Weyl method

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in number theory

A method for obtaining non-trivial estimates of trigonometric sums (cf. Trigonometric sum) of the form



and are arbitrary real numbers. Developed by H. Weyl [1] to establish criteria for uniform distribution (cf. Weyl criterion).

The method may be described as follows. The sum (1) is raised to the power by successive squaring operations in order to reduce the degree of the polynomial . Thus, in the first stage

where the summations are performed over intervals of lengths ; now

is a polynomial of degree in (the symbols , denote magnitudes of order ). At the -st step one obtains inner sum


where , , . Sums of the form (2) are estimated using the inequality

and the resulting estimate is:


The inequality (3) yields different estimates for the sum (1) in case is small in comparison to . These estimates depend on the accuracy with which the coefficient of the polynomial can be approximated by rational fractions.

Example. Let


In particular, if


Weyl's method gives solutions, to a first approximation, of several important problems in number theory. The estimate (3) and its corollaries were used to study the distribution modulo one of the polynomial . G.H. Hardy and J.E. Littlewood (1919) gave a solution of the Waring problem which was based on estimating the sums (1) by Weyl's method. They could thus estimate the values of for which the equation

where is an integer and are integers, is solvable, and even gave an asymptotic formula for the number of solutions. A generalization of the estimate (3) to the case of functions which are not polynomials but are in a certain sense close to polynomials, resulted in the improvement of certain theorems in the theory of the distribution of prime numbers (an estimate of the difference between two successive prime numbers and an estimate of the residual term in the asymptotic formula for the number of prime numbers not exceeding ).

The insufficient strength of the estimates obtained by Weyl's method is due to the high power to which the sum is raised. J. van der Corput proposed a somewhat improved method for estimating the sums (1). The Vinogradov method yields a very accurate upper bound for the integral

already for ( a constant, ). This estimate (cf. Vinogradov theorem about the average) may be used to deduce essentially new estimates of Weyl sums (1) (with reduction factor , ; a constant), which cannot be attained by Weyl's method.


[1] H. Weyl, "Ueber die Gleichverteilung von Zahlen mod. Eins" Math. Ann. , 77 (1916) pp. 313–352
[2] I.M. Vinogradov, "The method of trigonometric sums in the theory of numbers" , Interscience (1954) (Translated from Russian)
How to Cite This Entry:
Weyl method. Encyclopedia of Mathematics. URL:
This article was adapted from an original article by B.M. Bredikhin (originator), which appeared in Encyclopedia of Mathematics - ISBN 1402006098. See original article