De Bruijn-Newman constant

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For each real number [math]t[/math], define the entire function [math]H_t: {\mathbf C} \to {\mathbf C}[/math] by the formula

[math]\displaystyle H_t(z) := \int_0^\infty e^{tu^2} \Phi(u) \cos(zu)\ du[/math]

where [math]\Phi[/math] is the super-exponentially decaying function

[math]\displaystyle \Phi(u) := \sum_{n=1}^\infty (2\pi^2 n^4 e^{9u} - 3 \pi n^2 e^{5u}) \exp(-\pi n^2 e^{4u}).[/math]

It is known that [math]\Phi[/math] is even, and that [math]H_t[/math] is even, real on the real axis, and obeys the functional equation [math]H_t(\overline{z}) = \overline{H_t(z)}[/math]. In particular, the zeroes of [math]H_t[/math] are symmetric about both the real and imaginary axes. One can also express [math]H_t[/math] in a number of different forms, such as

[math]\displaystyle H_t(z) = \frac{1}{2} \int_{\bf R} e^{tu^2} \Phi(u) e^{izu}\ du[/math]


[math]\displaystyle H_t(z) = \frac{1}{2} \int_0^\infty e^{t\log^2 x} \Phi(\log x) e^{iz \log x}\ \frac{dx}{x}.[/math]

In the notation of [KKL2009], one has

[math]\displaystyle H_t(z) = \frac{1}{8} \Xi_{t/4}(z/2).[/math]

De Bruijn [B1950] and Newman [N1976] showed that there existed a constant, the de Bruijn-Newman constant [math]\Lambda[/math], such that [math]H_t[/math] has all zeroes real precisely when [math]t \geq \Lambda[/math]. The Riemann hypothesis is equivalent to the claim that [math]\Lambda \leq 0[/math]. Currently it is known that [math]0 \leq \Lambda \lt 1/2[/math] (lower bound in [RT2018], upper bound in [KKL2009]).

The Polymath15 project seeks to improve the upper bound on [math]\Lambda[/math]. The current strategy is to combine the following three ingredients:

  1. Numerical zero-free regions for [math]H_t(x+iy)[/math] of the form [math]\{ x+iy: 0 \leq x \leq T; y \geq \varepsilon \}[/math] for explicit [math]T, \varepsilon, t \gt 0[/math].
  2. Rigorous asymptotics that show that [math]H_t(x+iy)[/math] whenever [math]y \geq \varepsilon[/math] and [math]x \geq T[/math] for a sufficiently large [math]T[/math].
  3. Dynamics of zeroes results that control [math]\Lambda[/math] in terms of the maximum imaginary part of a zero of [math]H_t[/math].


When [math]t=0[/math], one has

[math]\displaystyle H_0(z) = \frac{1}{8} \xi( \frac{1}{2} + \frac{iz}{2} ) [/math]


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

is the Riemann xi function. In particular, [math]z[/math] is a zero of [math]H_0[/math] if and only if [math]\frac{1}{2} + \frac{iz}{2}[/math] is a non-trivial zero of the Riemann zeta function. Thus, for instance, the Riemann hypothesis is equivalent to all the zeroes of [math]H_0[/math] being real, and Riemann-von Mangoldt formula (in the explicit form given by Backlund) gives

[math]\displaystyle \left|N_0(T) - (\frac{T}{4\pi} \log \frac{T}{4\pi} - \frac{T}{4\pi} - \frac{7}{8})\right| \lt 0.137 \log (T/2) + 0.443 \log\log(T/2) + 4.350 [/math]

for any [math]T \gt 4[/math], where [math]N_0(T)[/math] denotes the number of zeroes of [math]H_0[/math] with real part between 0 and T.

The first [math]10^{13}[/math] zeroes of [math]H_0[/math] (to the right of the origin) are real [G2004]. This numerical computation uses the Odlyzko-Schonhage algorithm. In [P2017] it was independently verified that all zeroes of [math]H_0[/math] between 0 and 61,220,092,000 were real.


For any [math]t\gt0[/math], it is known that all but finitely many of the zeroes of [math]H_t[/math] are real and simple [KKL2009, Theorem 1.3]. In fact, assuming the Riemann hypothesis, all of the zeroes of [math]H_t[/math] are real and simple [CSV1994, Corollary 2].

It is known that [math]\xi[/math] is an entire function of order one ([T1986, Theorem 2.12]). Hence by the fundamental solution for the heat equation, the [math]H_t[/math] are also entire functions of order one for any [math]t[/math].

Because [math]\Phi[/math] is positive, [math]H_t(iy)[/math] is positive for any [math]y[/math], and hence there are no zeroes on the imaginary axis.

Let [math]\sigma_{max}(t)[/math] denote the largest imaginary part of a zero of [math]H_t[/math], thus [math]\sigma_{max}(t)=0[/math] if and only if [math]t \geq \Lambda[/math]. It is known that the quantity [math]\frac{1}{2} \sigma_{max}(t)^2 + t[/math] is non-increasing in time whenever [math]\sigma_{max}(t)\gt0[/math] (see [KKL2009, Proposition A]. In particular we have

[math]\displaystyle \Lambda \leq t + \frac{1}{2} \sigma_{max}(t)^2[/math]

for any [math]t[/math].

The zeroes [math]z_j(t)[/math] of [math]H_t[/math] obey the system of ODE

[math]\partial_t z_j(t) = - \sum_{k \neq j} \frac{2}{z_k(t) - z_j(t)}[/math]

where the sum is interpreted in a principal value sense, and excluding those times in which [math]z_j(t)[/math] is a repeated zero. See dynamics of zeros for more details. Writing [math]z_j(t) = x_j(t) + i y_j(t)[/math], we can write the dynamics as

[math] \partial_t x_j = - \sum_{k \neq j} \frac{2 (x_k - x_j)}{(x_k-x_j)^2 + (y_k-y_j)^2} [/math]
[math] \partial_t y_j = \sum_{k \neq j} \frac{2 (y_k - y_j)}{(x_k-x_j)^2 + (y_k-y_j)^2} [/math]

where the dependence on [math]t[/math] has been omitted for brevity.

In [KKL2009, Theorem 1.4], it is shown that for any fixed [math]t\gt0[/math], the number [math]N_t(T)[/math] of zeroes of [math]H_t[/math] with real part between 0 and T obeys the asymptotic

[math]N_t(T) = \frac{T}{4\pi} \log \frac{T}{4\pi} - \frac{T}{4\pi} + \frac{t}{16} \log T + O(1) [/math]

as [math]T \to \infty[/math] (caution: the error term here is not uniform in t). Also, the zeroes behave like an arithmetic progression in the sense that

[math] z_{k+1}(t) - z_k(t) = (1+o(1)) \frac{4\pi}{\log |z_k|(t)} = (1+o(1)) \frac{4\pi}{\log k} [/math]

as [math]k \to +\infty[/math].

See asymptotics of H_t for asymptotics of the function [math]H_t[/math], and Effective bounds on H_t and Effective bounds on H_t - second approach for explicit bounds.


Other blog posts and online discussion

Code and data


Here are the Polymath15 grant acknowledgments.

Polymath15 was able to establish the bound [math]\Lambda \leq 0.22[/math], but with the recent numerical verification of RH in this may be improved to [math]\Lambda \leq 0.20[/math].

Test problem

See Polymath15 test problem.

Zero-free regions

See Zero-free regions.

Wikipedia and other references