(**Preamble:** I first thought that this question might be more appropriate for MSE. However, I posted it here nonetheless in the hope that someone with that *brilliant idea* can help with answering my questions at the end. If this is not appropriate for MO, please let me know and I will be more than happy to migrate the question over to MSE.)

Let $\sigma(x)$ be the sum of the divisors of $x$. We say that $X$ is almost perfect if $\sigma(X) = 2X - 1$.

Antalan and Tagle (in a 2004 preprint titled *Revisiting forms of almost perfect numbers*) show that, if $M \neq 2^t$ is an even almost perfect number, then $M$ takes the form $M = {2^r}{b^2}$ where $r \geq 1$ and $b$ is an odd composite.

Recently, Antalan and Dris have been able to obtain the following bounds:
$$\dfrac{\sigma(2^r)}{b} < 1 < \dfrac{\sigma(b)}{b} < \dfrac{\sigma(b^2)}{b^2} < \dfrac{4}{3} < \dfrac{3}{2} \leq \dfrac{\sigma(2^r)}{2^r} < 2 < \dfrac{\sigma(b)}{2^r}.$$
The key ingredient in the proof is to observe that $b^2$ is deficient, so that we can write
$$\sigma(b^2) = 2b^2 - D$$
where $D = 2b^2 - \sigma(b^2)$ is the *deficiency* of $b^2$. Notice that we also have
$$D = b^2 - \dfrac{b^2 - 1}{\sigma(2^r)},$$
from which we obtain the upper bound for the *abundancy index* of $b^2$:
$$I(b^2) = \dfrac{\sigma(b^2)}{b^2} < \dfrac{4}{3},$$
by considering $r \geq 1$.

Note that, if $r > 1$, then $$\sigma(2^r) = 2^{r + 1} - 1 \geq 7,$$ so that $$D \geq b^2 - \left(\dfrac{b^2 - 1}{7}\right) = \dfrac{6b^2 + 1}{7}.$$ Consequently, $$I(b^2) = \dfrac{\sigma(b^2)}{b^2} = 2 - \dfrac{D}{b^2} \leq 2 - \left(\dfrac{6b^2 + 1}{7b^2}\right) = \dfrac{8b^2 - 1}{7b^2} = \dfrac{8}{7} - \dfrac{1}{7}\cdot\dfrac{1}{b^2} < \dfrac{8}{7}.$$

By the contrapositive, if $I(b^2) > 8/7$, then $r = 1$. (Note that it is not possible to have $I(b^2) = 8/7$.) We want to show results in the other direction.

Suppose $r = 1$. Then $$I(b^2) = \dfrac{\sigma(b^2)}{b^2} = 2 - \dfrac{D}{b^2} = 1 + \left(\dfrac{b^2 - 1}{b^2}\right)\cdot\left(\dfrac{1}{\sigma(2^1)}\right) = \dfrac{4b^2 - 1}{3b^2}.$$ Since $3 \nmid b$ (by work of Antalan) and $b$ is an odd composite, then $b \geq 5 \cdot 7 = 35$, so that $$I(b^2) = \dfrac{4}{3} + \dfrac{1}{3}\cdot\left(\dfrac{-1}{b^2}\right) \geq \dfrac{1633}{1225} \approx 1.333 > 1.\overline{142857} = \dfrac{8}{7}.$$

Consequently, we have the *improved bounds*
$$\dfrac{8}{7} < \dfrac{\sigma(b^2)}{b^2} < \dfrac{4}{3} < \dfrac{3}{2} = \dfrac{\sigma(2^1)}{2^1} = \dfrac{\sigma(2^r)}{2^r},$$
if $r = 1$, and
$$1 < \dfrac{\sigma(b^2)}{b^2} < \dfrac{8}{7} < \dfrac{7}{4} = \dfrac{\sigma(2^2)}{2^2} \leq \dfrac{\sigma(2^r)}{2^r},$$
if $r > 1$.

Now, we want to somehow obtain a contradiction by assuming $r = 1$, then try using a criterion by Dris:

$$N \hspace{0.05in} \text{is almost perfect} \iff \dfrac{2N}{N + 1} \leq \dfrac{\sigma(N)}{N} < \dfrac{2N + 1}{N + 1}.$$

**Update - October 01 2016 (11:57 PM)**
From a recent answer to this MSE post, MSE user Erick Wong asserts that: "**This leaves the sufficient condition as the only potential object of study. But the strength of the sufficiency statement grows with the size of the interval. To make the claim stronger we'd need to widen the bounds, not make them tighter.**" Dagal and myself think that, for purposes of arriving at a contradiction, we must use tighter bounds for $I(N)=\sigma(N)/N$. Are we indeed *misguided*, to use Erick's term?

Alas, here is where I get stuck.

**Added May 14 2016**

Taking off from the method in this MSE post, it is easy to show that $$r = 1 \implies \dfrac{8}{7} < I(b^2) < \dfrac{4}{3} \implies 3 \nmid b$$ $$r > 1 \implies I(b^2) < \dfrac{8}{7} \implies 7 \nmid b.$$

Note that the contrapositive of the second implication is that $$7 \mid b \implies r = 1.$$

I am not too sure, though, how these further restrictions might help with trying to obtain a contradiction under the assumption that $r = 1$.

**Questions**

(1)To what extent can the arguments in this post be optimized to yieldpotentiallyimproved numerical bounds for $I(b^2) = \sigma(b^2)/b^2$?

(2)Is the sought contradiction for proving $r > 1$ achievable under the framework presented in this post?

(3)What (hopefully constructive) suggestions can you give for improving thepartitioned boundsfor the abundancy index $I(b^2)$ for specified values of $r$?