Erdős covering systems

School of Mathematics Colloquium
Thursday, April 8, 2021 - 11:00am for 1 hour (actually 50 minutes)
Rob Morris – National Institute for Pure and Applied Mathematics, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil – rob@impa.br
Anton Bernshteyn

A covering system of the integers is a finite collection of arithmetic progressions whose union is the integers. The study of these objects was initiated by Erdős in 1950, and over the following decades he asked a number of beautiful questions about them. Most famously, his so-called "minimum modulus problem" was resolved in 2015 by Hough, who proved that in every covering system with distinct moduli, the minimum modulus is at most $10^{16}$. 

In this talk I will present a variant of Hough's method, which turns out to be both simpler and more powerful. In particular, I will sketch a short proof of Hough's theorem, and discuss several further applications. I will also discuss a related result, proved using a different method, about the number of minimal covering systems.

Joint work with Paul Balister, Béla Bollobás, Julian Sahasrabudhe and Marius Tiba.