Subconvex bounds on \operatorname{GL}_{3} via degeneration to frequency zero

Subconvex bounds on via degeneration to frequency zero

Roman Holowinsky, Paul D. Nelson The Ohio State University, Department of Mathematics, 100 Math Tower, 231 West 18th Ave, Columbus, OH, 43210, USA ETH Zürich, Department of Mathematics, Rämistrasse 101, CH-8092, Zürich, Switzerland
August 3, 2019

For a fixed cusp form on and a varying Dirichlet character of prime conductor , we prove that the subconvex bound

holds for any . This improves upon the earlier bounds and obtained by Munshi using his variant of the -method. The method developed here is more direct. We first express as the degenerate zero-frequency contribution of a carefully chosen summation formula à la Poisson. After an elementary “amplification” step exploiting the multiplicativity of , we then apply a sequence of standard manipulations (reciprocity, Voronoi, Cauchy–Schwarz and the Weil bound) to bound the contributions of the nonzero frequencies and of the dual side of that formula.

2010 Mathematics Subject Classification:
11F66, 11M41

1. Introduction

We consider the problem of bounding , where

  • is a fixed cusp form on , not necessarily self-dual, and

  • traverses a sequence of Dirichlet characters of (say) prime conductor tending off to .

Munshi [21] recently established the first subconvex bound in this setting by showing that if satisfies the Ramanujan–Selberg conjecture, then for any fixed , the estimate


holds for some positive quantity that may depend upon and , but not upon . In the preprint [17], he improves the exponent range to and removes the Ramanujan–Selberg assumption.

A striking feature of his work is the introduction of a novel “ -symbol method,” whereby one detects an equality of integers by averaging several instances of the Petersson trace formula. We summarize this approach in Appendix B, referring to [21] and [17] for details, to [19] and [18] for other recent applications of the -symbol method, and to [10, §5.5] for general discussion of the spectral decomposition of the -symbol.

It is natural to ask about the true strength of the -symbol method. How does it compare to the classical -symbol method of Duke–Friedlander–Iwaniec [6] and Heath-Brown [8]? For which problems does one fail and the other succeed? For which problems are the two methods “identical” or “equivalent”? Can the -symbol method be simplified or removed in certain applications?

In pondering such questions, we were able to better understand the arithmetical structure and mechanisms underlying Munshi’s argument and construct a more direct proof of the following quantitative strengthening of Munshi’s bound.

Theorem 1.

The subconvex bound (1.1) holds for any .

The proof is surprisingly short compared to earlier proofs of related estimates. Indeed, we regard the primary novelty of this work as not in the numerical improvement of the exponent but rather in the drastic simplification obtained for the proof of any subconvex bound (1.1).

Our point of departure is a formula (see §3.2), derived via Poisson summation, that expresses in terms of additive characters and twisted Kloosterman sums. We insert this into an approximate functional equation for . After an elementary “amplification” step exploiting the multiplicativity of , we then conclude via standard manipulations. We discuss in Appendix B how we arrived at this approach through a careful study of Munshi’s arguments.

We hope that the technique described here may be applied to many other problems. For instance, it seems natural to ask whether it allows a simplification or generalization of the arguments of [19] for bounding symmetric square -functions.

The works [12, 3, 20, 23, 22, 9, 14, 25, 26, 24] bound twisted -functions on in other aspects. In the preprint [13], Yongxiao Lin has generalized our method to incorporate the -aspect. The preprint [1] applies a simpler technique to the corresponding problem for .

2. Preliminaries

2.1. Asymptotic notation

We work throughout this article with a cusp form on and a sequence of primitive Dirichlet characters to prime moduli , indexed by , with . To simplify notation, we drop the subscripts and write simply and . Our convention is that any object (number, set, function, …) considered below may depend implicitly upon unless we designate it as fixed; it must then be independent of . Thus is understood as fixed, while is not. All assertions are to be understood as holding after possibly passing to some subsequence of the original sequence , and in particular, for sufficiently large.

We define standard asymptotic notation accordingly: or or means that for some fixed , while means for every fixed (for large enough, by convention). We write for . We write to denote that for each fixed . Less standardly, we write or as shorthand for , or equivalently, . Our goal is then to show that


We say that is inert if it satisfies the support condition

and the value and derivative bounds

2.2. General notation

We write , and denote by a sum over integers . Let . We write and to denote sums over and , respectively. We denote the inverse of by or . We denote by the additive character given by , by the Kloosterman sum, by the normalized Kloosterman sum, by the twisted Kloosterman sum, and by the normalized Gauss sum (of magnitude one).

We define the Fourier coefficients of as in [7], so that for complex numbers with large enough real part, and .

For a condition , we define to be if holds and otherwise. For instance, is if and if .

We denote by the Fourier transform of a Schwartz function on .

For a pair of integers , we denote by and their the greatest common divisor and least common multiple, respectively.

2.3. Voronoi summation formula

By [15] (cf. [2, §4] for the formulation used here), we have for , , and that


for integral transforms of the shape

where is meromorphic on and holomorphic in the domain , where it satisfies for fixed . (The indices and in (2.2) are implicitly restricted to be positive integers.) Set for some sufficiently small fixed . By shifting the contour to and to , we see that if is inert, then


for all fixed .

In the special case , we have , and so

2.4. Rankin–Selberg bounds

By [16], we have for each fixed and all that


Using the Hecke relations as in the proof of [17, Lem 2], we deduce that for all ,


(Indeed, we may reduce to considering the dyadic sums over , and then to establishing that , which is shown in loc. cit.)

3. Division of the proof

3.1. Approximate functional equation

Recall our main goal (2.1). By [11, §5.2], we may write

for some with and some smooth functions satisfying for all fixed . By a smooth dyadic partition of unity and the Rankin–Selberg estimate (2.4), it will suffice to show for each and each inert that the normalized sum

satisfies the estimate


By further application of (2.4), we may and shall assume further that


The proof of (3.1) will involve positive parameters satisfying


Thus every integer in is coprime to .

3.2. A formula for

Fix a smooth function on supported in the interval with . Then . Observe that is defined for all integers for which . Set

By Poisson summation, we have


For , we have . Setting , we deduce by rearranging (3.4) that


The properties of the sequence to be used in what follows are that it is supported on and satisfies the estimates and .

3.3. “Amplification”

We choose sequences of complex numbers and supported on (say) primes in the intervals and , respectively, so that




The properties of and just enunciated, rather than an explicit choice, are all that will be used; one could take, for instance , where denotes the set of primes, and similarly for .

3.4. A formula for

Substituting (3.5) with into (3.7) gives , where

3.5. Main estimates

We prove these in the next two sections.

Proposition 1.

Assume that




As explained in the remark of §4.3, the first term on the RHS of (3.9) is unnecessary. Including it simplifies slightly our proofs without affecting our final estimates.

Proposition 2.

Assume that


for some fixed . Then


3.6. Optimization

Our goal reduces to establishing that . (By comparison, we note the trivial bounds and .) We achieve this by applying the above estimates with

Then (3.8) is clear, while (3.10) follows from (3.2). The required bound for follows readily from (3.11). We now deduce the required bound for . Note that the first term on the RHS of (3.9) is acceptable thanks to our choice of . Note also from (3.2) that ; from our choice of , it follows that . The bound for then readily simplifies to . (By solving a linear programming problem, we see moreover that these choices give the optimal bound for derivable from the above propositions.)

4. Estimates for

We now prove Proposition 1.

4.1. Reciprocity

Our assumption (3.8) implies that for all with , the function is inert. By the Chinese remainder theorem, we have for . We may thus rewrite


4.2. Voronoi

We introduce the notation

so that and . Applying Voronoi summation (§2.3), we obtain

for some smooth functions satisfying for fixed .

4.3. Cleaning up

The Weil bound, the Rankin–Selberg bound (2.4) and the condition give


If , then (because is prime) , hence by (4.1),

Since the square of the latter is the first term on the RHS of (3.9), the proof of Proposition 1 reduces to that of an adequate bound for the sum

If , then and , hence




With slightly more case-by-case analysis in the arguments to follow, one can verify that the reduction performed here to the case is unnecessary, hence that the bound (3.9) remains valid in the stated generality even after deleting the first term on its RHS.

4.4. Cauchy–Schwarz

Let be fixed and small. The rapid decay of implies that truncating (4.2) to introduces the negligible error . By the Rankin–Selberg bound (2.5), we have

It follows by Cauchy–Schwarz that

4.5. Application of exponential sum bounds

Opening the square, expanding the definition of and wastefully discarding some summation conditions, we obtain


where is defined for in the support of by




We have for fixed . By a smooth dyadic partition of unity, we may write


where each function is inert. Substituting (4.5) into (4.4) and applying the incomplete exponential sum estimates recorded in Appendix A, we obtain with


Since , the above sum is dominated by the contribution from ; estimating that contribution a bit crudely with respect to , we obtain


4.6. Diagonal and off-diagonal

To state the estimates to be obtained shortly, we introduce the notation

We estimate separately the contribution of each term on the RHS of (4.6) to via (4.3), splitting off the contribution to the first from terms with . We obtain in this way that


(In deriving the estimate involving , we used the slightly wasteful bound .) Noting that iff , we verify using the divisor bound that

These estimates combine to give an adequate estimate for .

5. Estimates for

We now prove Proposition 2.

5.1. Cauchy–Schwarz

Using again the Rankin–Selberg bound (2.4), we obtain

5.2. Elementary exponential sum bounds

Let be fixed but sufficiently small. Since is prime and satisfies the lower bound in (3.3), we know that the integers and are coprime whenever . By the rapid decay of , we may truncate the -sum to with negligible error . We then open the square and apply Cauchy–Schwarz, leading us to consider for with


the sums


We apply Poisson summation. By the lower bound on in (3.2) and the assumption , we have for some fixed . Thus only the zero frequency after Poisson contributes non-negligibly, and so with

Opening the Kloosterman sums and executing the -sum gives

Our assumptions imply that the quantities are all coprime to , so after a change of variables we arrive at

5.3. Diagonal vs. off-diagonal

We have shown thus far that

where the sum is restricted by the condition (5.1). By our assumption (3.10), the quantities and are congruent modulo precisely when they are equal. By the divisor bound, the number of tuples for which is . Since was arbitrary, we obtain


By another application of our assumption (3.10), the first term in the latter bound dominates, giving the required bound for .

The proof of our main result (Theorem 1) is now complete.

Appendix A Correlations of Kloosterman sums

The estimates recorded here are unsurprising, but we were unable to find references containing all cases that we require (compare with e.g. [5, 4, 17]).

Lemma 1.

Let be a natural number. Let be congruence classes for which . For each prime , let be a subset of cardinality . Let denote the set of elements for which

  • the class of modulo belongs to for each , and

  • .

Define by

Then the exponential sum satisfies

where denotes the number of prime divisors of , without multiplicity.


We may assume that for some prime . For , there is nothing to show. For , we appeal either to the Weil bound, to bounds for Ramanujan sums, or to the trivial bound according as , or and , or . We treat the remaining cases by induction on . If , then the conclusion follows by our inductive hypothesis applied to . We may thus assume that . A short calculation gives the identities of rational functions


Write or , and set