Sunday, March 24, 2019

Prime number conjectures from the Shapiro class structure

The first of hopefully many joint projects with my childhood friend Hartosh Singh Bal. For many reasons this has been a most exciting collaboration. For one thing, Hartosh and I have been discussing mathematical ideas since Class 11 in Modern School. So it was good to work on something which will lead to something new. For another, Shapiro was Hartosh's number theory Professor at NYU. And for three more reasons, you will have to look at the last section of this paper.

Here is the abstract:
The height $H(n)$ of  $n$, introduced by  Pillai in 1929,  is the  smallest positive integer $i$ such that the  $i$th iterate of Euler's totient function at $n$ is $1$.  H.  N. Shapiro (1943) studied the structure of the set of all numbers at a height. We provide a formula for the height function thereby extending a result of Shapiro. We list steps to generate numbers of any height which turns out to be a useful way to think of this construct. In particular, we extend some results of Shapiro regarding the largest odd numbers at a height. We present some theoretical and computational evidence to show that $H$ and its relatives are closely related to the important functions of number theory, namely $\pi(n)$ and the $n$th prime $p_n$. We conjecture formulas for $\pi(n)$ and $p_n$ in terms of the height function.  
Here is a link to a preprint of the paper.

Prime number conjectures from the Shapiro class structure (with Hartosh Singh Bal), 17 pp. 


From left to right: Sonit, Hartosh, me, Punya in 1983 or so