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MA4L6 Analytic Number Theory

Lecturer: Adam Harper

Term(s): Term 2

Status for Mathematics Students: List C

Commitment: 30 one hour lectures

Assessment: 100% Exam (3 hour)

Prerequisites: The only essential prerequisite is some basic real and complex analysis, up to Cauchy's Residue
Theorem (e.g. the modules MA244 Analysis III and MA3B8 Complex Analysis). The course will have a flavour of estimating objects and handling error terms, which might be familiar from previous courses in analysis or probability. There are no number theory prerequisites, but Algebra II (MA249) and Introduction to Number Theory (MA257) might be helpful in a few places.

The course will cover some of the following topics, depending on time and audience preferences:

  • Warm-up:
    The counting functions $\pi(x), \Psi(x)$ of primes up to $x$. Chebychev's upper and lower bounds for $\Psi(x)$.
  • Basic theory of the Riemann zeta function:
    Definition of the zeta function $\zeta(s)$ when $\Re(s) > 1$, and then when $\Re(s) > 0$ and for all $s$. The connection with primes via the Euler product. Proof that $\zeta(s) \neq 0$ when $\Re(s) \geq 1$, and deduction of the Prime Number Theorem (asymptotic for $\Psi(x)$).
  • More on zeros of zeta:
    Non-existence of zeta zeros follows from estimates for $\sum_{N < n < 2N} n^{it}$. The connection with exponential sums, and outline of the methods of Van der Corput and Vinogradov. Wider zero-free regions for $\zeta(s)$, and application to improving the Prime Number Theorem. Statement of the Riemann Hypothesis.
  • Primes in arithmetic progressions:
    Dirichlet characters $\chi$ and Dirichlet $L$-functions $L(s,\chi)$. Non-vanishing of $L(1,\chi)$. Outline of the extension of the Prime Number Theorem to arithmetic progressions.

Multiplicative number theory studies the distribution of objects, like prime numbers or numbers with ''few'' prime factors or ''small'' prime factors, that are multiplicatively defined. A powerful tool for this is the analysis of generating functions like the Riemann zeta function $\zeta(s)$, a method introduced in the 19th century that allowed the resolution of problems dating back to the ancient Greeks. This course will introduce some of these questions and methods.

By the end of the module the student should be able to:

  • Consolidate existing knowledge from real and complex analysis and be able to place in the context of Analytic Number Theory
  • Have a good understanding of the Riemann zeta function and the theory surrounding it up to the Prime Number Theorem
  • Understand and appreciate the connection of the zeros of the zeta function with exponential sums and the statement of the Riemann Hypothesis
  • Demonstrate the necessary grasp and understanding of the material to potentially pursue further postgraduate study in the area


  • H. Davenport. Multiplicative Number Theory. Third edition, published by Springer Graduate Texts in Mathematics. 2000
  • A. Ivi'c. The Riemann Zeta-Function. Theory and Applications. Dover edition, published by Dover Publications, Inc.. 2003
  • H. Montgomery and R. Vaughan. Multiplicative Number Theory I. Classical Theory. Published by Cambridge studies in advanced mathematics. 2007
  • E. C. Titchmarsh. The Theory of the Riemann Zeta-function. Second edition, revised by D. R. Heath-Brown, published by Oxford University Press. 1986

Additional Resources

Year 1 regs and modules
G100 G103 GL11 G1NC

Year 2 regs and modules
G100 G103 GL11 G1NC

Year 3 regs and modules
G100 G103

Year 4 regs and modules

Archived Material
Past Exams
Core module averages