Continued fractions and transcendental numbers

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Continued fractions and transcendental numbers Boris ADAMCZEWSKI, Yann BUGEAUD, and Les DAVISON 1. Introduction It is widely believed that the continued fraction expansion of every irrational algebraic number ? either is eventually periodic (and we know that this is the case if and only if ? is a quadratic irrational), or it contains arbitrarily large partial quotients. Apparently, this question was first considered by Khintchine in [22] (see also [6,39,41] for surveys including a discussion on this subject). A preliminary step towards its resolution consists in providing explicit examples of transcendental continued fractions. The first result of this type goes back to the pioneering work of Liouville [26], who constructed transcendental real numbers with a very fast growing sequence of partial quo- tients. Indeed, the so-called ‘Liouville inequality' implies the transcendence of real numbers with very large partial quotients. Replacing it by Roth's theorem yields refined results, as shown by Davenport and Roth [15]. In [4], the argument of Davenport and Roth is slightly improved and Roth's theorem is replaced by a more recent result of Evertse [19] to obtain the best known result of this type. Note that the constant e, whose continued fraction expansion is given by e = [2; 1, 2, 1, 1, 4, 1, 1, 6, 1, 1, 8, 1, 1, 10, .

  • folded continued

  • numbers ?

  • partial quo- tients

  • bounded partial

  • numbers

  • logm logm

  • real algebraic

  • positive integers


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ContinuedfractionsandtranscendentalnumbersBorisADAMCZEWSKI,YannBUGEAUD,andLesDAVISON1.IntroductionItiswidelybelievedthatthecontinuedfractionexpansionofeveryirrationalalgebraicnumberαeitheriseventuallyperiodic(andweknowthatthisisthecaseifandonlyifαisaquadraticirrational),oritcontainsarbitrarilylargepartialquotients.Apparently,thisquestionwasfirstconsideredbyKhintchinein[22](seealso[6,39,41]forsurveysincludingadiscussiononthissubject).Apreliminarysteptowardsitsresolutionconsistsinprovidingexplicitexamplesoftranscendentalcontinuedfractions.ThefirstresultofthistypegoesbacktothepioneeringworkofLiouville[26],whoconstructedtranscendentalrealnumberswithaveryfastgrowingsequenceofpartialquo-tients.Indeed,theso-called‘Liouvilleinequality’impliesthetranscendenceofrealnumberswithverylargepartialquotients.ReplacingitbyRoth’stheoremyieldsrefinedresults,asshownbyDavenportandRoth[15].In[4],theargumentofDavenportandRothisslightlyimprovedandRoth’stheoremisreplacedbyamorerecentresultofEvertse[19]toobtainthebestknownresultofthistype.Notethattheconstante,whosecontinuedfractionexpansionisgivenbye=[2;1,2,1,1,4,1,1,6,1,1,8,1,1,10,...,1,1,2n,1,1,...],(seeforinstance[23])providesanexplicitexampleofatranscendentalnumberwithun-boundedpartialquotients;however,itstranscendencedoesnotfollowfromthecriteriafrom[26,15,4].Attheoppositeside,thereisaquestforfindingexplicitexamplesoftranscendentalcontinuedfractionswithboundedpartialquotients.ThefirstexamplesofsuchcontinuedfractionswerefoundbyMaillet[28](seealsoSection34ofPerron[30]).TheproofofMaillet’sresultsisbasedonageneralformoftheLiouvilleinequalitywhichlimitstheapproximationofalgebraicnumbersbyquadraticirrationals.TheyweresubsequentlyimproveduponbyA.Baker[10,11],whousedtheRoththeoremfornumberfieldsobtainedbyLeVeque[24].Lateron,Davison[16]appliedaresultofW.M.Schmidt[36],sayinginamuchstrongerformthanLiouville’sinequalitythatarealalgebraicnumbercannotbewellapproximablebyquadraticnumbers,toshowthetranscendenceofsomespecificcontinuedfractions(seeSection4).Withthesameauxiliarytool,M.Queffe´lec[32]establishedtheniceresultthattheThue–Morsecontinuedfractionistranscendental(seeSection5).Thismethodhasthenbeenmademoreexplicit,andcombinatorialtranscendencecriteriabasedonDavison’sapproachweregivenin[7,17,13,25].1