The principle of the large sieve

Research paper by Emmanuel Kowalski

Indexed on: 29 Oct '06Published on: 29 Oct '06Published in: Mathematics - Number Theory


We describe a very general abstract form of sieve based on a large sieve inequality which generalizes both the classical sieve inequality of Montgomery (and its higher-dimensional variants), and our recent sieve for Frobenius over function fields. The general framework suggests new applications. We get some first results on the number of prime divisors of ``most'' elements of an elliptic divisibility sequence, and we develop in some detail ``probabilistic'' sieves for random walks on arithmetic groups, e.g., estimating the probability of finding a reducible characteristic polynomial at some step of a random walk on SL(n,Z). In addition to the sieve principle, the applications depend on bounds for a large sieve constant. To prove such bounds involves a variety of deep results, including Property (T) or expanding properties of Cayley graphs, and the Riemann Hypothesis over finite fields. It seems likely that this sieve can have further applications.