factor of the modulus, but I don't think that's a useful interpretation) $\endgroup$ Sep 19, 2015 at 15:49

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