For integers $m\geq 1$ let $\sigma(m)$ the sum of divisors function $\sum_{1\leq d\mid m}d$ and let $\psi(m)$ the Dedekind psi function (as reference I add the Wikipedia Dedekind psi function), then there exist integers $n\geq 1$ that satisfy $$\psi(\sigma(n))=2n.\tag{1}$$ I don't know it this equation is in the literature, compare this equation with the equation studied in the second page of [1] (or well from the last paragraph of the article Totient Function from the encyclopedia Wolfram MathWorld).

Up to $10^4$ these solutions are $n=2,3,4,16,64$ and $4096$. I believe that this sequence isn't in the OEIS, I've searched also the string psi(sigma(n)). It is easy to prove the following statement.

Claim. If $2^{\alpha+1}-1$ is a Mersenne prime, then $n=2^{\alpha}$ is a solution of the equation $(1)$.

Question. I would like to know if it is possible to do more work about the solutions of the equation $$\psi(\sigma(n))=2n.$$ What additional and reasonable* work can be done about it? Many thanks.

*I'm asking about if we can deduce more statements about the solutions (characterization of solutions and if there exist finitely/infinitely many solutions) of $(1)$.

Remarks. The functions $\sigma(n)$ and $\psi(n)$ are multuiplicative. It is unknown if there exist infinitely many Mersenne primes. As a side remark the integer $n=3$ also is a solution, for which $2n-1=5\in$A175611 from the OEIS.


[1] L. Alaoglu and P. Erdös, A conjecture in elementary number theory, Bull. Amer. Math. Soc. Volume 50, Number 12 (1944), 881-882.

  • 2
    $\begingroup$ Why A175611 is relevant? $\endgroup$ Commented Nov 22, 2019 at 15:33
  • $\begingroup$ Many thanks for your attention @MaxAlekseyev It is a side comment because I don't know what is the relationship between the equation $\psi(\sigma(n))=2n$ and the sequences A175611 versus A000668 (Mersenne primes) from the OEIS. See the Claim. $\endgroup$
    – user142929
    Commented Nov 22, 2019 at 15:47
  • $\begingroup$ All, I was inspired to state previous Claim for the equation $\psi(\sigma(n))=2n$ after I've known the comments for the sequence A001229 from the OEIS. $\endgroup$
    – user142929
    Commented Nov 22, 2019 at 16:40
  • $\begingroup$ As continuation of this post I wondered today if it is possible to prove that if $n\geq 1$ is an integer satisfying $2n\psi(n)=\sum_{1\leq d\mid n}\psi(dn)$ then $n$ is an even perfect number. The other direction $\Leftarrow$ is easy. I don't know if it is in the literature (I wrote also a variant involving the Euler's totient function) or it is easy to check. I hope don't disturb, isn't required a response of this comment and thanks again for your attention @MaxAlekseyev $\endgroup$
    – user142929
    Commented Apr 1, 2020 at 12:15

1 Answer 1


There are no other solutions than $n=3$ and those from Claim: $n=2^{p-1}$ such that $2^p-1$ is prime.

Consider several cases.

  1. $n=2^ks$ is even (here $k\geqslant 1$ and $s$ is odd). Then $$\frac{\psi(\sigma(n))}{n}=\frac{\psi((2^{k+1}-1)\sigma(s))}{(2^{k+1}-1)\sigma(s)}\cdot \frac{2^{k+1}-1}{2^k}\cdot \frac{\sigma(s)}s.\quad(1)$$ Note that $$\frac{\psi(ab)}{ab}=\prod_{p|ab}\left(1+\frac1p\right)\geqslant \prod_{p|a}\left(1+\frac1p\right)=\frac{\psi(a)}a$$ for positive integers $a,b$, therefore $$ \frac{\psi((2^{k+1}-1)\sigma(s))}{(2^{k+1}-1)\sigma(s)}\geqslant \frac{\psi(2^{k+1}-1)}{2^{k+1}-1}\geqslant \frac{2^{k+1}}{2^{k+1}-1},\quad (2) $$ the last inequality holds due to $k\geqslant 1$ and turns into equality if and only if $2^{k+1}-1$ is a Mersenne prime. Substitute (2) to (1), we get $$ \frac{\psi(\sigma(n))}{n}\geqslant \frac{2^{k+1}}{2^{k+1}-1}\cdot \frac{2^{k+1}-1}{2^k}\cdot \frac{\sigma(s)}s=2\frac{\sigma(s)}s\geqslant 2, $$ with equality if and only if $s=1$ and $2^{k+1}-1$ is a Mersenne prime. So for even $n$ all solutions come from Claim.

  2. $n$ is odd. Denote $\sigma(n)=p_1^{\alpha_1}\ldots p_m^{\alpha_m}$. Then $2n=\psi(\sigma(n))=(p_1^{\alpha_1}+p_1^{\alpha_1-1})\ldots (p_m^{\alpha_m}+p_m^{\alpha_m-1})$. Note that $p_i^{\alpha_i}+p_i^{\alpha_i-1}$ is even unless $p_i^{\alpha_i}=2$. But $2n$ is not divisible by 4, therefore either

(i) $m=1$ and $\sigma(n)=p^{\alpha}$; or

(ii) $m=2$ and $\sigma(n)=2p^{\alpha-1}$ for odd $p$.

In the case (i) we get $n=\frac{p+1}2 p^{\alpha-1}$. If $p=2$, then since $n$ should be odd we get $\alpha=2$, $n=3$. It is a solution. If $p$ is odd and $\alpha\geqslant 2$, then $p^\alpha=\sigma(n)=\sigma(\frac{p+1}2)\sigma(p^{\alpha-1})$, but $\sigma(p^{\alpha-1})$ is greater than 1 and not dividible by $p$. If $\alpha=1$, we get $\sigma(\frac{p+1}2)=p$. Then $n=\frac{p+1}2=q^s$ for a prime $q$ (otherwise $\sigma(\frac{p+1}2)$ is composite), $q$ is odd (since $q|n$) and $$2q^s-1=p=\sigma(n)=q^s+q^{s-1}+\ldots+1$$ that fails modulo $q$.

In the case (ii) we get $n=3\frac{p+1}2p^{\alpha-1}$ and $$\sigma(n)\geqslant n+\frac{n}3=2(p+1)p^{\alpha-1}>2p^\alpha,$$ a contradiction.

  • $\begingroup$ Many thanks I've understand all details. While I know that the theorems that great mathematicians, you and your colleagues of this MO, prove are more difficult and abstract than my question, let me tell you that I was impressed for your proof. I would like to dedicate thus your theorem to your excellence and the excellence of your colleagues. $\endgroup$
    – user142929
    Commented Dec 1, 2019 at 13:02
  • $\begingroup$ How are you getting that $2n=\psi(\sigma(n))=(p_1^{\alpha_1}+p_1^{\alpha_1-1})\ldots (p_m^{\alpha_m}+p_m^{\alpha_m-1})$? $\endgroup$
    – JoshuaZ
    Commented Dec 1, 2019 at 13:46
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    $\begingroup$ @JoshuaZ $2n=\psi(\sigma(n))$ is given, then use the formula for $\psi(m)=m\prod_{p|m} (1+1/p)$ for $m=\sigma(n)$. $\endgroup$ Commented Dec 1, 2019 at 14:55
  • $\begingroup$ Unrelated to my post: I'm trying to create other problems related to the Dedekind psi function, for example the congruence $n^2\equiv 1\text{ mod }\psi(n)$ from the MSE post with identificator 3693681 or equations like as $\psi(n)=\operatorname{rad}(n)^4$ from the MSE post with identificator 3694108 . I add this comment if you or the professor @JoshuaZ , or for other persons that can be interested to read the nice answers of MSE. I try to enrich the literature of problems concerning the Dedekind psi function (see also MathOverflow questions with identificators 358913 or 346742) $\endgroup$
    – user142929
    Commented May 29, 2020 at 16:50

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