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Let ${V}$ be a quasiprojective variety defined over a finite field ${{\bf F}_q}$, thus for instance ${V}$ could be an affine variety

$\displaystyle V = \{ x \in {\bf A}^d: P_1(x) = \dots = P_m(x) = 0\} \ \ \ \ \ (1)$

where ${{\bf A}^d}$ is ${d}$-dimensional affine space and ${P_1,\dots,P_m: {\bf A}^d \rightarrow {\bf A}}$ are a finite collection of polynomials with coefficients in ${{\bf F}_q}$. Then one can define the set ${V[{\bf F}_q]}$ of ${{\bf F}_q}$-rational points, and more generally the set ${V[{\bf F}_{q^n}]}$ of ${{\bf F}_{q^n}}$-rational points for any ${n \geq 1}$, since ${{\bf F}_{q^n}}$ can be viewed as a field extension of ${{\bf F}_q}$. Thus for instance in the affine case (1) we have

$\displaystyle V[{\bf F}_{q^n}] := \{ x \in {\bf F}_{q^n}^d: P_1(x) = \dots = P_m(x) = 0\}.$

The Weil conjectures are concerned with understanding the number

$\displaystyle S_n := |V[{\bf F}_{q^n}]| \ \ \ \ \ (2)$

of ${{\bf F}_{q^n}}$-rational points over a variety ${V}$. The first of these conjectures was proven by Dwork, and can be phrased as follows.

Theorem 1 (Rationality of the zeta function) Let ${V}$ be a quasiprojective variety defined over a finite field ${{\bf F}_q}$, and let ${S_n}$ be given by (2). Then there exist a finite number of algebraic integers ${\alpha_1,\dots,\alpha_k, \beta_1,\dots,\beta_{k'} \in O_{\overline{{\bf Q}}}}$ (known as characteristic values of ${V}$), such that

$\displaystyle S_n = \alpha_1^n + \dots + \alpha_k^n - \beta_1^n - \dots - \beta_{k'}^n$

for all ${n \geq 1}$.

After cancelling, we may of course assume that ${\alpha_i \neq \beta_j}$ for any ${i=1,\dots,k}$ and ${j=1,\dots,k'}$, and then it is easy to see (as we will see below) that the ${\alpha_1,\dots,\alpha_k,\beta_1,\dots,\beta_{k'}}$ become uniquely determined up to permutations of the ${\alpha_1,\dots,\alpha_k}$ and ${\beta_1,\dots,\beta_{k'}}$. These values are known as the characteristic values of ${V}$. Since ${S_n}$ is a rational integer (i.e. an element of ${{\bf Z}}$) rather than merely an algebraic integer (i.e. an element of the ring of integers ${O_{\overline{{\bf Q}}}}$ of the algebraic closure ${\overline{{\bf Q}}}$ of ${{\bf Q}}$), we conclude from the above-mentioned uniqueness that the set of characteristic values are invariant with respect to the Galois group ${Gal(\overline{{\bf Q}} / {\bf Q} )}$. To emphasise this Galois invariance, we will not fix a specific embedding ${\iota_\infty: \overline{{\bf Q}} \rightarrow {\bf C}}$ of the algebraic numbers into the complex field ${{\bf C} = {\bf C}_\infty}$, but work with all such embeddings simultaneously. (Thus, for instance, ${\overline{{\bf Q}}}$ contains three cube roots of ${2}$, but which of these is assigned to the complex numbers ${2^{1/3}}$, ${e^{2\pi i/3} 2^{1/3}}$, ${e^{4\pi i/3} 2^{1/3}}$ will depend on the choice of embedding ${\iota_\infty}$.)

An equivalent way of phrasing Dwork’s theorem is that the (${T}$-form of the) zeta function

$\displaystyle \zeta_V(T) := \exp( \sum_{n=1}^\infty \frac{S_n}{n} T^n )$

associated to ${V}$ (which is well defined as a formal power series in ${T}$, at least) is equal to a rational function of ${T}$ (with the ${\alpha_1,\dots,\alpha_k}$ and ${\beta_1,\dots,\beta_{k'}}$ being the poles and zeroes of ${\zeta_V}$ respectively). Here, we use the formal exponential

$\displaystyle \exp(X) := 1 + X + \frac{X^2}{2!} + \frac{X^3}{3!} + \dots.$

Equivalently, the (${s}$-form of the) zeta-function ${s \mapsto \zeta_V(q^{-s})}$ is a meromorphic function on the complex numbers ${{\bf C}}$ which is also periodic with period ${2\pi i/\log q}$, and which has only finitely many poles and zeroes up to this periodicity.

Dwork’s argument relies primarily on ${p}$-adic analysis – an analogue of complex analysis, but over an algebraically complete (and metrically complete) extension ${{\bf C}_p}$ of the ${p}$-adic field ${{\bf Q}_p}$, rather than over the Archimedean complex numbers ${{\bf C}}$. The argument is quite effective, and in particular gives explicit upper bounds for the number ${k+k'}$ of characteristic values in terms of the complexity of the variety ${V}$; for instance, in the affine case (1) with ${V}$ of degree ${D}$, Bombieri used Dwork’s methods (in combination with Deligne’s theorem below) to obtain the bound ${k+k' \leq (4D+9)^{2d+1}}$, and a subsequent paper of Hooley established the slightly weaker bound ${k+k' \leq (11D+11)^{d+m+2}}$ purely from Dwork’s methods (a similar bound had also been pointed out in unpublished work of Dwork). In particular, one has bounds that are uniform in the field ${{\bf F}_q}$, which is an important fact for many analytic number theory applications.

These ${p}$-adic arguments stand in contrast with Deligne’s resolution of the last (and deepest) of the Weil conjectures:

Theorem 2 (Riemann hypothesis) Let ${V}$ be a quasiprojective variety defined over a finite field ${{\bf F}_q}$, and let ${\lambda \in \overline{{\bf Q}}}$ be a characteristic value of ${V}$. Then there exists a natural number ${w}$ such that ${|\iota_\infty(\lambda)|_\infty = q^{w/2}}$ for every embedding ${\iota_\infty: \overline{{\bf Q}} \rightarrow {\bf C}}$, where ${| |_\infty}$ denotes the usual absolute value on the complex numbers ${{\bf C} = {\bf C}_\infty}$. (Informally: ${\lambda}$ and all of its Galois conjugates have complex magnitude ${q^{w/2}}$.)

To put it another way that closely resembles the classical Riemann hypothesis, all the zeroes and poles of the ${s}$-form ${s \mapsto \zeta_V(q^{-s})}$ lie on the critical lines ${\{ s \in {\bf C}: \hbox{Re}(s) = \frac{w}{2} \}}$ for ${w=0,1,2,\dots}$. (See this previous blog post for further comparison of various instantiations of the Riemann hypothesis.) Whereas Dwork uses ${p}$-adic analysis, Deligne uses the essentially orthogonal technique of ell-adic cohomology to establish his theorem. However, ell-adic methods can be used (via the Grothendieck-Lefschetz trace formula) to establish rationality, and conversely, in this paper of Kedlaya p-adic methods are used to establish the Riemann hypothesis. As pointed out by Kedlaya, the ell-adic methods are tied to the intrinsic geometry of ${V}$ (such as the structure of sheaves and covers over ${V}$), while the ${p}$-adic methods are more tied to the extrinsic geometry of ${V}$ (how ${V}$ sits inside its ambient affine or projective space).

In this post, I would like to record my notes on Dwork’s proof of Theorem 1, drawing heavily on the expositions of Serre, Hooley, Koblitz, and others.

The basic strategy is to control the rational integers ${S_n}$ both in an “Archimedean” sense (embedding the rational integers inside the complex numbers ${{\bf C}_\infty}$ with the usual norm ${||_\infty}$) as well as in the “${p}$-adic” sense, with ${p}$ the characteristic of ${{\bf F}_q}$ (embedding the integers now in the “complexification” ${{\bf C}_p}$ of the ${p}$-adic numbers ${{\bf Q}_p}$, which is equipped with a norm ${||_p}$ that we will recall later). (This is in contrast to the methods of ell-adic cohomology, in which one primarily works over an ${\ell}$-adic field ${{\bf Q}_\ell}$ with ${\ell \neq p,\infty}$.) The Archimedean control is trivial:

Proposition 3 (Archimedean control of ${S_n}$) With ${S_n}$ as above, and any embedding ${\iota_\infty: \overline{{\bf Q}} \rightarrow {\bf C}}$, we have

$\displaystyle |\iota_\infty(S_n)|_\infty \leq C q^{A n}$

for all ${n}$ and some ${C, A >0}$ independent of ${n}$.

Proof: Since ${S_n}$ is a rational integer, ${|\iota_\infty(S_n)|_\infty}$ is just ${|S_n|_\infty}$. By decomposing ${V}$ into affine pieces, we may assume that ${V}$ is of the affine form (1), then we trivially have ${|S_n|_\infty \leq q^{nd}}$, and the claim follows. $\Box$

Another way of thinking about this Archimedean control is that it guarantees that the zeta function ${T \mapsto \zeta_V(T)}$ can be defined holomorphically on the open disk in ${{\bf C}_\infty}$ of radius ${q^{-A}}$ centred at the origin.

The ${p}$-adic control is significantly more difficult, and is the main component of Dwork’s argument:

Proposition 4 (${p}$-adic control of ${S_n}$) With ${S_n}$ as above, and using an embedding ${\iota_p: \overline{{\bf Q}} \rightarrow {\bf C}_p}$ (defined later) with ${p}$ the characteristic of ${{\bf F}_q}$, we can find for any real ${A > 0}$ a finite number of elements ${\alpha_1,\dots,\alpha_k,\beta_1,\dots,\beta_{k'} \in {\bf C}_p}$ such that

$\displaystyle |\iota_p(S_n) - (\alpha_1^n + \dots + \alpha_k^n - \beta_1^n - \dots - \beta_{k'}^n)|_p \leq q^{-An}$

for all ${n}$.

Another way of thinking about this ${p}$-adic control is that it guarantees that the zeta function ${T \mapsto \zeta_V(T)}$ can be defined meromorphically on the entire ${p}$-adic complex field ${{\bf C}_p}$.

Proposition 4 is ostensibly much weaker than Theorem 1 because of (a) the error term of ${p}$-adic magnitude at most ${Cq^{-An}}$; (b) the fact that the number ${k+k'}$ of potential characteristic values here may go to infinity as ${A \rightarrow \infty}$; and (c) the potential characteristic values ${\alpha_1,\dots,\alpha_k,\beta_1,\dots,\beta_{k'}}$ only exist inside the complexified ${p}$-adics ${{\bf C}_p}$, rather than in the algebraic integers ${O_{\overline{{\bf Q}}}}$. However, it turns out that by combining ${p}$-adic control on ${S_n}$ in Proposition 4 with the trivial control on ${S_n}$ in Proposition 3, one can obtain Theorem 1 by an elementary argument that does not use any further properties of ${S_n}$ (other than the obvious fact that the ${S_n}$ are rational integers), with the ${A}$ in Proposition 4 chosen to exceed the ${A}$ in Proposition 3. We give this argument (essentially due to Borel) below the fold.

The proof of Proposition 4 can be split into two pieces. The first piece, which can be viewed as the number-theoretic component of the proof, uses external descriptions of ${V}$ such as (1) to obtain the following decomposition of ${S_n}$:

Proposition 5 (Decomposition of ${S_n}$) With ${\iota_p}$ and ${S_n}$ as above, we can decompose ${\iota_p(S_n)}$ as a finite linear combination (over the integers) of sequences ${S'_n \in {\bf C}_p}$, such that for each such sequence ${n \mapsto S'_n}$, the zeta functions

$\displaystyle \zeta'(T) := \exp( \sum_{n=1}^\infty \frac{S'_n}{n} T^n ) = \sum_{n=0}^\infty c_n T^n$

are entire in ${{\bf C}_p}$, by which we mean that

$\displaystyle |c_n|_p^{1/n} \rightarrow 0$

as ${n \rightarrow \infty}$.

This proposition will ultimately be a consequence of the properties of the Teichmuller lifting ${\tau: \overline{{\bf F}_p}^\times \rightarrow {\bf C}_p^\times}$.

The second piece, which can be viewed as the “${p}$-adic complex analytic” component of the proof, relates the ${p}$-adic entire nature of a zeta function with control on the associated sequence ${S'_n}$, and can be interpreted (after some manipulation) as a ${p}$-adic version of the Weierstrass preparation theorem:

Proposition 6 (${p}$-adic Weierstrass preparation theorem) Let ${S'_n}$ be a sequence in ${{\bf C}_p}$, such that the zeta function

$\displaystyle \zeta'(T) := \exp( \sum_{n=1}^\infty \frac{S'_n}{n} T^n )$

is entire in ${{\bf C}_p}$. Then for any real ${A > 0}$, there exist a finite number of elements ${\beta_1,\dots,\beta_{k'} \in {\bf C}_p}$ such that

$\displaystyle |\iota_p(S'_n) + \beta_1^n + \dots + \beta_{k'}^n|_p \leq q^{-An}$

for all ${n}$ and some ${C>0}$.

Clearly, the combination of Proposition 5 and Proposition 6 (and the non-Archimedean nature of the ${||_p}$ norm) imply Proposition 4.

The classical formulation of Hilbert’s fifth problem asks whether topological groups that have the topological structure of a manifold, are necessarily Lie groups. This is indeed, the case, thanks to following theorem of Gleason and Montgomery-Zippin:

Theorem 1 (Hilbert’s fifth problem) Let ${G}$ be a topological group which is locally Euclidean. Then ${G}$ is isomorphic to a Lie group.

We have discussed the proof of this result, and of related results, in previous posts. There is however a generalisation of Hilbert’s fifth problem which remains open, namely the Hilbert-Smith conjecture, in which it is a space acted on by the group which has the manifold structure, rather than the group itself:

Conjecture 2 (Hilbert-Smith conjecture) Let ${G}$ be a locally compact topological group which acts continuously and faithfully (or effectively) on a connected finite-dimensional manifold ${X}$. Then ${G}$ is isomorphic to a Lie group.

Note that Conjecture 2 easily implies Theorem 1 as one can pass to the connected component ${G^\circ}$ of a locally Euclidean group (which is clearly locally compact), and then look at the action of ${G^\circ}$ on itself by left-multiplication.

The hypothesis that the action is faithful (i.e. each non-identity group element ${g \in G \backslash \{\hbox{id}\}}$ acts non-trivially on ${X}$) cannot be completely eliminated, as any group ${G}$ will have a trivial action on any space ${X}$. The requirement that ${G}$ be locally compact is similarly necessary: consider for instance the diffeomorphism group ${\hbox{Diff}(S^1)}$ of, say, the unit circle ${S^1}$, which acts on ${S^1}$ but is infinite dimensional and is not locally compact (with, say, the uniform topology). Finally, the connectedness of ${X}$ is also important: the infinite torus ${G = ({\bf R}/{\bf Z})^{\bf N}}$ (with the product topology) acts faithfully on the disconnected manifold ${X := {\bf R}/{\bf Z} \times {\bf N}}$ by the action

$\displaystyle (g_n)_{n \in {\bf N}} (\theta, m) := (\theta + g_m, m).$

The conjecture in full generality remains open. However, there are a number of partial results. For instance, it was observed by Montgomery and Zippin that the conjecture is true for transitive actions, by a modification of the argument used to establish Theorem 1. This special case of the Hilbert-Smith conjecture (or more precisely, a generalisation thereof in which “finite-dimensional manifold” was replaced by “locally connected locally compact finite-dimensional”) was used in Gromov’s proof of his famous theorem on groups of polynomial growth. I record the argument of Montgomery and Zippin below the fold.

Another partial result is the reduction of the Hilbert-Smith conjecture to the ${p}$-adic case. Indeed, it is known that Conjecture 2 is equivalent to

Conjecture 3 (Hilbert-Smith conjecture for ${p}$-adic actions) It is not possible for a ${p}$-adic group ${{\bf Z}_p}$ to act continuously and effectively on a connected finite-dimensional manifold ${X}$.

The reduction to the ${p}$-adic case follows from the structural theory of locally compact groups (specifically, the Gleason-Yamabe theorem discussed in previous posts) and some results of Newman that sharply restrict the ability of periodic actions on a manifold ${X}$ to be close to the identity. I record this argument (which appears for instance in this paper of Lee) below the fold also.