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Schneider suggested that one at least of the two numbers is transcendental


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On the numbers and by


Abstract. We give two measures of simultaneous approximation by algebraic numbers, the first one for the triple ) and the second one for ). We deduce from these measures two transcendence results which had been proved in the early 70's by W.D. Brownawell and the author.


In 1949, A.O. Gel'fond introduced a new method for algebraic independence, which enabled him to prove that the two numbers and are algebraically independent. At the same time, he proved that one at least of the three numbers is transcendental (see[G] Chap. III, ).

At the end of his book [S] on transcendental numbers, Th. Schneider suggested that one at least of the two

numbers is transcendental; this was the last of a list of eight problems, and the first to be solved, in 1973, by W.D. Brownawell [B] and M.Waldschmidt [W 1], independently and simultaneously. For this result they shared the Distinguished Award of the Hardy-Ramanujan Society in 1986. Another consequence of their main result is that one at least of the two following statements holds true:

(i) The numbers e and are algebraically independent (ii)The number is transcendental

Our goal is to shed a new light on these results. It is hoped that our approach will yield further progress towards a solution of the following open problems:

(?) Two at least of the three numbers are algebraically independent.

(?) Two at least of the three numbers are algebraically independent.

Further conjectures are as follows:

(?) Each of the numbers is transcendental (?) The numbers e and are algebraically independent.

We conclude this note by showing how stronger statements are consequences of Schanuel's conjecture.

1. Heights

Let be a complex algebraic number. The minimal polynomial of over Z Z is the unique polynomial

which vanishes at the point , is irreducible in the factorial ring and has leading coefficient . The integer is the degree of , denoted by . The usual height of is defined by


It will be convenient to use also the so-called Mahler's measure of , which can be defined in three equivalent ways. The first one is

For the second one, let denote the complex roots of f, so that

Then, according to Jensen's formula, we have

For the third one, let K be a number field (that is a subfield of C| which is a Q/ -vector space of finite dimension [K:Q/ ]) containing and let be the set of (normalized) absolute values of K. Then

where is the completion of K for the absolute value v and the topological closure of in and the local degree.

Mahler's measure is related to the usual height by

From this point of view it does not make too much difference to use H or M, but one should be careful that d denotes the exact degree of , not an upper bound. We shall deal below with algebraic numbers of degree d bounded by some parameter D.

Definition. For an algebraic number of degree d and Mahler's measure , we define the absolute logarithmic height by

2.Simultaneous Approximation

We state two results dealing with simultaneous Diophantine approximation. Both of them are consequences of the main result in [W 2]. Details of the proof will appear in the forthcoming book [W 3].

2.1. Simultaneous Approximation to and


Theorem 1. There exists a positive absolute constant such that, if are algebraic numbers in a field of degree D, then


2.2. Simultaneous Approximation to and

Theorem 2. There exists a positive absolute constant such that, if are algebraic numbers in a field of degree D, then


3. Transcendence Criterion

3.1 Algebraic Approximations to a Given Transcendental Number

The following result is Théoréme 3.2 of [R-W 1]; see also Theorem 1.1 of [R-W 2].

Theorem 3. Let be a complex number. The two following conditions are equivalent:

(i) the number is transcendental.

(ii) For any real number , there are infinitely many integers for which there exists an algebraic number of degree d and absolute logarithmic height which satisfies

Notice that the proof of is an easy consequence of Liouville's inequality.

3.2. Application to and

Corollary to Theorem 1. One at least of the two numbers is transcendental.

Proof of the corollary. Assume that the two numbers are algebraic, say and . Then, according to Theorem 1, there exists a constant such that, for any algebraic number of degree and height


We now use Theorem 3 for with and derive a contradiction.

4. Algebraic Independence


4.1 Simultaneous Approximation

The proof of the following result is given in [R-W 1], Théoréme 3.1, as a consequence of Theorem 3 (see also [R-W 2] Corollary 1.2).

Corollary to Theorem 3. Let be complex numbers such that the field has

tyranscendence degree 1 over Q. There exists a constant c > 0 such that, for any real number , there are infinitely many integers D for which there exists a tuple of algebraic numbers satisfying


4.2. Application to and

Corollary to Theorem 2. One at least of the two following statements is true:

(i) The numbers e and are algebraiclly independent.

(ii) The number is transcendental.

Remark. This corollary can be stated in an equivalent way as follows:

For any non constant polynomial , the complex number

is transcendental.

The idea behind this remark originates in [R].

Proof of the Corollary. Assume that the number is algebraic. Theorem 2 with shows that there exists a constant such that, for any pair of algebraic numbers, if we set


Therefore we dedeuce from the Corollary to Theorem 3 that the field has transcendence degree 2.

5. Schanuel's Conjecture

The following conjecture is stated in [L] Chap. III p. 30: (The resulsts of this section are based on the conjecture to be stated).

Schanuel's Conjecture. Let be Q-linearly independent complex numbers. Then, among the 2n



at least n are algebraically independent.

Let us deduce from Schanuel's Conjecture the following statement (which is an open problem):

(?) The 7 numbers

are algebraically independent.

We shall use Schanuel's cinjecture twice. We start with the numbers and which are linearly independent over Q because is irrational. Therefore, according to Schanuel's conjecture, three at least of the numbers

are algebraically independent. This means that the three numbers and e are algebraically independent.

Therefore the 8 numbers

are Q-linearly independent. Again, Schanuel's conjecture implies that 8 at least of the numbers

are algebraically independent, and this means that the 8 numbers

are algebraically independent.


This research was performed in March/April 1998 while the author visited the Tata Institute of Fundamental Research under a cooperation program from the Indo-French Center

IFCEPAR/CEFIPRA Research project 1601-2 << Geometry >>, The author wishes also to thank Professor K.Ramachandra for his invitation to the National Institute of Advanced Studies at Bangalore.


[B] Brownawell, W.Dale. - The algebraic independence of certain numbers related to the exponential function. J.Number Th. 6 (1974), 22-31.

[G] Gel'fond, Aleksandr O, - Transcendental and algebraic numbers. Gosudarstv. Izdat. Tehn.-Teor. Lit., Moscow, 1952. 224 pp. Transcendental and algebraic numbers. Translated from the first Russian edition by Leo F. boron Dover Publications, Inc., New York 1960 vii+190 pp.

[L] Lang, Serge. - Introduction to transcendental numbers. Addison-Wesley Publishing Co., Reading, Mass.-London-Don Mills, Ont. 1966 vi+105 pp.

[R] Ramachandra, K. - Contributions to the theory of transcendental numbers.I, II. Acta Arith. 14 (1967/68), 65-72; ibid., 14 (1967/1968), 73-88.


[R-W 1] Roy, Damien; Waldschmidt, Michel. - Approximation diophantienne et indépendance algébrique de logarithmes. Ann. Scient. Ec. Norm. Sup., 30 (1997), no 6, 753-796.

[R-W 2] Roy, Damien; Waldschmidt, Michel. - Simultaneous approximation and algebraic independence.

The Ramanujan Journal, 1 Fasc. 4(1997), 379-430.

[S] Schneider, Theodor,- Einführung in die transzendenten Zahlen. Springer-Verlag, berlin-Gottingen- Heidelberg, 1957, v+150 pp. Introduction aux nombres transcendants. Traduit del'allemand par P. Eymard.

Gauthier-Villars, paris 1959 viii+151 pp.

[W 1] Waldschmidt, Michel. - Solution du huitiéme probléme de Schneider. J.Number Theory, 5 (1973), 191-202.

[W 2] Waldschmidt, Michel. - Approximation diophantienne dans les groupes algébriques commutatifs - (I) : Une version effective du theoreme du sous-groupe algébrique. J. reine angew. Math. 493 (1997), 61- 113.

[W 3] Waldschmidt, Michel. - Diophantine Approximation on Linear Algebraic Groups. Transcendence Properties of the Exponential Function in Several Variables. In preparation.

Michel Waldschmidt

Université P.et M. Curie (Paris VI) Institut Mathématique de Jussieu Problémes Diophantiens, Case 247 4, Place Jussieu

F-75252, Paris CEDEX05 FRANCE.

E-mail: miw@math.jussieu.fr Received 28th March 1998 Accepted 30th April 1998.

Hardy-Ramanujan Journal Vol.21 (1998) 35-36


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