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Let $N(k,\ell)$ be the minimal $N$ such that for any $f:\{1,\ldots,N\}\to\{-1,1\}$ there must exist a $k$-term arithmetic progression $P$ such that \[ \left\lvert \sum_{n\in P}f(n)\right\rvert> \ell.\] Find good upper bounds for $N(k,\ell)$. Is it true that for any $c>0$ there exists some $C>1$ such that \[N(k,ck)\leq C^k?\] What about \[N(k,1)\leq C^k\] or \[N(k,\sqrt{k})\leq C^k?\]
No decent bound is known even for $N(k,1)$. Probabilistic methods imply that, for every fixed constant $c>0$, we have $N(k,ck)>C_c^k$ for some $C_c>1$.