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Previous set of notes: Notes 3. Next set of notes: 246C Notes 1.

One of the great classical triumphs of complex analysis was in providing the first complete proof (by Hadamard and de la Vallée Poussin in 1896) of arguably the most important theorem in analytic number theory, the prime number theorem:

Theorem 1 (Prime number theorem) Let {\pi(x)} denote the number of primes less than a given real number {x}. Then

\displaystyle  \lim_{x \rightarrow \infty} \frac{\pi(x)}{x/\ln x} = 1

(or in asymptotic notation, {\pi(x) = (1+o(1)) \frac{x}{\ln x}} as {x \rightarrow \infty}).

(Actually, it turns out to be slightly more natural to replace the approximation {\frac{x}{\ln x}} in the prime number theorem by the logarithmic integral {\int_2^x \frac{dt}{\ln t}}, which turns out to be a more precise approximation, but we will not stress this point here.)

The complex-analytic proof of this theorem hinges on the study of a key meromorphic function related to the prime numbers, the Riemann zeta function {\zeta}. Initially, it is only defined on the half-plane {\{ s \in {\bf C}: \mathrm{Re} s > 1 \}}:

Definition 2 (Riemann zeta function, preliminary definition) Let {s \in {\bf C}} be such that {\mathrm{Re} s > 1}. Then we define

\displaystyle  \zeta(s) := \sum_{n=1}^\infty \frac{1}{n^s}. \ \ \ \ \ (1)

Note that the series is locally uniformly convergent in the half-plane {\{ s \in {\bf C}: \mathrm{Re} s > 1 \}}, so in particular {\zeta} is holomorphic on this region. In previous notes we have already evaluated some special values of this function:

\displaystyle  \zeta(2) = \frac{\pi^2}{6}; \quad \zeta(4) = \frac{\pi^4}{90}; \quad \zeta(6) = \frac{\pi^6}{945}. \ \ \ \ \ (2)

However, it turns out that the zeroes (and pole) of this function are of far greater importance to analytic number theory, particularly with regards to the study of the prime numbers.

The Riemann zeta function has several remarkable properties, some of which we summarise here:

Theorem 3 (Basic properties of the Riemann zeta function)
  • (i) (Euler product formula) For any {s \in {\bf C}} with {\mathrm{Re} s > 1}, we have

    \displaystyle  \zeta(s) = \prod_p (1 - \frac{1}{p^s})^{-1} \ \ \ \ \ (3)

    where the product is absolutely convergent (and locally uniform in {s}) and is over the prime numbers {p = 2, 3, 5, \dots}.
  • (ii) (Trivial zero-free region) {\zeta(s)} has no zeroes in the region {\{s: \mathrm{Re}(s) > 1 \}}.
  • (iii) (Meromorphic continuation) {\zeta} has a unique meromorphic continuation to the complex plane (which by abuse of notation we also call {\zeta}), with a simple pole at {s=1} and no other poles. Furthermore, the Riemann xi function

    \displaystyle  \xi(s) := \frac{1}{2} s(s-1) \pi^{-s/2} \Gamma(s/2) \zeta(s) \ \ \ \ \ (4)

    is an entire function of order {1} (after removing all singularities). The function {(s-1) \zeta(s)} is an entire function of order one after removing the singularity at {s=1}.
  • (iv) (Functional equation) After applying the meromorphic continuation from (iii), we have

    \displaystyle  \zeta(s) = 2^s \pi^{s-1} \sin(\frac{\pi s}{2}) \Gamma(1-s) \zeta(1-s) \ \ \ \ \ (5)

    for all {s \in {\bf C}} (excluding poles). Equivalently, we have

    \displaystyle  \xi(s) = \xi(1-s) \ \ \ \ \ (6)

    for all {s \in {\bf C}}. (The equivalence between the (5) and (6) is a routine consequence of the Euler reflection formula and the Legendre duplication formula, see Exercises 26 and 31 of Notes 1.)

Proof: We just prove (i) and (ii) for now, leaving (iii) and (iv) for later sections.

The claim (i) is an encoding of the fundamental theorem of arithmetic, which asserts that every natural number {n} is uniquely representable as a product {n = \prod_p p^{a_p}} over primes, where the {a_p} are natural numbers, all but finitely many of which are zero. Writing this representation as {\frac{1}{n^s} = \prod_p \frac{1}{p^{a_p s}}}, we see that

\displaystyle  \sum_{n \in S_{x,m}} \frac{1}{n^s} = \prod_{p \leq x} \sum_{a=0}^m \frac{1}{p^{as}}

whenever {x \geq 1}, {m \geq 0}, and {S_{x,m}} consists of all the natural numbers of the form {n = \prod_{p \leq x} p^{a_p}} for some {a_p \leq m}. Sending {m} and {x} to infinity, we conclude from monotone convergence and the geometric series formula that

\displaystyle  \sum_{n=1}^\infty \frac{1}{n^s} = \prod_{p} \sum_{a=0}^\infty \frac{1}{p^{s}} =\prod_p (1 - \frac{1}{p^s})^{-1}

whenever {s>1} is real, and then from dominated convergence we see that the same formula holds for complex {s} with {\mathrm{Re} s > 1} as well. Local uniform convergence then follows from the product form of the Weierstrass {M}-test (Exercise 19 of Notes 1).

The claim (ii) is immediate from (i) since the Euler product {\prod_p (1-\frac{1}{p^s})^{-1}} is absolutely convergent and all terms are non-zero. \Box

We remark that by sending {s} to {1} in Theorem 3(i) we conclude that

\displaystyle  \sum_{n=1}^\infty \frac{1}{n} = \prod_p (1-\frac{1}{p})^{-1}

and from the divergence of the harmonic series we then conclude Euler’s theorem {\sum_p \frac{1}{p} = \infty}. This can be viewed as a weak version of the prime number theorem, and already illustrates the potential applicability of the Riemann zeta function to control the distribution of the prime numbers.

The meromorphic continuation (iii) of the zeta function is initially surprising, but can be interpreted either as a manifestation of the extremely regular spacing of the natural numbers {n} occurring in the sum (1), or as a consequence of various integral representations of {\zeta} (or slight modifications thereof). We will focus in this set of notes on a particular representation of {\zeta} as essentially the Mellin transform of the theta function {\theta} that briefly appeared in previous notes, and the functional equation (iv) can then be viewed as a consequence of the modularity of that theta function. This in turn was established using the Poisson summation formula, so one can view the functional equation as ultimately being a manifestation of Poisson summation. (For a direct proof of the functional equation via Poisson summation, see these notes.)

Henceforth we work with the meromorphic continuation of {\zeta}. The functional equation (iv), when combined with special values of {\zeta} such as (2), gives some additional values of {\zeta} outside of its initial domain {\{s: \mathrm{Re} s > 1\}}, most famously

\displaystyle  \zeta(-1) = -\frac{1}{12}.

If one formally compares this formula with (1), one arrives at the infamous identity

\displaystyle  1 + 2 + 3 + \dots = -\frac{1}{12}

although this identity has to be interpreted in a suitable non-classical sense in order for it to be rigorous (see this previous blog post for further discussion).

From Theorem 3 and the non-vanishing nature of {\Gamma}, we see that {\zeta} has simple zeroes (known as trivial zeroes) at the negative even integers {-2, -4, \dots}, and all other zeroes (the non-trivial zeroes) inside the critical strip {\{ s \in {\bf C}: 0 \leq \mathrm{Re} s \leq 1 \}}. (The non-trivial zeroes are conjectured to all be simple, but this is hopelessly far from being proven at present.) As we shall see shortly, these latter zeroes turn out to be closely related to the distribution of the primes. The functional equation tells us that if {\rho} is a non-trivial zero then so is {1-\rho}; also, we have the identity

\displaystyle  \zeta(s) = \overline{\zeta(\overline{s})} \ \ \ \ \ (7)

for all {s>1} by (1), hence for all {s} (except the pole at {s=1}) by meromorphic continuation. Thus if {\rho} is a non-trivial zero then so is {\overline{\rho}}. We conclude that the set of non-trivial zeroes is symmetric by reflection by both the real axis and the critical line {\{ s \in {\bf C}: \mathrm{Re} s = \frac{1}{2} \}}. We have the following infamous conjecture:

Conjecture 4 (Riemann hypothesis) All the non-trivial zeroes of {\zeta} lie on the critical line {\{ s \in {\bf C}: \mathrm{Re} s = \frac{1}{2} \}}.

This conjecture would have many implications in analytic number theory, particularly with regard to the distribution of the primes. Of course, it is far from proven at present, but the partial results we have towards this conjecture are still sufficient to establish results such as the prime number theorem.

Return now to the original region where {\mathrm{Re} s > 1}. To take more advantage of the Euler product formula (3), we take complex logarithms to conclude that

\displaystyle  -\log \zeta(s) = \sum_p \log(1 - \frac{1}{p^s})

for suitable branches of the complex logarithm, and then on taking derivatives (using for instance the generalised Cauchy integral formula and Fubini’s theorem to justify the interchange of summation and derivative) we see that

\displaystyle  -\frac{\zeta'(s)}{\zeta(s)} = \sum_p \frac{\ln p/p^s}{1 - \frac{1}{p^s}}.

From the geometric series formula we have

\displaystyle  \frac{\ln p/p^s}{1 - \frac{1}{p^s}} = \sum_{j=1}^\infty \frac{\ln p}{p^{js}}

and so (by another application of Fubini’s theorem) we have the identity

\displaystyle  -\frac{\zeta'(s)}{\zeta(s)} = \sum_{n=1}^\infty \frac{\Lambda(n)}{n^s}, \ \ \ \ \ (8)

for {\mathrm{Re} s > 1}, where the von Mangoldt function {\Lambda(n)} is defined to equal {\Lambda(n) = \ln p} whenever {n = p^j} is a power {p^j} of a prime {p} for some {j=1,2,\dots}, and {\Lambda(n)=0} otherwise. The contribution of the higher prime powers {p^2, p^3, \dots} is negligible in practice, and as a first approximation one can think of the von Mangoldt function as the indicator function of the primes, weighted by the logarithm function.

The series {\sum_{n=1}^\infty \frac{1}{n^s}} and {\sum_{n=1}^\infty \frac{\Lambda(n)}{n^s}} that show up in the above formulae are examples of Dirichlet series, which are a convenient device to transform various sequences of arithmetic interest into holomorphic or meromorphic functions. Here are some more examples:

Exercise 5 (Standard Dirichlet series) Let {s} be a complex number with {\mathrm{Re} s > 1}.
  • (i) Show that {-\zeta'(s) = \sum_{n=1}^\infty \frac{\ln n}{n^s}}.
  • (ii) Show that {\zeta^2(s) = \sum_{n=1}^\infty \frac{\tau(n)}{n^s}}, where {\tau(n) := \sum_{d|n} 1} is the divisor function of {n} (the number of divisors of {n}).
  • (iii) Show that {\frac{1}{\zeta(s)} = \sum_{n=1}^\infty \frac{\mu(n)}{n^s}}, where {\mu(n)} is the Möbius function, defined to equal {(-1)^k} when {n} is the product of {k} distinct primes for some {k \geq 0}, and {0} otherwise.
  • (iv) Show that {\frac{\zeta(2s)}{\zeta(s)} = \sum_{n=1}^\infty \frac{\lambda(n)}{n^s}}, where {\lambda(n)} is the Liouville function, defined to equal {(-1)^k} when {n} is the product of {k} (not necessarily distinct) primes for some {k \geq 0}.
  • (v) Show that {\log \zeta(s) = \sum_{n=1}^\infty \frac{\Lambda(n)/\ln n}{n^s}}, where {\log \zeta} is the holomorphic branch of the logarithm that is real for {s>1}, and with the convention that {\Lambda(n)/\ln n} vanishes for {n=1}.
  • (vi) Use the fundamental theorem of arithmetic to show that the von Mangoldt function is the unique function {\Lambda: {\bf N} \rightarrow {\bf R}} such that

    \displaystyle  \ln n = \sum_{d|n} \Lambda(d)

    for every positive integer {n}. Use this and (i) to provide an alternate proof of the identity (8). Thus we see that (8) is really just another encoding of the fundamental theorem of arithmetic.

Given the appearance of the von Mangoldt function {\Lambda}, it is natural to reformulate the prime number theorem in terms of this function:

Theorem 6 (Prime number theorem, von Mangoldt form) One has

\displaystyle  \lim_{x \rightarrow \infty} \frac{1}{x} \sum_{n \leq x} \Lambda(n) = 1

(or in asymptotic notation, {\sum_{n\leq x} \Lambda(n) = x + o(x)} as {x \rightarrow \infty}).

Let us see how Theorem 6 implies Theorem 1. Firstly, for any {x \geq 2}, we can write

\displaystyle  \sum_{n \leq x} \Lambda(n) = \sum_{p \leq x} \ln p + \sum_{j=2}^\infty \sum_{p \leq x^{1/j}} \ln p.

The sum {\sum_{p \leq x^{1/j}} \ln p} is non-zero for only {O(\ln x)} values of {j}, and is of size {O( x^{1/2} \ln x )}, thus

\displaystyle  \sum_{n \leq x} \Lambda(n) = \sum_{p \leq x} \ln p + O( x^{1/2} \ln^2 x ).

Since {x^{1/2} \ln^2 x = o(x)}, we conclude from Theorem 6 that

\displaystyle  \sum_{p \leq x} \ln p = x + o(x)

as {x \rightarrow \infty}. Next, observe from the fundamental theorem of calculus that

\displaystyle  \frac{1}{\ln p} - \frac{1}{\ln x} = \int_p^x \frac{1}{\ln^2 y} \frac{dy}{y}.

Multiplying by {\log p} and summing over all primes {p \leq x}, we conclude that

\displaystyle  \pi(x) - \frac{\sum_{p \leq x} \ln p}{\ln x} = \int_2^x \sum_{p \leq y} \ln p \frac{1}{\ln^2 y} \frac{dy}{y}.

From Theorem 6 we certainly have {\sum_{p \leq y} \ln p = O(y)}, thus

\displaystyle  \pi(x) - \frac{x + o(x)}{\ln x} = O( \int_2^x \frac{dy}{\ln^2 y} ).

By splitting the integral into the ranges {2 \leq y \leq \sqrt{x}} and {\sqrt{x} < y \leq x} we see that the right-hand side is {o(x/\ln x)}, and Theorem 1 follows.

Exercise 7 Show that Theorem 1 conversely implies Theorem 6.

The alternate form (8) of the Euler product identity connects the primes (represented here via proxy by the von Mangoldt function) with the logarithmic derivative of the zeta function, and can be used as a starting point for describing further relationships between {\zeta} and the primes. Most famously, we shall see later in these notes that it leads to the remarkably precise Riemann-von Mangoldt explicit formula:

Theorem 8 (Riemann-von Mangoldt explicit formula) For any non-integer {x > 1}, we have

\displaystyle  \sum_{n \leq x} \Lambda(n) = x - \lim_{T \rightarrow \infty} \sum_{\rho: |\hbox{Im}(\rho)| \leq T} \frac{x^\rho}{\rho} - \ln(2\pi) - \frac{1}{2} \ln( 1 - x^{-2} )

where {\rho} ranges over the non-trivial zeroes of {\zeta} with imaginary part in {[-T,T]}. Furthermore, the convergence of the limit is locally uniform in {x}.

Actually, it turns out that this formula is in some sense too precise; in applications it is often more convenient to work with smoothed variants of this formula in which the sum on the left-hand side is smoothed out, but the contribution of zeroes with large imaginary part is damped; see Exercise 22. Nevertheless, this formula clearly illustrates how the non-trivial zeroes {\rho} of the zeta function influence the primes. Indeed, if one formally differentiates the above formula in {x}, one is led to the (quite nonrigorous) approximation

\displaystyle  \Lambda(n) \approx 1 - \sum_\rho n^{\rho-1} \ \ \ \ \ (9)

or (writing {\rho = \sigma+i\gamma})

\displaystyle  \Lambda(n) \approx 1 - \sum_{\sigma+i\gamma} \frac{n^{i\gamma}}{n^{1-\sigma}}.

Thus we see that each zero {\rho = \sigma + i\gamma} induces an oscillation in the von Mangoldt function, with {\gamma} controlling the frequency of the oscillation and {\sigma} the rate to which the oscillation dies out as {n \rightarrow \infty}. This relationship is sometimes known informally as “the music of the primes”.

Comparing Theorem 8 with Theorem 6, it is natural to suspect that the key step in the proof of the latter is to establish the following slight but important extension of Theorem 3(ii), which can be viewed as a very small step towards the Riemann hypothesis:

Theorem 9 (Slight enlargement of zero-free region) There are no zeroes of {\zeta} on the line {\{ 1+it: t \in {\bf R} \}}.

It is not quite immediate to see how Theorem 6 follows from Theorem 8 and Theorem 9, but we will demonstrate it below the fold.

Although Theorem 9 only seems like a slight improvement of Theorem 3(ii), proving it is surprisingly non-trivial. The basic idea is the following: if there was a zero at {1+it}, then there would also be a different zero at {1-it} (note {t} cannot vanish due to the pole at {s=1}), and then the approximation (9) becomes

\displaystyle  \Lambda(n) \approx 1 - n^{it} - n^{-it} + \dots = 1 - 2 \cos(t \log n) + \dots.

But the expression {1 - 2 \cos(t \log n)} can be negative for large regions of the variable {n}, whereas {\Lambda(n)} is always non-negative. This conflict eventually leads to a contradiction, but it is not immediately obvious how to make this argument rigorous. We will present here the classical approach to doing so using a trigonometric identity of Mertens.

In fact, Theorem 9 is basically equivalent to the prime number theorem:

Exercise 10 For the purposes of this exercise, assume Theorem 6, but do not assume Theorem 9. For any non-zero real {t}, show that

\displaystyle  -\frac{\zeta'(\sigma+it)}{\zeta(\sigma+it)} = o( \frac{1}{\sigma-1})

as {\sigma \rightarrow 1^+}, where {o( \frac{1}{\sigma-1})} denotes a quantity that goes to zero as {\sigma \rightarrow 1^+} after being multiplied by {\sigma-1}. Use this to derive Theorem 9.

This equivalence can help explain why the prime number theorem is remarkably non-trivial to prove, and why the Riemann zeta function has to be either explicitly or implicitly involved in the proof.

This post is only intended as the briefest of introduction to complex-analytic methods in analytic number theory; also, we have not chosen the shortest route to the prime number theorem, electing instead to travel in directions that particularly showcase the complex-analytic results introduced in this course. For some further discussion see this previous set of lecture notes, particularly Notes 2 and Supplement 3 (with much of the material in this post drawn from the latter).

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In Notes 2, the Riemann zeta function {\zeta} (and more generally, the Dirichlet {L}-functions {L(\cdot,\chi)}) were extended meromorphically into the region {\{ s: \hbox{Re}(s) > 0 \}} in and to the right of the critical strip. This is a sufficient amount of meromorphic continuation for many applications in analytic number theory, such as establishing the prime number theorem and its variants. The zeroes of the zeta function in the critical strip {\{ s: 0 < \hbox{Re}(s) < 1 \}} are known as the non-trivial zeroes of {\zeta}, and thanks to the truncated explicit formulae developed in Notes 2, they control the asymptotic distribution of the primes (up to small errors).

The {\zeta} function obeys the trivial functional equation

\displaystyle \zeta(\overline{s}) = \overline{\zeta(s)} \ \ \ \ \ (1)


for all {s} in its domain of definition. Indeed, as {\zeta(s)} is real-valued when {s} is real, the function {\zeta(s) - \overline{\zeta(\overline{s})}} vanishes on the real line and is also meromorphic, and hence vanishes everywhere. Similarly one has the functional equation

\displaystyle \overline{L(s, \chi)} = L(\overline{s}, \overline{\chi}). \ \ \ \ \ (2)


From these equations we see that the zeroes of the zeta function are symmetric across the real axis, and the zeroes of {L(\cdot,\chi)} are the reflection of the zeroes of {L(\cdot,\overline{\chi})} across this axis.

It is a remarkable fact that these functions obey an additional, and more non-trivial, functional equation, this time establishing a symmetry across the critical line {\{ s: \hbox{Re}(s) = \frac{1}{2} \}} rather than the real axis. One consequence of this symmetry is that the zeta function and {L}-functions may be extended meromorphically to the entire complex plane. For the zeta function, the functional equation was discovered by Riemann, and reads as follows:

Theorem 1 (Functional equation for the Riemann zeta function) The Riemann zeta function {\zeta} extends meromorphically to the entire complex plane, with a simple pole at {s=1} and no other poles. Furthermore, one has the functional equation

\displaystyle \zeta(s) = \alpha(s) \zeta(1-s) \ \ \ \ \ (3)


or equivalently

\displaystyle \zeta(1-s) = \alpha(1-s) \zeta(s) \ \ \ \ \ (4)


for all complex {s} other than {s=0,1}, where {\alpha} is the function

\displaystyle \alpha(s) := 2^s \pi^{s-1} \sin( \frac{\pi s}{2}) \Gamma(1-s). \ \ \ \ \ (5)


Here {\cos(z) := \frac{e^z + e^{-z}}{2}}, {\sin(z) := \frac{e^{-z}-e^{-z}}{2i}} are the complex-analytic extensions of the classical trigionometric functions {\cos(x), \sin(x)}, and {\Gamma} is the Gamma function, whose definition and properties we review below the fold.

The functional equation can be placed in a more symmetric form as follows:

Corollary 2 (Functional equation for the Riemann xi function) The Riemann xi function

\displaystyle \xi(s) := \frac{1}{2} s(s-1) \pi^{-s/2} \Gamma(\frac{s}{2}) \zeta(s) \ \ \ \ \ (6)


is analytic on the entire complex plane {{\bf C}} (after removing all removable singularities), and obeys the functional equations

\displaystyle \xi(\overline{s}) = \overline{\xi(s)}


\displaystyle \xi(s) = \xi(1-s). \ \ \ \ \ (7)


In particular, the zeroes of {\xi} consist precisely of the non-trivial zeroes of {\zeta}, and are symmetric about both the real axis and the critical line. Also, {\xi} is real-valued on the critical line and on the real axis.

Corollary 2 is an easy consequence of Theorem 1 together with the duplication theorem for the Gamma function, and the fact that {\zeta} has no zeroes to the right of the critical strip, and is left as an exercise to the reader (Exercise 19). The functional equation in Theorem 1 has many proofs, but most of them are related in on way or another to the Poisson summation formula

\displaystyle \sum_n f(n) = \sum_m \hat f(2\pi m) \ \ \ \ \ (8)


(Theorem 34 from Supplement 2, at least in the case when {f} is twice continuously differentiable and compactly supported), which can be viewed as a Fourier-analytic link between the coarse-scale distribution of the integers and the fine-scale distribution of the integers. Indeed, there is a quick heuristic proof of the functional equation that comes from formally applying the Poisson summation formula to the function {1_{x>0} \frac{1}{x^s}}, and noting that the functions {x \mapsto \frac{1}{x^s}} and {\xi \mapsto \frac{1}{\xi^{1-s}}} are formally Fourier transforms of each other, up to some Gamma function factors, as well as some trigonometric factors arising from the distinction between the real line and the half-line. Such a heuristic proof can indeed be made rigorous, and we do so below the fold, while also providing Riemann’s two classical proofs of the functional equation.

From the functional equation (and the poles of the Gamma function), one can see that {\zeta} has trivial zeroes at the negative even integers {-2,-4,-6,\dots}, in addition to the non-trivial zeroes in the critical strip. More generally, the following table summarises the zeroes and poles of the various special functions appearing in the functional equation, after they have been meromorphically extended to the entire complex plane, and with zeroes classified as “non-trivial” or “trivial” depending on whether they lie in the critical strip or not. (Exponential functions such as {2^{s-1}} or {\pi^{-s}} have no zeroes or poles, and will be ignored in this table; the zeroes and poles of rational functions such as {s(s-1)} are self-evident and will also not be displayed here.)

Function Non-trivial zeroes Trivial zeroes Poles
{\zeta(s)} Yes {-2,-4,-6,\dots} {1}
{\zeta(1-s)} Yes {3,5,\dots} {0}
{\sin(\pi s/2)} No Even integers No
{\cos(\pi s/2)} No Odd integers No
{\sin(\pi s)} No Integers No
{\Gamma(s)} No No {0,-1,-2,\dots}
{\Gamma(s/2)} No No {0,-2,-4,\dots}
{\Gamma(1-s)} No No {1,2,3,\dots}
{\Gamma((1-s)/2)} No No {1,3,5,\dots}
{\xi(s)} Yes No No

Among other things, this table indicates that the Gamma and trigonometric factors in the functional equation are tied to the trivial zeroes and poles of zeta, but have no direct bearing on the distribution of the non-trivial zeroes, which is the most important feature of the zeta function for the purposes of analytic number theory, beyond the fact that they are symmetric about the real axis and critical line. In particular, the Riemann hypothesis is not going to be resolved just from further analysis of the Gamma function!

The zeta function computes the “global” sum {\sum_n \frac{1}{n^s}}, with {n} ranging all the way from {1} to infinity. However, by some Fourier-analytic (or complex-analytic) manipulation, it is possible to use the zeta function to also control more “localised” sums, such as {\sum_n \frac{1}{n^s} \psi(\log n - \log N)} for some {N \gg 1} and some smooth compactly supported function {\psi: {\bf R} \rightarrow {\bf C}}. It turns out that the functional equation (3) for the zeta function localises to this context, giving an approximate functional equation which roughly speaking takes the form

\displaystyle \sum_n \frac{1}{n^s} \psi( \log n - \log N ) \approx \alpha(s) \sum_m \frac{1}{m^{1-s}} \psi( \log M - \log m )

whenever {s=\sigma+it} and {NM = \frac{|t|}{2\pi}}; see Theorem 38 below for a precise formulation of this equation. Unsurprisingly, this form of the functional equation is also very closely related to the Poisson summation formula (8), indeed it is essentially a special case of that formula (or more precisely, of the van der Corput {B}-process). This useful identity relates long smoothed sums of {\frac{1}{n^s}} to short smoothed sums of {\frac{1}{m^{1-s}}} (or vice versa), and can thus be used to shorten exponential sums involving terms such as {\frac{1}{n^s}}, which is useful when obtaining some of the more advanced estimates on the Riemann zeta function.

We will give two other basic uses of the functional equation. The first is to get a good count (as opposed to merely an upper bound) on the density of zeroes in the critical strip, establishing the Riemann-von Mangoldt formula that the number {N(T)} of zeroes of imaginary part between {0} and {T} is {\frac{T}{2\pi} \log \frac{T}{2\pi} - \frac{T}{2\pi} + O(\log T)} for large {T}. The other is to obtain untruncated versions of the explicit formula from Notes 2, giving a remarkable exact formula for sums involving the von Mangoldt function in terms of zeroes of the Riemann zeta function. These results are not strictly necessary for most of the material in the rest of the course, but certainly help to clarify the nature of the Riemann zeta function and its relation to the primes.

In view of the material in previous notes, it should not be surprising that there are analogues of all of the above theory for Dirichlet {L}-functions {L(\cdot,\chi)}. We will restrict attention to primitive characters {\chi}, since the {L}-function for imprimitive characters merely differs from the {L}-function of the associated primitive factor by a finite Euler product; indeed, if {\chi = \chi' \chi_0} for some principal {\chi_0} whose modulus {q_0} is coprime to that of {\chi'}, then

\displaystyle L(s,\chi) = L(s,\chi') \prod_{p|q_0} (1 - \frac{1}{p^s}) \ \ \ \ \ (9)


(cf. equation (45) of Notes 2).

The main new feature is that the Poisson summation formula needs to be “twisted” by a Dirichlet character {\chi}, and this boils down to the problem of understanding the finite (additive) Fourier transform of a Dirichlet character. This is achieved by the classical theory of Gauss sums, which we review below the fold. There is one new wrinkle; the value of {\chi(-1) \in \{-1,+1\}} plays a role in the functional equation. More precisely, we have

Theorem 3 (Functional equation for {L}-functions) Let {\chi} be a primitive character of modulus {q} with {q>1}. Then {L(s,\chi)} extends to an entire function on the complex plane, with

\displaystyle L(s,\chi) = \varepsilon(\chi) 2^s \pi^{s-1} q^{1/2-s} \sin(\frac{\pi}{2}(s+\kappa)) \Gamma(1-s) L(1-s,\overline{\chi})

or equivalently

\displaystyle L(1-s,\overline{\chi}) = \varepsilon(\overline{\chi}) 2^{1-s} \pi^{-s} q^{s-1/2} \sin(\frac{\pi}{2}(1-s+\kappa)) \Gamma(s) L(s,\chi)

for all {s}, where {\kappa} is equal to {0} in the even case {\chi(-1)=+1} and {1} in the odd case {\chi(-1)=-1}, and

\displaystyle \varepsilon(\chi) := \frac{\tau(\chi)}{i^\kappa \sqrt{q}} \ \ \ \ \ (10)


where {\tau(\chi)} is the Gauss sum

\displaystyle \tau(\chi) := \sum_{n \in {\bf Z}/q{\bf Z}} \chi(n) e(n/q). \ \ \ \ \ (11)


and {e(x) := e^{2\pi ix}}, with the convention that the {q}-periodic function {n \mapsto e(n/q)} is also (by abuse of notation) applied to {n} in the cyclic group {{\bf Z}/q{\bf Z}}.

From this functional equation and (2) we see that, as with the Riemann zeta function, the non-trivial zeroes of {L(s,\chi)} (defined as the zeroes within the critical strip {\{ s: 0 < \hbox{Re}(s) < 1 \}} are symmetric around the critical line (and, if {\chi} is real, are also symmetric around the real axis). In addition, {L(s,\chi)} acquires trivial zeroes at the negative even integers and at zero if {\chi(-1)=1}, and at the negative odd integers if {\chi(-1)=-1}. For imprimitive {\chi}, we see from (9) that {L(s,\chi)} also acquires some additional trivial zeroes on the left edge of the critical strip.

There is also a symmetric version of this equation, analogous to Corollary 2:

Corollary 4 Let {\chi,q,\varepsilon(\chi)} be as above, and set

\displaystyle \xi(s,\chi) := (q/\pi)^{(s+\kappa)/2} \Gamma((s+\kappa)/2) L(s,\chi),

then {\xi(\cdot,\chi)} is entire with {\xi(1-s,\overline{\chi}) = \varepsilon(\chi) \xi(s,\chi)}.

For further detail on the functional equation and its implications, I recommend the classic text of Titchmarsh or the text of Davenport.

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The Riemann zeta function \zeta(s), defined for \hbox{Re}(s) > 1 by the formula

\displaystyle \zeta(s) := \sum_{n \in {\Bbb N}} \frac{1}{n^s} (1)

where {\Bbb N} = \{1,2,\ldots\} are the natural numbers, and extended meromorphically to other values of s by analytic continuation, obeys the remarkable functional equation

\displaystyle \Xi(s) = \Xi(1-s) (2)


\displaystyle \Xi(s) := \Gamma_\infty(s) \zeta(s) (3)

is the Riemann Xi function,

\displaystyle \Gamma_\infty(s) := \pi^{-s/2} \Gamma(s/2) (4)

is the Gamma factor at infinity, and the Gamma function \Gamma(s) is defined for \hbox{Re}(s) > 1 by

\displaystyle \Gamma(s) := \int_0^\infty e^{-t} t^s\ \frac{dt}{t} (5)

and extended meromorphically to other values of s by analytic continuation.

There are many proofs known of the functional equation (2).  One of them (dating back to Riemann himself) relies on the Poisson summation formula

\displaystyle \sum_{a \in {\Bbb Z}} f_\infty(a t_\infty) = \frac{1}{|t|_\infty} \sum_{a \in {\Bbb Z}} \hat f_\infty(a/t_\infty) (6)

for the reals k_\infty := {\Bbb R} and t \in k_\infty^*, where f is a Schwartz function, |t|_\infty := |t| is the usual Archimedean absolute value on k_\infty, and

\displaystyle \hat f_\infty(\xi_\infty) := \int_{k_\infty} e_\infty(-x_\infty \xi_\infty) f_\infty(x_\infty)\ dx_\infty (7)

is the Fourier transform on k_\infty, with e_\infty(x_\infty) := e^{2\pi i x_\infty} being the standard character e_\infty: k_\infty \to S^1 on k_\infty.  (The reason for this rather strange notation for the real line and its associated structures will be made clearer shortly.)  Applying this formula to the (Archimedean) Gaussian function

\displaystyle g_\infty(x_\infty) := e^{-\pi |x_\infty|^2}, (8)

which is its own (additive) Fourier transform, and then applying the multiplicative Fourier transform (i.e. the Mellin transform), one soon obtains (2).  (Riemann also had another proof of the functional equation relying primarily on contour integration, which I will not discuss here.)  One can “clean up” this proof a bit by replacing the Gaussian by a Dirac delta function, although one now has to work formally and “renormalise” by throwing away some infinite terms.  (One can use the theory of distributions to make this latter approach rigorous, but I will not discuss this here.)  Note how this proof combines the additive Fourier transform with the multiplicative Fourier transform.  [Continuing with this theme, the Gamma function (5) is an inner product between an additive character e^{-t} and a multiplicative character t^s, and the zeta function (1) can be viewed both additively, as a sum over n, or multiplicatively, as an Euler product.]

In the famous thesis of Tate, the above argument was reinterpreted using the language of the adele ring {\Bbb A}, with the Poisson summation formula (4) on k_\infty replaced by the Poisson summation formula

\displaystyle \sum_{a \in k} f(a t) = \sum_{a \in k} \hat f(t/a) (9)

on {\Bbb A}, where k = {\Bbb Q} is the rationals, t \in {\Bbb A}, and f is now a Schwartz-Bruhat function on {\Bbb A}.  Applying this formula to the adelic (or global) Gaussian function g(x) := g_\infty(x_\infty) \prod_p 1_{{\mathbb Z}_p}(x_p), which is its own Fourier transform, and then using the adelic Mellin transform, one again obtains (2).  Again, the proof can be cleaned up by replacing the Gaussian with a Dirac mass, at the cost of making the computations formal (or requiring the theory of distributions).

In this post I will write down both Riemann’s proof and Tate’s proof together (but omitting some technical details), to emphasise the fact that they are, in some sense, the same proof.  However, Tate’s proof gives a high-level clarity to the situation (in particular, explaining more adequately why the Gamma factor at infinity (4) fits seamlessly with the Riemann zeta function (1) to form the Xi function (2)), and allows one to generalise the functional equation relatively painlessly to other zeta-functions and L-functions, such as Dedekind zeta functions and Hecke L-functions.

[Note: the material here is very standard in modern algebraic number theory; the post here is partially for my own benefit, as most treatments of this topic in the literature tend to operate in far higher levels of generality than I would prefer.]

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