# Dirichlet’s Class-Number Formula

• Steve Wright
Chapter
Part of the Lecture Notes in Mathematics book series (LNM, volume 2171)

## Abstract

Although De la Valle$$\acute{\mbox{ e}}$$ Poussin’s proof of Lemma  is elegant and efficient, it fails to explain exactly why the values of L-functions at s = 1 are positive, and consequently the actual reason why the sums in Theorem  turn out to be positive is not yet clear. Often in number theory, integers which occur in interesting situations are in fact positive because they count something, and it transpires that this is the case in Theorem . The sums there in fact count equivalence classes of binary quadratic forms, or, to say the same thing in a different way, ideal classes in quadratic number fields. In order to see this, we will now present a second proof of Lemma  that uses Dirichlet’s famous class-number formula, which formula calculates the value of L(1, χ) when χ is a real (primitive) Dirichlet character in terms of the number of certain equivalence classes of quadratic forms. As we did in our first proof of Lemma , we will follow the exposition for this as set forth in Davenport (Multiplicative number theory. Springer, New York, 2000).

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