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Harald Cramér and the distribution of prime numbers
 Scandanavian Actuarial J
, 1995
"... “It is evident that the primes are randomly distributed but, unfortunately, we don’t know what ‘random ’ means. ” — R. C. Vaughan (February 1990). After the first world war, Cramér began studying the distribution of prime numbers, guided by Riesz and MittagLeffler. His works then, and later in the ..."
Abstract

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“It is evident that the primes are randomly distributed but, unfortunately, we don’t know what ‘random ’ means. ” — R. C. Vaughan (February 1990). After the first world war, Cramér began studying the distribution of prime numbers, guided by Riesz and MittagLeffler. His works then, and later in the midthirties, have had a profound influence on the way mathematicians think about the distribution of prime numbers. In this article, we shall focus on how Cramér’s ideas have directed and motivated research ever since. One can only fully appreciate the significance of Cramér’s contributions by viewing his work in the appropriate historical context. We shall begin our discussion with the ideas of the ancient Greeks, Euclid and Eratosthenes. Then we leap in time to the nineteenth century, to the computations and heuristics of Legendre and Gauss, the extraordinarily analytic insights of Dirichlet and Riemann, and the crowning glory of these ideas, the proof the “Prime Number Theorem ” by Hadamard and de la Vallée Poussin in 1896. We pick up again in the 1920’s with the questions asked by Hardy and Littlewood,