An efficient Prime number generation algorithm (Java)

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Given a number n, print all primes smaller than or equal to n. 

For example, if n is 10, the output should be “2, 3, 5, 7″. If n is 20, the output should be “2, 3, 5, 7, 11, 13, 17, 19″.

The sieve of Eratosthenes is one of the most efficient ways to find all primes smaller than n when n is not too large.

Leetcode. Count Primes: https://leetcode.com/problems/count-primes/

Here is the basic idea of this algorithm:

  1. Build a table or an array with n numbers from 1 to n. 
  2. For each number k , if it is prime, then remove all the numbers: k*k , (k+1)*k, .... (k+x) * k, where (k + x) * k <= n.
  3. The remaining elements in the table are primes less than n. 

Example

To find all the prime numbers less than or equal to 30, proceed as follows.

First generate a list of integers from 2 to 30:

 2  3  4  5  6  7  8  9  10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 29 30

First number in the list is 2; cross out every 2nd number in the list after it by counting up from 2 in increments of 2 (these will be all the multiples of 2 in the list):

 2  3  4  5  6  7  8  9  10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 29 30

Next number in the list after 2 is 3; cross out every 3rd number in the list after it by counting up from 3 in increments of 3 (these will be all the multiples of 3 in the list):

 2  3  4  5  6  7  8  9  10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 29 30

Next number not yet crossed out in the list after 3 is 5; cross out every 5th number in the list after it by counting up from 5 in increments of 5 (i.e. all the multiples of 5):

 2  3  4  5  6  7  8  9  10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 29 30

Next number not yet crossed out in the list after 5 is 7; the next step would be to cross out every 7th number in the list after 7, but they are all already crossed out at this point, as these numbers (14, 21, 28) are also multiples of smaller primes because 7*7 is greater than 30. The numbers left not crossed out in the list at this point are all the prime numbers below 30:

 2  3     5     7           11    13          17    19          23                29

The following is the implementation in Java: