4-83-5. James Joseph Sylvester to H. Poincaré

1 Juillet 1891

My dear M. Poincaré,

I thank you very much for your note. It would be very agreable to me to join you at the sea-side at a later period if you intend to prolong your séjour at the sea-side into the month of August.

As to my theorem, about which you inquired, it follows precisely the track of demonstration which I had anticipated when you were with me and both the “intermediate theorems” are correct.11endnote: 1 Sylvester invited Poincaré to visit him at New College on 12 June 1891; see Sylvester’s letter to Arthur Cayley, 11 June 1891, in Parshall (1998, 280).

I will now state the results as far as I have proceeded in the inquiry.

Call ax+bax+b when aa is prime to bb an irreducible linear form to modulus aa.

Then I say that by taking nn suffciently great when pp (a prime number) is given, between nn and pnpn must be included prime numbers belonging to every irreducible linear form whose modulus is 2p2p. This is certain.

But much more I believe that I am en état to demonstrate that between nn and pnpn must be included prime numbers belonging to every irreducible linear form whose modulus has a totient less than pp: (by the totient of a number meaning the number of numbers not greater than and prime to it). This is certainly true for the moduli 4, 8, 12 and I think can be proved without difficulty for all other moduli.

Thus ex. gr. between nn and 5n5n (when nn is suffciently great) must be included prime numbers belonging to each of the forms

8x+1,3,5,712x+1,5,7,1110x+1,3,7,9\begin{array}[]{cccc}8x+1,&3,&5,&7\\ 12x+1,&5,&7,&11\\ 10x+1,&3,&7,&9\\ \end{array}

Moreover an inferior functional limit can be found to the number of such primes of each class which will have for its asymptotic value a fractional multiple of nlogn\frac{n}{\log n}. I believe I can prove that the asymptotic value of the Reciprocals of the primes up [to] 1n\frac{1}{n} is loglogn\log\cdot\log n: do you know if Tchebycheff has proved this?22endnote: 2 A note on page 9 of Sylvester (1891) suggests he relied on the presentation by Serret (1879) of Chebyshev’s demonstration of Bertrand’s postulate (Chebyshev, 1852). Believe me,

Your sincerely attached friend,

J. J. Sylvester

ALS 4p. Collection particulière, Paris 75017.

Time-stamp: "30.10.2021 19:59"

Notes

  • 1 Sylvester invited Poincaré to visit him at New College on 12 June 1891; see Sylvester’s letter to Arthur Cayley, 11 June 1891, in Parshall (1998, 280).
  • 2 A note on page 9 of Sylvester (1891) suggests he relied on the presentation by Serret (1879) of Chebyshev’s demonstration of Bertrand’s postulate (Chebyshev, 1852).

References

  • P. L. Chebyshev (1852) Mémoire sur les nombres premiers. Journal de mathématiques pures et appliquées 17, pp. 366–390. Link Cited by: endnote 2.
  • K. H. Parshall (1998) James Joseph Sylvester: Life and Work in Letters. Oxford University Press, Oxford. Cited by: endnote 1.
  • J. Serret (1879) Cours d’algèbre supérieure, Volume 2. Gauthier-Villars, Paris. Cited by: endnote 2.
  • J. J. Sylvester (1891) On arithmetical series (I). Messenger of Mathematics 21, pp. 1–19. Link Cited by: endnote 2.