SOLVED - $1000

Can the smallest modulus of a covering system be arbitrarily large?

Described by Erdős as 'perhaps my favourite problem'. Hough [Ho15], building on work of Filaseta, Ford, Konyagin, Pomerance, and Yu [FFKPY07], has shown the answer is no: the smallest modulus must be at most $10^{18}$.

An alternative, simpler, proof was given by Balister, Bollobás, Morris, Sahasrabudhe, and Tiba [BBMST22], who improved the bound on the smallest modulus to $616000$.

OPEN

Is there a covering system all of whose moduli are odd?

Asked by Erdős and Selfridge (sometimes also with Schinzel). They also asked whether there can be a covering system such that all the moduli are odd and squarefree. The answer to this stronger question is no, proved by Balister, Bollobás, Morris, Sahasrabudhe, and Tiba [BBMST22].

Hough and Nielsen [HoNi19] proved that at least one modulus must be divisible by either $2$ or $3$. A simpler proof of this fact was provided by Balister, Bollobás, Morris, Sahasrabudhe, and Tiba [BBMST22].

Selfridge has shown (as reported in [Sc67]) that such a covering system exists if a covering system exists with moduli $n_1,\ldots,n_k$ such that no $n_i$ divides any other $n_j$ (but the latter has been shown not to exist, see [586]).

SOLVED

For any finite colouring of the integers is there a covering system all of whose moduli are monochromatic?

Conjectured by Erdős and Graham, who also ask about a density-type version: for example, is
\[\sum_{\substack{a\in A\\ a>N}}\frac{1}{a}\gg \log N\]
a sufficient condition for $A$ to contain the moduli of a covering system?
The answer (to both colouring and density versions) is no, due to the result of Hough [Ho15] on the minimum size of a modulus in a covering system - in particular one could colour all integers $<10^{18}$ different colours and all other integers a new colour.

OPEN

Let $A$ be the set of all integers not of the form $p+2^{k}+2^l$ (where $k,l\geq 0$ and $p$ is prime). Is the upper density of $A$ positive?

Crocker [Cr71] has proved there are are $\gg\log\log N$ such integers in $\{1,\ldots,N\}$ (any number of the form $2^{2^m}-1$ with $m\geq 3$ suffices). Pan [Pa11] improved this to $\gg_\epsilon N^{1-\epsilon}$ for any $\epsilon>0$. Erdős believes this cannot be proved by covering systems, i.e. integers of the form $p+2^k+2^l$ exist in every infinite arithmetic progression.

OPEN

Is there some $k$ such that every integer is the sum of a prime and at most $k$ powers of 2?

Erdős described this as 'probably unattackable'. In [ErGr80] Erdős and Graham suggest that no such $k$ exists. Gallagher [Ga75] has shown that for any $\epsilon>0$ there exists $k(\epsilon)$ such that the set of integers which are the sum of a prime and at most $k(\epsilon)$ many powers of 2 has lower density at least $1-\epsilon$.

Granville and Soundararajan [GrSo98] have conjectured that at most $3$ powers of 2 suffice for all odd integers, and hence at most $4$ powers of $2$ suffice for all even integers. (The restriction to odd integers is important here - for example, Bogdan Grechuk has observed that $1117175146$ is not the sum of a prime and at most $3$ powers of $2$, and pointed out that parity considerations, coupled with the fact that there are many integers not the sum of a prime and $2$ powers of $2$ (see [9]) suggest that there exist infinitely many even integers which are not the sum of a prime and at most $3$ powers of $2$).

OPEN

Is every odd $n$ the sum of a squarefree number and a power of 2?

Odlyzko has checked this up to $10^7$. Granville and Soundararajan [GrSo98] have proved that this is very related to the problem of finding primes $p$ for which $2^p\equiv 2\pmod{p^2}$ (for example this conjecture implies there are infinitely many such $p$).

This is equivalent to asking whether every $n$ not divisible by $4$ is the sum of a squarefree number and a power of two. Erdős thought that proving this with two powers of 2 is perhaps easy, and could prove that it is true (with a single power of two) for almost all $n$.

OPEN

Let $A$ be an infinite set such that there are no distinct $a,b,c\in A$ such that $a\mid (b+c)$ and $b,c>a$. Is there such an $A$ with
\[\liminf \frac{\lvert A\cap\{1,\ldots,N\}\rvert}{N^{1/2}}>0?\]
Does there exist some absolute constant $c>0$ such that there are always infinitely many $N$ with
\[\lvert A\cap\{1,\ldots,N\}\rvert<N^{1-c}?\]

Is it true that \[\sum_{n\in A}\frac{1}{n}<\infty?\]

Asked by Erdős and Sárközy [ErSa70], who proved that $A$ must have density $0$. They also prove that this is essentially best possible, in that given any function $f(x)\to \infty$ as $x\to \infty$ there exists a set $A$ with this property and infinitely many $N$ such that
\[\lvert A\cap\{1,\ldots,N\}\rvert>\frac{N}{f(N)}.\]
(Their example is given by all integers in $(y_i,\frac{3}{2}y_i)$ congruent to $1$ modulo $(2y_{i-1})!$, where $y_i$ is some sufficiently quickly growing sequence.)

An example of an $A$ with this property where \[\liminf \frac{\lvert A\cap\{1,\ldots,N\}\rvert}{N^{1/2}}\log N>0\] is given by the set of $p^2$, where $p\equiv 3\pmod{4}$ is prime.

For the finite version see [13].

SOLVED - $100

Let $A\subseteq \{1,\ldots,N\}$ be such that there are no $a,b,c\in A$ such that $a\mid(b+c)$ and $a<\min(b,c)$. Is it true that $\lvert A\rvert\leq N/3+O(1)$?

Asked by Erdős and Sárközy, who observed that $(2N/3,N]\cap \mathbb{N}$ is such a set. The answer is yes, as proved by Bedert [Be23].

For the infinite version see [12].

OPEN

Let $A\subseteq \mathbb{N}$. Let $B\subseteq \mathbb{N}$ be the set of integers which are representable in exactly one way as the sum of two elements from $A$. Is it true that for all $\epsilon>0$ and large $N$
\[\lvert \{1,\ldots,N\}\backslash B\rvert \gg_\epsilon N^{1/2-\epsilon}.\]

Asked by Erdős, Sárközy, and Szemerédi, who constructed an $A$ such that for all $\epsilon>0$ and all large $N$
\[\lvert \{1,\ldots,N\}\backslash B\rvert \ll_\epsilon N^{1/2+\epsilon},\]
and yet there for all $\epsilon>0$ there exist infinitely many $N$ where
\[\lvert \{1,\ldots,N\}\backslash B\rvert \gg_\epsilon N^{1/3-\epsilon}.\]

Erdös and Freud investigated the finite analogue in 'a recent Hungarian paper', proving that there exists $A\subseteq \{1,\ldots,N\}$ such that the number of integers not representable in exactly one way as the sum of two elements from $A$ is $<2^{3/2}N^{1/2}$, and suggest the constant $2^{3/2}$ is perhaps best possible.

OPEN

Is it true that
\[\sum_{n=1}^\infty(-1)^n\frac{n}{p_n}\]
converges, where $p_n$ is the sequence of primes?

Erdős suggested that a computer could be used to explore this, and did not see any other method to attack this.

Tao [Ta23] has proved that this series does converge assuming a strong form of the Hardy-Littlewood prime tuples conjecture.

OPEN - $250

Let $A$ be a finite set of integers. Is it true that for every $\epsilon>0$
\[\max( \lvert A+A\rvert,\lvert AA\rvert)\gg_\epsilon \lvert A\rvert^{2-\epsilon}?\]

The sum-product problem. Erdős and Szemerédi [ErSz83] proved a lower bound of $\lvert A\rvert^{1+c}$ for some constant $c>0$, and an upper bound of $o(\lvert A\rvert^2)$. The lower bound has been improved a number of times. The current record is
\[\max( \lvert A+A\rvert,\lvert AA\rvert)\gg\lvert A\rvert^{\frac{1558}{1167}-o(1)}\]
due to Rudnev and Stevens [RuSt22] (note $1558/1167=1.33504\cdots$).

There is likely nothing special about the integers in this question, and indeed Erdős and Szemerédi also ask a similar question about finite sets of real or complex numbers. The current best bound for sets of reals is the same bound of Rudnev and Stevens above. The best bound for complex numbers is \[\max( \lvert A+A\rvert,\lvert AA\rvert)\gg\lvert A\rvert^{\frac{5}{4}},\] due to Solymosi [So05].

One can in general ask this question in any setting where addition and multiplication are defined (once one avoids any trivial obstructions such as zero divisors or finite subfields). For example, it makes sense for subsets of finite fields. The current record is that if $A\subseteq \mathbb{F}_p$ with $\lvert A\rvert <p^{5/8}$ then \[\max( \lvert A+A\rvert,\lvert AA\rvert)\gg\lvert A\rvert^{\frac{11}{9}+o(1)},\] due to Rudnev, Shakan, and Shkredov [RSS20].

There is also a natural generalisation to higher-fold sum and product sets. For example, in [ErSz83] Erdős and Szemerédi also conjecture that for any $m\geq 2$ and finite set of integers $A$ \[\max( \lvert mA\rvert,\lvert A^m\rvert)\gg \lvert A\rvert^{m-o(1)}.\] See [53] for more on this generalisation and [808] for a stronger form of the original conjecture.

SOLVED

Let $A$ be a finite set of integers. Is it true that, for every $k$, if $\lvert A\rvert$ is sufficiently large depending on $k$, then there are least $\lvert A\rvert^k$ many integers which are either the sum or product of distinct elements of $A$?

SOLVED

Let $F_{k}(N)$ be the size of the largest $A\subseteq \{1,\ldots,N\}$ such that the product of no $k$ many distinct elements of $A$ is a square. Is $F_5(N)=(1-o(1))N$? More generally, is $F_{2k+1}(N)=(1-o(1))N$?

Conjectured by Erdős, Sós, and Sárkzözy [ESS95], who proved
\[F_2(N)=\left(\frac{6}{\pi^2}+o(1)\right)N,\]
\[F_3(N) = (1-o(1))N,\]
and also established asymptotics for $F_k(N)$ for all even $k\geq 4$ (for which $F_k(N)\asymp N/\log N$ for all even $k\geq 4$. Erdős [Er38] earlier proved that $F_4(N)=o(N)$ (indeed, if $\lvert A\rvert \gg N$ and $A\subseteq \{1,\ldots,N\}$ then there is a non-trivial solution to $ab=cd$ with $a,b,c,d\in A$.)

Erdős (and independently Hall [Ha96] and Montgomery) also asked about $F(N)$, the size of the largest $A\subseteq\{1,\ldots,N\}$ such that the product of no odd number of $a\in A$ is a square. Ruzsa [Ru77] observed that $1/2<\lim F(N)/N <1$. Granville and Soundararajan [GrSo01] proved an asymptotic \[F(N)=(1-c+o(1))N\] where $c=0.1715\ldots$ is an explicit constant.

This problem was answered in the negative by Tao [Ta24], who proved that for any $k\geq 4$ there is some constant $c_k>0$ such that $F_k(N) \leq (1-c_k+o(1))N$.

OPEN

Let $f(n)$ be a number theoretic function which grows slowly (e.g. slower than $(\log n)^{1-c}$) and $F(n)$ be such that for almost all $n$ we have $f(n)/F(n)\to 0$. When are there infinitely many $x$ such that
\[\frac{\#\{ n\in \mathbb{N} : n+f(n)\in (x,x+F(x))\}}{F(x)}\to \infty?\]

Conjectured by Erdős, Pomerance, and Sárközy [ErPoSa97] who prove this when $f$ is the divisor function or the number of distinct prime divisors of $n$, but Erdős believed it is false when $f(n)=\phi(n)$ or $\sigma(n)$.

OPEN - $250

Let $a,b,c$ be three integers which are pairwise coprime. Is every large integer the sum of distinct integers of the form $a^kb^lc^m$ ($k,l,m\geq 0$), none of which divide any other?

Conjectured by Erdős and Lewin [ErLe96], who (among other related results) prove this when $a=3$, $b=5$, and $c=7$.

OPEN

Let $3\leq d_1<d_2<\cdots <d_k$ be integers such that
\[\sum_{1\leq i\leq k}\frac{1}{d_i-1}\geq 1.\]
Can all sufficiently large integers be written as a sum of the shape $\sum_i c_ia_i$ where $c_i\in \{0,1\}$ and $a_i$ has only the digits $0,1$ when written in base $d_i$?

Conjectured by Burr, Erdős, Graham, and Li [BEGL96]. Pomerance observed that the condition $\sum 1/(d_i-1)\geq 1$ is necessary. In [BEGL96] they prove the property holds for $\{3,4,7\}$.

See also [125].

OPEN

Let $A = \{ \sum\epsilon_k3^k : \epsilon_k\in \{0,1\}\}$ be the set of integers which have only the digits $0,1$ when written base $3$, and $B=\{ \sum\epsilon_k4^k : \epsilon_k\in \{0,1\}\}$ be the set of integers which have only the digits $0,1$ when written base $4$.

Does $A+B$ have positive density?

OPEN - $250

Let $f(n)$ be maximal such that if $A\subseteq\mathbb{N}$ has $\lvert A\rvert=n$ then $\prod_{a\neq b\in A}(a+b)$ has at least $f(n)$ distinct prime factors. Is it true that $f(n)/\log n\to\infty$?

Investigated by Erdős and Turán [ErTu34] (prompted by a question of Lázár and Grünwald) in their first joint paper, where they proved that
\[\log n \ll f(n) \ll n/\log n\]
(the upper bound is trivial, taking $A=\{1,\ldots,n\}$). Erdős says that $f(n)=o(n/\log n)$ has never been proved, but perhaps never seriously attacked.