A two variable Artin conjecture, by Pieter Moree and Peter Stevenhagen

Let a and b be non-zero rational numbers that are multiplicatively independent. We study the natural density of the set of primes p for which the subgroup of the multiplicative group of the finite field with p elements generated by (a\mod p) contains (b\mod p). It is shown that, under assumption of the generalized Riemann hypothesis (GRH), this density exists and equals a positive rational multiple of the universal constant S=\prod_{p prime}(1-p/(p^3-1)). An explicit value of the density is given under mild conditions on a and b. This extends and corrects earlier work of P.J. Stephens (1976). Our result, in combination with earlier work of the second author, allows us to deduce that any second order linear recurrence with reducible characteristic polynomial having integer elements, has a positive density of prime divisors (under GRH).


Pieter Moree and Peter Stevenhagen <moree@math.leidenuniv.nl, psh@wins.uva.nl>