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Russian Math. Surveys 65:3 513567 c 2010 RAS(DoM) and LMS
Uspekhi Mat. Nauk 65:3 127184 DOI 10.1070/RM2010v065n03ABEH004681
To Professor Valerii Vasilevich Kozlov,
Academician of the Russian Academy of Sciences,
on the occasion of his 60th birthday
Fourier analysis in combinatorial number theory
I. D. Shkredov
Abstract. In this survey applications of harmonic analysis to combinato
rial number theory are considered. Discussion topics include classical prob
lems of additive combinatorics, colouring problems, higherorder Fourier
analysis, theorems about sets of large trigonometric sums, results on esti
mates for trigonometric sums over subgroups, and the connection between
combinatorial and analytic number theory.
Bibliography: 162 titles.
Keywords: Fourier analysis, combinatorial number theory, additive com
binatorics.
Contents
1. Introduction 513
2. Defnitions 516
3. Arithmetic progressions of length three 519
4. Higherorder Fourier analysis 527
5. Colouring problems 532
6. Sets of large trigonometric sums 539
7. Combinatorial confgurations in sumsets 545
8. Chebotarevs theorem and the uncertainty principle 552
9. Connection with analytic number theory 554
10. Conclusion 559
Bibliography 560
1. Introduction
In the present survey we consider applications of Fourier analysis to problems
of combinatorial number theory. Combinatorial number theory, or additive combi
natorics, as it is called nowadays, is a branch of mathematics in which combinato
rial questions connected with a group operation are studied (see the books [1], [2]
and the surveys [3], [4]). Although the area under consideration is fairly old
This research was supported by the Russian Foundation for Basic Research (grant
no. 060100383), a P. Deligne grant (the Balzan Foundation 2004), a grant of the President
of the Russian Federation (grant no. MK1959.2009.1), and the programme Leading Scientifc
Schools (grant no. 691.2008.1).
AMS 2010 Mathematics Subject Classifcation. Primary 11B25, 11B75, 42B99; Secondary
05B10, 11B13, 11L07, 11N13, 11P70, 11T23.
514 I. D. Shkredov
(it is sufcient to recall Cauchys result [5] in 1813 on addition of sets in the residue
group Z/pZ, as well as the celebrated theorem of Schnirelmann [6] in 1933 on the
representability of any positive integer as a sum of boundedly many primes), inter
est in this area of research has recently increased considerably, due frst of all to the
signifcant success in combinatorial problems on arithmetic progressions [7][9], to
the emergence of new estimates for sums of products of sets in fnite felds [10][23],
to the progress in problems of combinatorial ergodic theory [24][35], and to the sub
stantial advances in the estimation of trigonometric sums over subgroups [14][23].
Not the smallest role here has been played by the method of Fourier analysis.
Moreover, the strongest results in this area have been obtained precisely by using
harmonic analysis, or to say the least, these results have been stimulated by ques
tions of Fourier analysis.
The prominent English mathematician K. Roth was the frst to apply harmonic
analysis to problems of combinatorial number theory. In 1953 he proved the now
classical result on the density of subsets of a segment of the positive integers that
do not contain arithmetic progressions of length three. The iteration approach used
by Roth in his proof found its widest applications in combinatorial number theory
and was reworked from the viewpoint of graph theory (see [36], [37]) and ergodic
theory (see, for example, [38], [39]). At present the best results on Roths problem
are due to Bourgain (see [40], [41]). The tools he created (frst of all, the method
of Bohr sets and the results on large trigonometric sums) are also systematically
used in a whole series of problems in additive combinatorics.
A huge contribution to the development of Fourier analysis in its applications
to problems of combinatorial number theory was made by Gowers [7], [8]. In
solving the problem of density of a set without arithmetic progressions of length
greater than three and generalizing Roths method, Gowers created the socalled
higherorder Fourier analysis. As is well known, classical Fourier analysis associates
with an arbitrary function the set of its inner products with group characters (the
Fourier coefcients). It turns out that in problems on arithmetic progressions of
length greater than three, one needs to consider inner products of a function and
a character whose argument is some polynomial. The resulting analogues of Fourier
coefcients play an extraordinarily important role in this whole area of research (see
more details in 4). Gowers methods have been developed by various authors (see,
for example, [9], [14], [15] [42][46]). The most striking of the results obtained in
these papers is undoubtedly the theorem of Green and Tao asserting that the prime
numbers contain arithmetic progressions of arbitrarily large length.
Finally, a connection was recently found between certain problems of additive
combinatorics and problems of analytic number theory. For example, by using
estimates for sums of products in the group Z/pZ it was proved in [15] that every
multiplicative subgroup R (Z/pZ)
G
(B +x) =
G
(B).
On the space L
2
(G,
G
) = L
2
(G) an inner product of two complex functions f and
g is defned:
f, g =
G
f(x)g(x) d
G
(x).
Next, let
G be the dual group of G, that is, the locally compact Abelian group
of continuous homomorphisms from G into S
1
= {z C : z = 1}, : x
x = (x), x G. The Fourier transform (f)() =
f() of an arbitrary complex
function f L
1
(G) is defned by the formula
(f)() =
f() =
G
f(x)(x) d
G
(x). (1)
Clearly, the following inequality always holds:
G
f(x) d
G
(x) = f
1
.
Let
G be some set of characters, and [0, 1] a real number. We defne the
Bohr set generated by the set :
B(, ) =
x G : x
2
for all
, (2)
Fourier analysis in combinatorial number theory 517
where is the Euclidean metric on the circle. One can say that the quantity
x measures how much difers from the trivial character
0
1. Simple
arguments involving Dirichlets drawer principle enable one to prove the following
lemma (see, for example, [57]).
Lemma 1. If G is a compact Abelian group and  = d, then
G
(B(, ))
d
.
In particular, the Bohr sets are always nonempty.
In what follows we need the notion of convolution of two functions f, g L
1
(G):
(f g)(x) =
G
f(y)g(x y) d
G
(x).
We have (see, for example, [77])
(f g)() =
f() g().
The convolution operation is very important for additive problems of combinatorial
number theory. Indeed, let A and B be arbitrary subsets of the group G. We defne
the (Minkowski) sum of these sets:
A+B := {c G : c = a +b, a A, b B}.
Let f be the characteristic function of the set A, and g the characteristic function
of the set B. It is easy to see that (f g)(x) = 0 if and only if x A + B. The
sum of several sets is defned similarly. If in the group (G, +) there is another
binary operation, say, multiplication, then a product of sets can also be defned. In
what follows we shall need the sum AB of distinct elements of sets A and B:
AB := {c G : c = a +b, a A, b B, a = b}.
We denote by A
1
A
d
the set formed by the sums of distinct elements of
sets A
1
, . . . , A
d
. The set consisting of the sums of d distinct elements of a set A is
denoted by d
A.
We shall often consider the situation where G is a fnite Abelian group. It is well
known that
G = G in this case. We denote by N the cardinality of the group G.
It is very convenient to defne the Fourier transform of a function f by the formula
(f)() =
f() =
xG
f(x)(x) . (3)
518 I. D. Shkredov
Thus, in contrast to (1), we do not normalize the sums with respect to G. We shall
need several wellknown formulae concerning the Fourier transform:
f
2
2
:=
xG
f(x)
2
=
1
N
G

f()
2
=
1
N
f
2
2
(Parsevals equality), (4)
f, g :=
xG
f(x)g(x) =
1
N
f() g() =
1
N
xG
(f g)(x)
2
=
xG
yG
f(y)g(x y)
2
=
1
N
G

f()
2
 g()
2
, (6)
f(x) =
1
N
f g =
f g and (
fg)(x) =
1
N
(
f g)(x). (8)
For brevity we write
s
instead of the sum
sG
, and
instead of
G
.
We present two examples of groups which are used especially often in our survey.
Example 1. Let N be a positive integer and let G = Z/NZ = Z
N
. Then all the
characters are Nth roots of unity, that is, e
2ir/N
, where r = 0, 1, . . . , N 1. We
write e
N
(x) or even simply e(x) instead of e
2ix/N
. Then the Fourier transform of
a function f is given by the formula
(f)() =
f() =
xZ
N
f(x)e(x).
In the group Z
N
we can describe the structure of the Bohr sets (2). Simple argu
ments involving Dirichlets drawer principle enable us to prove the following lemma.
Lemma 2. Let G = Z
N
and  = d. Then the Bohr set B(, ) contains an
arithmetic progression of length N
1/d
.
Thus, the Bohr set can be thought of as a union of arithmetic progressions.
Example 2. Let p be a prime and n a positive integer, and let G = (Z/pZ)
n
. The
group G is a vector space with the inner product
x y = x y = x, y = x
1
y
1
+ +x
n
y
n
(mod p).
The Fourier transform of a function f : Z
n
p
C is calculated by the formula
f(r) =
xZ
n
p
f(x)e(r, x),
where e(x) = e
p
(x) = e
2ix/p
. The Fourier transform in the group Z
n
2
has an
especially simple structure. Indeed, since e
2
(x) = (1)
x
, for a real function f the
numbers
f(r) are real.
Corresponding to the notion of a Bohr set for the groups Z
n
p
is the notion of
an afne subspace. Let v
1
, . . . , v
k
be some linearly independent vectors, and let
Fourier analysis in combinatorial number theory 519
1
, . . . ,
k
be arbitrary elements of Z
p
. An afne subspace of codimension k is
defned to be the set
P = P
1
,...,
k
(v
1
, . . . , v
k
) =
x Z
n
p
: x, v
1
=
1
, . . . , x, v
k
=
k
.
If all the
i
are equal to zero, then we sometimes write P(v
1
, . . . , v
k
) instead of
P
0,...,0
(v
1
, . . . , v
k
). For a set W = (w
1
, . . . , w
W
), let P(W) mean P(w
1
, . . . , w
W
).
The Fourier transform of the characteristic function
P
of the set P = P(W) is
extremely simple to compute. Let L be the linear space of dimension k spanned by
the vectors v
1
, . . . , v
k
, and let r Z
n
p
be an arbitrary vector. Clearly, P
= L and
P
(r) = P for every r L. Next, it follows from Parsevals equality
rZ
n
p

P
(r)
2
= PN
that
P
(r) = 0 for any r / L. In other words,
P
(r) =
L
(r)P, (9)
where
L
is the characteristic function of the set L. Thus, 
P
(r) either is zero, or
is equal to P.
We make several more remarks on notation. If S G is some set, then we
denote by S(x) its characteristic function. In other words, S(x) = 1 if x S, and
zero otherwise. The numbers
S are called the Fourier coefcients of the set S. The
symbol S is used for the cardinality of a set S. Here log means the logarithm
to the base two, and ln means the natural logarithm. The signs and are
the usual Vinogradov symbols. If n is a positive integer, then we write [n] to
denote the segment {1, . . . , n} of positive integers. The symbol E() denotes the
mathematical expectation of a random quantity, and P() is the probability of some
event. Let D be the unit disc on the complex plane. Finally, Z
N
= Z
N
\ {0}, and
(m, n) is the largest common divisor of positive integers m and n.
3. Arithmetic progressions of length three
In 1927 van der Waerden [78] proved his celebrated theorem on arithmetic pro
gressions.
Theorem 1 (van der Waerden). Let h and k be positive integers. There exists
a number N(h, k) such that for any positive integer N N(h, k) and for an arbi
trary partition of the set [N] into h subsets, one of the subsets contains an arithmetic
progression of length k, that is, a sequence n, n+d, n+2d, . . . , n+(k1)d, where n
and d are positive integers.
Let N be a positive integer. We set
a
k
(N) =
1
N
max
.
520 I. D. Shkredov
In [79] Erdos and Turan stated the conjecture that in any set of positive density
there exists an arithmetic progression of prescribed length. In other words, they
conjectured that for any k 3
a
k
(N) 0 as N . (10)
Clearly, this conjecture implies van der Waerdens theorem.
The conjecture (10) in the simplest case k = 3 was proved by Roth [80]. Using
the HardyLittlewood method, Roth obtained the following result in his paper.
Theorem 2 (Roth). For all positive integers N 3
a
3
(N)
1
log log N
.
Roths result was later improved by Szemeredi [81] and HeathBrown [82]. Inde
pendently of each other, both these authors obtained the following estimate for
a
3
(N).
Theorem 3 (Szemeredi, HeathBrown). Let N be a positive integer, N 3. Then
a
3
(N)
1
(log N)
c
,
where the constant c can be taken to be equal to 1/20.
At present the best result on upper estimates for the quantity a
3
(N) is due to
Bourgain [41] (see also his earlier paper [40] and the paper [83] on Roths theorem
in R
n
).
Theorem 4 (Bourgain). Let N be a positive integer, N 3. Then
a
3
(N)
(log log N)
3
(log N)
2/3
. (11)
The conjecture (10) was proved by Szemeredi for arbitrary k in 1975 [36], [84].
In his proof Szemeredi uses difcult combinatorial arguments. His proof is based
on the socalled regularity lemma, which at present is a most important tool for
studying graphs (see, for example, [37], [85]). An alternative proof was proposed
by Furstenberg [38]. His approach uses the methods of ergodic theory. Furstenberg
showed that Szemeredis theorem is equivalent to the assertion of multiple recur
rence for almost all points in an arbitrary dynamical system. We state his theorem
in the following form.
Theorem 5 (Furstenberg). Let X be a metric space with metric d( , ) and Borel
sigmaalgebra of measurable sets . Let T be a map of X into itself preserving the
measure and let k 3. Then for almost all x X
liminf
n
max
d(T
n
x, x), d(T
2n
x, x), . . . , d
T
(k1)n
x, x
= 0.
Fourier analysis in combinatorial number theory 521
We should point out that by using his method Furstenberg and his followers
obtained a plethora of deep generalizations of Szemeredis theorem (see, for exam
ple, [24][35], [38], [39], [86][88]) which at the time could not be proved by com
binatorial methods. More details about Szemeredis theorem can be found in the
survey [4].
Behrend [89] obtained a lower estimate for a
3
(N) (see also [90], [91]).
Theorem 6 (Behrend). Let > 0 be a real number. Then there exists an N
N
such that for any positive integer N with N N
a
3
exp
(1 +)C
log N
,
where C > 0 is some absolute constant.
In spite of its simplicity (the proof occupies only two pages), Behrends result
obtained in 1946 remains the best to the present day.
Rankin [92] generalized Behrends theorem to the case of all k 3.
Theorem 7 (Rankin). Let > 0 be a real number and let k 3 be a positive
integer. Then for all sufciently large N
a
k
(N) exp
(1 +)C
k
(log N)
1/(k1)
,
where C
k
is some positive efective constant depending only on k.
Unfortunately, Szemeredis methods give very weak upper estimates for a
k
(N).
The ergodic approach does not give any estimates at all. Only in 2001 Gowers [8]
obtained a quantitative result on the rate of convergence to zero of the quantity
a
k
(N) for k 4. He proved the following theorem.
Theorem 8 (Gowers). Let k 4. Then
a
k
(N)
1
(log log N)
c
k
,
where the constant c
k
> 0 depends only on k.
Gowers result is a signifcant step on the road to proving another famous con
jecture of Erdos and Turan about arithmetic progressions.
Conjecture 1 (ErdosTuran). Let A = {n
1
< n
2
< } be an infnite sequence
of positive integers such that
i=1
1
n
i
= .
Then A contains an arithmetic progression of any length.
It is easy to show that Conjecture 1 is equivalent to the condition that for all
positive integers k 3 the series
l=1
a
k
(4
l
) converges (the proof of this equiva
lence can be found, for example, in [4]). Consequently, an estimate of a
k
(N) for all
k 3 of the form a
k
(N) 1/(log N)
1+
with > 0 would imply Conjecture 1.
We discuss Theorem 8 in 4, and we now give the proof of Theorem 2. According
to the general ideology of [3] (see also the Introduction) we consider frst an analogue
522 I. D. Shkredov
of Roths result in the groups Z
n
p
, where p is a prime. Clearly, the notion of an
arithmetic progression of length three, or in other words, of three points x, y, z
satisfying the equation x + y = 2z, is meaningless in the group Z
n
2
. Therefore,
the simplest of the groups Z
n
p
in which Roths problem can be considered is the
group Z
n
3
(other Abelian groups were studied in [93][95]).
Theorem 9 (Roth, the group Z
n
3
). Let G = Z
n
3
and let A be an arbitrary set
without arithmetic progressions of length three. Then
A
N
log N
. (12)
Proof. We need a rather general defnition ([7], [8]).
Defnition 1. Let G be a fnite Abelian group, let G = N, and let (0, 1) be
a real number. A function f : G C is said to be uniform if
N.
A set A G, A = N, is said to be uniform if the function f(x) := A(x)
(the balance function) is uniform.
We now discuss the main ideas of the proof of Theorem 9. Suppose that a set
A Z
n
3
with A = N does not contain arithmetic progressions of length three.
The proof of Theorem 9 is an algorithm. At the frst step of this algorithm two
situations are possible: either the set A is uniform with some depending only
on (in the proof, is some power of ), or it is not.
If A is an uniform set, then the existence of arithmetic progressions in A can
be verifed fairly easily (see Lemma 3 below). Suppose now that the set A is not
uniform. One can show that the uniformity of A is equivalent to A being
uniformly distributed in the afne subspaces of codimension 1. More precisely, the
cardinality of the intersection of an uniform set A of cardinality N with any such
subspace H is approximately equal to H. Consequently, if A is not uniform,
then there exists a subspace H such that AH = ( +)H, where  > 0. More
precise arguments enable one to prove that the subspace H can be chosen so that
the quantity is positive and can be expressed explicitly in terms of the density
(see Lemma 4).
After this, we consider the new set A
A, the set A
1
, then there exists a solution of
the equation x +y = 2z with x A, y B, z C such that x, y, z are distinct.
Indeed, the number of solutions of the equation x + y = 2z with x A, y B,
z C is equal to
:=
x
(A B)(2x)C(x),
or in terms of the Fourier transform,
=
1
N
A(r)
B(r)
C(2r) = N
2
+
1
N
r=0
A(r)
B(r)
C(2r).
Let = ()
1/2
/2. From the uniformity of A, the CauchySchwarzBunyakov
skii inequality, and Parsevals equality we fnd that
N
2
N
B C
1/2
N
2
2
> A,
and all is proved, since the number of solutions of the equation x + y = 2z with
x = y = z does not exceed A.
The meaning of Lemma 3 is extremely simple. Suppose, for simplicity, that
A = B = C and A = N. Then by Lemma 3 any (
2
/2)uniform set A contains
a nontrivial arithmetic progression. We now consider the opposite (in a sense)
situation.
Lemma 4 (the nonuniform case, the group Z
n
3
). Let A Z
n
3
be an arbitrary
set, let A = N, and let (0, 1] be a real number. If A is not uniform, then
there exist a subspace H of codimension 1 and a vector x such that A(H +x)
( + 2
1
)H.
Indeed, since A is not uniform, there is an r = 0 such that 
f(r) N, where
f(x) = A(x) . Let H
0
= {x Z
n
3
: x, r = 0}, H
1
= {x Z
n
3
: x, r = 1},
H
2
= {x Z
n
3
: x, r = 1}, and a
j
= f, H
j
, j [3]. Then
j
a
j
= 0 and
j
a
j
 
2
)H.
524 I. D. Shkredov
We now show how Theorem 9 follows from Proposition 1. Suppose that a set
A Z
n
3
does not contain arithmetic progressions of length three. As mentioned
above, the proof of Theorem 9 is an algorithm. We carry out the frst step of our
algorithm. Let H
0
= Z
n
3
, A
0
= A,
0
= . We have N > 2
2
. By applying
Proposition 1 we obtain a subspace H
1
of codimension 1 and a vector x
1
such that
A
0
(H
1
+x
1
) (
0
+ 2
1
2
0
)H
1
. Then let A
1
= (A
0
x
1
) H
1
.
Suppose that at the ith step of the algorithm, i 1, we have constructed a sub
space H
i
of codimension i, a set A
i
H
i
that does not contain arithmetic progres
sions of length three, the number
i
:= A
i
/H
i
, and a vector x
i
such that
A
i1
(H
i
+x
i
) (
i1
+ 2
1
2
i1
)H
i
. (14)
We observe that at every step of the algorithm the density of the sets A
i
in the
subspaces H
i
increases by the quantity 2
1
2
i1
2
1
2
, since at the frst step of
the algorithm the density of A
0
in H
0
is equal to . If
h
i
:= H
i
 > 2
2
2
2
i
, (15)
then we can carry out the (i +1)th step of the algorithm. It is easy to see that the
maximum number of steps K of our algorithm does not exceed 2 2
1
= 4
1
,
since the density of the sets A
i
is bounded above by 1. Indeed, for the transition
from density to density 2 we need to use at most 2
1
steps; therefore, alto
gether we need at most 2
1
+ 2(2)
1
+ 2(4)
1
+ = 4
1
steps (these simple
calculations are presented more rigorously, for example, in [8] or [4]). This is not
yet the proof of Theorem 9, since we did not verify that condition (15) holds at
every step of our algorithm. We have 1/log N. Hence
h
K
= 3
K
N 3
4/
N > 2
2
.
Since h
i
h
K
for all i K, the inequality (15) holds at every step of the algorithm.
The theorem is proved.
In [95] Sanders improved the estimate N/log N in Theorem 9 for the group Z
n
4
.
Theorem 10 (Sanders). Let G = Z
n
4
and let A be an arbitrary set without triples
{x, x +d, x + 2d} with 2d = 0. Then
A
N
log N (log log N)
1/6
, (16)
where > 0 is an arbitrary constant.
It would be very interesting to obtain some strengthening of the estimate (12),
since this, apparently, would enable one to prove new upper estimates for the quan
tity a
3
(N) in any Abelian group. It would also be interesting to prove the Erdos
Turan conjecture in the group Z
n
4
. As is easy to see, for that it sufces to replace
the constant 1/6 in the estimate (16) by any quantity that is strictly greater than 1.
We now prove Theorem 2, using a simple modifcation of the arguments above.
We shall need a technical lemma.
Fourier analysis in combinatorial number theory 525
Lemma 5. Let s and N be positive integers, (0, 1] a real number, and : Z
N
Z
N
a linear function, and suppose that N
2
2
8
. Then there exists an arithmetic
progression P Z with 2
4
s
1/2
P 2
2
s
1/2
such that diam((P)) s and
[N] =
lT
(P +l)
, (17)
where T is some set of translations and  N.
Proof. Let (x) = ax + b. If a = 0, then the lemma is obvious. Suppose that
a = 0. Furthermore, suppose that t = N/(8s
1/2
) 2. Consider the t + 1
residues 0, a, 2a, . . . , ta Z
N
. We divide the segment [1, N] into t segments of length
(N1)/t. By Dirichlets drawer principle one of the segments contains two numbers
in our sequence. Suppose that this segment contains the residues t
1
a and t
2
a, and
let t
2
> t
1
. We set u = t
2
t
1
. Then 0 < u t and ua N/t. We partition [N]
into the residue classes C
j
, j [u], modulo u. Obviously, C
j
 = (Nj)/u+1. It
is easy to see that the last number is either N/u or N/u. Further, C
1
is a class
of largest cardinality and C
1
= N/u. Let C
1
be C
1
without the rightmost point.
Then [N] =
u1
l=0
(C
1
+l)
, where 
 u.
Let w = st/N. We have w st/N N/(4u) N/u/2. Consequently, every
arithmetic progression C
1
+l can be partitioned into translates of some arithmetic
progression P with P = w and some arithmetic progression
l
with diference u
and length at most w. Clearly,
w = P
st
2N
2
4
s
1/2
.
Then
[N] =
u1
l=0
P
l,l
u1
l=0
,
where the P
l,l
are some translates of the progression P. We set
=
u1
l=0
.
Clearly, is a segment of the form [q, N] and
 4uw
8ust
N
8st
2
N
N.
Furthermore,
diam(
i
(P)) ur P
N
t
st
N
= s.
The lemma is proved.
We can now establish an analogue of Lemma 4.
Lemma 6 (the nonuniform case, the group Z
N
). Let A Z
N
be an arbitrary
set with A = N, let (0, 1] be a real number, and suppose that N 2
12
2
.
If A is not uniform, then there exists a progression Q with Q 2
10
2
N
1/2
such that A Q ( + 2
3
)Q.
526 I. D. Shkredov
Proof. Indeed, since the set A is not uniform, there exists an r = 0 such that

A(r) =
xA
e
2ixr/N
N.
We apply Lemma 5 with the parameters = /4 and s = N/(8) 1 and with
the linear map (x) equal to rx. Then by the triangle inequality
T
l=1
xP+l
f(x)e
2ixr/N
3N
4
,
where f(x) = A(x) . Let x
l
be an arbitrary point in the progression P +l. Since
diam
(P +l)
l=1
xP+l
f(x)
=
T
l=1
xP+l
f(x)e
2ix
l
r/N
T
l=1
xP+l
f(x)e
2ixr/N
T
l=1
P
4
N
2
.
Since
x
f(x) = 0, we have
T
l=1
xP+l
f(x)

N
4
.
Consequently,
T
l=1
xP+l
f(x)
xP+l
f(x)
N
4
,
and therefore for some l [T] we have
xP+l
f(x) = A (P +l) P
P
8
.
We set Q = P + l. Then Lemma 5 implies the estimate Q 2
4
s
1/2
2
10
2
N
1/2
, and Lemma 6 is completely proved.
We can now obtain Theorem 2 by using the same arguments as in the proof of
Theorem 9. Let A [N] with A = N be an arbitrary set without arithmetic
progressions of length three. We can assume that N is an odd number. Also, let
B = C = A{N/3 +1, N/3 +2, . . . , 2N/3}. We identify the set [N] with the
group Z
N
. Then the number of solutions of the equation x+y 2z (mod N) with
x A, y B, and z C coincides with the number of solutions of the equation
x + y = 2z. As above, the proof of Theorem 2 is an algorithm, and at every step
of the algorithm we apply to the sets A, B, C Lemma 3, which is valid for any
Fourier analysis in combinatorial number theory 527
Abelian group without elements of order two, in particular for Z
N
with N odd, and
if this is impossible (that is, if A is not uniform), then we use Lemma 6 (details
can be found in [8] or [4]). Then we obtain nested sets A
0
= A A
1
A
2
and arithmetic progressions Q
0
= [N] Q
1
Q
2
. As above, we can see that
the algorithm works in at most K := C
1
steps, where C > 0 is some absolute
constant. The main diference between Theorem 2 and Theorem 9 is the diferent
nature of decrease of the lengths of the progressions Q
i
. It follows from Lemma 6
that
Q
i

4
Q
i1

1/2
(18)
at step i. The last formula involves the expression
4
, since, as is easy to see, the
quantity in Theorem 2, as in Theorem 9, is equal to = c
2
, where c > 0 is some
absolute constant. We need to verify the condition Q
K

4
at the last step
of the algorithm. By mathematical induction we can derive the inequality Q
i

4i
N
2
i
from the estimate (18). By hypothesis, 1/log log N. Consequently,
Q
K

4K
N
2
K
4C/
N
2
C/
4
,
and we obtain Theorem 2.
In [43] Green somewhat strengthened Roths theorem. He proved that every
sufciently dense subset of [N] contains an arithmetic progression of length three
whose diference can be represented in the form x
2
+y
2
, where x, y are some positive
integers.
Theorem 11 (Green). Let N be a positive integer. There exists a positive efective
constant c > 0 such that every set A [N] with A N/(log log N)
c
contains an
arithmetic progression of length three whose diference can be represented in the
form x
2
+y
2
.
4. Higherorder Fourier analysis
In the preceding section we proved Roths theorem and mentioned Gowers the
orem on sets without arithmetic progressions. We state these results once more in
terms of the functions a
k
.
Theorem 12 (Roth, Gowers). For all positive integers N 3 and k 3
a
k
(N)
1
log log N
.
As the reader remembers, the proof of Roths theorem (the case k = 3) was
a certain iteration procedure, and at every step of this procedure we considered
two variants: the frst, where the set A was uniform with sufciently small ,
and the second, where there was no uniformity. We reformulate the main result
that was used in the frst case (see the proof of Lemma 3).
Proposition 2 (the uniform case). Let G be a fnite Abelian group that has no
elements of order two, let G = N, and let A G with A = N be any uniform
set. Then the number of arithmetic progressions in A is equal to
3
N
2
+N
2
, (19)
where  1.
528 I. D. Shkredov
Let f(x) = A(x) be the balance function of the set A. Also, let
3
(f) =
x,dG
f(x)f(x +d)f(x + 2d),
where f is an arbitrary function. For example,
3
(A) is the number of arithmetic
progressions of length three in the set A. It is easy to see that
3
(A) =
3
N
3
+
3
(f)
and, consequently, Proposition 2 can be interpreted as follows:
the norm
is small =
3
(f) is small. (20)
Now let A be a set without arithmetic progressions of length k > 3. Gowers proof
is a deep generalization of Roths method. Instead of the quantity
3
he considers
its analogue
k
(f) =
x,dG
f(x)f(x +d) f(x +(k 1)d). The question arises:
does the implication (20) remain true if instead of
3
we take
k
? As Gowers
showed in [8], the answer here is negative (the ergodic aspect of this problem was
considered earlier in [87]). A counterexample is very simple. Let G = Z
N
, let
x Z
N
, and let x mean the distance from zero to x in the reduced system of
residues. Then in the group Z
N
we can take, for example, the set A
0
:= {x Z
N
:
x
2
 2
1
N}. By using the uniform distribution of quadratic residues, it is easy
to see that A
0
 N, the quantity
1
N
d+1
xG, hG
d
{0,1}
d
C

f
(x + h)
1/2
d
. (21)
One can show that the expression (21) really defnes a norm for all d 2 (see [8]
or [4]). In particular, we have the triangle inequality
f +g
U
d f
U
d +g
U
d. (22)
The Gowers norms, like the L
p
norms, satisfy the monotonicity inequality
f
U
d1 f
U
d (23)
for all d 2. We also point out one combinatorial property of the Gowers norms.
Let h G
d
. A set of 2
d
points of the form h =
1
h
1
+ +
d
h
d
,
{0, 1}
d
, is called a ddimensional cube. Let A G be some set. We say that A
Fourier analysis in combinatorial number theory 529
contains a ddimensional cube if A contains all the points of this cube. By using the
CauchySchwarzBunyakovskii inequality it is easy to show that any set A G of
cardinality N always contains at least
2
d
N
d+1
cubes of dimension d, and equality
is attained at random subsets of G having density (see [8] or [4]). On the other
hand, the following criterion holds (for simplicity we state it in the group Z
N
).
Theorem 13 (the combinatorial meaning of the Gowers norms in Z
N
). Suppose
that d 2, A Z
N
, A = N, and f is the balance function of the set A. Then
f
U
d = o(1) as N if and only if A contains
2
d
N
d+1
+o(N
d+1
) cubes.
Further properties of the Gowers norms can be found in the recent paper [9] (see
also [75], [76]).
We consider the case d = 2 in a little more detail. By using the inversion
formula (7) it is easy to see that the U
2
norm of a function f can be expressed in
terms of the Fourier transform:
f
U
2 =
1
N
4
rG

f(r)
4
1/4
. (24)
Thus, the U
2
norm of some function is simply the L
4
norm of its Fourier transform
multiplied by N
1
.
Lemma 7. Let f : G D be an arbitrary function. Then
f
4
. Con
versely, f
U
2 = N
1
f
4
f
1/2
N
1/2
.
The frst inequality of the lemma is obvious, and the second follows from Parse
vals equality
f
4
4
=
r

f(r)
4
f
2
f
2
2
= N
f
2
f
2
2
f
2
N
2
.
Lemma 7 tells us that for functions f whose values are at most 1 in absolute value
there is no big diference between
and f
U
2. Therefore, the implication (20)
can be reformulated as follows:
f
U
2 is small =
3
(f) is small. (25)
It now became clear how the implication (20) can be generalized.
Assertion 1 (see [7], [8]). For all k 3
f
U
k1 is small =
k
(f) is small. (26)
Thus, we have obtained an analogue of Proposition 2 or, which is the same, of
Lemma 3 for the case of arithmetic progressions of length k > 3. It remains to fnd
a correct version of Lemma 6. Using the inequalities for norms in Lemma 7, we
reformulate Lemma 6 as follows.
Lemma 8 (the nonuniform case, the U
2
norm). Let A Z
N
be an arbitrary set
with A = N, let f be the balance function of A, let (0, 1] be a real number,
and suppose that N
C
. If f
U
2 , then there exists a progression Q with
Q
C
N
1/2
such that A Q ( +c
C
)Q, where C, c > 0 are constants.
530 I. D. Shkredov
Above, the condition of nonuniformity of the set A was replaced by the esti
mate f
U
2 , which, of course, can be done in view of Lemma 7. We state an
analogue of Lemma 8 for the norms U
k
, k 3 (see [8]).
Lemma 9 (the nonuniform case, the U
k
norm). Let A Z
N
be an arbitrary set
with A = N, let f be the balance function of A, let (0, 1] be a real number,
and suppose that N
C
. If f
U
k , then there exists a progression Q with
Q
C
N
c
C
such that
A Q ( +c
C
)Q, (27)
where c, C > 0 are constants.
Note that, in contrast to Lemma 8, in Lemma 9 the estimate for the length of the
progression Q is weaker. To some extent this is essential. At least, in the example
with the set A
0
(see p. 528) it is impossible to fnd a progression Q in Z (or even
in Z
N
) with length of order greater than N
1/2
for which the inequality (27) would
hold.
As we saw above (see Lemma 7), the smallness of the Fourier coefcients of
a function f is equivalent to the smallness of its U
2
norm. This is not at all so in
the case of the U
k
norm, k 3. The same Gowers example of the set A
0
shows
that there exist sets with large U
3
norm of their balance function but with small
Fourier coefcients.
The fact is that even in the simplest case k = 4 the uniform Gowers U
3
norm
of a function f can be expressed only in terms of the Fourier coefcients of the
diference function (f; u)(x) := f(x)f(x +u):
f
8
U
3 =
1
N
6
r

(f; u)(r)
4
.
It follows from this formula that the U
3
norm of the balance function of a set A is
small if and only if the set A (A u) has small Fourier coefcients for almost
all u (see [7], [8] or the survey [4]). Based on this expression for the U
3
norm
we see that the proof of Lemma 9 presents signifcant difculties even in the case
k = 4, since the condition f
U
3 gives us information about the diference func
tions rather than about the function f itself. Nevertheless, in [8] Gowers solved this
inverse problem of additive number theory and obtained the following information
about the original function f.
Theorem 14 (Gowers). Let A Z
N
be some set, f its balance function, and > 0
a real number, and suppose that f
U
d . Then there are absolute constants
C
d
, c
d
> 0 such that for all N exp(C
d
C
d
) there exist a polynomial p
d1
(x) of
degree d 1 and an arithmetic progression P with P c
d
C
d
N
c
d
C
d
for which
xP
f(x)e(p
d1
(x))
c
d
C
d
P. (28)
Using the quantitative version of Weils theorem on the uniform distribution of
the fractional parts of polynomials, Gowers relatively easily derived Lemma 9 from
Theorem 14. One can even say that Theorem 14 is the core of his proof. It is
possible to generalize Theorem 14 a little.
Fourier analysis in combinatorial number theory 531
Theorem 15 (Gowers). Let > 0 be a real number, and f : Z
N
D some function
with
x
f(x) = 0 and f
U
d . Then there are absolute constants C
d
, c
d
> 0
such that for all N exp(C
d
C
d
) there exist a polynomial p
d1
(x) of degree d 1
and an arithmetic progression P with P c
d
C
d
N
c
d
C
d
such that
xP
f(x)e(p
d1
(x))
c
d
C
d
P. (29)
This assertion is called the weak inverse theorem for the Gowers norms. Here
the weakness is in the fact that, as we saw earlier, much more can be said in the
case d = 2:
f
U
2 = there exists a polynomial p
1
(x) with deg p
1
= 1
such that
x
f(x)e(p
1
(x))
C
N,
where C > 0 is some absolute constant. In other words, in the last formula,
unlike (29), there is no summation over the progression P. The weak inverse theo
rem for the Gowers norms in the situation where k = 3 was extended by Green and
Tao to the case of an arbitrary Abelian group G (see [9], as well as [46]). Roughly
speaking, for a group G the arithmetic progression P in (29) must be replaced by
a translate of a Bohr set. Inverse theorems including in their statement socalled
nilsequences were obtained in [9]. About nilsequences, see [28], [31][34], [71], [74].
We mention one interesting conjecture of Green and Tao which is a strong version
of Theorem 15, that is, a result that does not include in its statement a summation
over the progression P. For simplicity let G = Z
n
5
and k = 4.
Conjecture 2 (the polynomial conjecture for the Gowers norm). Let > 0 be
a real number, and f : Z
n
5
D a function with
x
f(x) = 0 and f
U
3 . Then
there are absolute constants C
d
, c
d
> 0 such that for all N exp(C
d
C
d
) there
exist a matrix M and a vector r such that
xZ
n
5
f(x)e(x, Mx +r, x +b)
c
d
C
d
N. (30)
There is a connection between some inverse problems in additive combinatorics
and inverse problems in the theory of Gowers norms (see [96]). Conjecture 2 follows
from the following conjecture of Katalin Marton, which is nowadays called the
FreimanRuzsa conjecture.
Conjecture 3 (the polynomial FreimanRuzsa conjecture). Let A Z
n
p
, where p
is a prime, let K 1 be a real number, and suppose that A + A KA. Then
there exists a set A
A, A
 A/C
1
(K), contained in an afne space of size at
most C
2
(K)A, where the functions C
1
(K), C
2
(K) depend on K polynomially.
The conjecture above holds if C
1
(K) and C
2
(K) depend on K exponentially
(see, for example, [9]). Quite recently in [72] the equivalence of Conjectures 2 and 3
was proved, as well as the equivalence of the corresponding conjectures in Z
N
.
532 I. D. Shkredov
The proof of Theorems 8 and 15 contains many new and beautiful ideas. The
methods in Gowers paper were developed by various authors (see, for example,
[9], [14], [15], [42][46]). The most striking of the results obtained in these papers
is undoubtedly the theorem of Green and Tao on progressions in the prime num
bers [42].
Theorem 16 (GreenTao). For all positive integers k 3 the set of prime numbers
contains an arithmetic progression of length k.
In fact, Green and Tao proved an even stronger result.
Let A be an arbitrary subset of the set P of prime numbers, and let (N) be
the number of primes that do not exceed N. The upper density of A with respect
to P is defned to be the quantity limsup
N
A [N]/(N).
Theorem 17 (GreenTao). Let A P be an arbitrary set of positive upper density
with respect to P, and let k 3. Then A contains an arithmetic progression of
length k.
In their proof Green and Tao used a certain strong version of Gowers The
orem 15, although their analogue of the inequality (29) involved a certain more
complicated dual function instead of a polynomial [42].
For k = 3 Theorem 16 was proved in 1938 by Chudakov [97] (see also [98], [99]),
and Theorem 17 by Green [100]. Green obtained an even stronger result. Let
log
[1]
N = log N, and for l 2 let log
[l]
N = log(log
[l1]
N). Thus, log
[l]
N is the
result of taking the logarithm of a number N successively l times.
Theorem 18 (Green). Let N be a sufciently large positive integer, and A an
arbitrary subset of P [N] such that
A
N
log
[5]
N
log N
log
[4]
N
.
Then A contains an arithmetic progression of length three.
We point out that Conjecture 1 implies both Theorems 16 and 17.
5. Colouring problems
Let k be a positive integer. We defne a kcolouring of the set of integers to
be an arbitrary map : Z {1, 2, . . . , k}. Here the segment of positive integers
{1, 2, . . . , k} is associated with k diferent colours. In the case where the value
of k is unimportant, we simply speak of fnite colourings. If f(x
1
, . . . , x
n
) = 0,
x
i
Z, is some equation, then a solution
x
(0)
1
, . . . , x
(0)
n
x
(0)
i
j=1
u
ij
x
j
= 0, i = 1, . . . , m. (31)
Defnition 3. The system of equations (31) is said to be regular in Z if for any
colouring of Z with fnitely many colours there exists a monochromatic solution of
the system (31).
Note that the numbers x
1
, . . . , x
n
are not assumed to be distinct.
Theorem 21 (Rado). Let U = (u
ij
) be an m n matrix with integer elements.
The system of equations (31) is regular in Z if and only if there exist columns
C
1
, . . . , C
n
and numbers k
i
with 1 k
1
< < k
t
= n such that the new columns
A
i
=
k
i
j=k
i1
+1
C
j
satisfy the following conditions:
1) A
1
is a zero column;
2) for i = 1, . . . , t the column A
i
is a linear combination of C
1
, . . . , C
k
i1
with
rational coefcients.
We call matrices satisfying conditions 1) and 2) of Theorem 21 regular. In the
case m = 1 Rados theorem is written in the simplest form.
Theorem 22 (Rado). Let n be a positive integer, and c
1
, . . . , c
n
nonzero integers.
The system of equations
c
1
x
1
+ +c
n
x
n
= 0 (32)
is regular in Z if and only if there exists a nonempty set I [n] such that the sum
iI
c
i
is equal to zero.
For example, the equations x 2y +z = 0 and x +y z = 0 are regular, while
the equation x+y 5z = 0 is not. If x2y +z = 0, then the numbers x, y, z form
an arithmetic progression. Note that for this equation Theorem 22 is trivial, since
we can take x = y = z = 1. For the case k = 3 van der Waerdens Theorem 20
534 I. D. Shkredov
allows one to assert that for every colouring of Z with fnitely many colours there
exist distinct x, y, z of the same colour satisfying x 2y +z = 0.
Monochromatic solutions of linear equations, as well as of systems of linear equa
tions, have been studied not only in Z but also in other groups (see, for exam
ple, [106]). On the other hand, rather little is known about monochromatic solu
tions of nonlinear equations. For example, there is still no answer to the question
of whether there exists a monochromatic solution for the equation x
2
+y
2
= z
2
, as
well as to the question of whether for any fnite colouring of Z there exist x+y, xy
of the same colour (see [109], Problem 3). A solution of a more difcult question
is also unknown: is it true that for every colouring there exist x, y, x +y, xy that
have the same colour? Note that the existence of a nonzero monochromatic solu
tion for the equation xy = z, which uses solely multiplication, follows easily from
Schurs theorem (it sufces to consider the set {2
n
}
nN
0
). Concerning monochro
matic solutions of nonlinear equations including multiplication, see [110][112].
Unfortunately, these papers deal with equations that have either only multiplica
tion or only addition. Therefore, it would be interesting to have a solution of at
least one colouring problem that is not linear in one of the operations. However, in
this section we discuss exclusively linear equations.
Traditionally in colouring problems people mainly used combinatorial methods
(see, for example, [107] or [102]), or an approach involving ergodic theory (see,
for example, [38]), or topological methods, for example, the method of ultraflters
[113], [114]. Quite recently Sanders [115] applied harmonic analysis for the frst time
in this circle of problems. The author of the present survey, A. Samorodnitsky, and
A. Fish independently also proposed a method based on Fourier analysis for solving
colouring problems (see the proof of Theorem 24).
Before discussing the known results, we reformulate Theorem 19.
Theorem 23 (Schur). Let k be a positive integer. There exists a number S(k) such
that for any positive integer N S(k) and an arbitrary colouring of the set [N]
with k colours the equation x +y = z has a monochromatic solution.
Theorem 23, in contrast to Theorem 19, deals with fnite sets (replacing the set of
integers by the positive integers is quite unimportant). For this reason Theorem 23
is called the fnite version of Theorem 19. By using the general compactness princi
ple (see, for example, [102] or [4]) it is easy to show that these results are equivalent.
About the behaviour of the function S(k) it is only known (see [102]) that
k log S(k) k log k. (33)
The upper estimate in (33) follows rather easily from inequalities for certain Ramsey
numbers. The lower estimate is altogether elementary; we present here the relevant
construction (an estimate for S(k) of the form log S(k) Ck with the bestpossible
constant C > 1 can be found in [102]). Indeed, we observe that there are no
solutions of Schurs equation x +y = z among odd numbers. Therefore, taking an
arbitrary segment [N] of the positive integers, we colour the set of odd numbers
with one and the same colour, say, colour 1. The remaining set of even numbers is
isomorphic to the segment [N/2]. Hence, we colour the set of odd numbers in
this segment in another colour 2, and so on. In the end we obtain the estimate
S(k) 2
k
.
Fourier analysis in combinatorial number theory 535
When fnite versions of the problems of van der Waerden and Rado are con
sidered, there appear analogues of the function S(k), namely, the functions W(k)
and R
U
(k). Here U is the matrix of the linear equation (31). Rather little is known
about the behaviour of these functions (see [102]). Theorem 23 shows how we can
state the question of monochromatic solutions of the linear equation (31) in the
case of a fnite Abelian group. For simplicity we discuss only the case m = 1.
Let c
1
, . . . , c
l
be arbitrary elements of the group G. We consider the linear
equation
c
1
x
1
+ +c
l
x
l
= 0. (34)
If c
1
+ + c
l
= 0, then this equation is said to be afne, otherwise nonafne.
For example, Schurs equation is nonafne, while van der Waerdens problem is
afne. A set A contains a solution of equation (34) if there exist x
1
, . . . , x
l
A
satisfying (34).
Defnition 4. The Ramsey number of equation (34) is defned as the maximal
positive integer R = R(c) such that for any partition of the group G into R subsets
one of the subsets contains a solution of (34).
Let us illustrate the application proposed by Sanders of the method of Fourier
analysis to colouring problems. We consider the simplest situation, where G = Z
n
2
.
Theorem 24 (Sanders). Let l be an odd number and let c = (1, . . . , 1), where 1
occurs exactly l times in the vector c. Then
R(c) C
l
n
11/(l1)
, (35)
where C
l
> 0 is some constant depending only on l. If, however, l log n, then
R(c)
n
log n
. (36)
Remark 1. The upper estimate R(c) n that we have in the group Z
n
2
is obtained
quite trivially. Indeed, we colour any hyperplane of codimension 1 that does not
contain zero with colour 1, then we consider the remaining subspace H and observe
that it is isomorphic to Z
n1
2
. Then we again take a hyperplane in H of codimen
sion 1 that does not contain zero and colour it with colour 2, and so on. Since the
number l is odd, in the end we colour Z
n
2
with n colours without monochromatic
solutions. In other words, R(c) n.
As in the case of Theorem 23, combinatorial methods enable one to prove that
R(c) n/log n (see [102]). Thus, for l log n this estimate and the inequality (36)
of Theorem 24 coincide. For small l the combinatorial method works better than
the analytic one.
Proof of Theorem 24. Let k = R(c) and suppose that the set Z
n
2
is partitioned
into k sets (colours) C
1
, . . . , C
k
. We need to verify that there exists a nonzero
monochromatic solution of the equation
x
1
+ +x
l
= 0. (37)
The proof of Theorem 24 is an algorithm. At an arbitrary step s of the algorithm,
some subspace V
s
of codimension s is constructed. Next, with every C
i
in the set
536 I. D. Shkredov
of colours C
1
, . . . , C
k
we associate a vector x
s
i
. Furthermore, associated with the
set C
i
are the density (
)
s
i
of C
i
in V
s
+ x
s
i
and the number
s
i
= C
i
V
s
/V
s
.
The algorithm works so that the quantities (
)
s
i
do not decrease, and the subspaces
V
s
are nested: V
0
V
1
.
At the zero step we put V
0
= Z
n
2
and x
0
1
= = x
0
l
= 0. Next, suppose that the
algorithm has completed s steps. We choose a colour C
i
with the maximal value
of
s
i
. Clearly,
s
i
1/k. We shall need the following lemma.
Lemma 10. Let V Z
n
2
be some subspace, and A Z
n
2
an arbitrary set without
nonzero solutions of equation (37). Let x
0
Z
n
2
be any vector, let = AV /V ,
and let
= A(V +x
0
)/V . Finally, suppose that
and V 
l
. Then
there exists a / V
such that
A (V +x
0
)
()
)
1/(2(l2))
V . (38)
The proof of the lemma is a modifcation of the arguments in Lemma 3. Instead
of three sets in the latter lemma, we simply need to consider l sets A
1
, A
2
, . . . , A
l
and
then put A
1
= AV and A
2
= = A
l
= A(V +x
0
). Since the characteristic of
the group Z
n
2
is equal to two, the number of solutions of equation (37) with x
i
A
i
is equal to zero (see a detailed proof in [115]).
We now apply Lemma 10 to the set C
i
and then use the analogue of Lemma 4
in the group Z
n
2
. We fnd a subspace H and a vector x such that
C
i
(H +x)
)
s
i
+ (
)
s
i
s
i
(
)
s
i
1/(2(l2))
H. (39)
Let V
s+1
= H and x
s+1
i
= x, and choose vectors x
s+1
j
for j = i so as to maximize
the quantity C
j
(V
s+1
+ z)/V
s+1
. Then obviously
s+1
i
s
i
for i [k]. This
describes one step of the algorithm. We apply it also further.
Since always (
)
s
i
s
i
, it is easy to see that our algorithm terminates after
at most O
l
k k
1/(l2)
)
s
i
(1 +)H, (40)
where > 0 is some constant. Therefore, in this situation the algorithm makes at
most O(log k) steps. Hence the inequality (36) holds, and Theorem 24 is completely
proved.
We give another proof of (36) in the spirit of the arguments in 3. The only
diference of our approach from Roths method is that at every step of the iteration
procedure it is required to fnd a proper rather than an arbitrary afne subspace
in which the density of the set A increases, where A does not contain solutions
of (37). For that we have to trace the signs of the Fourier coefcients. We shall
need several simple lemmas.
Lemma 11. Let A Z
n
2
be an arbitrary set without solutions of equation (37).
Then there exists a = 0 such that 
A() (/4)
1/(l2)
N.
Fourier analysis in combinatorial number theory 537
The proof of the lemma is a modifcation of the arguments in Lemma 3 or
Lemma 10.
Lemma 12. Let A Z
n
2
be an arbitrary set without solutions of equation (37) and
suppose that 
A() (/4)
1/(l2)
N for all = 0. Then the set
R
huge
:= { : 
A() 2
1/(4l)
A}
has cardinality either 1 or 2.
Indeed, let
R = R
huge
\ {0}. Since A does not contain solutions of (37),
0 =
A
l
() = A
l
+
:
A()>0
A
l
() +
:
A()<0
A
l
() = A
l
+
+
+
. (41)
In view of the last formula,
2
1/4
A
l

R
R

A()
l
=
+
+
 = A
l
+ 2
+
3
2
A
l
.
Hence 
A() min
1/(l4)
N,
1
80

A(
0
)
. (42)
Proof. If there exists a = 0 such that
A() (/4)
1/(l4)
N, then the lemma is
proved. Therefore, we assume that the reverse inequality holds. Then by Lemma 12
the cardinality of the set
R := R
huge
\ {0} is equal to 0 or 1. By hypothesis the
set A does not contain solutions of (37). Consequently,
0 = N
x
1
++x
l
=0
A(x
1
) A(x
l1
)A(x
l
)(1)
x,
0
A
l1
()
A( +
0
)
= A
l1
A(
0
) +A
A
l1
(
0
) +
=0, =
0
A
l1
()
A( +
0
) =
0
+
0
+
1
. (43)
Since
0
/ R
huge
, we have 
A(
0
) 2
1/(4l)
A. Thus,
0
+
0
(1 2
1/12
)A
l1

A(
0
)
1
20
A
l1

A(
0
).
538 I. D. Shkredov
In deriving the last formula we used the inequality l 3. Returning to the iden
tity (43) and using the estimate 
R 1, we get that
1
20
A
l1
A(
0
)
=0, =
0
A
l1
()
A( +
0
) (44)
=
=0, =
0
, /
A
l1
()
A( +
0
) +
=0, =
0
,
A
l1
()
A( +
0
) (45)
max
=0, =
0
A( +
0
)
A(
0
)
=0, =
0

A
l2
() +A
l1
max
=0, =
0
A( +
0
).
(46)
Recalling that
A() (/4)
1/(l4)
N and proceeding as in the proof of Lemma 12,
we have
=0, =
0

A
l2
()
3
2
A
l2
2A
l2
.
Combining the last formula with (44) and (46), we obtain the estimate (42).
Lemma 13 is proved.
Finally we prove the main lemma, which is interesting in its own right.
Lemma 14. Let l 5 and let A Z
n
2
be an arbitrary set without solutions of
equation (37). Then the following alternative holds:
1) either there exists a = 0 such that
A()
1
80
1/(l4)
N,
2) or there exist a subspace H with codimH = 1 and a vector x
0
/ H such that
A H +x
0
.
The example of a colouring above (see Remark 1, p. 535), which shows that
R(c) n in the group Z
n
2
, demonstrates that the second variant of the alternative
is possible. It is clear how the inequality (36) follows from Lemma 14. Indeed,
suppose we have a partition of the group Z
n
2
into k sets (colours). We choose
a colour of maximal cardinality C and apply to it Lemma 14. If part 1) holds, then
by the analogue of Lemma 4 in Z
n
2
we get that the subspace L := {x : , x = 0}
satisfes
C L
+
1
80
1/(l4)
L.
Then we apply Lemma 14 to the set C L, and so on. If at some stage the second
alternative holds, then the subspace H is coloured with k 1 colours. Next, we
choose in H a colour of maximal cardinality and proceed as before. By hypothesis,
l log n; therefore, for every colour the frst alternative of the lemma can hold at
most O(log k) times (see formula (40) in the proof of Theorem 24). Then in all our
algorithm completes at most O(k log k) steps, which is what gives the estimate (36).
We now prove Lemma 14. Suppose that situation 1) does not hold. By Lemma 11
there exists a = 0 such that 
A() (/4)
1/(l2)
N (/4)
1/(l4)
N. We have
and
0
/ R
huge
. Then by Lemma 13 there exists a such that
Fourier analysis in combinatorial number theory 539
the estimate (42) holds, and therefore the frst alternative of Lemma 14 holds. It
remains to consider the case where R
= R
huge
. It follows from Lemmas 11 and
12 that R
huge
 = 2. Let R
huge
= {0} {
0
}. Then for all = 0 with =
0
we have 
A() (/4)
1/(l4)
N. Let H = {x : x,
0
= 0} and H
1
= {x :
x,
0
= 1} = H + x
0
, where x
0
/ H. Also, let A
0
= A H and A
1
= A H
1
.
We need to prove that the set A
0
is empty. Let A
= A
1
x
0
H. Since
A(
0
) =
A
0
 A
1
 2
1/(4l)
A and l log n, we have 
() (/2)
1/(l4)
A
1
 := A
1

for all nonzero H. Suppose that A
0
is nonempty. Take z A
0
and consider
the equation x
1
+ + x
l1
+ z = 0, x
i
A
()
l1
(1)
,z
A
1

l1
l3
A
1

l2
H > 0.
This contradiction proves Lemma 14, and together with it the inequality (36).
Another application of Fourier analysis to colouring problems can be found
in [116].
6. Sets of large trigonometric sums
Let G be a fnite Abelian group, and A G some set with A = G = N. In
the two preceding sections we saw that for counting combinatorial confgurations
in A (such as arithmetic progressions, solutions of linear equations, and so on) an
important role is played by large Fourier coefcients of the set A. Therefore, it is
natural to consider the following object:
R
= R
(A) = {r G : 
that 0 R
and R
= R
, then also r R
. Fur
ther, Parsevals equality (4) implies an estimate for the cardinality of R
, namely,
R
 /
2
. Does the set R
be defned by (47).
Then there exists a set = {
1
, . . . ,

} G with
 2
2
log
1
(48)
540 I. D. Shkredov
such that every element r in R
i=1
i
,
i
{1, 0, 1}. (49)
Thus, Theorem 25 asserts that the set R
be
defned by (47). Also, let B R
1
, . . . , r
k
) B
2k
: r
1
+ +r
k
= r
1
+ +r
k
} (50)
is not less than
2k
2k
B
2k
. (51)
Let us show that the assertion of Theorem 26 is nontrivial when the parameter
tends to zero as N tends to infnity. Consider the simplest case k = 2. Suppose that
the cardinality of the set R
is of order /
2
. Then by Theorem 26 the number of
solutions of the equation
r
1
+r
2
= r
3
+r
4
, where r
1
, r
2
, r
3
, r
4
R
\ {0}, (52)
is of order at least /
4
. Among these solutions are three series of trivial solutions.
The frst series: r
1
= r
3
, r
2
= r
4
; the second: r
1
= r
4
, r
2
= r
3
; and, fnally,
the third series: r
1
= r
2
, r
3
= r
4
. Consequently, equation (52) has at most
3R

2
trivial solutions. Since the cardinality of the set R

2
is bounded above by the number 3
2
/
4
. We see that this
quantity is less than /
4
as tends to zero. Thus, Theorem 26 asserts that
equation (52) has nontrivial solutions. In this sense Theorem 26 shows that the
set R
f(r)
r
f
1
for all r Z
N
.
Thus, Theorem 27 tells us that if does not tend to zero (more precisely, if
= 1/2), then the set of large trigonometric sums may contain an arbitrary set.
In the proof of Theorem 25 Chang used Rudins theorem [77] (also see [125]) on
dissociative subsets of G. By defnition a set D = {d
1
, . . . , d
D
} G is dissociative
if an equation
D
i=1
i
d
i
= 0 (mod N) (53)
with
i
{1, 0, 1} implies that all the
i
are equal to zero.
Theorem 28 (Rudin). There exists an absolute constant C > 0 such that for an
arbitrary dissociative set D G, arbitrary complex numbers a
n
C, and all
positive integers p 2
1
N
xG
nD
a
n
e(nx)
nD
a
n

2
p/2
. (54)
The proofs of Theorem 28 and Changs theorem can also be found in [124], [126].
We now show how Rudins Theorem and Theorem 26 imply an analogue of Theo
rem 25 that difers from Changs theorem only in a slightly weaker estimate for the
cardinality of the set . Indeed, consider an arbitrary dissociative subset of R
. By
Theorem 26 the set R
can be
written in the form (49), and the number of elements in this expansion is small.
We now give a rigorous proof.
Proposition 3. Let and be real numbers with 0 < 1, let A be an
arbitrary subset of G of cardinality N, and let the set R
be defned by (47).
Then there exists a set D = {d
1
, . . . , d
D
} G with D 2
8
C
2
(/)
2
log(1/)
such that every element r of the set R
i=1
i
d
i
, (55)
where
i
{1, 0, 1} and C is the absolute constant in Rudins inequality (54).
542 I. D. Shkredov
Proof. Let k = 2log(1/), and let D R
2k
D
2k
. (56)
On the other hand,
T
k
(D) C
2k
2
k
k
k
D
k
, (57)
where C is the absolute constant in Theorem 28. Indeed, let the numbers a
n
in
(54) be equal to D(n), and let p = 2k. Then the lefthand side in (54) is T
k
(D),
while the righthand side is C
2k
2
k
k
k
D
k
. We have k = 2log(1/). Using
(56) and (57), we get that D 2
8
C
2
(/)
2
log(1/). Since D is a maximal
dissociative subset of R
, every element r of R
D
i=1
i
d
i
(mod N), where d
i
D and
i
{1, 0, 1}. Note that the estimate
D 2
8
C
2
(/)
2
log(1/) difers from the analogous estimate in Changs theorem
only by a constant factor. Proposition 3 is proved.
In exactly the same fashion (see [121]) one can derive from Theorem 26 and
generalizations of Rudins inequality a theorem of Bourgain [41] that he used in the
proof of Theorem 4.
Theorem 29 (Bourgain). Let d be a positive integer, and real numbers with
0 < 1, and A an arbitrary subset of G of cardinality N, and let the
set R
 8
2
log
d
. (58)
Theorem 29 clearly generalizes Theorem 25. The inequality (58) was slightly
strengthened in [121] for the group Z
n
2
.
If multiplicative constants are disregarded, then as Green showed [127], Changs
theorem is sharp. Developing his method in [128], the author proved a theorem
that is in a sense converse to Theorem 25. We state it in the simplest form.
Theorem 30 (Green, Shkredov). Suppose that 1/8 and are real numbers
such that 20N
1/2
< /32 and is an arbitrary dissociative set such that
 2
11
2
log
. (59)
Then there exists a set A Z
N
with A = N such that R
(A) = {0}().
Thus, Theorem 30 asserts that any dissociative set of admissible cardinality,
that is, satisfying the inequality (59), is, together with () and zero, a set of large
trigonometric sums of some set A. In particular, it follows that the estimate (48)
is sharp with respect to order. This cannot be said about the number of terms in
the representation (49). For example, the following result was proved in [66].
Fourier analysis in combinatorial number theory 543
Theorem 31. Let N be a positive integer such that (N, 2) = 1, let and be real
numbers with 0 < 1/16, let A be an arbitrary subset of Z
N
of cardinality
N, and let the set R
Z
N
with

 max
2
12
2
log
, 2
6
log
2
(60)
such that for any residue r R
1
, . . . ,
M
of at most 8 log(1/)
elements of
such that
r =
M
i=1
i
(mod N), (61)
where
i
{1, 0, 1}.
In the same paper a similar result was obtained for subsets of the group Z
n
2
. It
is easy to see that the number of elements
i
in the representation (61) cannot
be decreased. Indeed, let , and let A be a subset of Z
n
2
with the property
that R
(A) /
2
1/. Such sets A do exist; for example, one can take as
A any subspace of Z
n
2
of cardinality N. Then by Changs theorem there exists
a set
with 
(A). Since R
(A) such that k log(1/) vectors are required for representing it in the
form (61). Indeed, since there are at most 2
k

k
, the inequality 2
k

k
were used.
Proposition 4. Let and be real numbers with 0 < 1, and let A be an
arbitrary subset of G of cardinality N. Then for any nonempty set B R
z
(B B
c
)(z)R
2
/(2)
(z)
2
2
B
2
. (62)
Proof. Indeed, by the defnition of the set R
we get that
NB
rB

A(r) =
x
A(x)
r
B(r)e
i arg
A(r)
e(rx).
Using the CauchySchwarzBunyakovskii inequality and the triangle inequality, we
get that
B
2
N
xA
r
B(r)e
i arg
A(r)
e(rx)
2
=
r,r
B(r)B(r
)e
i arg
A(r)+i arg
A(r
A(r r
z
(B B
c
)(z)
A(z).
Summing only over z R
2
/(2)
in the last formula, we obtain (62). Proposi
tion 4 is proved.
544 I. D. Shkredov
The papers [18] and [23] will be further discussed in 9. The question of the
structure of sets of large trigonometric sums in the case G = Z was studied by
Bourgain in [41]. See [65] for an application of these results to Freimans theorem
on sets with small doubling.
It should be pointed out that the question of the structure of the set R
in the
case where the parameter is close to had been studied in [129] much earlier than
Changs paper; also see the survey [130]. The additive structure of sets of large
trigonometric sums in this case is also very clearly demonstrated by the following
theorem (also see [131]).
Theorem 32 (Yudin). Let A G be an arbitrary set with A = G, and let
,
))
(A). (63)
Proof. Let r R
(1)
(A) and r
R
(1
)
(A). Clearly, there exist angles and
such that Re
A(r)e
i
(1 )A and Re
A(r
)e
i
(1
)A. Hence,
Re
xA
2e
i
e(rx) + 2e
i
e(rx
) 3
= Re
A(r)e
i
+ 2
A(r
)e
i
1 2( +
A.
If we show that
Re
2e
i
e(rx) + 2e
i
e(r
x) 3
Re
e
i+i
(r +r
)x
R
(12(+
))
(A). We fx x G,
and let e
i
e(rx) = e
i
and e
i
e(r
x) = e
i
, where ,
3 cos( +
).
Using the upper convexity of the cosine on the interval (/2, /2], we get that
2 cos + 2 cos
3 4 cos
+
2
3
= 2 cos
2
+
2
1 2
1 cos
+
2
cos( +
).
The theorem is proved.
We conclude this section by discussing the question of how small the Fourier
coefcient of a characteristic function can be. This problem was frst considered
in [132]. Our treatment follows [131].
Theorem 33 (KonyaginLev). Let p be a prime number and let G = Z
p
. Then
1) for any set A with A = n and 3 n p 1
min
rG

A(r) > n
(p3)/4
; (64)
Fourier analysis in combinatorial number theory 545
2) on the other hand, for every n of the form n = 2
k
< p/20 with k a positive
integer there exists a set A G such that

A(r) < n
(ln p)/(2 ln 2)
. (65)
We prove the frst part of Theorem 33. Part 2) is verifed in a fairly straightfor
ward fashion a certain dissociative set is taken as the set A.
It is easy to see that the Fourier coefcients of the characteristic function of A
are nonzero. Indeed, it sufces to observe that they are the values of the polyno
mial
A(z) at roots of unity and that
A(z) is not divisible by the minimal polynomial
1+z+ +z
p1
. The product m :=
rZ
rZ
p

A(r)
2
= 
A(r
0
)
4
rZ
p
, r=r
0

A(r)
2

A(r
0
)
4
1
p 3
rZ
p
, r=r
0

A(r)
2
p3
< 
A(r
0
)
4
n(p n)
p 3
p3
n
p3

A(r
0
)
4
,
and all is proved in the case r
0
= 0. If r
0
= 0, then the inequality (64) is obvious.
It would be fairly interesting to reduce the gap between the upper and lower
estimates in Theorem 33.
7. Combinatorial confgurations in sumsets
In this section we consider problems about arithmetic progressions in sumsets,
that is, in sets of the form A
1
+ + A
k
. It turns out that such sets con
tain surprisingly long arithmetic progressions. This fact was frst noted by Bour
gain [67]. Many papers on these problems have appeared recently (see, for example,
[62], [133][138]). We cannot even mention all the known results here but only touch
upon some of them. In [67] Bourgain obtained the following result.
Theorem 34 (Bourgain). Let A, B [N] be some sets, with A = N and
B = N. Then there exists an absolute constant c > 0 such that the set A + B
contains an arithmetic progression of length at least
exp
( log N)
1/3
log log N
.
On the other hand, Ruzsa [133] found a lower estimate for the length of a maximal
arithmetic progression in the set A+A.
Theorem 35 (Ruzsa). Let > 0 be arbitrary. Then there is a number p
0
() such
that for all primes p with p > p
0
() there exists a symmetric set A Z
p
(that
is, A = A) with A > (1/2 )p such that A + A does not contain arithmetic
progressions of length greater than exp
(log p)
2/3+
.
546 I. D. Shkredov
Since for any set A Z
p
such that A p/2 we have A + A = Z
p
(see 8,
the arguments after formula (71)), the constant 1/2 in Theorem 35 is best pos
sible. Let us compare Theorems 34 and 35. Suppose that the parameters and
in Theorem 34 are independent of N. Then by this theorem, for any A the
set A + A contains an arithmetic progression of length at least exp
c(log N)
1/3
,
where c is some constant. On the other hand, by Theorem 35 there exists an A
of positive density such that A+A does not contain progressions of length greater
than exp
c(log N)
2/3
2
5
( log N)
1/2
c log log N
.
Theorem 38 (Green). Let N be a positive integer, let > 0, and let A Z
N
be
an arbitrary set of cardinality N. Then the set A+A+A contains an arithmetic
progression of length at least
2
24
log
2
N
2
/(250 log(1/))
.
Finally, at present the best result on arithmetic progressions in sums of at least
three sets is due to Sanders [139], [140].
Theorem 39 (Sanders). Let k be a positive integer, k 3. Let A
1
, . . . , A
k
Z
N
be arbitrary sets and let be the geometric mean of the densities of these sets. Then
the set A
1
+ +A
k
contains an arithmetic progression of length
c
Ck
3
1/(k2)
N
ck
2
1/(k2)
,
where c, C > 0 are some absolute constants.
In this section we prove Theorem 37 and consider the simplest case of Theorem 39
in the situation where G = Z
n
2
(see Theorem 41 below). The proof of Sanders result
is in the spirit of the arguments in 3. In Greens theorem absolutely diferent
considerations are used which quite nontrivially develop the approach in [67]. We
begin the proof of Theorem 37 by stating one more general fact. We shall need
a defnition.
Fourier analysis in combinatorial number theory 547
Defnition 5. Let S Z
N
be some set and let (0, 1) be a parameter. The set
S is said to be hereditarily nonuniform if

(r) S
 r = 0
for every S
S.
The complements in Z
N
of sets that are hereditarily nonuniform have the
following property.
Theorem 40 (Green). Let (0, 1) be a real number with
4 000 (log log N)/(log N)
1/2
,
and let S Z
N
be a hereditarily nonuniform set. Then the complement of S
contains an arithmetic progression of length e
log N/32
.
Clearly, Theorem 37 follows from Theorem 40. Indeed, let S be the comple
ment in Z
N
of A + B. Also, let S
x
S
(x)(A B)(x) = 0. We rewrite the last equation by using the Fourier trans
form. We have
0 =
1
N
(r)
A(r)
B(r) =
S
 A B
N
+
1
N
r=0
(r)
A(r)
B(r),
whence, by the CauchySchwarzBunyakovskii inequality and Parsevals equality,
we get that
A
1/2
B
1/2
N max
r=0

(r) S
 A B,
and we see that the set S is hereditarily non()
1/2
uniform. If ()
1/2
2
5
( log N)
1/2
. But
if ()
1/2
4 000 (log log N)/(log N)
1/2
, then Theorem 37 holds with the constant
c = 4 000/32 = 125.
Thus, we need to verify Theorem 40. Let (0, 1) be a parameter and let S
be some set with  = N on which the minimum of the expression max
r=0

(r)
is attained. We denote this minimum by . Since S is not hereditarily uniform,
we have .
The main idea of the proof is that we should attempt to modify the set ,
that is, to turn it into a new set
with 
(r) as small as possible. But since it cannot become strictly less than
, this will mean that (more precisely, its complement) possesses certain spe
cifc structural properties. From this it is already not far to the assertion that the
complement of S has a special structure.
We shall modify the set as follows: we remove a set X from , and then add
a set D with D = X := t to , where t is a parameter. Of course, this may
result in not a set but a multiset. We confront this difculty at the very end of the
proof. Thus, Greens method consists of two stages: construction of the set D and
of the set X.
548 I. D. Shkredov
1. Construction of the set D. Here we use Theorem 25 in 6 (it is also possible
to use Theorem 31). We consider the set of large trigonometric sums
R =
r : 
(r)

2
.
Lemma 15. The Bohr set B(R, /64) contains an arithmetic progression P of
length
3
2
7
log(1/)
N
2
/(2 log(1/))
.
Indeed, by Theorem 25 every element of the set R can be represented as a combi
nation of elements of the set with coefcients 1. Hence, by the triangle inequal
ity we get that B
, /(64)
, /(64)
x : (P +x) 
16
P
.
We call these points of the group Z
N
good. Since
P  =
x
(P +x) 
x/ C
(P +x)  (N C)
16
P,
there are at least (1 /16)N good points. In other words, the set C is almost the
whole of Z
N
, and thus its Fourier coefcients are small. Indeed, let C
d
= Z
N
\ C.
Then for all r = 0

C(r) = 
C
d
(r) C
d

N
16
C
8
,
and we can fnally choose the set D. We need a variant of the probability lemma
on large deviations (see [62]).
Lemma 16. Let X
j
, j [n], be independent complex random variables, X
j
 1,
with zero mathematical expectation and variance
2
j
. Also, let t 0 be a real number
such that
2
:=
j
2
j
6nt. Then
P
j
X
j
nt
4e
n
2
t
2
/(8
2
)
.
We choose a set D C at random: an element x belongs to D with probability
p := t/C.
Lemma 17. Let t
2
log N. Then there exists a set D C such that D = t
and max
r=0

D(r) t/4.
The calculations are quite standard (see, for example, [141]). Let a set E C
be chosen at random with probability p. Then the rth Fourier coefcient of the
Fourier analysis in combinatorial number theory 549
set E is the sum of the independent random variables X
(r)
j
(x) = E(x)e(rx),
E
E(r) = p
E(r)
t
6
E(r) E
E(r)
t
24
4e
2
t/5000
.
Similarly,
P
E t
t
24
4e
2
t/5000
.
By hypothesis, t
2
log N, and consequently, with positive probability for all
r = 0 we have

E t
t/24.
By removing or adding at most t/24 points in the set D we obtain the assertion
of the lemma.
We now describe the second stage of the proof.
2. Construction of the set X. Here we use quite simple arguments. We choose
a set X at random. Then the proof of the following assertion is similar to that
of Lemma 17.
Lemma 18. Let N t
2
log N. Then there exists a set X with X = t
such that for all r = 0
X(r)
t

(r)
t
12
.
We put
1
= (\ X) D. This object is a multiset. Nevertheless, it is possible
to estimate its Fourier coefcients.
Lemma 19.
max
rR, r=0

1
(r) 
1

t
6
, (66)
and for all r = 0

1
(r)

1

2
+
t
3
. (67)
Proof. From the construction of D and X we get that
1
(r) =
(r)
X(r) +
D(r) =
1
1

(r) +Q,
where Q t/3. If r R and r = 0, then by recalling the defnition of the quantity
and taking into account the inequality 
= {d
1
+x
1
, . . . , d
t
+x
t
}, where the x
j
are elements
of the progression P, and let
= ( \ X) D
(r) < 
 holds
for the multiset
.
Proof. Let r R. Then from the inequality (67) and from the fact that the contri
bution of the set D
(r)


2
+ 5t < 
.
But if r R and r = 0, then

(r)
1
(r)
t
j=1
r(d
j
+x
j
)
e(rx
j
)
t max
j
e(rx
j
) 1
t
8
,
since P B(R, /64). Using (67), we obtain the assertion of the lemma.
We now go directly to the proof of Theorem 40. Suppose that (d
j
+P)(S\)
t for all j [t]. Then we take d
1
and fnd x
1
P such that d
1
+x
1
S \ . Next,
we take d
2
and fnd x
2
P such that d
1
+x
1
(S \ ) \ {d
1
+x
1
}. And so on. In
the end we fnd translates of all elements d
j
that belong to S but not to . This
enables us to construct a set
P t
1
32
P, (68)
where the parameter t is chosen so that t 16P/ and S
d
= Z
N
\ S. Also,
suppose that P /(32). From the estimate (68) and elementary considerations
of the average, it is easy to see that the set S
d
contains an arithmetic progres
sion of length /(32). Recall that earlier we supposed that t
2
log N and
t N/10. Furthermore, always. By choosing the parameters
= e
log N /16
, t
2
log N
and performing small calculations we obtain Theorem 40.
We now prove a special case of Theorem 39 (see [140]). Let G = Z
n
2
, k = 4, and
A
1
= A
2
= A
3
= A
4
. We consider this situation only for simplicity. In the general
case fairly similar arguments are used (cf. Theorems 2 and 9 in 3).
Theorem 41 (Sanders). Let G = Z
n
2
and let A G with A = N. Then 2A2A
contains a subspace of codimension C
1/2
, where C > 0 is some absolute constant.
The reader can see that the estimates in Theorem 41 are better than in Theo
rem 39. As in Roths theorem, the proof uses an iteration lemma.
Lemma 21. Let A G be some set with A = N. Then the following alternative
holds:
1) either 2A2A = G;
Fourier analysis in combinatorial number theory 551
2) or there exist a subspace V of codimension 1, a set A
V , and an x G
such that
(a) A
+x A,
(b) A
 ( +
3/2
)V .
Indeed, if 2A2A = G, then the set := G\ (2A2A) is nonempty. Clearly,
x
(x)(AAAA)(x) = 0. We rewrite the last equality in terms of the Fourier
coefcients. We have
0 =
(r)
A
4
(r) =  A
4
+
r=0
(r)
A
4
(r).
Let N := max
r=0

A(r) = N
3/2
N for some r = 0. Let H
0
=
{x G : x, r = 0} and H
1
= {x G : x, r = 1}. Then H
0
A + H
1
A =
A = N and H
0
A H
1
A =
A(r). Since 
A(r)
3/2
N, either H
0
A
(+
3/2
)N/2 or H
1
A (+
3/2
)N/2. We obtain Lemma 21 by setting V = H
0
,
A
= H
0
A, and x = 0 in the frst case, and V = H
0
and A
= (H
1
A) x for
any x H
1
in the second case.
Proof of Theorem 21. We apply Lemma 21 to the set A. If the frst alternative of the
lemma holds, then there is nothing to prove. If, however, the second alternative
holds, then we apply the lemma to the set A
A 2
A for
some set
A. It is easy to see that there exists a translate of
A that is contained in A,
and hence 2
A2
G

f(
0
)
xsupp f
f(x)  supp f
1/2
xG
f(x)
2
1/2
=  supp f
1/2
G
1
supp
f

f()
2
1/2
 supp f
1/2
G
1/2
 supp
f
1/2

f(
0
),
whence we obtain the required inequality.
Quite recently (see [144]) it was discovered that in the case G = Z/pZ with p
a prime the estimate (69) can be signifcantly improved.
Theorem 43 (Tao, the uncertainty principle in the group Z/pZ). Let p be a prime,
and f : Z/pZ C an arbitrary function that is not identically equal to zero. Then
 supp f + supp
f p + 1. (70)
As we shall now see, Taos theorem above is none other as a reformulation of the
wellknown Chebotarev theorem on the minors of the Fourier matrix.
Theorem 44 (Chebotarev). Let p be a prime number. Then all the minors of the
matrix = (e
2imn/p
)
p
n,m=1
are nonzero.
Let us derive Theorem 43 from Chebotarevs theorem. Let A and B be two
arbitrary nonempty subsets of Z
p
of equal cardinality. Then Chebotarevs theorem
asserts that the operator T
A,B
: f
fB, where f belongs to the space of functions
with support in A, is invertible. Suppose that the inequality (70) is false. In
other words, suppose that  supp f +  supp
f p for some function f that is not
identically equal to zero. We set A = supp f and choose B so that B (Z
p
\supp
f )
and B = A. But then we obtain a contradiction to the invertibility of the operator
T
A,B
, and Theorem 43 is proved.
By using the invertibility of the operator T
A,B
it is easy to check (for exam
ple, see [144]) that Theorem 43 is absolutely sharp in the sense that for any two
nonempty sets A and B with A + B p + 1 there exists a function f with
supp f = A and supp
f = B.
Finally, we note that the inequality (70) does not hold in an arbitrary fnite
Abelian group. For example, in the situation where G = Z
n
p
: for the characteristic
Fourier analysis in combinatorial number theory 553
function f of a subspace P of dimension k n, we have  supp f = P and
 supp
f = G/P, and (70) is false.
It is easy to see that Theorem 43 implies the wellknown Cauchy inequality on
sums of sets in Z/pZ:
A+B min{p, A +B 1}. (71)
Indeed, we point out frst that if A+B > p, then A+B = Z
p
and therefore the
estimate (71) holds (the equality A + B = Z
p
follows from the fact that for every
n Z
p
the sets nA and B necessarily intersect). Suppose now that A +B p.
Then there exist two sets X and Y such that X = p +1 A, Y  = p +1 B,
and X Y = Z
p
. Hence, X Y  = X + Y  p = p + 2 A B. Since the
operator T
A,B
is invertible, there exist functions f and g that have the properties
supp f = A, supp
f = X and supp g = B, supp g = Y . Consider the new function
F = f g. Then supp
F = X Y and supp F = A+B. By Theorem 43 we have
 supp F + supp
F = A+B +p + 2 A B p + 1,
and all is proved.
We point out that recently Guo and Sun [145] refned the inequality (71) by
using Taos method.
Theorem 45 (GuoSun). Let p be a prime, and A, B, S nonempty subsets of
Z/pZ. Then
{a +b : a A, b B, a b / S} min{p, A +B 2S 1}.
It remains to prove Chebotarevs Theorem 44. There exist quite a number of
proofs of this remarkable result (see, for example, [144], [146]). In our exposition
we follow [146]. Let = e
2i/p
and = 1. Then
rs
= (1 +)
rs
=
rs
k=0
rs
k
k
(72)
for all positive integers r and s. Also, let M = 
r
i
s
j

i,j[l]
be an arbitrary ll minor
of the matrix . Using the multilinearity of the determinant and the identity (72),
we get that
det M =
k
1
0,...,k
l
0
D
k
1
,...,k
l
k
1
++k
l
, (73)
where D
k
1
,...,k
l
is the determinant of the matrix composed of the columns
r
i
s
1
k
1
, . . . ,
r
i
s
l
k
l
i[l]
.
Consider the polynomial p
s,k
(x) =
xs
k
sgn()
s
(0)
1
s
(l1)
l
0! 1! (l 1)!
i,j[l]
(r
j
r
i
).
In deriving the last formula we used the expression for the Vandermonde determi
nant. Using this expression once again, we get that
C =
1
0! 1! (l 1)!
i,j[l]
(r
j
r
i
)
i,j[l]
s
j
s
i
= 0 (mod p),
which is what was required.
9. Connection with analytic number theory
Let R Z
p
be an arbitrary multiplicative subgroup. The question of estimates
for trigonometric sums over subgroups is an old problem in analytic number theory
(see, for example, [47] or [147]). In other words, we are interested in an upper
estimate for the quantity
S(R) = max
aZ
xR
e(ax)
.
The classical estimate for S(R) is S(R)
p (see [147]). Clearly, this estimate
is trivial for subgroups of order less than
p. In [48], [148], and [149] inequalities
were obtained of the form
S(R) Rp
, (74)
where R p
c
, c > 0 is some constant, and = (c) > 0. For example, in [48]
it was shown that the estimate (74) holds if c > 1/4 is arbitrary. Until recently
this was the smallest size of a subgroup starting with which there was a nontrivial
estimate (74). In [16] (see also [15]) the inequality (74) was proved for any positive
constant c.
Theorem 46 (BourgainKonyagin). Let > 0 be a real number. Then there exist
a positive integer p
0
() and a number () (0, 1) such that for all primes p with
p p
0
and for any multiplicative subgroup R Z
p
with R p
S(R) Rp
. (75)
Fourier analysis in combinatorial number theory 555
The restriction R p
p
has the form R = {x
k
: x Z
p
} for some positive
integer k and since
R = (p 1)/(k, p 1),
Theorem 46 can be reformulated as follows.
Theorem 47 (Bourgain). Let be a real number, p a sufciently large prime, and
k a positive integer such that k < p 1 and (k, p 1) < p
1
. Then there exists an
= () > 0 such that
p1
x=1
e(ax
k
)
< p
1
.
In [17] (see also [15]) Bourgain obtained similar estimates for the sums
t
1
s=1
e(a
s
) and
t
1
s,s
=1
e(a
s
+b
ss
), (76)
where a, = 0, is an element of order t, and t t
1
> p
.
Theorem 47 was generalized in [18].
Theorem 48 (Bourgain). Let be a real number, let p be a sufciently large prime,
and let k
i
be positive integers for i [r] such that k
i
< p 1,
(k
i
, p 1) < p
1
, i [r], (77)
and
(k
i
k
j
, p 1) < p
1
, i, j [r], i = j. (78)
Let
f(x) =
r
i=1
a
i
x
k
i
, (a
i
, p) = 1. (79)
Then there exists an = (, r) > 0 such that
p1
x=1
e(f(x))
< p
1
. (80)
The trigonometric sums in (80) are called Mordells sums. Earlier results on
Mordells sums can be found in [150], [151]. Theorem 48 was refned in [152]. We
note that condition (78) is necessary. Indeed (see [151]), for example, let r = 2,
k
1
= 1, k
2
= (p 1)/2 + 1, and f(x) = x x
(p1)/2+1
. Then Weyls inequality
(see, for example, [153]) easily implies that
p1
x=1
e(f(x)) =
p 1
2
+
x
(p1)/2
=1
e(2x) +e(1) =
p 1
2
+O
,
since x
(p1)/2
is the Legendre symbol of a number x.
556 I. D. Shkredov
Polynomials of the form (79) are called sparse polynomials. A defnitive, in
a sense, result describing all the sparse polynomials for which nontrivial estimates
of trigonometric sums similar to (80) are possible was given in [154]. We shall need
several defnitions. Recall that the discrepancy of a sequence of points x
1
, . . . , x
n
[0, 1) is defned to be the quantity
D
n
= D
n
(x
1
, . . . , x
n
) = sup
0<1
{i : x
i
[, )}
n
( )
.
Let f : Z
p
Z
p
be an arbitrary function. We denote the discrepancy of the
sequence {f(i)/p} by D
p
(f). Here Z
p
is identifed with the sequence {0, 1, . . . , p1}.
Finally, if p
j
is a sequence of prime numbers, then a sequence of polynomials
f
j
: Z
p
j
Z
p
j
is said to be well distributed if for some > 0 we have D
p
j
(f
j
) p
j
.
It is well known (see, for example, [153]) that a nontrivial estimate of trigonometric
sums over the points of a sequence implies that the sequence is well distributed. On
the other hand, for the polynomial f(x) = ax
k
, a = 0, and an arbitrary prime p
we have D
p
(f) k/p, since, as is easy to see, f(x) takes the same value deg f = k
times. Therefore, we can reformulate Theorems 46 and 47 as follows.
Proposition 5. A sequence of nonzero monomials f
j
= a
j
x
k
j
is well distributed
if and only if there is an > 0 such that (k
j
, p
j
1) < p
1
j
for any j.
By using Theorem 48 Konyagin obtained a similar criterion for arbitrary sparse
polynomials. We state only one result from [154].
Theorem 49 (Konyagin). Let r be a positive integer and let f
j
Z
p
j
[x] be a
sequence of polynomials such that
f
j
(x) =
k
j
K
j
a(k
j
)x
k
j
,
where K
j
Z
+
and K
j
 r. The sequence {f
j
} is well distributed if and only if
there exists an > 0 such that none of the sets K
j
can be represented as a disjoint
union of sets K
j
0
, . . . , K
j
s
j
having the following properties:
(a) d
j
 k for all k K
j
0
;
(b) d
j
 (k k
) for every i = 1, . . . , s
j
and all k, k
K
j
i
;
(c) there exists an x
j
0
Z
p
j
such that for every i = 1, . . . , s
j
kK
j
i
a(k)(x
j
0
)
k
= 0,
where d
j
> p
1
j
and d
j
 (p
j
1).
See [22] for a generalization of Theorem 48 to a wider class of polynomials
(roughly speaking, those representable as a sum of a sparse polynomial and a poly
nomial of degree p
1/2
, > 0).
The fundamental Theorem 46 follows from the result of Bourgain, Katz, and
Tao [10] on sums of products in the group Z
p
. See an independent proof of Theo
rem 46 in the remarkable paper [155]. See the earlier papers [156][159] about the
theory of sums of products in ordered groups such as R or Z.
Fourier analysis in combinatorial number theory 557
Theorem 50 (BourgainKatzTao). Let > 0 be a real number. Then there exist
a positive integer p
0
() and a real number () (0, 1) such that for all primes p
with p p
0
and for any set A Z
p
with A p
. (81)
Theorem 50 (also see its strengthening in [21]) tells us that in Z
p
there can be
no sets that have simultaneously a small sum and a small product.
Besides Theorems 46 and 47, one more corollary of Theorem 50 is an analogue
of the SzemerediTrotter theorem in the group Z
p
(see [10]). Let p be a prime,
and let the letters P, L Z
p
Z
p
denote arbitrary families of points and straight
lines.
Theorem 51 (BourgainKatzTao). Let 0 < < 2 be a real number. Then for all
sufciently large primes p and for arbitrary sets P and L such that
P, L < p
,
there exists an () (0, 1) such that
{(P, L) PL : P L} p
(3/2)
. (82)
The estimate p
3/2
in (82) follows easily from the CauchySchwarzBunyakovskii
inequality; therefore, the quantity p
xA
yB
e
a(xy +x
2
y
2
)
, max
a=0
xA
yB
e
a(xy +g
x+y
)
,
where A and B are arbitrary sets with A, B
p and g is a primitive root.
Also (see [20] and [21]),
x
1
A
1
,...,x
r
A
r
e(x
1
x
r
)
A
1
 A
r
p
, (83)
where r 2 is a positive integer, = () > 0, A
1
, . . . , A
r
are arbitrary sets
with A
j
 p
pA,
A
4
p
. (84)
Proof. We can assume that 0 / A. Consider the equation
xy
1
+z = w, where x A A, y A, z A, w A+A. (85)
Clearly, this has A
3
solutions of the form x = a
1
a
2
, y = a
1
2
, z = a
3
, w = a
1
+a
3
,
where all the a
i
belong to A, and to diferent triples (a
1
, a
2
, a
3
) there correspond
diferent solutions x, y, z, w of equation (85). Let J be the number of solutions of
equation (85). As we have just proved, J A
3
. On the other hand,
A
3
J =
1
p
rZ
p
xAA
yA
zA
wA+A
e
r(xy
1
+z w)
A
2
A+A A A
p
+
1
p
rZ
p

A(r) (A+A)(r)
xAA
yA
1
e(rxy)
.
By applying the estimate for the trigonometric sum over products of sets (see, for
example, [153]) we get that
xAA
yA
1
e(rxy)
pA A A , r = 0.
From this and the CauchySchwarzBunyakovskii inequality we have
A
3
J
A
2
A+A A A
p
+
pA A A
2
A+A ,
and the theorem is proved.
For example, if A p
2/3
, then the estimate (84) implies the inequality
max{A+A, A A} p
1/2
A
1/2
.
Note that the last estimate cannot be improved (see, for example, [51]), and conse
quently Theorem 52 is sharp for sets A of cardinality p
2/3
. Here the lower bound
Fourier analysis in combinatorial number theory 559
for the cardinality of A does not appear just by chance, since, as is well known, the
analytic methods work well only for sufciently large sets.
In fact, an asymptotic formula for the number of solutions of (85) was obtained
in the proof of Theorem 52. Other equations with variables that belong to arbitrary
sets in Z
p
were considered in [53][56]. We state only two results.
Theorem 53 [55]. Let A, B, C, D Z
p
be arbitrary sets, and any element of Z
p
.
Then the number N
1
(A, B, C, D) of solutions of the equation
ab +cd = , where a A, b B, c C, d D, (86)
satisfes the asymptotic formula
N
1
(A, B, C, D) =
A B C D
p 1
+O
.
Theorem 54 [54]. For arbitrary sets A, B, C, D Z
p
the number N
2
(A, B, C, D)
of solutions of the equation
a +b = cd, where a A, b B, c C, d D, (87)
satisfes the asymptotic formula
N
2
(A, B, C, D) =
A B C D
p 1
+O
.
The method of proof of Theorems 53 and 54 also amounts to using the classi
cal estimates for trigonometric sums. These theorems establish the solubility of
certain equations in four unknowns running over arbitrary sufciently dense sets
A, B, C, D. For example, if A, B, C, D p
1
0
, where
0
> 0 is a sufciently
small number, then equations (86) and (87) are soluble. Recently the author [116]
presented an example of an equation in three variables of the form f(x, y) = z,
where f(x, y) is some polynomial, that is also soluble for any sufciently dense sets.
Clearly, there are no equations in two variables with a similar property.
10. Conclusion
We conclude the present survey by stating several unsolved problems of har
monic analysis related to problems of combinatorial number theory. Some of these
problems were already stated in the preceding sections; for example, the polynomial
FreimanRuzsa conjecture (see 4).
The most difcult unsolved problem is still the ErdosTuran Conjecture 1. As
shown in 3, this conjecture is closely related to the problem of the behaviour of
the function a
k
(N). We note that even in the simplest case k = 3 the precise order
of growth of a
3
(N) is still unknown. Recently Green and Tao announced a result on
an upper estimate for a
k
(N) with k 4 of the form a
k
(N) 1/(log N)
C
k
(where
C
k
> 0 is an absolute constant) and proved a similar result for the function a
4
(N)
in the groups Z
n
p
, where p is a prime, p = 2, 3 (see [46]). Concerning the behaviour
of a
3
(N) in the group Z
n
3
, Green posed the following conjecture (see [3]).
560 I. D. Shkredov
Conjecture 4 (Green). Let G = Z
n
3
. Then a
3
(N) N
0
, where
0
> 0 is some
absolute constant.
We state a conjecture (possibly too bold) whose validity for sets with cardinality
of order N/(log N)
c
, c > 1, would imply an afrmative solution of the ErdosTuran
problem in the case k = 3, as well as Conjecture 4 (if the cardinality of the set is
estimated from below as N
1c
, c
> 0).
Conjecture 5. Let A Z
N
or A Z
n
p
, p 3, be an arbitrary set without
arithmetic progressions of length three, with some sufciently large cardinality (for
example, N/(log N)
c
, c > 1). Then there exists an r = 0 such that 
A(r) A,
where > 0 is an absolute constant.
The validity of Conjecture 5 for sets of positive density follows easily from the
arguments in 3. We also note that Conjecture 5 is false for sets without solutions
of an arbitrary nonafne linear equation, say, x+y = z (see the example of a set in
Theorem 2.11 of [128]). Finally, it is easy to see that Conjecture 5 is also not valid
for very small sets of cardinality, say, N
1/3
. For example, one can take a random
set of cardinality N
1/3
. The author is grateful to S. V. Konyagin for this remark.
In connection with the polynomial FreimanRuzsa Conjecture 3 (p. 531) the
following question arises. Let p be a prime number, and S Z
n
p
some set with
S = N. What is the codimension of the subspace contained in 2A2A? At the
moment, the best result here is due to Sanders [140]; namely, this codimension c is
O(
1/2
) (see 7). It is easy to verify that the estimate c log(1/) implies the
FreimanRuzsa conjecture.
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I. D. Shkredov
Moscow State University
Email : ishkredov@rambler.ru
Received 07/OCT/09
Translated by E. KHUKHRO