Polynomials with small value set over finite fields

Javier Gomez-Calderon, Daniel J. Madden

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

24 Scopus citations


Let Kq denote the finite field with q elements and characteristic p. Let f(x) be a monic polynomial of degree d with coeficients in Kq. Let C(f) denote the number of distinct values of f(x) as x ranges over Kq. We easily see that C(f)≥ q-1 d+1 where [{norm of matrix}] is the greatest integer function. A polynomial for which equality in (*) occurs is called a minimum value set polynomial. There is a complete characterization of minimum value set polynomials over arbitrary finite fields with d < √q and C(f) ≥ 3 [see L. Carlitz, D. J. Lewis, W. H. Mills, and E. G. Strauss, Mathematika 8 (1961), 121-130; W. H. Mills, Pacific J. Math. 14 (1964), 225-241]. In this paper we give a complete list of polynomials of degree d4 < q which have a value set of size less than 2q d, twice the minimum possible. If d > 15 then f(x) is one of the following polynomial forms: 1. (a) f(x) = (x + a)d + b, where d | (q - 1), 2. (b) f(x) = ((x + a) d 2 + b)2 + c, where d | (q2 - 1), 3. (c) f(x) = ((x + a)2 + b) d 2 + c, where d | (q2 - 1), or 4. (d) f(x) = Dd,a(x + b) + c, where Dd,a(x) is the Dickson polynomial of degree d, d | (q2 - 1) and a is a 2kth power in Kq2 where d = 2kr, r is odd. The result is obtained by noticing the connection between the size of the value set of a polynomial f(x) and the factorization of the associated substitution polynomial f*(x, y) = f(x) - f(y) in the ring Kq[x, y]. Essentually, we show that C(f) < 2q d implies that f*(x, y) has at least d 2 factors in Kq[x, y], and we determine all the polynomials with such characteristic.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)167-188
Number of pages22
JournalJournal of Number Theory
Issue number2
StatePublished - Feb 1988
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Algebra and Number Theory


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