# All Science Fair Projects

## Science Fair Project Encyclopedia for Schools!

 Search    Browse    Forum  Coach    Links    Editor    Help    Tell-a-Friend    Encyclopedia    Dictionary

# Science Fair Project Encyclopedia

For information on any area of science that interests you,
enter a keyword (eg. scientific method, molecule, cloud, carbohydrate etc.).
Or else, you can start by choosing any of the categories below.

# M鯾ius function

The classical M鯾ius function $\!\,\mu(n)$ is an important multiplicative function in number theory and combinatorics. It is named in honor of the German mathematician August Ferdinand M鯾ius, who first introduced it in 1831. This classical M鯾ius function is a special case of a more general object in combinatorics.

 Contents

## Definition

μ(n) is defined for all positive natural numbers n and has its values in {, , 1} depending on the factorization of n into prime factors. It is defined as follows

• μ(n) = 1 if n is a square-free positive integer with an even number of distinct prime factors.
• μ(n) = −1 if n is a square-free positive integer with an odd number of distinct prime factors.
• μ(n) = 0 if n is not square-free.

This is taken to imply that μ(1) = 1. The value of μ(0) is generally left undefined, but the Maple computer algebra system for example returns −1 for this value.

## Properties and applications

The M鯾ius function is multiplicative (i.e. μ(ab) = μ(a)μ(b) whenever a and b are coprime). The sum over all positive divisors of n of the M鯾ius function is zero except when n = 1:

$\sum_{d | n} \mu(d) = \left\{\begin{matrix}1&\mbox{ if } n=1\\ 0&\mbox{ if } n>1\end{matrix}\right.$

(A consequence of the fact that every non-empty finite set has just as many subsets with an even number of elements as it has subsets with an odd number of elements.) This leads to the important M鯾ius inversion formula and is the main reason that μ is of relevance in the theory of multiplicative and arithmetic functions.

Other applications of μ(n) in combinatorics are connected with the use of the Polya theorem in combinatorial groups and combinatorial enumerations.

In number theory another arithmetic function closely related to the M鯾ius function is the Mertens function; it is defined by:

$M(n) = \sum_{k = 1}^n \mu(k)$

for every natural number n. This function is closely linked with the positions of zeroes of the Riemann zeta function. See the article on the Mertens conjecture for more information about the connection between M(n) and the Riemann hypothesis.

If n is a sphenic number (i.e. a product of three distinct primes), then clearly μ(n) = −1.

## μ(n) sections

μ(n) = 0 if and only if n is divisible by a square. The first numbers with this property are (sequence A013929 in the On-Line Encyclopedia of Integer Sequences):

 4,  8,  9, 12, 16, 18, 20, 24, 25, 27, 28, 32, 36, 40, 44,
45, 48, 49, 50, 52, 54, 56, 60, 63,...


If n is prime, then μ(n) = −1, but the converse is not true. The first non prime n for which μ(n) = −1 is 30 = 2򉁭. The first such numbers with 3 distinct prime factors (sphenic numbers)are ():

 30,  42,  66,  70,  78, 102, 105, 110, 114, 130, 138, 154,
165, 170, 174, 182, 186, 190, 195, 222,...


and the first such numbers with 5 distinct prime factors are ():

 2310, 2730, 3570, 3990, 4290, 4830, 5610, 6006, 6090, 6270, 6510, 6630,
7410, 7590, 7770, 7854, 8610, 8778, 8970, 9030, 9282, 9570, 9690, ...


## Generalization

In combinatorics, every locally finite poset is assigned an incidence algebra. One distinguished member of this algebra is that poset's "M鯾ius function". The classical M鯾ius function treated in this article is essentially equal to the M鯾ius function of the set of all positive integers partially ordered by divisibility. See the article on incidence algebras for the precise definition and several examples of these general M鯾ius functions.