Waring's Problem and the Goldbach Conjecture

We look here at some of the results about Waring's Problem and the Goldbach Conjecture which have been proved since Hardy gave his inaugural lecture at the University of Oxford in 1920.


1. Waring's Problem g(k).

The number g(k) is the least number such that every number is the sum of g(k) or less k-th powers.

In his 1920 inaugural lecture, Hardy knew that g(1) = 1, g(2) = 4 and g(3) = 9. He did not have an exact value for g(k) for k ≥ 4 but he gives bounds. The following has been proved since 1920:

g(4) = 19 was proved in 1986 by Ramachandran Balasubramanian, Jean-Marc Deshouillers, and François Dress in two papers.
g(5) = 37 was proved in 1964 by Chen Jingrun.
g(6) = 73 was proved in 1940 by S S Pillai.

Here are the first values of g(k):

1, 4, 9, 19, 37, 73, 143, 279, 548, 1079, 2132, 4223, 8384, 16673, 33203, 66190, 132055, 263619, 526502, 1051899, 2102137, 4201783, 8399828, ...

It is known that g(k) = 2k + [(3/2)k] - 2 for all k ≤ 471,600,000 where [x] is the largest integer less than x. This was proved by J M Kubina and M C Wunderlich, in their paper "Extending Waring's conjecture to 471,600,000" in Math. Comp. 55 (1990), 815-820.

2. Waring's Problem G(k).

The number G(k) is the least number such that for every integer from a certain point onwards is the sum of G(k)or less k-th powers.

Although much progress has been made in determining g(k), there has been much less progress in determining G(k). In his 1920 inaugural lecture, Hardy knew that G(1) = 1, G(2) = 4 and 4 ≤ G(3) ≤ 8. Hardy also knew that 16 ≤ G(4) ≤ 21. The following has been proved since 1920:

G(3) ≤ 7 was proved by Y V Linnik. The result was announced in 1942 in his paper "On the representation of large numbers as sums of seven cubes" in Dokl. Akad. Nauk SSSR 35 (1942), 162. A proof is given in Linnik's paper "On the representation of large numbers as sums of seven cubes" in Mat. Sb. 12 (1943), 218-224.

G(4) = 16 was proved by Harold Davenport in 1939 in his paper "On Waring's problem for fourth powers" in Ann. of Math. 40 (1939), 731-747.

For G(k), 5 ≤ k ≤ 20, we have the following results which, as of January 2017, we believe are the best obtained so far:

k G(k) Proved by Journal Year
5 ≤  17 Vaughan & Wooley Acta Math. 1995
6 ≤  24 Vaughan & Wooley Duke Math. J. 1994
7 ≤  33 Vaughan & Wooley Acta Math. 1995
8 ≤  42 Vaughan & Wooley Phil. Trans. Roy. Soc. 1993
9 ≤  50 Vaughan & Wooley Acta Arith. 2000
10 ≤  59 Vaughan & Wooley Acta Arith. 2000
11 ≤  67 Vaughan & Wooley Acta Arith. 2000
12 ≤  76 Vaughan & Wooley Acta Arith. 2000
13 ≤  84 Vaughan & Wooley Acta Arith. 2000
14 ≤  92 Vaughan & Wooley Acta Arith. 2000
15 ≤ 100 Vaughan & Wooley Acta Arith. 2000
16 ≤ 109 Vaughan & Wooley Acta Arith. 2000
17 ≤ 117 Vaughan & Wooley Acta Arith. 2000
18 ≤ 125 Vaughan & Wooley Acta Arith. 2000
19 ≤ 134 Vaughan & Wooley Acta Arith. 2000
20 ≤ 142 Vaughan & Wooley Acta Arith. 2000

To illustrate the progress towards these "up-to-date" results, we give an indication of how the bounds for G(9) have been improved since Hardy gave his 1920 lecture:

  Proved by JournalYear
949 G H Hardy & J E Littlewood Math. Z. 1922
824 R D James Proc. London Math. Soc. 1934
190 H Heilbronn Acta Arith. 1936
101 T Estermann Acta Arith. 1937
 99 V Narasimhamurti J. Indian Math. Soc. 1941
 96 R J Cook Bull. London Math. Soc. 1973
 91 R C Vaughan Acta Arith. 1977
 90 K Thanigasalam Acta Arith. 1980
 88 K Thanigasalam Acta Arith. 1982
 87 K Thanigasalam Acta Arith. 1985
 82 R C Vaughan J. London Math. Soc. 1986
 75 R C Vaughan Acta Math. 1989
 55 T D Wooley Ann. of Math. 1992
 51 R C Vaughan & T D Wooley Acta Math. 1995
 50 R C Vaughan & T D Wooley Acta Arith. 2000

It has been shown that the following lower bounds hold

k G(k)
5 ≥ 6
6 ≥ 9
7 ≥ 8
8 ≥ 32
9 ≥ 13
10 ≥ 12
11 ≥ 12
12 ≥ 16
13 ≥ 14
14 ≥ 15
15 ≥ 16
16 ≥ 64
17 ≥ 18
18 ≥ 27
19 ≥ 20
20 ≥ 25

It has been conjectured that these lower bounds are the correct values for G(k).

3. Goldbach Conjecture.

Hardy states the Goldbach Conjecture in his 1920 inaugural lecture as:

Every even number greater than 2 is the sum of two odd primes.
This is sometimes today called the strong Goldbach Conjecture.

The weak Goldbach Conjecture is:

Every odd number greater than 7 is the sum of three odd primes.
In 2013, Harald Helfgott proved Goldbach's weak conjecture; previous results had already shown it to be true for all odd numbers greater than about 2 × 101346.

The strong Goldbach conjecture has been shown to hold for all n up to 4 × 1018. The following table shows the progress towards this:

105 N Pipping 1938
108 M L Stein & P R Stein 1965
2 × 1010 A Granville, J van der Lune & H J J te Riele 1989
4 × 1011 M K Sinisalo 1993
1014 J M Deshouillers, H J J te Riele & Y Saouter 1998
4 × 1014 J Richstein 2001
2 × 1016 T Oliveira e Silva 2003
6 × 1016 T Oliveira e Silva 2003
2 × 1017 T Oliveira e Silva 2005
3 × 1017 T Oliveira e Silva 2005
12 × 1017 T Oliveira e Silva 2008
4 × 1018 T Oliveira e Silva 2012


JOC/EFR January 2017

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http://www-history.mcs.st-andrews.ac.uk/Extras/Waring_January 2017.html