Prime numbers, Diophantine equations, analytic number theory, algebraic number theory, arithmetic geometry, Galois theory, transcendental number theory, continued fractions

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268
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4answers
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Polynomial bijection from $\mathbb Q\times\mathbb Q$ to $\mathbb Q$?

Is there any polynomial $f(x,y)\in{\mathbb Q}[x,y]{}\ $ such that $f:\mathbb{Q}\times\mathbb{Q} \rightarrow\mathbb{Q}$ is a bijection?
186
votes
7answers
11k views

Polynomial representing all nonnegative integers

Lagrange proved that every nonnegative integer is a sum of 4 squares. Gauss proved that every nonnegative integer is a sum of 3 triangular numbers. Is there a 2-variable polynomial $f(x,y) \in ...
164
votes
7answers
81k views

Philosophy behind Mochizuki's work on the ABC conjecture

Mochizuki has recently announced a proof of the ABC conjecture. It is far too early to judge its correctness, but it builds on many years of work by him. Can someone briefly explain the philosophy ...
93
votes
11answers
13k views

Have any long-suspected irrational numbers turned out to be rational?

The history of proving numbers irrational is full of interesting stories, from the ancient proofs for $\sqrt{2}$, to Lambert's irrationality proof for $\pi$, to Roger Apéry's surprise demonstration ...
81
votes
3answers
8k views

Convergence of $\sum(n^3\sin^2n)^{-1}$

I saw a while ago in a book by Clifford Pickover, that whether $\displaystyle \sum_{n=1}^\infty\frac1{n^3\sin^2 n}$ converges is open. I would think that the question of its convergence is really ...
76
votes
11answers
15k views

Knuth's intuition that Goldbach might be unprovable

Knuth's intuition that Goldbach's conjecture (every even number greater than 2 can be written as a sum of two primes) might be one of the statements that can neither be proved nor disproved really ...
71
votes
6answers
8k views

Why does the Riemann zeta function have non-trivial zeros?

This is a very basic question of course, and exposes my serious ignorance of analytic number theory, but what I am looking for is a good intuitive explanation rather than a formal proof (though a ...
69
votes
4answers
25k views

Philosophy behind Yitang Zhang's work on the Twin Primes Conjecture

Yitang Zhang recently published a new attack on the Twin Primes Conjecture. Quoting Andre Granville : “The big experts in the field had already tried to make this approach work,” Granville ...
65
votes
9answers
7k views

Why is the Gamma function shifted from the factorial by 1?

I've asked this question in every math class where the teacher has introduced the Gamma function, and never gotten a satisfactory answer. Not only does it seem more natural to extend the factorial ...
62
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6answers
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Does Zhang's theorem generalize to $3$ or more primes in an interval of fixed length?

Let $p_n$ be the $n$-th prime number, as usual: $p_1 = 2$, $p_2 = 3$, $p_3 = 5$, $p_4 = 7$, etc. For $k=1,2,3,\ldots$, define $$ g_k = \liminf_{n \rightarrow \infty} (p_{n+k} - p_n). $$ Thus the twin ...
57
votes
2answers
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Is it known that the ring of periods is not a field?

I have just learned here that we know numbers that are not periods; is it known meanwhile that the ring of periods is not a field? I know that it is conjectured that $1/\pi$ is not a period, but the ...
56
votes
2answers
4k views

Riemann hypothesis via absolute geometry

Several leading mathematicians (e.g. Yuri Manin) have written or said publicly that there is a known outline of a likely natural proof of the Riemann hypothesis using absolute algebraic geometry over ...
54
votes
7answers
3k views

Open project: Let's compute the Fourier expansion of a non-solvable algebraic Maass form.

OK so let's see if I can use MO to explicitly compute an example of something, by getting other people to join in. Sort of "one level up"---often people answer questions here but I'm going to see if I ...
53
votes
9answers
5k views

Why should I believe the Mordell Conjecture?

It was Faltings who first proved in 1983 the Mordell conjecture, that a curve of genus 2 or more over a number field has only finitely many rational points. I am interested to know why Mordell and ...
53
votes
10answers
6k views

“Understanding” Gal(\bar Q/Q)

I have heard people say that a major goal of number theory is to understand the absolute Galois group of the rational numbers G = Gal(Q bar/Q). What do people mean when they say this? The ...
53
votes
6answers
5k views

Existence of a zero-sum subset

Some time ago I heard this question and tried playing around with it. I've never succeeded to making actual progress. Here it goes: Given a finite (nonempty) set of real numbers, $S=\{a_1,a_2,\dots, ...
52
votes
21answers
12k views

What's the “best” proof of quadratic reciprocity?

For my purposes, you may want to interpret "best" as "clearest and easiest to understand for undergrads in a first number theory course," but don't feel too constrained.
52
votes
1answer
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Is there a “classical” proof of this $j$-value congruence?

Let $j: \mathbf{C} - \mathbf{R} \rightarrow \mathbf{C}$ denote the classical $j$-function from the theory of elliptic functions. That is, $j(\tau)$ is the $j$-invariant of the elliptic curve ...
52
votes
3answers
2k views

Perron number distribution

A Perron number is a real algebraic integer $\lambda$ that is larger than the absolute value of any of its Galois conjugates. The Perron-Frobenius theorem says that any non-negative integer matrix $M$ ...
51
votes
35answers
9k views

Where is number theory used in the rest of mathematics?

Where is number theory used in the rest of mathematics? To put it another way: what interesting questions are there that don't appear to be about number theory, but need number theory in order to ...
51
votes
4answers
6k views

How small can a sum of a few roots of unity be?

Let $n$ be a large natural number, and let $z_1, \ldots, z_{10}$ be (say) ten $n^{th}$ roots of unity: $z_1^n = \ldots = z_{10}^n = 1$. Suppose that the sum $S = z_1+\ldots+z_{10}$ is non-zero. How ...
50
votes
5answers
19k views

Consequences of the Riemann hypothesis

I assume a number of results have been proven conditionally on the Riemann hypothesis, of course in number theory and maybe in other fields. What are the most relevant you know? It would also be nice ...
49
votes
11answers
4k views

Why certain diophantine equations are interesting (and others are not) ?

It is quite clear why certain differential equations, among the jungle of possible diff equations that is possible to conceive, are studied: some come from physical problems, or from "spontaneous" ...
49
votes
1answer
3k views

Smooth proper scheme over Z

Does every smooth proper morphism $X \to \operatorname{Spec} \mathbf{Z}$ with $X$ nonempty have a section? EDIT [Bjorn gave additional information in a comment below, which I am recopying here. -- ...
48
votes
2answers
3k views

The inverse Galois problem and the Monster

I have a slight interest in both the inverse Galois problem and in the Monster group. I learned some time ago that all of the sporadic simple groups, with the exception of the Mathieu group $M_{23}$, ...
47
votes
4answers
5k views

Etale cohomology — Why study it?

I know (at least I think I know) that some of the main motivating problems in the development of etale cohomology were the Weil conjectures. I'd like to know what other problems one can solve using ...
47
votes
3answers
4k views

Is there a “Basic Number Theory” for elliptic curves?

Tate's thesis showed how to profitably analyze $\zeta$ functions of number fields in terms of adelic points on the multiplicative group. In particular, combining Fourier analysis and topology, Tate ...
47
votes
3answers
3k views

Can a positive binary quadratic form represent 14 consecutive numbers?

NEW CONJECTURE: There is no general upper bound. Wadim Zudilin suggested that I make this a separate question. This follows representability of consecutive integers by a binary quadratic form where ...
46
votes
5answers
8k views

Inaccessible cardinals and Andrew Wiles's proof

In a recent issue of New Scientist (16 Aug 2010), I was surprised to read that a part of Wiles' proof of Taniyama-Shimura conjecture relies on inaccessible cardinals. Here's the link: ...
46
votes
7answers
4k views

How does “modern” number theory contribute to further understanding of $\mathbb{N}$?

I hope this question is appropriate for MO. It comes from a genuine desire to understand the big picture and ground my own studies "morally". I'm a graduate student with interest in number theory. I ...
46
votes
3answers
3k views

Are there infinitely many integer-valued polynomials dominated by $1.9^n$ on all of $\mathbb{N}$?

The original post is below. Question 1 was solved in the negative by David Speyer, and the title has now been changed to reflect Question 2, which turned out to be the more difficult one. A bounty of ...
46
votes
1answer
2k views

A function whose fixed points are the primes

If $a(n) = (\text{largest proper divisor of } n)$, let $f:\mathbb{N} \setminus \{ 0,1\} \to \mathbb{N}$ be defined by $f(n) = n+a(n)-1$. For instance, $f(100)=100+50-1=149$. Clearly the fixed points ...
46
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0answers
3k views

The topology of Arithmetic Progressions of primes

The primary motivation for this question is the following: I would like to extract some topological statistics which capture how arithmetic progressions of prime numbers "fit together" in a manner ...
45
votes
2answers
3k views

Non-abelian class field theory and fundamental groups

Over the years, I've been somewhat in the habit of asking questions in this vein to experts in the Langlands programme. As is well known, given an algebraic number field $K$, they propose to replace ...
45
votes
2answers
4k views

What is the status of the Gauss Circle Problem?

For $r > 0$, let $L(r) = \# \{ (x,y) \in \mathbb{Z}^2 \ | \ x^2 + y^2 \leq r^2\}$ be the number of lattice points lying on or inside the standard circle of radius $r$. It is easy to see that $L(r) ...
45
votes
0answers
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Grothendieck-Teichmuller conjecture

(1) In "Esquisse d'un programme", Grothendieck conjectures Grothendieck-Teichmuller conjecture: the morphism $$ G_{\mathbb{Q}} \longrightarrow Aut(\widehat{T}) $$ is an isomorphism. Here ...
44
votes
9answers
9k views

Galois Groups vs. Fundamental Groups

In a recent blog post Terry Tao mentions in passing that: "Class groups...are arithmetic analogues of the (abelianised) fundamental groups in topology, with Galois groups serving as the analogue of ...
44
votes
3answers
5k views

who fixed the topology on ideles?

I am teaching a course leading up to Tate's thesis and I told the students last week, when defining ideles, that the first topology that was put on the ideles was not so good (e.g., it was not ...
44
votes
2answers
4k views

Galoisian sets of prime numbers

The question is about characterising the sets $S(K)$ of primes which split completely in a given galoisian extension $K|\mathbb{Q}$. Do recent results such as Serre's modularity conjecture (as proved ...
43
votes
5answers
4k views

Does anyone know a polynomial whose lack of roots can't be proved?

In Ebbinghaus-Flum-Thomas's Introduction to Mathematical Logic, the following assertion is made: If ZFC is consistent, then one can obtain a polynomial $P(x_1, ..., x_n)$ which has no roots in the ...
42
votes
12answers
4k views

Is there a high-concept explanation for why characteristic 2 is special?

The structure of the multiplicative groups of Z/pZ or of Zp is the same for odd primes, but not for 2. Quadratic reciprocity has a uniform statement for odd primes, but an extra statement for 2. So ...
42
votes
4answers
3k views

Degree of sum of algebraic numbers

This is an elementary question (coming from an undergraduate student) about algebraic numbers, to which I don't have a complete answer. Let $a$ and $b$ be algebraic numbers, with respective degrees ...
42
votes
3answers
2k views

What is the limit of gcd(1! + 2! + … + (n-1)! , n!) ?

Let $s_n = \sum_{i=1}^{n-1} i!$ and let $g_n = \gcd (s_n, n!)$. Then it is easy to see that $g_n$ divides $g_{n+1}$. The first few values of $g_n$, starting at $n=2$ are $1, 3, 3, 3, 9, 9, 9, 9, 9, ...
41
votes
8answers
4k views

The inverse Galois problem, what is it good for?

Several years ago I attended a colloquium talk of an expert in Galois theory. He motivated some of his work on its relation with the inverse Galois problem. During the talk, a guy from the audience ...
41
votes
4answers
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Zagier's one-sentence proof of Fermat's theorem.

Zagier has a very short proof ( MR1041893) for the fact that every prime number $p$ of the form $4k+1$ is the sum of two squares. The proof defines an involution of the set $S= \lbrace (x,y,z) \in ...
41
votes
6answers
2k views

Are all zeros of $\Gamma(s) \pm \Gamma(1-s)$ on a line with real part = $\frac12$ ?

The function $\Gamma(s)$ does not have zeros, but $\Gamma(s)\pm \Gamma(1-s)$ does. Ignoring the real solutions for now and assuming $s \in \mathbb{C}$ then: $\Gamma(s)-\Gamma(1-s)$ yields zeros at: ...
41
votes
6answers
3k views

What are the local Langlands conjectures nowadays, for connected reductive groups over a $p$-adic field?

Let me stress that I am only interested in $p$-adic fields in this question, for reasons that will become clear later. Let me also stress that in some sense I am basically assuming that the reader ...
41
votes
3answers
1k views

What is the geometry of an undecidable diophantine equation?

As an arithmetic algebraic geometer of the highest moral fiber, I am trained to look at Diophantine equations in terms of the geometry of the corresponding scheme. For instance, if the Diophantine ...
41
votes
6answers
3k views

Algebraic Attacks on the Odd Perfect Number Problem

The odd perfect number problem likely needs no introduction. Recent progress (where by recent I mean roughly the last two centuries) seems to have focused on providing restrictions on an odd perfect ...
41
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1answer
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Which small finite simple groups are not yet known to be Galois groups over Q?

The subject line pretty much says it all. To expand just a little bit: 1) What is the smallest simple group that is not yet known to occur as a Galois group over $\mathbb{Q}$? (Variants: not known ...