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Joni Teräväinen and I have just uploaded to the arXiv our preprint “The Hardy–Littlewood–Chowla conjecture in the presence of a Siegel zero“. This paper is a development of the theme that certain conjectures in analytic number theory become easier if one makes the hypothesis that Siegel zeroes exist; this places one in a presumably “illusory” universe, since the widely believed Generalised Riemann Hypothesis (GRH) precludes the existence of such zeroes, yet this illusory universe seems remarkably self-consistent and notoriously impossible to eliminate from one’s analysis.

For the purposes of this paper, a Siegel zero is a zero of a Dirichlet -function corresponding to a primitive quadratic character of some conductor , which is close to in the sense that

for some large (which we will call the*quality*) of the Siegel zero. The significance of these zeroes is that they force the Möbius function and the Liouville function to “pretend” to be like the exceptional character for primes of magnitude comparable to . Indeed, if we define an

*exceptional prime*to be a prime in which , then very few primes near will be exceptional; in our paper we use some elementary arguments to establish the bounds for any and , where the sum is over exceptional primes in the indicated range ; this bound is non-trivial for as large as . (See Section 1 of this blog post for some variants of this argument, which were inspired by work of Heath-Brown.) There is also a companion bound (somewhat weaker) that covers a range of a little bit below .

One of the early influential results in this area was the following result of Heath-Brown, which I previously blogged about here:

Theorem 1 (Hardy-Littlewood assuming Siegel zero)Let be a fixed natural number. Suppose one has a Siegel zero associated to some conductor . Then we have for all , where is the von Mangoldt function and is thesingular series

In particular, Heath-Brown showed that if there are infinitely many Siegel zeroes, then there are also infinitely many twin primes, with the correct asymptotic predicted by the Hardy-Littlewood prime tuple conjecture at infinitely many scales.

Very recently, Chinis established an analogous result for the Chowla conjecture (building upon earlier work of Germán and Katai):

Theorem 2 (Chowla assuming Siegel zero)Let be distinct fixed natural numbers. Suppose one has a Siegel zero associated to some conductor . Then one has in the range , where is the Liouville function.

In our paper we unify these results and also improve the quantitative estimates and range of :

Theorem 3 (Hardy-Littlewood-Chowla assuming Siegel zero)Let be distinct fixed natural numbers with . Suppose one has a Siegel zero associated to some conductor . Then one has for for any fixed .

Our argument proceeds by a series of steps in which we replace and by more complicated looking, but also more tractable, approximations, until the correlation is one that can be computed in a tedious but straightforward fashion by known techniques. More precisely, the steps are as follows:

- (i) Replace the Liouville function with an approximant , which is a completely multiplicative function that agrees with at small primes and agrees with at large primes.
- (ii) Replace the von Mangoldt function with an approximant , which is the Dirichlet convolution multiplied by a Selberg sieve weight to essentially restrict that convolution to almost primes.
- (iii) Replace with a more complicated truncation which has the structure of a “Type I sum”, and which agrees with on numbers that have a “typical” factorization.
- (iv) Replace the approximant with a more complicated approximant which has the structure of a “Type I sum”.
- (v) Now that all terms in the correlation have been replaced with tractable Type I sums, use standard Euler product calculations and Fourier analysis, similar in spirit to the proof of the pseudorandomness of the Selberg sieve majorant for the primes in this paper of Ben Green and myself, to evaluate the correlation to high accuracy.

Steps (i), (ii) proceed mainly through estimates such as (1) and standard sieve theory bounds. Step (iii) is based primarily on estimates on the number of smooth numbers of a certain size.

The restriction in our main theorem is needed only to execute step (iv) of this step. Roughly speaking, the Siegel approximant to is a twisted, sieved version of the divisor function , and the types of correlation one is faced with at the start of step (iv) are a more complicated version of the divisor correlation sum

For this sum can be easily controlled by the Dirichlet hyperbola method. For one needs the fact that has a level of distribution greater than ; in fact Kloosterman sum bounds give a level of distribution of , a folklore fact that seems to have first been observed by Linnik and Selberg. We use a (notationally more complicated) version of this argument to treat the sums arising in (iv) for . Unfortunately for there are no known techniques to unconditionally obtain asymptotics, even for the model sum although we do at least have fairly convincing conjectures as to what the asymptotics should be. Because of this, it seems unlikely that one will be able to relax the hypothesis in our main theorem at our current level of understanding of analytic number theory.Step (v) is a tedious but straightforward sieve theoretic computation, similar in many ways to the correlation estimates of Goldston and Yildirim used in their work on small gaps between primes (as discussed for instance here), and then also used by Ben Green and myself to locate arithmetic progressions in primes.

Kaisa Matomaki, Maksym Radziwill, and I have just uploaded to the arXiv our paper “An averaged form of Chowla’s conjecture“. This paper concerns a weaker variant of the famous conjecture of Chowla (discussed for instance in this previous post) that

as for any distinct natural numbers , where denotes the Liouville function. (One could also replace the Liouville function here by the Möbius function and obtain a morally equivalent conjecture.) This conjecture remains open for any ; for instance the assertion

is a variant of the twin prime conjecture (though possibly a tiny bit easier to prove), and is subject to the notorious parity barrier (as discussed in this previous post).

Our main result asserts, roughly speaking, that Chowla’s conjecture can be established unconditionally provided one has non-trivial averaging in the parameters. More precisely, one has

Theorem 1 (Chowla on the average)Suppose is a quantity that goes to infinity as (but it can go to infinity arbitrarily slowly). Then for any fixed , we haveIn fact, we can remove one of the averaging parameters and obtain

Actually we can make the decay rate a bit more quantitative, gaining about over the trivial bound. The key case is ; while the unaveraged Chowla conjecture becomes more difficult as increases, the averaged Chowla conjecture does not increase in difficulty due to the increasing amount of averaging for larger , and we end up deducing the higher case of the conjecture from the case by an elementary argument.

The proof of the theorem proceeds as follows. By exploiting the Fourier-analytic identity

(related to a standard Fourier-analytic identity for the Gowers norm) it turns out that the case of the above theorem can basically be derived from an estimate of the form

uniformly for all . For “major arc” , close to a rational for small , we can establish this bound from a generalisation of a recent result of Matomaki and Radziwill (discussed in this previous post) on averages of multiplicative functions in short intervals. For “minor arc” , we can proceed instead from an argument of Katai and Bourgain-Sarnak-Ziegler (discussed in this previous post).

The argument also extends to other bounded multiplicative functions than the Liouville function. Chowla’s conjecture was generalised by Elliott, who roughly speaking conjectured that the copies of in Chowla’s conjecture could be replaced by arbitrary bounded multiplicative functions as long as these functions were far from a twisted Dirichlet character in the sense that

(This type of distance is incidentally now a fundamental notion in the Granville-Soundararajan “pretentious” approach to multiplicative number theory.) During our work on this project, we found that Elliott’s conjecture is not quite true as stated due to a technicality: one can cook up a bounded multiplicative function which behaves like on scales for some going to infinity and some slowly varying , and such a function will be far from any fixed Dirichlet character whilst still having many large correlations (e.g. the pair correlations will be large). In our paper we propose a technical “fix” to Elliott’s conjecture (replacing (1) by a truncated variant), and show that this repaired version of Elliott’s conjecture is true on the average in much the same way that Chowla’s conjecture is. (If one restricts attention to real-valued multiplicative functions, then this technical issue does not show up, basically because one can assume without loss of generality that in this case; we discuss this fact in an appendix to the paper.)

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