I am looking for a formula for the maximal order of an element in GL(n,p), where p is prime.
I recall seeing such a formula in a paper from the mid or early 20th century, but could not find again this reference. I will be grateful for any hint.
I am looking for a formula for the maximal order of an element in GL(n,p), where p is prime. I recall seeing such a formula in a paper from the mid or early 20th century, but could not find again this reference. I will be grateful for any hint. 


Well, by HamiltonCayley, each matrix $A\in {\rm GL}(n,p)$ generates an at most $n$dimensional subalgebra ${\mathbb F}_p[A]\subseteq M(n,p)$ thus containing at most $p^n1$ nonzero elements. Hence the order of $A$ cannot exceed $p^n1$. On the other hand, consider a degree $n$ monic polynomial $P_n$ whose root is a generator $\xi$ of ${\mathbb F}_{p^n}^*$. Then a matrix with $P_n$ as its characteristic polynomial has order at least $p^n1$ since $\xi$ is its eigenvalue. ADDENDUM. if you wish the order to be the power of $p$, then the answer is $d=p^{\lceil \log_p n\rceil}$. Since the order of $A$ is divisible by the multiplicative orders of its eigenvalues, all the eigenvalues should be $1$. Hence the characteristic polynomial is $(x1)^n$, so $A^dI=(AI)^d=0$. On the other hand, if $A=I+J$ is the Jordan cell of size $n$ (with eigenvalue 1), then $A^{d/p}=I^{d/p}+J^{d/p}\neq I$, but $A^d=I+J^d=I$. NB. The subgroup of all (upper)unitriangular matrices is a Sylow $p$subgroup in ${\rm GL}(n,p)$. So you may concentrate on it when looking at the elements of this kind. 

