Proof of the Euler product formula for the Riemann zeta function

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Leonhard Euler proved the Euler product formula for the Riemann zeta function in his thesis Variae observationes circa series infinitas (Various Observations about Infinite Series), published by St Petersburg Academy in 1737.[1][2]

The Euler product formula

The Euler product formula for the Riemann zeta function reads

where the left hand side equals the Riemann zeta function:

and the product on the right hand side extends over all prime numbers p:

Proof of the Euler product formula

The method of Eratosthenes used to sieve out prime numbers is employed in this proof.

This sketch of a proof only makes use of simple algebra commonly taught in high school. This was originally the method by which Euler discovered the formula. There is a certain sieving property that we can use to our advantage:

Subtracting the second equation from the first we remove all elements that have a factor of 2:

Repeating for the next term:

Subtracting again we get:

where all elements having a factor of 3 or 2 (or both) are removed.

It can be seen that the right side is being sieved. Repeating infinitely we get:

Dividing both sides by everything but the ζ(s) we obtain:

This can be written more concisely as an infinite product over all primes p:

To make this proof rigorous, we need only observe that when , the sieved right-hand side approaches 1, which follows immediately from the convergence of the Dirichlet series for ζ(z).

The case

An interesting result can be found for ζ(1)

which can also be written as,

which is,



We know that the left-hand side of the equation diverges to infinity, therefore the numerator on the right-hand side (the primorial) must also be infinite for divergence. This proves that there are infinitely many prime numbers.

Another proof

Each factor (for a given prime p) in the product above can be expanded to a geometric series consisting of the reciprocal of p raised to multiples of s, as follows

When , we have |ps| < 1 and this series converges absolutely. Hence we may take a finite number of factors, multiply them together, and rearrange terms. Taking all the primes p up to some prime number limit q, we have

where σ is the real part of s. By the fundamental theorem of arithmetic, the partial product when expanded out gives a sum consisting of those terms ns where n is a product of primes less than or equal to q. The inequality results from the fact that therefore only integers larger than q can fail to appear in this expanded out partial product. Since the difference between the partial product and ζ(s) goes to zero when σ > 1, we have convergence in this region.



  1. Template:Cite web
  2. John Derbyshire (2003), chapter 7, "The Golden Key, and an Improved Prime Number Theorem"