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Concept# Analytic number theory

Summary

In mathematics, analytic number theory is a branch of number theory that uses methods from mathematical analysis to solve problems about the integers. It is often said to have begun with Peter Gustav Lejeune Dirichlet's 1837 introduction of Dirichlet L-functions to give the first proof of Dirichlet's theorem on arithmetic progressions. It is well known for its results on prime numbers (involving the Prime Number Theorem and Riemann zeta function) and additive number theory (such as the Goldbach conjecture and Waring's problem).
Analytic number theory can be split up into two major parts, divided more by the type of problems they attempt to solve than fundamental differences in technique.
Multiplicative number theory deals with the distribution of the prime numbers, such as estimating the number of primes in an interval, and includes the prime number theorem and Dirichlet's theorem on primes in arithmetic progressions.
Additive number theory is concerned with the additive structure of the integers, such as Goldbach's conjecture that every even number greater than 2 is the sum of two primes. One of the main results in additive number theory is the solution to Waring's problem.
Much of analytic number theory was inspired by the prime number theorem. Let π(x) be the prime-counting function that gives the number of primes less than or equal to x, for any real number x. For example, π(10) = 4 because there are four prime numbers (2, 3, 5 and 7) less than or equal to 10. The prime number theorem then states that x / ln(x) is a good approximation to π(x), in the sense that the limit of the quotient of the two functions π(x) and x / ln(x) as x approaches infinity is 1:
known as the asymptotic law of distribution of prime numbers.
Adrien-Marie Legendre conjectured in 1797 or 1798 that π(a) is approximated by the function a/(A ln(a) + B), where A and B are unspecified constants. In the second edition of his book on number theory (1808) he then made a more precise conjecture, with A = 1 and B ≈ −1.08366.

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