This work has been partly supported by the French ANR-09-JCJC-0098-01 MaGiX project, and by the Digiteo 2009-36HD grant of the Région Ile-de-France.

On the complexity of multivariate

blockwise polynomial multiplication

Joris van der Hoeven and Grégoire Lecerf

Laboratoire d'Informatique, UMR 7161 CNRS

École polytechnique

91128 Palaiseau Cedex, France

{vdhoeven, lecerf}@lix.polytechnique.fr

Preliminary version of January 4, 2015


In this article, we study the problem of multiplying two multivariate polynomials which are somewhat but not too sparse, typically like polynomials with convex supports. We design and analyze an algorithm which is based on blockwise decomposition of the input polynomials, and which performs the actual multiplication in an FFT model or some other more general so called “evaluated model”. If the input polynomials have total degrees at most , then, under mild assumptions on the coefficient ring, we show that their product can be computed with ring operations, where denotes the number of all the monomials of total degree at most .


sparse polynomial multiplication; multivariate power series; evaluation-interpolation; algorithm

A.M.S. subject classification: 68W30, 12-04, 30B10, 42-04

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Let be an effective ring, which means that we have a data structure for representing the elements of and algorithms for performing the ring operations in , including the equality test. The complexity for multiplying two univariate polynomials with coefficients in and of degree is rather well understood [11, Chapter 8]. Let us recall that for small , one uses the naive multiplication, as learned at high school, of complexity . For moderate , one uses the Karatsuba multiplication [21], of complexity , or some higher order Toom-Cook scheme [4, 29], of complexity with . For large , one uses FFT [3, 5, 27] and TFT [14, 15] multiplications, both of complexity whenever has sufficiently many -th roots of unity, or the Cantor-Kaltofen multiplication [3, 27] with complexity in otherwise.

Unfortunately most of the techniques known in the univariate case do not straightforwardly extend to several variables. Even for the known extensions, the efficiency thresholds are different. For instance, the naive product is generally softly optimal when sparse representations are used, because the size of the output can grow with the product of the sizes of the input. In fact, the nature of the input supports plays a major role in the design of the algorithms and the determination of their mutual thresholds. In this article, we focus on and analyze an intermediate approach to several variables, which roughly corresponds to an extension of the Karatsuba and Toom-Cook strategies, and which turns out to be more efficient than the naive multiplication for instance if the supports of the input polynomials are rather dense in their respective convex hulls.

1.1Our contributions

The main idea in our blockwise polynomial multiplication is to cut the supports in blocks of size and to rewrite all polynomials as “block polynomials” in with “block coefficients” in

These block coefficients are then manipulated in a suitable “evaluated model”, in which the multiplication is intended to be faster than with the direct naive approach. The blockwise polynomials are themselves multiplied in a naive manner. The precise algorithm is described in Section 3.1, where we also discuss the expected speedup compared to the naive product. A precise complexity analysis is subtle because it depends too much on the nature of the supports. Although the worse case bound turns out to be no better than with the naive approach, we detail, in Section 3.2, a way for quickly determining a good block size, that suits supports that are not too small, not too thin, and rather dense in their convex hull.

Our Section 4 is devoted to implementation issues. We first design a cache-friendly version of our blockwise product. Then we adapt a blockwise product for multivariate power series truncated in total degree. Finally, we discuss a technique to slightly improve the blockwise approach for small and thin supports.

In Section 5 we analyze the complexity of the blockwise product for two polynomials supported by monomials of degree at most : if contains in its center, then we show that their product can be computed with operations in , where denotes the number of all the monomials of degree at most . Notice that the constant hidden behind the latter does not depend neither on nor on the number of the variables. With no hypothesis on , the complexity bound we reach becomes in , by a direct extension of the Karatsuba algorithm. Finally, we prove similar complexity results for truncated power series

1.2Related works

Algorithms for multiplying multivariate polynomials and series have been designed since the early ages of computer algebra [6, 7, 8, 20, 28]. Even those based on the naive techniques are a matter of constant improvements in terms of data structures, memory management, vectorization and parallelization [10, 18, 23, 24, 25, 26, 30].

With a single variable , the usual way to multiply two polynomials and of degree with the Karatsuba algorithm begins with splitting and into and , where . Then , , and are computed recursively. This approach has been studied for several variables [22], but it turns out to be efficient mainly for plain block supports, as previously discussed in [8, Section 3].

For any kind of support, there exist general purpose sparse multiplication algorithms [2, 18]. They feature quasi-linear complexity in terms of the sizes of the supports of the input and of a given superset for the support of the product. Nevertheless the logarithmic overhead of the latter algorithms is important, and alternative approaches, directly based on the truncated Fourier transform, have been designed in [14, 15, 19] for supports which are initial segments of (i.e. sets of monomials which are complementary to a monomial ideal), with the same order of efficiency as the FFT multiplication for univariate polynomials.

To the best of our knowledge, the blockwise technique was introduced, in a somewhat sketchy manner, in [13, Section 6.3.3], and then refined in [16, Section 6]. In the case of univariate polynomials, its complexity has been analyzed in [12], where important applications are also presented.

2.Conventions and notation

Throughout this article, we use the sparse representation for the polynomials, and the computation tree model with the total complexity point of view [1, Chapter 4] for the complexity analysis of the algorithms. Informally speaking, this means that complexity estimates charge a constant cost for each arithmetic operation and the equality test in , and that all the constants are thought to be freely at our disposal.

2.1Block polynomials

Consider a multivariate polynomial , also written as

We define its support by , and denote its cardinality by . We interpret as the sparse size of .

Given a vector of positive integers, we define the set of block coefficients at order by

Any polynomial can uniquely be rewritten as a block polynomial , where

Given , we also notice that . We let represent the size of the block .

2.2Evaluation-interpolation schemes

A univariate evaluation-interpolation scheme in size on is the data of

such that and are linear and

holds for all and in , where denotes the entry-wise product in . We write for a common bound on the complexity of and , so that two polynomials in can be multiplied in time . For convenience we still write and for extensions to any seen as a ring endowed with the entry-wise product.

Example 1. The Karatsuba algorithm for polynomials of degree corresponds to , ,

can be interpreted as the evaluation of a polynomial at the values , , and . By induction, the Karatsuba algorithm for polynomials of degree at most corresponds to , , where is the block polynomial of with respect to , and where actually corresponds to applying the extension of to . This yields and .

Univariate evaluation-interpolation schemes can be extended to several variables as follows: if then we define , define the maps

and take


where and represent the evaluation and interpolation with respect to the variable :

In the sequel we will only use multivariate evaluation-interpolation schemes constructed in this way.

3.The basic algorithm

For what follows, we first assume that we have a strategy for picking a suitable evaluation-interpolation scheme for any given block size , and that we have a fast way to compute the corresponding functions and , at least approximately. We also assume that and are increasing functions.

3.1Blockwise multiplication

Let us first assume that we have fixed a block size . The first version of our algorithm for multiplying two multivariate polynomials summarizes as follows:

Algorithm block-multiply

Input: and .

Output: .

  1. Rewrite and as block polynomials .

  2. Compute and .

  3. Multiply using the naive algorithm.

  4. Compute .

  5. Reinterpret as a polynomial and return .

Let represent the size of if there is no coefficient of which accidentally vanishes.

Proposition 2. The algorithm block-multiply works correctly as specified, and performs at most

operations in .

Proof. The correctness is clear from the definitions. Step 1 performs no operation in . Steps 2 and 4 require operations. Step 3 requires operations. Step 5 takes at most operations in order to add up overlapping block coefficients, where .

Unfortunately, without any structural knowledge about the supports of and , the quantity requires a time to be computed. In the next subsection we explain a heuristic approach to find a good block size .

3.2Heuristic computation of the block size

In order to complete our multiplication algorithm, we must explain how to set the block size. Computing quickly the block size that minimizes the number of operations in the product of two given polynomials and looks like a difficult problem. In Section 5 we analyze it for asymptotically large simplex supports, but, in this subsection, we describe a heuristic for the general case.

For approximating a good block size we first need to approximate the complexity in Proposition 2 by a function, written , which is intended to be easy to compute in terms of , , and the input supports. For instance one may opt for the formula

Nevertheless, if and are expected to be not too sparse, then one may assume and use the formula

Then we begin the approximating process with , and keep doubling the entry of which reduces as much as possible. We stop as soon as cannot be further reduced in this way. Given and , we write for . In order to make explicit the dependency in during the execution of the algorithm, we write instead of .

Algorithm block-size

Input: .

Output: a block size for multiplying and .

Set .

While and are supported by at least two monomials repeat:

Let be such that is minimal.

If , then return .

Set .

In the computation tree model over , the block-size algorithm actually performs no operation in . Its complexity must be analyzed in terms of bit-operations, which means here computation trees over . For this purpose we assume that the supports are represented by vectors of monomials, with each monomial being stored as a vector of integers in binary representation.

Proposition 3. If and have total degrees at most , then the algorithm block-size performs bit-operations, plus calls to the function .

Proof. To run the algorithm block-size efficiently, we maintain the sets and throughout the main loop. Since can be computed from with bit-operations, each iteration requires at most bit-operations. The number of iterations is bounded by .

Remark that in favorable cases the first few iterations are expected to approximately halve at each stage. The expected total complexity thus becomes closer to .


4.1Implementation issues

Several problems arise if one tries to implement the basic blockwise multiplication algorithm from Section 3.1 without any modification:

Both drawbacks can be removed by using a recursive multiplication algorithm instead, where the evaluation-interpolation technique is applied sequentially with respect to for suitable pairwise distinct .

Algorithm improved-block-multiply

Input: , and pairwise distinct .

Output: .

  1. If then return block-multiply.

  2. Let and

    rewrite and as block polynomials .

  3. Compute and .

  4. For each do

    , where is identified to

  5. Compute .

  6. Reinterpret as a polynomial and return .

It is not hard to check that the improved algorithm has the same complexity as the basic algorithm in terms of the number of operations in . Let us now examine how to choose in order to increase the performance. Setting with

we first choose the set in such a way that constants in fit into cache memory for a certain threshold . The idea is that the same coefficients should be reused as much as possible in the inner multiplication, so should not be taken to small, e.g. . For a fixed set of indexes, we next take such that , thereby minimizing the memory consumption of the algorithm.

4.2Truncated multiplication

Let and . We define the truncation of to by . Notice that if, and only if, with . It is sometimes convenient to represent finite sets by polynomials with , for instance by taking , for a given . Given and a fixed support , the computation of is called the truncated multiplication. The basic blockwise multiplication algorithm is adapted as follows:

Algorithm truncated-block-multiply

Input: and .

Output: .

  1. Rewrite , and as block polynomials .

  2. Compute and .

  3. Multiply using a naive algorithm.

  4. Compute .

  5. Reinterpret as a polynomial and return .

In a similar way as in Proposition 2, we can show that truncated-block-multiply requires at most


operations in . However, this bound is very pessimistic since usually has a special form which allows us to perform the naive truncated multiplication in step 3 in much less than operations. For instance, in the special and important case of truncated power series at order , we have

and, by [16, Section 6], . The naive truncated power series multiplication at order can be performed using only

operations, as shown in [16, Section 6]. Hence, if and , so that , then can be replaced by in our complexity bound (2).

Assuming that we have a way to estimate the number of operations in necessary to compute the truncated product using the naive algorithm, we can adapt the heuristic of Section 3.2 to determine a candidate block size. Finally let us mention that the additional implementation tricks from Section 4.1 also extend to the truncated case in a straightforward way.

4.3Separate treatment of the border

If we increase the block size in block-multiply, then the block coefficients get sparser and sparser. At a certain point, this makes it pointless to further increase . One final optimization which can often be applied is to decompose and in a such a way that the multiplication can be done using a larger block size than the remaining part of the multiplication . Instead of providing a full and rather technical algorithm, let us illustrate this idea with the example

The naive multiplication performs products in The direct use of the Karatsuba algorithm with , reduces to the naive product of two polynomials of terms with coefficients in , which amounts to multiplications in . If we decompose and into

then takes products in , and the naive multiplication for uses products in . In this example, the separate treatment of the border saves 7 products in out of the 36 of the naive algorithm, and is faster than the direct use of the blockwise algorithm.

5.Uniform complexity analysis

In this section we focus on the specific and important problems of multiplying polynomials of total degree at most , and truncated power series at order . Recall from Section 4.2 that . Let

Let be the first value of such that , and define . Numeric computations yield and .

5.1Polynomial product

Theorem 4. Let , and assume that admits evaluation-interpolation schemes with and , for all , and for some constant . Then two polynomials in of degree at most can be multiplied with block-multiply using at most operations in , if the sizes of the blocks are chosen as follows:

Proof. We introduce . By Stirling's formula, there exists a constant such that

From , we obtain the existence of a constant such that the following inequality holds for all and :

Therefore there exists a constant such that

hold for all and . By Proposition 2, the cost of the multiplication is bounded by with

where , since , , and . With , and using (1), there exists a constant such that:

Since and since , we can bound by , and deduce the existence of an other constant such that

Figure 1. Illustration of the curves for various , together with .

From we have that , and since it follows that , and that there exists a constant such that


In order to express the execution time in terms of the output size, we thus have to study the function

The first are plotted in Figure 1. The right limit of when tends to is 1, while the same limit for the other is . Since whenever , the sign of is the same as the one of

From and , it follows that there exists a unique zero, written , of for each . These zeros can be approximated by classical ball arithmetic techniques. We used the numerix package (based on Mpfr [9]) of Mathemagix [17] to obtain , , and . Still using ball arithmetic, one checks that achieves its maximum for at . Given , Lemma 9 of the appendix shows that .

Finally, we have obtained so far that taking for , for and for larger , the inequality holds for all . Therefore there exists a constant , such that for all and , or and .

It remains to bound for and sufficiently large. There exists a constant such that:

Therefore, taking , there exists a contant with

which implies that when is sufficiently large.

Remark 5. In the proof of Theorem 4, it was convenient for computational purposes to explicitly chose in terms of . However our choice of is suboptimal. For instance, taking for is generally better whenever remains in . In fact, we think that algorithm block-size will do the choice of the block size just as well and maybe even a little bit better from the latter bounds when using a function precise enough. A detailed proof of this claim sounds quite technical, so we have not pursued this direction any further in the present article. Nevertheless, the claim is plausible for the following reasons:

For rings which do not support large evaluation-interpolation schemes we propose the following extension of Theorem 4.

Theorem 6. Let , and assume that admits a unit. Then two polynomials in of degree at most can be multiplied using at most operations in .

Proof. We use the Chinese remaindering technique from [3]. It suffices to prove the theorem for . The unit of is written , and we introduce and . By using the aforementioned TFT algorithm, we can multiply and in (resp. in ) via Theorem 4, with (resp. with ) being the next power of (resp. of ) of if we do not perform the divisions by (resp. by ). We thus obtain and . If then we deduce as .

Replacing all arithmetic operations in by arithmetic operations in gives rise to an additional overhead of with respect to the complexity analysis from the proof of Theorem 4. More precisely, we have a new constant such that

The result is thus proved for when for a sufficiently large constant . It remains to examine the case when . Again, we use a similar proof as at the end of Theorem 4, with new constants and such that

Hence for sufficiently large.

For rings which do not have a unit, we can use a Karatsuba evaluation-interpolation scheme. For this purpose we introduce

Let be the unique positive zero of , and let . Numeric computations lead to and .

Theorem 7. Let , let be any ring. Then two polynomials in of degree at most can be multiplied using at most operations in .

Proof. We use the Karatsuba scheme [16, Section 2] with and for all . We follow the proof of Theorem 4 and begin with a new constant such that

In order to express the execution time in terms of the output size, we thus have to study the function

The right limit of when tends to is 1, while the same limit for the other is . Since whenever , the sign of is the same as the one of

If , then and , which implies the existence of a unique zero of , written . In particular, with , we obtain . For convenience we let , and display the first few values:

One can verify that holds for all , which implies that for all . Therefore with such that (with the convention that ). Lemma 10 of the appendix provides us with . Therefore there exists a constant , such that for all and , or and .

It remains to bound for and sufficiently large, as in the end of the proof of Theorem 4. In this range we take with , so that . There exist constants and such that:

Therefore, using , we have

whenever is sufficiently large.

5.2Power series product

Theorem 8. Let , and assume that admits evaluation-interpolation schemes with and , for all , and for some constant . Then two power series in truncated at order can be multiplied with truncated-block-multiply using at most operations in , if the sizes of the blocks are chosen as follows:

Proof. The proof is similar to the one of Theorem 4. In the present case, for a suitable new constant the following inequalities hold:

The cost of the multiplication is bounded by with and . There exists a new constant such that:

The present situation is similar to the one of the proof of Theorem 4, with instead of . Therefore by taking for , for and for larger , there exists a constant , such that for all and , or and .

It remains to bound for and sufficiently large. There exists a new constant such that:

Taking , we thus have a contant with

We conclude that for sufficiently large.


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AppendixTechnical Lemmas

This appendix contains details on how one can bound the functions and used in Section 5. We first prove the bounds in an explicit neighbourhood of infinity and then we rely on certified ball arithmetic for the remaining compact set.

Lemma 9. For all we have .

Proof. Let and . We shall first show that for all . Let . Since , it suffices to show that . Since , we let , and have to prove that . The latter inequality is correct since , and for . On the other hand, for we have

Since , we have shown that for . For between and , we appeal to numeric computations to verify that still holds.

Lemma 10. For all we have .

Proof. Let , and . Let . We shall first show that for all . Let . Since , it suffices to show that . Since , we let , and have to prove that . The latter inequality is correct since , and .

Let and . We introduce . Since , for , we have

Since , we have shown that for .

For , we symbolically computed and straightforwardly lower bounded it by a function in the domain . For each value of , we used ball arithmetic to show that . For smaller values of , we could directly compute that whenever . Finally we computed that for all , which concludes the proof.