Riemann zeta function
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In mathematics, the Riemann zeta function is a prominent function of great significance in number theory. Its importance is due to its relation to the distribution of prime numbers. It also has uses in other areas such as physics, probability theory, and applied statistics. It is named after the German mathematician Bernhard Riemann, who wrote about it in the memoir "On the Number of Primes Less Than a Given Quantity", published in 1859.
The Riemann hypothesis is a conjecture about the distribution of the zeros of the Riemann zeta function. Many mathematicians consider the Riemann hypothesis to be the most important unsolved problem in pure mathematics.  In the year 2000, the Clay Mathematics Institute included the Riemann hypothesis as one of their Millennium Prize Problems, promising a reward of US$1 million to anyone who could solve it.
Definition[change | change source]
When using mathematical symbols to describe the Riemann zeta function, instead of explaining it using English, it is written like this, as an infinite series:
where is the real part of the complex number . For example, if , then (where ).
This makes a sequence. The first few terms of this sequence would be,
- and so on
However, this doesn't apply for numbers where . This is because, if we interpret this function as an infinite sum, the sum does not converge, it instead diverges. This means that instead of nearing a specific value, it will get infinitely large. Riemann used some very clever mathematics known as analytic continuation, so that he could give a value to all numbers except 1. represents the harmonic series, which diverges, meaning that the sum does not near any specific number.
Leonhard Euler discovered the first results about the series that this function represents in the eighteenth century. He proved that the Zeta function can be written as an infinite product of prime numbers. In mathematical notation:
This is an infinite product. means that only prime numbers are included in the product. The first few terms of the product would look like:
Zeros, the critical line, and the Riemann hypothesis[change | change source]
Mathematicians are interested in what values the function equals zero. The Riemann hypothesis conjectures that all the "non-trivial zeros" have a real part one half (meaning for a complex number in the form , all the non-trivial zeros are guessed to be of the form for some value k. Because all of the non-trivial zeros are guessed to have a real part of 1/2, this region is called the "critical strip". So far, all of the computed nontrivial zeros are on this line.
Proving or disproving the hypothesis has been very difficult, and is still troubling mathematicians to this day.
References[change | change source]
- Riemann, Bernhard. "On the Number of Prime Numbers less than a Given Quantity" (PDF).