Riemann zeta function

1 Definition

The Riemann zeta functionDlmfDlmfMathworldPlanetmath is defined to be the complex valued functionMathworldPlanetmath given by the series

ζ(s):=n=11ns, (1)

which is valid (in fact, absolutely convergent) for all complex numbersMathworldPlanetmathPlanetmath s with Re(s)>1. We list here some of the key properties [1] of the zeta functionMathworldPlanetmath.

  1. 1.

    For all s with Re(s)>1, the zeta function satisfies the Euler product formula

    ζ(s)=p11-p-s, (2)

    where the productPlanetmathPlanetmath is taken over all positive integer primes p, and converges uniformly in a neighborhood of s.

  2. 2.

    The zeta function has a meromorphic continuation to the entire complex plane with a simple poleMathworldPlanetmathPlanetmath at s=1, of residueDlmfMathworldPlanetmath 1, and no other singularities.

  3. 3.

    The zeta function satisfies the functional equation

    ζ(s)=2sπs-1sinπs2Γ(1-s)ζ(1-s), (3)

    for any s (where Γ denotes the Gamma functionDlmfDlmfMathworldPlanetmath).

2 Distribution of primes

The Euler product formula (2) given above expresses the zeta function as a product over the primes p, and consequently provides a link between the analyticPlanetmathPlanetmath properties of the zeta function and the distribution of primes in the integers. As the simplest possible illustration of this link, we show how the properties of the zeta function given above can be used to prove that there are infinitely many primes.

If the set S of primes in were finite, then the Euler product formula


would be a finite product, and consequently lims1ζ(s) would exist and would equal


But the existence of this limit contradicts the fact that ζ(s) has a pole at s=1, so the set S of primes cannot be finite.

A more sophisticated analysisMathworldPlanetmath of the zeta function along these lines can be used to prove both the analytic prime number theoremMathworldPlanetmath and Dirichlet’s theoremMathworldPlanetmath on primes in arithmetic progressions11In the case of arithmetic progressionsMathworldPlanetmathPlanetmath, one also needs to examine the closely related Dirichlet L–functions in addition to the zeta function itself.. Proofs of the prime number theorem can be found in [2] and [5], and for proofs of Dirichlet’s theorem on primes in arithmetic progressions the reader may look in [3] and [7].

3 Zeros of the zeta function

A nontrivial zero of the Riemann zeta function is defined to be a root ζ(s)=0 of the zeta function with the property that 0Re(s)1. Any other zero is called trivial zero of the zeta function.

The reason behind the terminology is as follows. For complex numbers s with real partDlmfMathworld greater than 1, the series definition (1) immediately shows that no zeros of the zeta function exist in this region. It is then an easy matter to use the functional equation (3) to find all zeros of the zeta function with real part less than 0 (it turns out they are exactly the values -2n, for n a positive integer). However, for values of s with real part between 0 and 1, the situation is quite different, since we have neither a series definition nor a functional equation to fall back upon; and indeed to this day very little is known about the behavior of the zeta function inside this critical stripMathworldPlanetmath of the complex plane.

It is known that the prime number theorem is equivalentMathworldPlanetmathPlanetmathPlanetmathPlanetmath to the assertion that the zeta function has no zeros s with Re(s)=0 or Re(s)=1. The celebrated Riemann hypothesis asserts that all nontrivial zeros s of the zeta function satisfy the much more precise equation Re(s)=1/2. If true, the hypothesisMathworldPlanetmathPlanetmath would have profound consequences on the distribution of primes in the integers [5].


  • 1 Lars Ahlfors, Complex Analysis, Third Edition, McGraw–Hill, Inc., 1979.
  • 2 Joseph Bak & Donald Newman, Complex Analysis, Second Edition, Springer–Verlag, 1991.
  • 3 Gerald Janusz, Algebraic Number FieldsMathworldPlanetmath, Second Edition, American Mathematical Society, 1996.
  • 4 Serge Lang, Algebraic Number TheoryMathworldPlanetmath, Second Edition, Springer–Verlag, 1994.
  • 5 Stephen Patterson, Introduction to the Theory of the Riemann Zeta Function, Cambridge University Press, 1988.
  • 6 B. Riemann, Ueber die Anzahl der Primzahlen unter einer gegebenen Grösse, http://www.maths.tcd.ie/pub/HistMath/People/Riemann/Zeta/http://www.maths.tcd.ie/pub/HistMath/People/Riemann/Zeta/
  • 7 Jean–Pierre Serre, A Course in ArithmeticPlanetmathPlanetmath, Springer–Verlag, 1973.
Title Riemann zeta function
Canonical name RiemannZetaFunction
Date of creation 2013-03-22 12:38:01
Last modified on 2013-03-22 12:38:01
Owner alozano (2414)
Last modified by alozano (2414)
Numerical id 18
Author alozano (2414)
Entry type Definition
Classification msc 11M06
Synonym ζ function
Related topic AnalyticContinuationOfRiemannZeta
Related topic DedekindZetaFunction
Related topic DirichletSeries
Related topic EulerProduct
Related topic Complex
Related topic EulerProductFormula2
Related topic HarmonicSeriesOfPrimes
Defines Euler product formula
Defines Riemann hypothesis