[Java] Fastest way to determine if an integer's square root is an integer


I'm pretty late to the party, but I hope to provide a better answer; shorter and (assuming my benchmark is correct) also much faster.

long goodMask; // 0xC840C04048404040 computed below
    for (int i=0; i<64; ++i) goodMask |= Long.MIN_VALUE >>> (i*i);

public boolean isSquare(long x) {
    // This tests if the 6 least significant bits are right.
    // Moving the to be tested bit to the highest position saves us masking.
    if (goodMask << x >= 0) return false;
    final int numberOfTrailingZeros = Long.numberOfTrailingZeros(x);
    // Each square ends with an even number of zeros.
    if ((numberOfTrailingZeros & 1) != 0) return false;
    x >>= numberOfTrailingZeros;
    // Now x is either 0 or odd.
    // In binary each odd square ends with 001.
    // Postpone the sign test until now; handle zero in the branch.
    if ((x&7) != 1 | x <= 0) return x == 0;
    // Do it in the classical way.
    // The correctness is not trivial as the conversion from long to double is lossy!
    final long tst = (long) Math.sqrt(x);
    return tst * tst == x;

The first test catches most non-squares quickly. It uses a 64-item table packed in a long, so there's no array access cost (indirection and bounds checks). For a uniformly random long, there's a 81.25% probability of ending here.

The second test catches all numbers having an odd number of twos in their factorization. The method Long.numberOfTrailingZeros is very fast as it gets JIT-ed into a single i86 instruction.

After dropping the trailing zeros, the third test handles numbers ending with 011, 101, or 111 in binary, which are no perfect squares. It also cares about negative numbers and also handles 0.

The final test falls back to double arithmetic. As double has only 53 bits mantissa, the conversion from long to double includes rounding for big values. Nonetheless, the test is correct (unless the proof is wrong).

Trying to incorporate the mod255 idea wasn't successful.


I'm looking for the fastest way to determine if a long value is a perfect square (i.e. its square root is another integer). I've done it the easy way, by using the built-in Math.sqrt() function, but I'm wondering if there is a way to do it faster by restricting yourself to integer-only domain. Maintaining a lookup table is impratical (since there are about 231.5 integers whose square is less than 263).

Here is the very simple and straightforward way I'm doing it now:

public final static boolean isPerfectSquare(long n)
  if (n < 0)
    return false;

  long tst = (long)(Math.sqrt(n) + 0.5);
  return tst*tst == n;

Notes: I'm using this function in many Project Euler problems. So no one else will ever have to maintain this code. And this kind of micro-optimization could actually make a difference, since part of the challenge is to do every algorithm in less than a minute, and this function will need to be called millions of times in some problems.

Update 2: A new solution posted by A. Rex has proven to be even faster. In a run over the first 1 billion integers, the solution only required 34% of the time that the original solution used. While the John Carmack hack is a little better for small values of n, the benefit compared to this solution is pretty small.

Here is the A. Rex solution, converted to Java:

private final static boolean isPerfectSquare(long n)
  // Quickfail
  if( n < 0 || ((n&2) != 0) || ((n & 7) == 5) || ((n & 11) == 8) )
    return false;
  if( n == 0 )
    return true;

  // Check mod 255 = 3 * 5 * 17, for fun
  long y = n;
  y = (y & 0xffffffffL) + (y >> 32);
  y = (y & 0xffffL) + (y >> 16);
  y = (y & 0xffL) + ((y >> 8) & 0xffL) + (y >> 16);
  if( bad255[(int)y] )
      return false;

  // Divide out powers of 4 using binary search
  if((n & 0xffffffffL) == 0)
      n >>= 32;
  if((n & 0xffffL) == 0)
      n >>= 16;
  if((n & 0xffL) == 0)
      n >>= 8;
  if((n & 0xfL) == 0)
      n >>= 4;
  if((n & 0x3L) == 0)
      n >>= 2;

  if((n & 0x7L) != 1)
      return false;

  // Compute sqrt using something like Hensel's lemma
  long r, t, z;
  r = start[(int)((n >> 3) & 0x3ffL)];
  do {
    z = n - r * r;
    if( z == 0 )
      return true;
    if( z < 0 )
      return false;
    t = z & (-z);
    r += (z & t) >> 1;
    if( r > (t  >> 1) )
    r = t - r;
  } while( t <= (1L << 33) );
  return false;

private static boolean[] bad255 =
   false,false,true ,true ,false,true ,true ,true ,true ,false,true ,true ,true ,
   true ,true ,false,false,true ,true ,false,true ,false,true ,true ,true ,false,
   true ,true ,true ,true ,false,true ,true ,true ,false,true ,false,true ,true ,
   true ,true ,true ,true ,true ,true ,true ,true ,true ,true ,false,true ,false,
   true ,true ,true ,false,true ,true ,true ,true ,false,true ,true ,true ,false,
   true ,false,true ,true ,false,false,true ,true ,true ,true ,true ,false,true ,
   true ,true ,true ,false,true ,true ,false,false,true ,true ,true ,true ,true ,
   true ,true ,true ,false,true ,true ,true ,true ,true ,false,true ,true ,true ,
   true ,true ,false,true ,true ,true ,true ,false,true ,true ,true ,false,true ,
   true ,true ,true ,false,false,true ,true ,true ,true ,true ,true ,true ,true ,
   true ,true ,true ,true ,true ,false,false,true ,true ,true ,true ,true ,true ,
   true ,false,false,true ,true ,true ,true ,true ,false,true ,true ,false,true ,
   true ,true ,true ,true ,true ,true ,true ,true ,true ,true ,false,true ,true ,
   false,true ,false,true ,true ,false,true ,true ,true ,true ,true ,true ,true ,
   true ,true ,true ,true ,false,true ,true ,false,true ,true ,true ,true ,true ,
   false,false,true ,true ,true ,true ,true ,true ,true ,false,false,true ,true ,
   true ,true ,true ,true ,true ,true ,true ,true ,true ,true ,true ,false,false,
   true ,true ,true ,true ,false,true ,true ,true ,false,true ,true ,true ,true ,
   false,true ,true ,true ,true ,true ,false,true ,true ,true ,true ,true ,false,
   true ,true ,true ,true ,true ,true ,true ,true ,false,false,true ,true ,false,
   true ,true ,true ,true ,false,true ,true ,true ,true ,true ,false,false,true ,
   true ,false,true ,false,true ,true ,true ,false,true ,true ,true ,true ,false,
   true ,true ,true ,false,true ,false,true ,true ,true ,true ,true ,true ,true ,
   true ,true ,true ,true ,true ,false,true ,false,true ,true ,true ,false,true ,
   true ,true ,true ,false,true ,true ,true ,false,true ,false,true ,true ,false,
   false,true ,true ,true ,true ,true ,false,true ,true ,true ,true ,false,true ,
   true ,false,false,true ,true ,true ,true ,true ,true ,true ,true ,false,true ,
   true ,true ,true ,true ,false,true ,true ,true ,true ,true ,false,true ,true ,
   true ,true ,false,true ,true ,true ,false,true ,true ,true ,true ,false,false,
   true ,true ,true ,true ,true ,true ,true ,true ,true ,true ,true ,true ,true ,
   false,false,true ,true ,true ,true ,true ,true ,true ,false,false,true ,true ,
   true ,true ,true ,false,true ,true ,false,true ,true ,true ,true ,true ,true ,
   true ,true ,true ,true ,true ,false,true ,true ,false,true ,false,true ,true ,
   false,true ,true ,true ,true ,true ,true ,true ,true ,true ,true ,true ,false,
   true ,true ,false,true ,true ,true ,true ,true ,false,false,true ,true ,true ,
   true ,true ,true ,true ,false,false,true ,true ,true ,true ,true ,true ,true ,
   true ,true ,true ,true ,true ,true ,false,false,true ,true ,true ,true ,false,
   true ,true ,true ,false,true ,true ,true ,true ,false,true ,true ,true ,true ,
   true ,false,true ,true ,true ,true ,true ,false,true ,true ,true ,true ,true ,
   true ,true ,true ,false,false

private static int[] start =

Update: I've tried the different solutions presented below.

  • After exhaustive testing, I found that adding 0.5 to the result of Math.sqrt() is not necessary, at least not on my machine.
  • The John Carmack hack was faster, but it gave incorrect results starting at n=410881. However, as suggested by BobbyShaftoe, we can use the Carmack hack for n < 410881.
  • Newton's method was a good bit slower than Math.sqrt(). This is probably because Math.sqrt() uses something similar to Newton's Method, but implemented in the hardware so it's much faster than in Java. Also, Newton's Method still required use of doubles.
  • A modified Newton's method, which used a few tricks so that only integer math was involved, required some hacks to avoid overflow (I want this function to work with all positive 64-bit signed integers), and it was still slower than Math.sqrt().
  • Binary chop was even slower. This makes sense because the binary chop will on average require 16 passes to find the square root of a 64-bit number.

The one suggestion which did show improvements was made by John D. Cook. You can observe that the last hex digit (i.e. the last 4 bits) of a perfect square must be 0, 1, 4, or 9. This means that 75% of numbers can be immediately eliminated as possible squares. Implementing this solution resulted in about a 50% reduction in runtime.

Working from John's suggestion, I investigated properties of the last n bits of a perfect square. By analyzing the last 6 bits, I found that only 12 out of 64 values are possible for the last 6 bits. This means 81% of values can be eliminated without using any math. Implementing this solution gave an additional 8% reduction in runtime (compared to my original algorithm). Analyzing more than 6 bits results in a list of possible ending bits which is too large to be practical.

Here is the code that I have used, which runs in 42% of the time required by the original algorithm (based on a run over the first 100 million integers). For values of n less than 410881, it runs in only 29% of the time required by the original algorithm.

private final static boolean isPerfectSquare(long n)
  if (n < 0)
    return false;

  switch((int)(n & 0x3F))
  case 0x00: case 0x01: case 0x04: case 0x09: case 0x10: case 0x11:
  case 0x19: case 0x21: case 0x24: case 0x29: case 0x31: case 0x39:
    long sqrt;
    if(n < 410881L)
      //John Carmack hack, converted to Java.
      // See: http://www.codemaestro.com/reviews/9
      int i;
      float x2, y;

      x2 = n * 0.5F;
      y  = n;
      i  = Float.floatToRawIntBits(y);
      i  = 0x5f3759df - ( i >> 1 );
      y  = Float.intBitsToFloat(i);
      y  = y * ( 1.5F - ( x2 * y * y ) );

      sqrt = (long)(1.0F/y);
      //Carmack hack gives incorrect answer for n >= 410881.
      sqrt = (long)Math.sqrt(n);
    return sqrt*sqrt == n;

    return false;


  • According to John's tests, using or statements is faster in C++ than using a switch, but in Java and C# there appears to be no difference between or and switch.
  • I also tried making a lookup table (as a private static array of 64 boolean values). Then instead of either switch or or statement, I would just say if(lookup[(int)(n&0x3F)]) { test } else return false;. To my surprise, this was (just slightly) slower. I'm not sure why. This is because array bounds are checked in Java.

I like the idea to use an almost correct method on some of the input. Here is a version with a higher "offset". The code seems to work and passes my simple test case.

Just replace your:

if(n < 410881L){...}

code with this one:

if (n < 11043908100L) {
    //John Carmack hack, converted to Java.
    // See: http://www.codemaestro.com/reviews/9
    int i;
    float x2, y;

    x2 = n * 0.5F;
    y = n;
    i = Float.floatToRawIntBits(y);
    //using the magic number from 
    //since it more accurate
    i = 0x5f375a86 - (i >> 1);
    y = Float.intBitsToFloat(i);
    y = y * (1.5F - (x2 * y * y));
    y = y * (1.5F - (x2 * y * y)); //Newton iteration, more accurate

    sqrt = Math.round(1.0F / y);
} else {
    //Carmack hack gives incorrect answer for n >= 11043908100.
    sqrt = (long) Math.sqrt(n);

It ought to be possible to pack the 'cannot be a perfect square if the last X digits are N' much more efficiently than that! I'll use java 32 bit ints, and produce enough data to check the last 16 bits of the number - that's 2048 hexadecimal int values.


Ok. Either I have run into some number theory that is a little beyond me, or there is a bug in my code. In any case, here is the code:

public static void main(String[] args) {
    final int BITS = 16;

    BitSet foo = new BitSet();

    for(int i = 0; i< (1<<BITS); i++) {
        int sq = (i*i);
        sq = sq & ((1<<BITS)-1);

    System.out.println("int[] mayBeASquare = {");

    for(int i = 0; i< 1<<(BITS-5); i++) {
        int kk = 0;
        for(int j = 0; j<32; j++) {
            if(foo.get((i << 5) | j)) {
                kk |= 1<<j;
        System.out.print("0x" + Integer.toHexString(kk) + ", ");
        if(i%8 == 7) System.out.println();

and here are the results:

(ed: elided for poor performance in prettify.js; view revision history to see.)

This is the fastest Java implementation I could come up with, using a combination of techniques suggested by others in this thread.

  • Mod-256 test
  • Inexact mod-3465 test (avoids integer division at the cost of some false positives)
  • Floating-point square root, round and compare with input value

I also experimented with these modifications but they did not help performance:

  • Additional mod-255 test
  • Dividing the input value by powers of 4
  • Fast Inverse Square Root (to work for high values of N it needs 3 iterations, enough to make it slower than the hardware square root function.)

public class SquareTester {

    public static boolean isPerfectSquare(long n) {
        if (n < 0) {
            return false;
        } else {
            switch ((byte) n) {
            case -128: case -127: case -124: case -119: case -112:
            case -111: case -103: case  -95: case  -92: case  -87:
            case  -79: case  -71: case  -64: case  -63: case  -60:
            case  -55: case  -47: case  -39: case  -31: case  -28:
            case  -23: case  -15: case   -7: case    0: case    1:
            case    4: case    9: case   16: case   17: case   25:
            case   33: case   36: case   41: case   49: case   57:
            case   64: case   65: case   68: case   73: case   81:
            case   89: case   97: case  100: case  105: case  113:
            case  121:
                long i = (n * INV3465) >>> 52;
                if (! good3465[(int) i]) {
                    return false;
                } else {
                    long r = round(Math.sqrt(n));
                    return r*r == n; 
                return false;

    private static int round(double x) {
        return (int) Double.doubleToRawLongBits(x + (double) (1L << 52));

    /** 3465<sup>-1</sup> modulo 2<sup>64</sup> */
    private static final long INV3465 = 0x8ffed161732e78b9L;

    private static final boolean[] good3465 =
        new boolean[0x1000];

    static {
        for (int r = 0; r < 3465; ++ r) {
            int i = (int) ((r * r * INV3465) >>> 52);
            good3465[i] = good3465[i+1] = true;


Regarding the Carmac method, it seems like it would be quite easy just to iterate once more, which should double the number of digits of accuracy. It is, after all, an extremely truncated iterative method -- Newton's, with a very good first guess.

Regarding your current best, I see two micro-optimizations:

  • move the check vs. 0 after the check using mod255
  • rearrange the dividing out powers of four to skip all the checks for the usual (75%) case.


// Divide out powers of 4 using binary search

if((n & 0x3L) == 0) {
  n >>=2;

  if((n & 0xffffffffL) == 0)
    n >>= 32;
  if((n & 0xffffL) == 0)
      n >>= 16;
  if((n & 0xffL) == 0)
      n >>= 8;
  if((n & 0xfL) == 0)
      n >>= 4;
  if((n & 0x3L) == 0)
      n >>= 2;

Even better might be a simple

while ((n & 0x03L) == 0) n >>= 2;

Obviously, it would be interesting to know how many numbers get culled at each checkpoint -- I rather doubt the checks are truly independent, which makes things tricky.

It should be much faster to use Newton's method to calculate the Integer Square Root, then square this number and check, as you do in your current solution. Newton's method is the basis for the Carmack solution mentioned in some other answers. You should be able to get a faster answer since you're only interested in the integer part of the root, allowing you to stop the approximation algorithm sooner.

Another optimization that you can try: If the Digital Root of a number doesn't end in 1, 4, 7, or 9 the number is not a perfect square. This can be used as a quick way to eliminate 60% of your inputs before applying the slower square root algorithm.

Considering for general bit length (though I have used specific type here), I tried to design simplistic algo as below. Simple and obvious check for 0,1,2 or <0 is required initially. Following is simple in sense that it doesn't try to use any existing maths functions. Most of the operator can be replaced with bit-wise operators. I haven't tested with any bench mark data though. I'm neither expert at maths or computer algorithm design in particular, I would love to see you pointing out problem. I know there is lots of improvement chances there.

int main()
    unsigned int c1=0 ,c2 = 0;  
    unsigned int x = 0;  
    unsigned int p = 0;  
    int k1 = 0;  
    if(p % 2 == 0) {  
        x = p/2; 
    else {  
        x = (p/2) +1;  
        if((x*x) > p) {  
            c1 = x;  
            x = x/2; 
        }else {  
            c2 = x;  
    if((p%2) != 0)  

    while(c2 < c1) 
        if((c2 * c2 ) == p) {  
            k1 = 1;  
        printf("\n Perfect square for %d", c2);  
        printf("\n Not perfect but nearest to :%d :", c2);  
    return 0;  

If you do a binary chop to try to find the "right" square root, you can fairly easily detect if the value you've got is close enough to tell:

(n+1)^2 = n^2 + 2n + 1
(n-1)^2 = n^2 - 2n + 1

So having calculated n^2, the options are:

  • n^2 = target: done, return true
  • n^2 + 2n + 1 > target > n^2 : you're close, but it's not perfect: return false
  • n^2 - 2n + 1 < target < n^2 : ditto
  • target < n^2 - 2n + 1 : binary chop on a lower n
  • target > n^2 + 2n + 1 : binary chop on a higher n

(Sorry, this uses n as your current guess, and target for the parameter. Apologise for the confusion!)

I don't know whether this will be faster or not, but it's worth a try.

EDIT: The binary chop doesn't have to take in the whole range of integers, either (2^x)^2 = 2^(2x), so once you've found the top set bit in your target (which can be done with a bit-twiddling trick; I forget exactly how) you can quickly get a range of potential answers. Mind you, a naive binary chop is still only going to take up to 31 or 32 iterations.

I want this function to work with all positive 64-bit signed integers

Math.sqrt() works with doubles as input parameters, so you won't get accurate results for integers bigger than 2^53.

An integer problem deserves an integer solution. Thus

Do binary search on the (non-negative) integers to find the greatest integer t such that t**2 <= n. Then test whether r**2 = n exactly. This takes time O(log n).

If you don't know how to binary search the positive integers because the set is unbounded, it's easy. You starting by computing your increasing function f (above f(t) = t**2 - n) on powers of two. When you see it turn positive, you've found an upper bound. Then you can do standard binary search.

You should get rid of the 2-power part of N right from the start.

2nd Edit The magical expression for m below should be

m = N - (N & (N-1));

and not as written

End of 2nd edit

m = N & (N-1); // the lawest bit of N
N /= m;
byte = N & 0x0F;
if ((m % 2) || (byte !=1 && byte !=9))
  return false;

1st Edit:

Minor improvement:

m = N & (N-1); // the lawest bit of N
N /= m;
if ((m % 2) || (N & 0x07 != 1))
  return false;

End of 1st edit

Now continue as usual. This way, by the time you get to the floating point part, you already got rid of all the numbers whose 2-power part is odd (about half), and then you only consider 1/8 of whats left. I.e. you run the floating point part on 6% of the numbers.

If you want speed, given that your integers are of finite size, I suspect that the quickest way would involve (a) partitioning the parameters by size (e.g. into categories by largest bit set), then checking the value against an array of perfect squares within that range.

I was thinking about the horrible times I've spent in Numerical Analysis course.

And then I remember, there was this function circling around the 'net from the Quake Source code:

float Q_rsqrt( float number )
  long i;
  float x2, y;
  const float threehalfs = 1.5F;

  x2 = number * 0.5F;
  y  = number;
  i  = * ( long * ) &y;  // evil floating point bit level hacking
  i  = 0x5f3759df - ( i >> 1 ); // wtf?
  y  = * ( float * ) &i;
  y  = y * ( threehalfs - ( x2 * y * y ) ); // 1st iteration
  // y  = y * ( threehalfs - ( x2 * y * y ) ); // 2nd iteration, this can be removed

  #ifndef Q3_VM
  #ifdef __linux__
    assert( !isnan(y) ); // bk010122 - FPE?
  return y;

Which basically calculates a square root, using Newton's approximation function (cant remember the exact name).

It should be usable and might even be faster, it's from one of the phenomenal id software's game!

It's written in C++ but it should not be too hard to reuse the same technique in Java once you get the idea:

I originally found it at: http://www.codemaestro.com/reviews/9

Newton's method explained at wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Newton%27s_method

You can follow the link for more explanation of how it works, but if you don't care much, then this is roughly what I remember from reading the blog and from taking the Numerical Analysis course:

  • the * (long*) &y is basically a fast convert-to-long function so integer operations can be applied on the raw bytes.
  • the 0x5f3759df - (i >> 1); line is a pre-calculated seed value for the approximation function.
  • the * (float*) &i converts the value back to floating point.
  • the y = y * ( threehalfs - ( x2 * y * y ) ) line bascially iterates the value over the function again.

The approximation function gives more precise values the more you iterate the function over the result. In Quake's case, one iteration is "good enough", but if it wasn't for you... then you could add as much iteration as you need.

This should be faster because it reduces the number of division operations done in naive square rooting down to a simple divide by 2 (actually a * 0.5F multiply operation) and replace it with a few fixed number of multiplication operations instead.

The sqrt call is not perfectly accurate, as has been mentioned, but it's interesting and instructive that it doesn't blow away the other answers in terms of speed. After all, the sequence of assembly language instructions for a sqrt is tiny. Intel has a hardware instruction, which isn't used by Java I believe because it doesn't conform to IEEE.

So why is it slow? Because Java is actually calling a C routine through JNI, and it's actually slower to do so than to call a Java subroutine, which itself is slower than doing it inline. This is very annoying, and Java should have come up with a better solution, ie building in floating point library calls if necessary. Oh well.

In C++, I suspect all the complex alternatives would lose on speed, but I haven't checked them all. What I did, and what Java people will find usefull, is a simple hack, an extension of the special case testing suggested by A. Rex. Use a single long value as a bit array, which isn't bounds checked. That way, you have 64 bit boolean lookup.

typedef unsigned long long UVLONG
UVLONG pp1,pp2;

void init2() {
  for (int i = 0; i < 64; i++) {
    for (int j = 0; j < 64; j++)
      if (isPerfectSquare(i * 64 + j)) {
    pp1 |= (1 << j);
    pp2 |= (1 << i);
   cout << "pp1=" << pp1 << "," << pp2 << "\n";  

inline bool isPerfectSquare5(UVLONG x) {
  return pp1 & (1 << (x & 0x3F)) ? isPerfectSquare(x) : false;

The routine isPerfectSquare5 runs in about 1/3 the time on my core2 duo machine. I suspect that further tweaks along the same lines could reduce the time further on average, but every time you check, you are trading off more testing for more eliminating, so you can't go too much farther on that road.

Certainly, rather than having a separate test for negative, you could check the high 6 bits the same way.

Note that all I'm doing is eliminating possible squares, but when I have a potential case I have to call the original, inlined isPerfectSquare.

The init2 routine is called once to initialize the static values of pp1 and pp2. Note that in my implementation in C++, I'm using unsigned long long, so since you're signed, you'd have to use the >>> operator.

There is no intrinsic need to bounds check the array, but Java's optimizer has to figure this stuff out pretty quickly, so I don't blame them for that.