# The sum of digits of polynomial values in arithmetic progressions

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1 The sum of digits of polynomial values in arithmetic progressions Thomas Stoll Institut de Mathématiques de Luminy, Université de la Méditerranée, Marseille Cedex 9, France Abstract Let q, m 2 be integers with (m, q 1) = 1. Denote by s q (n) the sum of digits of n in the q-ary digital expansion. Further let p(x) Z[x] be a polynomial of degree h 3 with p(n) N. We show that there exist C = C(q, m, p) > 0 and N 0 = N 0 (q, m, p) 1, such that for all g Z and all N N 0, #{0 n < N : s q (p(n)) g mod m} CN 4/(3h+1). This is an improvement over the general lower bound given by Dartyge and Tenenbaum (2006), which is CN 2/h!. 1 Introduction Let q, m 2 be integers and denote by s q (n) the sum of digits of n in the q-ary digital expansion of integers. In 1967/68, Gelfond [1] proved that for nonnegative integers a 1, a 0 with a 1 0, the sequence (s q (a 1 n + a 0 )) n N is well distributed in arithmetic progressions mod m, provided (m, q 1) = 1. At the end of his paper, he posed the problem of finding the distribution of s q in arithmetic progressions where the argument is restricted to values of polynomials of degree 2. Recently, Mauduit and Rivat [8] answered Gelfond s question in the case of squares Mathematics Subject Classification: Primary 11A63; Secondary 11N37, 11N69. Key words and phrases: sum of digits, polynomials, Gelfond s problem. 1

2 Sum of digits of polynomial values 2 Theorem 1.1 (Mauduit & Rivat (2009)). For any q, m 2 there exists σ q,m > 0 such that for any g Z, as N, #{0 n < N : s q (n 2 ) g mod m} = N m Q(g, d) + O q,m(n 1 σq,m ), where d = (m, q 1) and Q(g, d) = #{0 n < d : n 2 g mod d}. The proof can be adapted to values of general quadratic polynomial instead of squares. We refer the reader to [7] and [8] for detailed references and further historical remarks. The case of polynomials of higher degree remains elusive so far. The Fourier-analytic approach, as put forward in [7] and [8], seems not to yield results of the above strength. In a recent paper, Drmota, Mauduit and Rivat [4] applied the Fourier-analytic method to show that well distribution in arithmetic progressions is obtained whenever q is sufficiently large. In the sequel, and unless otherwise stated, we write p(x) = a h x h + + a 0 for an arbitrary, but fixed polynomial p(x) Z[x] of degree h 3 with p(n) N. Theorem 1.2 (Drmota, Mauduit & Rivat (2011)). Let q exp(67h 3 (log h) 2 ) be a sufficiently large prime number and suppose (a h, q) = 1. Then there exists σ q,m > 0 such that for any g Z, as N, #{0 n < N : s q (p(n)) g mod m} = N m Q (g, d) + O q,m,p (N 1 σq,m ), where d = (m, q 1) and Q (g, d) = #{0 n < d : p(n) g mod d}. It seems impossible to even find a single nice polynomial of degree 3, say, that allows to conclude for well distribution in arithmetic progressions for small bases, let alone that the binary case q = 2 is an emblematic case. Another line of attack to Gelfond s problem is to find lower bounds that are valid for all q 2. Dartyge and Tenenbaum [3] provided such a general lower bound by a method of descent on the degree of the polynomial and the estimations obtained in [2].

3 Sum of digits of polynomial values 3 Theorem 1.3 (Dartyge & Tenenbaum (2006)). Let q, m 2 with (m, q 1) = 1. Then there exist C = C(q, m, p) > 0 and N 0 = N 0 (q, m, p) 1, such that for all g Z and all N N 0, #{0 n < N : s q (p(n)) g mod m} CN 2/h!. The aim of the present work is to improve this lower bound for all h 3. More importantly, we get a substantial improvement of the bound as a function of h. The main result is as follows. 1 Theorem 1.4. Let q, m 2 with (m, q 1) = 1. Then there exist C = C(q, m, p) > 0 and N 0 = N 0 (q, m, p) 1, such that for all g Z and all N N 0, #{0 n < N : s q (p(n)) g mod m} CN 4/(3h+1). Moreover, for monomials p(x) = x h, h 3, we can take N 0 = q (2hq 3(2h+m) 2 (6q) h) 3h+1, ( ) 1 C = 16hq 5 (6q) h q (24h+12m)/(3h+1). The proof is inspired from the constructions used in [5] and [6] that were helpful in the proof of a conjecture of Stolarsky [9] concerning the pointwise distribution of s q (p(n)) versus s q (n). As a drawback of the method of proof, however, it seems impossible to completely eliminate the dependency on h in the lower bound. 2 Proof of Theorem 1.4 Consider the polynomial t(x) = m 3 x 3 + m 2 x 2 m 1 x + m 0, (2.1) where the parameters m 0, m 1, m 2, m 3 are positive real numbers that will be chosen later on in a suitable way. For all integers l 1 we write 3l T l (x) = t(x) l = c i x i (2.2) 1 Gelfond s work and Theorem 1.1 give precise answers for linear and quadratic polynomials, so we do not include the cases h = 1, 2 in our statement though our approach works without change. i=0

4 Sum of digits of polynomial values 4 to denote its l-th power. (For the sake of simplicity we omit to mark the dependency on l of the coefficients c i.) The following technical result is the key in the proof of Theorem 1.4. It shows that, within a certain degree of uniformity in the parameters m i, all coefficients but one of T l (x) are positive. Lemma 2.1. For all integers q 2, l 1 and m 0, m 1, m 2, m 3 R + with 1 m 0, m 2, m 3 < q, 0 < m 1 < l 1 (6q) l we have that c i > 0 for i = 0, 2, 3,..., 3l and c i < 0 for i = 1. Moreover, for all i, c i (4q) l. (2.3) Proof. The coefficients of T l (x) in (2.2) are clearly bounded above in absolute value by the corresponding coefficients of the polynomial (qx 3 + qx 2 + qx + q) l. Since the sum of all coefficients of this polynomial is (4q) l and all coefficients are positive, each individual coefficient is bounded by (4q) l. This proves (2.3). We now show the first part. To begin with, observe that c 0 = m l 0 > 0 and c 1 = lm 1 m l 1 0 which is negative for all m 1 > 0. Suppose now that 2 i 3l and consider the coefficient of x i in T l (x) = (m 3 x 3 + m 2 x 2 + m 0 ) l + r(x), (2.4) where r(x) = l j=1 3l 2 = d j x j. j=1 ( ) l ( m 1 x) j ( ) m 3 x 3 + m 2 x 2 l j + m 0 j First, consider the first summand in (2.4). Since m 0, m 2, m 3 1 the coefficient of x i in the expansion of (m 3 x 3 + m 2 x 2 + m 0 ) l is 1. Note also that all the powers x 2, x 3,..., x 3l appear in the expansion of this term due to the fact that every i 2 allows at least one representation as i = 3i 1 + 2i 2 with non-negative integers i 1, i 2. We now want to show that for sufficiently small m 1 > 0 the coefficient of x i in the first summand in (2.4) is dominant. To this end, we assume m 1 < 1 so that m 1 > m j 1 for 2 j l. Using ( ) l j < 2 l and a similar reasoning as above we get that d j < l2 l m 1 (3q) l = l (6q) l m 1, 1 j 3l 2. This means that if m 1 < l 1 (6q) l then the powers x 2,..., x 3l in the polynomial T l (x) indeed have positive coefficients. This finishes the proof.

5 Sum of digits of polynomial values 5 To proceed we recall the following splitting formulas for s q which are simple consequences of the q-additivity of the function s q (see [5] for the proofs). Proposition 2.2. For 1 b < q k and a, k 1, we have s q (aq k + b) = s q (a) + s q (b), s q (aq k b) = s q (a 1) + k(q 1) s q (b 1). We now turn to the proof of Theorem 1.4. To clarify the construction we consider first the simpler case of monomials, p(x) = x h, h 1. (We here include the cases h = 1 and h = 2 because we will need them to deal with general polynomials with linear and quadratic terms.) Let u 1 and multiply t(x) in (2.1) by q u 1. Lemma 2.1 then shows that for all integers m 0, m 1, m 2, m 3 with q u 1 m 0, m 2, m 3 < q u, 1 m 1 < q u /(hq(6q) h ), (2.5) the polynomial T h (x) = (t(x)) h = p(t(x)) has all positive (integral) coefficients with the only exception of the coefficient of x 1 which is negative. Let u be an integer such that q u 2hq(6q) h (2.6) and let k Z be such that k > hu + 2h. (2.7) For all u with (2.6) the interval for m 1 in (2.5) is non-empty. Furthermore, relation (2.7) implies by (2.3) that q k > q hu q 2h (4q u ) h > c i, for all i = 0, 1,..., 3h, where c i here denotes the coefficient of x i in T h (x). Roughly speaking, the use of a large power of q (i.e. q k with k that satisfies (2.7)) is motivated by the simple wish to split the digital structure of the h-power according to Proposition 2.2. By doing so, we avoid to have to deal with carries when adding terms in the expansion in base q since the appearing terms will not interfere. We also remark that this is the point where we get the dependency of h in the lower bound of Theorem 1.4.

6 Sum of digits of polynomial values 6 Now, by c 2, c 1 1 and the successive use of Proposition 2.2 we get ( 3h ) s q (t(q k ) h ) = s q c i q ik + c 2 q 2k c 1 q k + c 0 ( 3h ) = s q c i q (i 1)k + c 2 q k c 1 + s q (c 0 ) ( 3h ) = s q c i q (i 3)k + s q (c 2 1) + k(q 1) s q ( c 1 1) + s q (c 0 ) = 3h s q (c i ) + s q (c 2 1) + k(q 1) s q ( c 1 1) + s q (c 0 ) = k(q 1) + M, (2.8) where we write M = 3h s q (c i ) + s q (c 2 1) s q ( c 1 1) + s q (c 0 ). Note that M is an integer that depends (in some rather obscure way) on the quantities m 0, m 1, m 2, m 3. Once we fix a quadruple (m 0, m 1, m 2, m 3 ) in the ranges (2.5), the quantity M does not depend on k and is constant whenever k satisfies (2.7). We now exploit the appearance of the single summand k(q 1) in (2.8). Since by assumption (m, q 1) = 1, we find that s q (t(q k ) h ), for k = hu + 2h + 1, hu + 2h + 2,..., hu + 2h + m, (2.9) runs through a complete set of residues mod m. Hence, in any case, we hit a fixed arithmetic progression mod m (which might be altered by M) for some k with hu + 2h + 1 k hu + 2h + m. Summing up, for u with (2.6) and by (2.5) we find at least (q u q u 1 ) 3 (q u /(hq(6q) h ) 1) (1 1/q)3 2hq (6q) h q4u (2.10) integers n that in turn by (2.1), (2.5), (2.7) and (2.9) are all smaller than q u q 3(hu+2h+m) = q 3(2h+m) q u(3h+1) and satisfy s q (n h ) g mod m for fixed g and m. By our construction and by choosing k > hu + 2h > u all these integers are distinct. We denote N 0 = N 0 (q, m, p) = q 3(2h+m) q u 0(3h+1),

7 Sum of digits of polynomial values 7 where u 0 = log q ( 2hq(6q) h ) log q ( 2hq 2 (6q) h). Then for all N N 0 we find u u 0 with q 3(2h+m) q u(3h+1) N < q 3(2h+m) q (u+1)(3h+1). (2.11) By (2.10) and (2.11), and using (1 1/q) 3 1/8 for q 2, we find at least (1 1/q) 3 2hq (6q) h q4u ( 16hq 5 (6q) h q (24h+12m)/(3h+1) ) 1 N 4/(3h+1) integers n with 0 n < N and s q (n h ) g mod m. We therefore get the statement of Theorem 1.4 for the case of monomials p(x) = x h with h 3. The estimates are also valid for h = 1 and h = 2. The general case of a polynomial p(x) = a h x h + + a 0 of degree h 3 (or, more generally, of degree h 1) follows easily from what we have already proven. Without loss of generality we may assume that all coefficients a i, 0 i h, are positive, since otherwise there exists e = e(p) depending only on p such that p(x + e) has all positive coefficients. Note that a finite translation can be dealt with choosing C and N 0 appropriately in the statement. Since Lemma 2.1 holds for all l 1 and all negative coefficients are found at the same power x 1, we have that the polynomial p(t(x)) has again all positive coefficients but one where the negative coefficient again corresponds to the power x 1. It is then sufficient to suppose that k > hu + 2h + log q max 0 i h a i in order to split the digital structure of p(t(q k )). In fact, this implies that ( ) q k > max a i (4q u ) h, 0 i h and exactly the same reasoning as before yields q,p q 4u distinct positive integers that are q,m,p q u(3h+1) and satisfy s q (p(n)) g mod m. This completes the proof of Theorem 1.4. Acknowledgements This research was supported by the Agence Nationale de la Recherche, grant ANR-10-BLAN 0103 MUNUM.

8 Sum of digits of polynomial values 8 References [1] A. O. Gelfond, Sur les nombres qui ont des propriétés additives et multiplicatives données, Acta Arith. 13 (1967/1968), [2] C. Dartyge, G. Tenenbaum, Sommes de chiffres de multiples d entiers, Ann. Inst. Fourier (Grenoble) 55 (2005), no. 7, [3] C. Dartyge, G. Tenenbaum, Congruences de sommes de chiffres de valeurs polynomiales, Bull. London Math. Soc. 38 (2006), no. 1, [4] M. Drmota, C. Mauduit, J. Rivat, The sum of digits function of polynomial sequences, J. London Math. Soc. 84 (2011), [5] K. G. Hare, S. Laishram, T. Stoll, Stolarsky s conjecture and the sum of digits of polynomial values, Proc. Amer. Math. Soc. 139 (2011), [6] K. G. Hare, S. Laishram, T. Stoll, The sum of digits of n and n 2, Int. J. Number Theory (2011), to appear, doi: /s [7] C. Mauduit, J. Rivat, Sur un problème de Gelfond: la somme des chiffres des nombres premiers, Ann. of Math. 171 (2010), [8] C. Mauduit, J. Rivat, La somme des chiffres des carrés, Acta Math. 203 (2009), [9] K. B. Stolarsky, The binary digits of a power, Proc. Amer. Math. Soc. 71 (1978), 1 5.

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