# For Diffie-Hellman, why is a g value of p−1 not a suitable choice?

I am currently learning about the Diffie-Hellman key exchange. I understand that for a $$g$$ of $$1$$, the resulting key would always end up as $$1$$ which would obviously not be secure.

I read that the $$p\! -\! 1$$ value for $$g$$ is not secure either, but there is no explanation as to why - which is my question. I guess it has to do with $$g$$ being a divisor of $$p\! -\! 1$$ but I am not sure.

• Oh, this talk about the generator $g$. A generator with low order will not be secure. that is why one considers the safe primes for the modulus. Feb 26, 2020 at 19:18
• Note: I rolled back to an earlier revision because revision 7 had little to do with the initial question, and was overly general.
– fgrieu
Mar 3, 2020 at 17:51

If $$g=p-1$$ then $$g\equiv -1\pmod p$$ that is $$g$$ is effectively the same as $$-1$$ which has the obvious drawback that $$g^x$$ can only ever be $$+1$$ or $$p-1$$ which is easily brute-forcable.
\begin{align} (p-1)^2\bmod p &= (p^2-2p+1)\bmod p \\ &=(p^2\bmod p)-(2p\bmod p)+(1\bmod p)\\ &= 0-0+1\\ \end{align}
So when you have $$(p-1)^x\bmod p$$ this is the same as $$(p-1)^{2y}\cdot(p-1)^{z}\bmod p$$ for $$x=2y+z$$ and $$z\in \{0,1\}$$ which is $$((p-1)^2)^y\cdot (p-1)^{z}\bmod p=1^y\cdot (p-1)^{z}$$ which is either $$p-1$$ or $$1$$.
• $(p-1)^n = \sum_{k=0}^n {n \choose k}p^{n-k}(-1)^k = (-1)^n + p\sum_{k=0}^{n-1} {n \choose k}p^{n-k-1}(-1)^k$, that is, the last term of the sum (when $k = n$) is the only one that is not a multiple of $p$, as a consequence, $(p-1)^n \mod p = (-1)^n$. Feb 26, 2020 at 16:51
• @JohnMichaels that is modular arithmetic. Normally, It is an equivalence class and each element is represented by $[0],[1],[2],\ldots,[p-1]$. For convenience, the square brackets are removed. You can freely choose any element to represent the equivalence class and using $-1$ in some situations is very helpful instead of $p-1$. to see that $-1$ has is in the same equivalence class, just add $p$ there you will see that that it is $p-1$, also $2p-1$, i.e. $-1 \equiv p-1 \equiv 2p-1 \pmod p$ Feb 26, 2020 at 17:58