Birch has a conjecture about which automorphic forms on $PGL(2)$ are the lifts from nonsplit $O(3)$. Temporarily ignore global issues, and focus on the local nonarchimedian picture. The automorphic representations of $PGL(2)$ are representations of $GL(2)$ with trivial central character, and Jacquet-Langlands describes the ones that come from representations of $D^{\times}$ where $D$ is a definite quaternion algebra. (Supposedly: I've not found where in the book that result is) Then using the fact that $D^{\times}$ is a double cover of the nonsplit $SO(3)$, we should be able to prove Birch's conjecture. However, this requires a description of the representations of $D^{\times}$ that includes the central characters as a representation of $D^{\times}$. Does this appear somewhere in Jacquet-Langlands, or do people have some other source? Or is this line of reasoning insufficient to get Birch's conjecture?

In the case of squarefree levels we can avoid supercuspidals, so a description that only works for the principal series and the Steinberg (and twists of Steinberg) suffices.

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    $\begingroup$ Can you give a reference for this conjecture of Birch? $\endgroup$ Jan 20, 2016 at 18:03
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    $\begingroup$ Birch, B.J. "Hecke actions on classes of ternary quadratic forms". Computational Number Theory: Proceedings of the Colloquium on Computational Number Theory held at Kossus Lajos University. de Gruyter, 1991.books.google.com/… $\endgroup$ Jan 21, 2016 at 1:46
  • $\begingroup$ There are a couple of things that don't make sense. "The nonsplit SO(3)" - it is not unique if you're working over global field. $D^\times$ is an infinite cover of an SO(3). Anyway, why don't you just work with $PD^\times$? $\endgroup$
    – Kimball
    Feb 2, 2016 at 22:17
  • $\begingroup$ @Kimball I think I mentally included only the units in my $D^{x}$, and picked $x^2+y^2+z^2$ as the "right thing". The reason I want to do this is that the paramodular forms Jeffery Hein and I computed are the ones that happen in an analogous situation in $GU_{2}(D)$ vs $O(5)$. $\endgroup$ Feb 3, 2016 at 2:44
  • $\begingroup$ Well then, if I understand what you're asking, then yes you can do it representation theoretically, or just in terms of level/holomorphicity for squarefree level. I wrote this as an answer, but let me know if I misunderstood your question. $\endgroup$
    – Kimball
    Feb 3, 2016 at 3:12

1 Answer 1


I haven't looked at Birch's conjecture, but yes, Jacquet and Langlands characterize the image of of their transfer. Here is what it is in terms of representation theory. Fix a quaternion division algebra $D$ over a number field $F$. Let $S$ be the set of places at which $D/F$ is ramified. Then a cuspidal automorphic representation $\pi$ of $GL_2(\mathbb A_F)$ lies in the image of the Jacquet-Langlands correspondence from $D^\times(\mathbb A_F)$ if and only if $\pi_v$ is discrete series at each $v \in S$ (for finite places, this means a twist of Steinberg or supercuspidal). The correspondence preserves central characters, so this descends to a correspondence from $PD^\times = D^\times/F^\times$ to $PGL(2)$. Note $PD^\times$ is a form of $SO(3)$.

In particular if $F=\mathbb Q$ and you want to work with squarefree level, locally on $PGL(2)$ you can only get Steinberg or a quadratic twist at primes dividing the level. Let $M$ be the product of the finite primes where $D$ ramifies. If $D$ is definite, then you get all holomorphic cusp forms of level $MN$, where $N$ is prime to $M$. If $D$ is indefinite, you get both holomorphic and nonholomorphic forms. If $N$ is not prime to $M$, there's no simple way to determine which holomorphic forms come from $D$ except in terms of representation theory (because you'd need to distinguish between ramified principal series versus special and supercuspidal).

There are various surveys that describe this, e.g., Gelbart's book on GL(2), or his Lectures on the Arthur-Selberg trace formula.

  • $\begingroup$ So I got this far, with Gelbart's book on GL(2) but then couldn't figure out the connection to O(3) locally. $\endgroup$ Feb 3, 2016 at 3:48
  • $\begingroup$ @WatsonLadd I'm confused---are you working with SO(3) or O(3)? If you work with SO(3), then you get forms on PGL(2), but if you start with O(3), then you get forms on SL(2), right? $\endgroup$
    – Kimball
    Feb 3, 2016 at 4:12
  • $\begingroup$ SO(3), as we're taking trivial weight to start. $\endgroup$ Feb 3, 2016 at 16:04
  • $\begingroup$ @WatsonLadd Well, SO(3) is $PD^\times$. I added this to the answer. Does this answer your question now? $\endgroup$
    – Kimball
    Feb 3, 2016 at 23:26
  • $\begingroup$ It tells me there is something deeper going on, as we only get the ones with -1 as Atkin-Lehner eigenvalue. $\endgroup$ Feb 4, 2016 at 4:36

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