# Riemann hypothesis

In mathematics, the **Riemann hypothesis** is a conjecture that the Riemann zeta function has its zeros only at the negative even integers and complex numbers with real part 1/2. Many consider it to be the most important unsolved problem in pure mathematics.^{[1]} It is of great interest in number theory because it implies results about the distribution of prime numbers. It was proposed by Bernhard Riemann (1859), after whom it is named.

The Riemann hypothesis and some of its generalizations, along with Goldbach's conjecture and the twin prime conjecture, make up Hilbert's eighth problem in David Hilbert's list of 23 unsolved problems; it is also one of the Clay Mathematics Institute's Millennium Prize Problems, which offers a million dollars to anyone who solves any of them. The name is also used for some closely related analogues, such as the Riemann hypothesis for curves over finite fields.

The Riemann zeta function ζ(*s*) is a function whose argument *s* may be any complex number other than 1, and whose values are also complex. It has zeros at the negative even integers; that is, ζ(*s*) = 0 when *s* is one of −2, −4, −6, .... These are called its *trivial zeros*. The zeta function is also zero for other values of *s*, which are called *nontrivial zeros*. The Riemann hypothesis is concerned with the locations of these nontrivial zeros, and states that:

The real part of every nontrivial zero of the Riemann zeta function is 1/2.

Thus, if the hypothesis is correct, all the nontrivial zeros lie on the critical line consisting of the complex numbers
1/2 + *i t*, where *t* is a real number and *i* is the imaginary unit.

The Riemann zeta function is defined for complex *s* with real part greater than 1 by the absolutely convergent infinite series

Leonhard Euler already considered this series in the 1730s for real values of s, in conjunction with his solution to the Basel problem. He also proved that it equals the Euler product

The Riemann hypothesis discusses zeros outside the region of convergence of this series and Euler product. To make sense of the hypothesis, it is necessary to analytically continue the function to obtain a form that is valid for all complex *s*. Because the zeta function is meromorphic, all choices of how to perform this analytic continuation will lead to the same result, by the identity theorem. A first step in this continuation observes that the series for the zeta function and the Dirichlet eta function satisfy the relation

In the strip 0 < Re(*s*) < 1 this extension of the zeta function satisfies the functional equation

One may then define ζ(*s*) for all remaining nonzero complex numbers *s* (Re(*s*) ≤ 0 and *s* ≠ 0) by applying this equation outside the strip, and letting ζ(*s*) equal the right-hand side of the equation whenever *s* has non-positive real part (and *s* ≠ 0).

If *s* is a negative even integer then ζ(*s*) = 0 because the factor sin(π*s*/2) vanishes; these are the *trivial zeros* of the zeta function. (If *s* is a positive even integer this argument does not apply because the zeros of the sine function are cancelled by the poles of the gamma function as it takes negative integer arguments.)

The value ζ(0) = −1/2 is not determined by the functional equation, but is the limiting value of ζ(*s*) as *s* approaches zero. The functional equation also implies that the zeta function has no zeros with negative real part other than the trivial zeros, so all non-trivial zeros lie in the critical strip where *s* has real part between 0 and 1.

...it is very probable that all roots are real. Of course one would wish for a rigorous proof here; I have for the time being, after some fleeting vain attempts, provisionally put aside the search for this, as it appears dispensable for the immediate objective of my investigation.

*...es ist sehr wahrscheinlich, dass alle Wurzeln reell sind. Hiervon wäre allerdings ein strenger Beweis zu wünschen; ich habe indess die Aufsuchung desselben nach einigen flüchtigen vergeblichen Versuchen vorläufig bei Seite gelassen, da er für den nächsten Zweck meiner Untersuchung entbehrlich schien.*

Riemann's original motivation for studying the zeta function and its zeros was their occurrence in his explicit formula for the number of primes π(*x*) less than or equal to a given number *x*, which he published in his 1859 paper "". His formula was given in terms of the related function

which counts the primes and prime powers up to *x*, counting a prime power *p*^{n} as 1⁄*n*. The number of primes can be recovered from this function by using the Möbius inversion formula,

where the sum is over the nontrivial zeros of the zeta function and where Π_{0} is a slightly modified version of Π that replaces its value at its points of discontinuity by the average of its upper and lower limits:

The summation in Riemann's formula is not absolutely convergent, but may be evaluated by taking the zeros ρ in order of the absolute value of their imaginary part. The function li occurring in the first term is the (unoffset) logarithmic integral function given by the Cauchy principal value of the divergent integral

The terms li(*x*^{ρ}) involving the zeros of the zeta function need some care in their definition as li has branch points at 0 and 1, and are defined (for *x* > 1) by analytic continuation in the complex variable *ρ* in the region Re(*ρ*) > 0, i.e. they should be considered as Ei(*ρ* log *x*). The other terms also correspond to zeros: the dominant term li(*x*) comes from the pole at *s* = 1, considered as a zero of multiplicity −1, and the remaining small terms come from the trivial zeros. For some graphs of the sums of the first few terms of this series see Riesel & Göhl (1970) or Zagier (1977).

This formula says that the zeros of the Riemann zeta function control the oscillations of primes around their "expected" positions. Riemann knew that the non-trivial zeros of the zeta function were symmetrically distributed about the line *s* = 1/2 + *it*, and he knew that all of its non-trivial zeros must lie in the range 0 ≤ Re(*s*) ≤ 1. He checked that a few of the zeros lay on the critical line with real part 1/2 and suggested that they all do; this is the Riemann hypothesis.

The result has caught the imagination of most mathematicians because it is so unexpected, connecting two seemingly unrelated areas in mathematics; namely, number theory, which is the study of the discrete, and complex analysis, which deals with continuous processes. (Burton 2006, p. 376)

The practical uses of the Riemann hypothesis include many propositions known to be true under the Riemann hypothesis, and some that can be shown to be equivalent to the Riemann hypothesis.

Von Koch (1901) proved that the Riemann hypothesis implies the "best possible" bound for the error of the prime number theorem. A precise version of Koch's result, due to Schoenfeld (1976), says that the Riemann hypothesis implies

where π(*x*) is the prime-counting function, and log(*x*) is the natural logarithm of *x*.

The Riemann hypothesis implies strong bounds on the growth of many other arithmetic functions, in addition to the primes counting function above.

One example involves the Möbius function μ. The statement that the equation

is valid for every *s* with real part greater than 1/2, with the sum on the right hand side converging, is equivalent to the Riemann hypothesis. From this we can also conclude that if the Mertens function is defined by

for every positive ε is equivalent to the Riemann hypothesis (J.E. Littlewood, 1912; see for instance: paragraph 14.25 in Titchmarsh (1986)). (For the meaning of these symbols, see Big O notation.) The determinant of the order *n* Redheffer matrix is equal to *M*(*n*), so the Riemann hypothesis can also be stated as a condition on the growth of these determinants. The Riemann hypothesis puts a rather tight bound on the growth of *M*, since Odlyzko & te Riele (1985) disproved the slightly stronger Mertens conjecture

The Riemann hypothesis is equivalent to many other conjectures about the rate of growth of other arithmetic functions aside from μ(*n*). A typical example is Robin's theorem,^{[5]} which states that if σ(*n*) is the sigma function, given by

for all *n* > 5040 if and only if the Riemann hypothesis is true, where γ is the Euler–Mascheroni constant.

A related bound was given by Jeffrey Lagarias in 2002, who proved that the Riemann hypothesis is equivalent to the statement that:

is true for all *n* ≥ *p*_{120569}# where φ(*n*) is Euler's totient function and *p*_{120569}# is the product of the first 120569 primes.^{[7]}

Another example was found by Jérôme Franel, and extended by Landau (see Franel & Landau (1924)). The Riemann hypothesis is equivalent to several statements showing that the terms of the Farey sequence are fairly regular. One such equivalence is as follows: if *F*_{n} is the Farey sequence of order *n*, beginning with 1/*n* and up to 1/1, then the claim that for all ε > 0

For an example from group theory, if *g*(*n*) is Landau's function given by the maximal order of elements of the symmetric group *S*_{n} of degree *n*, then Massias, Nicolas & Robin (1988) showed that the Riemann hypothesis is equivalent to the bound

The Riemann hypothesis has various weaker consequences as well; one is the Lindelöf hypothesis on the rate of growth of the zeta function on the critical line, which says that, for any *ε* > 0,

The Riemann hypothesis also implies quite sharp bounds for the growth rate of the zeta function in other regions of the critical strip. For example, it implies that

so the growth rate of ζ(1+*it*) and its inverse would be known up to a factor of 2.^{[8]}

The prime number theorem implies that on average, the gap between the prime *p* and its successor is log *p*. However, some gaps between primes may be much larger than the average. Cramér proved that, assuming the Riemann hypothesis, every gap is *O*(√*p* log *p*). This is a case in which even the best bound that can be proved using the Riemann hypothesis is far weaker than what seems true: Cramér's conjecture implies that every gap is *O*((log *p*)^{2}), which, while larger than the average gap, is far smaller than the bound implied by the Riemann hypothesis. Numerical evidence supports Cramér's conjecture.^{[9]}

Many statements equivalent to the Riemann hypothesis have been found, though so far none of them have led to much progress in proving (or disproving) it. Some typical examples are as follows. (Others involve the divisor function σ(*n*).)

The Riesz criterion was given by Riesz (1916), to the effect that the bound

Nyman (1950) proved that the Riemann hypothesis is true if and only if the space of functions of the form

is dense in the Hilbert space *L*^{2}(0,1) of square-integrable functions on the unit interval. Beurling (1955) extended this by showing that the zeta function has no zeros with real part greater than 1/*p* if and only if this function space is dense in *L ^{p}*(0,1)

Salem (1953) showed that the Riemann hypothesis is true if and only if the integral equation

Weil's criterion is the statement that the positivity of a certain function is equivalent to the Riemann hypothesis. Related is Li's criterion, a statement that the positivity of a certain sequence of numbers is equivalent to the Riemann hypothesis.

The Farey sequence provides two equivalences, due to Jerome Franel and Edmund Landau in 1924.

The De Bruijn–Newman constant denoted by **Λ** and named after Nicolaas Govert de Bruijn and Charles M. Newman, is defined
as the unique real number such that the function

that is parametrised by a real parameter *λ*, has a complex variable *z* and is defined using a super-exponentially decaying function

Several applications use the generalized Riemann hypothesis for Dirichlet L-series or zeta functions of number fields rather than just the Riemann hypothesis. Many basic properties of the Riemann zeta function can easily be generalized to all Dirichlet L-series, so it is plausible that a method that proves the Riemann hypothesis for the Riemann zeta function would also work for the generalized Riemann hypothesis for Dirichlet L-functions. Several results first proved using the generalized Riemann hypothesis were later given unconditional proofs without using it, though these were usually much harder. Many of the consequences on the following list are taken from Conrad (2010).

Some consequences of the RH are also consequences of its negation, and are thus theorems. In their discussion of the Hecke, Deuring, Mordell, Heilbronn theorem, Ireland & Rosen (1990, p. 359) say

The method of proof here is truly amazing. If the generalized Riemann hypothesis is true, then the theorem is true. If the generalized Riemann hypothesis is false, then the theorem is true. Thus, the theorem is true!! (punctuation in original)

Care should be taken to understand what is meant by saying the generalized Riemann hypothesis is false: one should specify exactly which class of Dirichlet series has a counterexample.

This concerns the sign of the error in the prime number theorem.
It has been computed that π(*x*) < li(*x*) for all *x* ≤ 10^{25} (see this table), and no value of *x* is known for which π(*x*) > li(*x*).

In 1914 Littlewood proved that there are arbitrarily large values of *x* for which

Thus the difference π(*x*) − li(*x*) changes sign infinitely many times. Skewes' number is an estimate of the value of *x* corresponding to the first sign change.

This is the conjecture (first stated in article 303 of Gauss's *Disquisitiones Arithmeticae*) that there are only finitely many imaginary quadratic fields with a given class number. One way to prove it would be to show that as the discriminant *D* → −∞ the class number *h*(*D*) → ∞.

The following sequence of theorems involving the Riemann hypothesis is described in Ireland & Rosen 1990, pp. 358–361:

**Theorem (Hecke; 1918)** — Let *D* < 0 be the discriminant of an imaginary quadratic number field *K*. Assume the generalized Riemann hypothesis for *L*-functions of all imaginary quadratic Dirichlet characters. Then there is an absolute constant *C* such that

**Theorem (Deuring; 1933)** — If the RH is false then *h*(*D*) > 1 if |*D*| is sufficiently large.

**Theorem (Heilbronn; 1934)** — If the generalized RH is false for the *L*-function of some imaginary quadratic Dirichlet character then *h*(*D*) → ∞ as *D* → −∞.

(In the work of Hecke and Heilbronn, the only *L*-functions that occur are those attached to imaginary quadratic characters, and it is only for those *L*-functions that *GRH is true* or *GRH is false* is intended; a failure of GRH for the *L*-function of a cubic Dirichlet character would, strictly speaking, mean GRH is false, but that was not the kind of failure of GRH that Heilbronn had in mind, so his assumption was more restricted than simply *GRH is false*.)

In 1935, Carl Siegel later strengthened the result without using RH or GRH in any way.

The Riemann hypothesis can be generalized by replacing the Riemann zeta function by the formally similar, but much more general, global L-functions. In this broader setting, one expects the non-trivial zeros of the global *L*-functions to have real part 1/2. It is these conjectures, rather than the classical Riemann hypothesis only for the single Riemann zeta function, which account for the true importance of the Riemann hypothesis in mathematics.

The generalized Riemann hypothesis extends the Riemann hypothesis to all Dirichlet L-functions. In particular it implies the conjecture that Siegel zeros (zeros of *L*-functions between 1/2 and 1) do not exist.

The extended Riemann hypothesis extends the Riemann hypothesis to all Dedekind zeta functions of algebraic number fields. The extended Riemann hypothesis for abelian extension of the rationals is equivalent to the generalized Riemann hypothesis. The Riemann hypothesis can also be extended to the *L*-functions of Hecke characters of number fields.

The grand Riemann hypothesis extends it to all automorphic zeta functions, such as Mellin transforms of Hecke eigenforms.

Selberg (1956) introduced the Selberg zeta function of a Riemann surface. These are similar to the Riemann zeta function: they have a functional equation, and an infinite product similar to the Euler product but taken over closed geodesics rather than primes. The Selberg trace formula is the analogue for these functions of the explicit formulas in prime number theory. Selberg proved that the Selberg zeta functions satisfy the analogue of the Riemann hypothesis, with the imaginary parts of their zeros related to the eigenvalues of the Laplacian operator of the Riemann surface.

The Ihara zeta function of a finite graph is an analogue of the Selberg zeta function, which was first introduced by Yasutaka Ihara in the context of discrete subgroups of the two-by-two p-adic special linear group. A regular finite graph is a Ramanujan graph, a mathematical model of efficient communication networks, if and only if its Ihara zeta function satisfies the analogue of the Riemann hypothesis as was pointed out by T. Sunada.

Montgomery (1973) suggested the pair correlation conjecture that the correlation functions of the (suitably normalized) zeros of the zeta function should be the same as those of the eigenvalues of a random hermitian matrix. Odlyzko (1987) showed that this is supported by large-scale numerical calculations of these correlation functions.

Montgomery showed that (assuming the Riemann hypothesis) at least 2/3 of all zeros are simple, and a related conjecture is that all zeros of the zeta function are simple (or more generally have no non-trivial integer linear relations between their imaginary parts). Dedekind zeta functions of algebraic number fields, which generalize the Riemann zeta function, often do have multiple complex zeros.^{[13]} This is because the Dedekind zeta functions factorize as a product of powers of Artin L-functions, so zeros of Artin L-functions sometimes give rise to multiple zeros of Dedekind zeta functions. Other examples of zeta functions with multiple zeros are the L-functions of some elliptic curves: these can have multiple zeros at the real point of their critical line; the Birch-Swinnerton-Dyer conjecture predicts that the multiplicity of this zero is the rank of the elliptic curve.

There are many other examples of zeta functions with analogues of the Riemann hypothesis, some of which have been proved. Goss zeta functions of function fields have a Riemann hypothesis, proved by Sheats (1998). The main conjecture of Iwasawa theory, proved by Barry Mazur and Andrew Wiles for cyclotomic fields, and Wiles for totally real fields, identifies the zeros of a *p*-adic *L*-function with the eigenvalues of an operator, so can be thought of as an analogue of the Hilbert–Pólya conjecture for *p*-adic *L*-functions.^{[14]}

Several mathematicians have addressed the Riemann hypothesis, but none of their attempts has yet been accepted as a proof. Watkins (2007) lists some incorrect solutions.

Hilbert and Pólya suggested that one way to derive the Riemann hypothesis would be to find a self-adjoint operator, from the existence of which the statement on the real parts of the zeros of ζ(*s*) would follow when one applies the criterion on real eigenvalues. Some support for this idea comes from several analogues of the Riemann zeta functions whose zeros correspond to eigenvalues of some operator: the zeros of a zeta function of a variety over a finite field correspond to eigenvalues of a Frobenius element on an étale cohomology group, the zeros of a Selberg zeta function are eigenvalues of a Laplacian operator of a Riemann surface, and the zeros of a p-adic zeta function correspond to eigenvectors of a Galois action on ideal class groups.

Odlyzko (1987) showed that the distribution of the zeros of the Riemann zeta function shares some statistical properties with the eigenvalues of random matrices drawn from the Gaussian unitary ensemble. This gives some support to the Hilbert–Pólya conjecture.

The analogy with the Riemann hypothesis over finite fields suggests that the Hilbert space containing eigenvectors corresponding to the zeros might be some sort of first cohomology group of the spectrum Spec (*Z*) of the integers. Deninger (1998) described some of the attempts to find such a cohomology theory.^{[16]}

Zagier (1981) constructed a natural space of invariant functions on the upper half plane that has eigenvalues under the Laplacian operator that correspond to zeros of the Riemann zeta function—and remarked that in the unlikely event that one could show the existence of a suitable positive definite inner product on this space, the Riemann hypothesis would follow. Cartier (1982) discussed a related example, where due to a bizarre bug a computer program listed zeros of the Riemann zeta function as eigenvalues of the same Laplacian operator.

Schumayer & Hutchinson (2011) surveyed some of the attempts to construct a suitable physical model related to the Riemann zeta function.

The Lee–Yang theorem states that the zeros of certain partition functions in statistical mechanics all lie on a "critical line" with their real part equals to 0, and this has led to some speculation about a relationship with the Riemann hypothesis.^{[17]}

Connes (1999, 2000) has described a relationship between the Riemann hypothesis and noncommutative geometry, and showed that a suitable analog of the Selberg trace formula for the action of the idèle class group on the adèle class space would imply the Riemann hypothesis. Some of these ideas are elaborated in Lapidus (2008).

Louis de Branges (1992) showed that the Riemann hypothesis would follow from a positivity condition on a certain Hilbert space of entire functions.
However Conrey & Li (2000) showed that the necessary positivity conditions are not satisfied. Despite this obstacle, de Branges has continued to work on an attempted proof of the Riemann hypothesis along the same lines, but this has not been widely accepted by other mathematicians.^{[18]}

The Riemann hypothesis implies that the zeros of the zeta function form a quasicrystal, a distribution with discrete support whose Fourier transform also has discrete support. Dyson (2009) suggested trying to prove the Riemann hypothesis by classifying, or at least studying, 1-dimensional quasicrystals.

Arithmetic zeta functions of models of elliptic curves over number fieldsWhen one goes from geometric dimension one, e.g. an algebraic number field, to geometric dimension two, e.g. a regular model of an elliptic curve over a number field, the two-dimensional part of the generalized Riemann hypothesis for the arithmetic zeta function of the model deals with the poles of the zeta function. In dimension one the study of the zeta integral in Tate's thesis does not lead to new important information on the Riemann hypothesis. Contrary to this, in dimension two work of Ivan Fesenko on two-dimensional generalisation of Tate's thesis includes an integral representation of a zeta integral closely related to the zeta function. In this new situation, not possible in dimension one, the poles of the zeta function can be studied via the zeta integral and associated adele groups. Related conjecture of Fesenko (2010) on the positivity of the fourth derivative of a boundary function associated to the zeta integral essentially implies the pole part of the generalized Riemann hypothesis. Suzuki (2011) proved that the latter, together with some technical assumptions, implies Fesenko's conjecture.

Deligne's proof of the Riemann hypothesis over finite fields used the zeta functions of product varieties, whose zeros and poles correspond to sums of zeros and poles of the original zeta function, in order to bound the real parts of the zeros of the original zeta function. By analogy, Kurokawa (1992) introduced multiple zeta functions whose zeros and poles correspond to sums of zeros and poles of the Riemann zeta function. To make the series converge he restricted to sums of zeros or poles all with non-negative imaginary part. So far, the known bounds on the zeros and poles of the multiple zeta functions are not strong enough to give useful estimates for the zeros of the Riemann zeta function.

The functional equation combined with the argument principle implies that the number of zeros of the zeta function with imaginary part between 0 and *T* is given by

for *s*=1/2+i*T*, where the argument is defined by varying it continuously along the line with Im(*s*)=*T*, starting with argument 0 at ∞+i*T*. This is the sum of a large but well understood term

So the density of zeros with imaginary part near *T* is about log(*T*)/2π, and the function *S* describes the small deviations from this. The function *S*(*t*) jumps by 1 at each zero of the zeta function, and for *t* ≥ 8 it decreases monotonically between zeros with derivative close to −log *t*.

Selberg (1946) showed that the average moments of even powers of *S* are given by

This suggests that *S*(*T*)/(log log *T*)^{1/2} resembles a Gaussian random variable with mean 0 and variance 2π^{2} (Ghosh (1983) proved this fact).
In particular |*S*(*T*)| is usually somewhere around (log log *T*)^{1/2}, but occasionally much larger. The exact order of growth of *S*(*T*) is not known. There has been no unconditional improvement to Riemann's original bound *S*(*T*)=O(log *T*), though the Riemann hypothesis implies the slightly smaller bound *S*(*T*)=O(log *T*/log log *T*).^{[8]} The true order of magnitude may be somewhat less than this, as random functions with the same distribution as *S*(*T*) tend to have growth of order about log(*T*)^{1/2}. In the other direction it cannot be too small: Selberg (1946) showed that *S*(*T*) ≠ o((log *T*)^{1/3}/(log log *T*)^{7/3}), and assuming the Riemann hypothesis Montgomery showed that *S*(*T*) ≠ o((log *T*)^{1/2}/(log log *T*)^{1/2}).

Numerical calculations confirm that *S* grows very slowly: |*S*(*T*)| < 1 for *T* < 280, |*S*(*T*)| < 2 for *T* < 6800000, and the largest value of |*S*(*T*)| found so far is not much larger than 3.^{[19]}

Riemann's estimate *S*(*T*) = O(log *T*) implies that the gaps between zeros are bounded, and Littlewood improved this slightly, showing that the gaps between their imaginary parts tends to 0.

Hadamard (1896) and de la Vallée-Poussin (1896) independently proved that no zeros could lie on the line Re(*s*) = 1. Together with the functional equation and the fact that there are no zeros with real part greater than 1, this showed that all non-trivial zeros must lie in the interior of the critical strip 0 < Re(*s*) < 1. This was a key step in their first proofs of the prime number theorem.

Both the original proofs that the zeta function has no zeros with real part 1 are similar, and depend on showing that if ζ(1+*it*) vanishes, then ζ(1+2*it*) is singular, which is not possible. One way of doing this is by using the inequality

for σ > 1, *t* real, and looking at the limit as σ → 1. This inequality follows by taking the real part of the log of the Euler product to see that

which is at least 1 because all the terms in the sum are positive, due to the inequality

De la Vallée-Poussin (1899–1900) proved that if σ + *i t* is a zero of the Riemann zeta function, then 1 − σ ≥
*C*/log(*t*) for some positive constant *C*. In other words, zeros cannot be too close to the line σ = 1: there is a zero-free region close to this line. This zero-free region has been enlarged by several authors using methods such as Vinogradov's mean-value theorem. Ford (2002) gave a version with explicit numerical constants: ζ(σ + *i t* ) ≠ 0 whenever |*t* | ≥ 3 and

In 2015, Mossinghoff and Trudgian proved^{[20]} that zeta has no zeros in the region

Hardy (1914) and Hardy & Littlewood (1921) showed there are infinitely many zeros on the critical line, by considering moments of certain functions related to the zeta function. Selberg (1942) proved that at least a (small) positive proportion of zeros lie on the line. Levinson (1974) improved this to one-third of the zeros by relating the zeros of the zeta function to those of its derivative, and Conrey (1989) improved this further to two-fifths. In 2020, this estimate was extended to five-twelfths by Pratt, Robles, Zaharescu and Zeindler^{[21]} by considering extended mollifiers that can accommodate higher order derivatives of the zeta function and their associated Kloosterman sums.

has the same zeros as the zeta function in the critical strip, and is real on the critical line because of the functional equation, so one can prove the existence of zeros exactly on the real line between two points by checking numerically that the function has opposite signs at these points. Usually one writes

where Hardy's Z function and the Riemann–Siegel theta function θ are uniquely defined by this and the condition that they are smooth real functions with θ(0)=0.
By finding many intervals where the function *Z* changes sign one can show that there are many zeros on the critical line. To verify the Riemann hypothesis up to a given imaginary part *T* of the zeros, one also has to check that there are no further zeros off the line in this region. This can be done by calculating the total number of zeros in the region using Turing's method and checking that it is the same as the number of zeros found on the line. This allows one to verify the Riemann hypothesis computationally up to any desired value of *T* (provided all the zeros of the zeta function in this region are simple and on the critical line).

Some calculations of zeros of the zeta function are listed below, where the "height" of a zero is the magnitude of its imaginary part, and the height of the *n*th zero is denoted by γ_{n}. So far all zeros that have been checked are on the critical line and are simple. (A multiple zero would cause problems for the zero finding algorithms, which depend on finding sign changes between zeros.) For tables of the zeros, see Haselgrove & Miller (1960) or Odlyzko.

A Gram point is a point on the critical line 1/2 + *it* where the zeta function is real and non-zero. Using the expression for the zeta function on the critical line, ζ(1/2 + *it*) = *Z*(*t*)e^{ − iθ(t)}, where Hardy's function, *Z*, is real for real *t*, and θ is the Riemann–Siegel theta function, we see that zeta is real when sin(θ(*t*)) = 0. This implies that θ(*t*) is an integer multiple of π, which allows for the location of Gram points to be calculated fairly easily by inverting the formula for θ. They are usually numbered as *g*_{n} for *n* = 0, 1, ..., where *g*_{n} is the unique solution of θ(*t*) = *n*π.

Gram observed that there was often exactly one zero of the zeta function between any two Gram points; Hutchinson called this observation **Gram's law**. There are several other closely related statements that are also sometimes called Gram's law: for example, (−1)^{n}*Z*(*g*_{n}) is usually positive, or *Z*(*t*) usually has opposite sign at consecutive Gram points. The imaginary parts γ_{n} of the first few zeros (in blue) and the first few Gram points *g*_{n} are given in the following table

The first failure of Gram's law occurs at the 127th zero and the Gram point *g*_{126}, which are in the "wrong" order.

A Gram point *t* is called good if the zeta function is positive at 1/2 + *it*. The indices of the "bad" Gram points where *Z* has the "wrong" sign are 126, 134, 195, 211, ... (sequence in the OEIS). A *Gram block* is an interval bounded by two good Gram points such that all the Gram points between them are bad. A refinement of Gram's law called Rosser's rule due to Rosser, Yohe & Schoenfeld (1969) says that Gram blocks often have the expected number of zeros in them (the same as the number of Gram intervals), even though some of the individual Gram intervals in the block may not have exactly one zero in them. For example, the interval bounded by *g*_{125} and *g*_{127} is a Gram block containing a unique bad Gram point *g*_{126}, and contains the expected number 2 of zeros although neither of its two Gram intervals contains a unique zero. Rosser et al. checked that there were no exceptions to Rosser's rule in the first 3 million zeros, although there are infinitely many exceptions to Rosser's rule over the entire zeta function.

Gram's rule and Rosser's rule both say that in some sense zeros do not stray too far from their expected positions. The distance of a zero from its expected position is controlled by the function *S* defined above, which grows extremely slowly: its average value is of the order of (log log *T*)^{1/2}, which only reaches 2 for T around 10^{24}. This means that both rules hold most of the time for small *T* but eventually break down often. Indeed, Trudgian (2011) showed that both Gram's law and Rosser's rule fail in a positive proportion of cases. To be specific, it is expected that in about 73% one zero is enclosed by two successive Gram points, but in 14% no zero and in 13% two zeros are in such a Gram-interval on the long run.

Mathematical papers about the Riemann hypothesis tend to be cautiously noncommittal about its truth. Of authors who express an opinion, most of them, such as Riemann (1859) and Bombieri (2000), imply that they expect (or at least hope) that it is true. The few authors who express serious doubt about it include Ivić (2008), who lists some reasons for skepticism, and Littlewood (1962), who flatly states that he believes it false, that there is no evidence for it and no imaginable reason it would be true. The consensus of the survey articles (Bombieri 2000, Conrey 2003, and Sarnak 2005) is that the evidence for it is strong but not overwhelming, so that while it is probably true there is reasonable doubt.

Some of the arguments for and against the Riemann hypothesis are listed by Sarnak (2005), Conrey (2003), and Ivić (2008), and include the following:

There are several nontechnical books on the Riemann hypothesis, such as Derbyshire (2003), Rockmore (2005), Sabbagh (2003a, 2003b), du Sautoy (2003), and Watkins (2015). The books Edwards (1974), Patterson (1988), Borwein et al. (2008), Mazur & Stein (2015) and Broughan (2017) give mathematical introductions, while Titchmarsh (1986), Ivić (1985) and Karatsuba & Voronin (1992) are advanced monographs.