Here are 3 theorems of varying difficulty. Let $M$ be the $Z/2$ subspace of $Z/2[[x]]$ spanned by $f^k$, with the $k>0$ and odd, and $f=x+x^9+x^{25}+x^{49}+\cdots$. For $g$ in $M$, let $S(g)$ consist of the primes, $p$, for which the coefficient of $x^p$ in $g$ is 1. Note that each $p$ in $S(f^k)$ is congruent to $k$ mod 8.

T1.----- If $k=3 {\rm\ or\ } 5$, $S(f^k)$ consists of the $p$ that are $k$ mod 8

T2.----- $S(f^7)$ consists of the $p$ that are 7 mod 16

T3.----- If $k=19 {\rm\ or\ } 21$, then $S(f^k)$ consists of the $p$ that are $k$ or $k+8$ mod 32.

To prove T1 when $k=3$, we write $f^k$ as $f*f^2$ and use the fact that if $p$ is 3 mod 8, then $p$ is uniquely the sum of a square and twice a square. When $k=5$ we argue similarly using Fermat's two square theorem.

As I indicated in a comment on a recent MO question of Joel Bellaiche, "Primes and x^2+2y^2+4z^2" ,T2 follows from a result of Hasse on the class number of $Q(\sqrt{-2p})$, using Gauss' theorem that the number of representations of $2p$ as a sum of 3 squares is 12*(this class number). Hasse's proof is an application of the Gauss theory of genera and ambiguous forms.

T3 is thornier. Because $f$ is the mod 2 reduction of (the Fourier expansion of) the normalized weight 12 cusp form for the full modular group, each $g$ is the mod 2 reduction of a modular form of integral weight. A profound result of Deligne, relating Hecke eigenforms to Galois representations, then shows that $S(g)$ is a "Frobenian set". Nicolas, Serre and Bellaiche, continuing in this vein, developed a theory of level 1 modular forms in characteristic 2 that led to more precise results. Their investigations motivated me to try to determine $S(f^k)$ empirically for small $k$, and I was led to conjecture T3. Joel then applied his methods to give a proof. But this is very hard, and so I ask:


Does there exist an "elementary proof" of T3, using the theory of binary quadratic forms, along the lines of the Hasse-Gauss argument?

EDIT: Motivated by my recent simple proof of T2 (see my answer to the question of Joel cited above), I've found arguments that ought to reduce the proof of T3 to Sage calculations. The point is that forms of weight 2 are easier to deal with than forms of weight 3/2, so one should work with quadratic forms in 4 variables rather than in 3, even when the genera that arise have more than 1 class in them. Here's the idea of my argument for f21.

Let p be a prime that is 5 mod 8. Writing $f^{21}$ as $(f)(f^2)(f^2)(f^{16})$ we find that if $R$ is (1/16)*(the number of representations of $p$ by $G_1=x^2+2y^2+2z^2+16t^2$ with $x,y,z$ and $t$ all odd), then $p$ is in $S(f^21)$ if and only if $R$ is odd. Now since $p$ is 5 mod 8, in any representation of $p$ by $G_1$, $x,y$ and $z$ must be odd. So if we set $G_2=x^2+2y^2+2z^2+64t^2$ then $R=(N1-N2)/16$, where $N_1$ and $N_2$ are the numbers of representations of $p$ by $G_1$ and $G_2$ respectively. Now write $p$ as $a^2+4b^2$ with $a$ and $b$ congruent to 1 mod 4. Computer calculations indicate:

Conjecture 1. $N_1=p+1+2a$

Conjecture 2. $N_2=((p+1)/2)+a+4b$

If these conjectures hold then $R=(p+1+2a-8b)/32$. The numerator here is $4(b-1)^2 +(a+3)(a-1)$, which mod 64 is $(a+3)(a-1)$. So $R$ has the same parity as $(a+3)(a-1)/32$ and is odd just when $a$ is $5$ or $9$ mod $16$. Now mod $32$, $p=a^2+4$. So $R$ is odd just when $p$ is $29$ or $85$ mod $32$, and so the conjectures imply Joel's result for $S(f^21)$.

How does one attack the conjectures? The theta series attached to $G_1$ and $G_2$ are modular forms for $\Gamma_0 (64)$ and $\Gamma_0 (256)$ respectively. If the conjectures are to hold it seems that each of these theta series should be a linear combination of Eisenstein series and cusp forms attached to Grossencharaktere for $\mathbb Q(i)$. It should be possible, using Sage, to get an explicit formulation of this, and prove the conjectures.

My proposed treatment of $S(f^{19})$ is entirely similar. Suppose $p$ is $3$ mod $8$. Writing $f^{19}$ as $(f)(f)(f)(f^{16})$ and arguing as above we find that if we take $H_1$ and $H_2$ to be $x^2+y^2+z^2+16t^2$ and $x^2+y^2+z^2+64t^2$ respectively, and let $N_1$ and $N_2$ be the number of representations of $p$ by $H_1$ and $H_2$, then $p$ is in $S(f^{19})$ just when $R=(N_1-N_2)/16$ is odd. Now Jacobi's 4 square theorem, (see the argument in my answer to Joel's question), shows that $N_1$ is $2(p+1)$. Write $p$ as $a^2+2b^2$ with $a =1$ or 3 mod 8. The computer suggests:

Conjecture 3. $N_2=p+1+4a$

So if the conjecture holds, $R=(p+1-4a)/16$, and one sees easily that this is odd just when $p$ is 19 or 27 mod 32. Once again the theta series attached to H2 is a modular form for $\Gamma_0 (256)$. The conjecture indicates that it should be a linear combination of Eisenstein series and cusp forms attached to Grossencharaktere for $\mathbb Q(\sqrt{-2})$; all this should admit a proof using Sage.



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