I read the wikipedia article on quadratic Gauss sum. link

First let me write a definition of a generalized Gauss sum.

Let $G(a, c)= \sum_{n=0}^{c-1}\exp (\frac{an^2}{c})$, where $a$ and $c$ are relatively prime integers.

(Here is another question. Is the function $e(x)$ defined in the article equal to $\exp(2\pi i/x)$ or $\exp(\pi i/x)$?)

In the article, a formula is given according to values of $a$ and $c$.

For example, if $a$ is odd and $4|c$, then

$G(a, c)=(1+i)\epsilon_a^{-1} \sqrt{c} \big(\frac{c}{a}\big)$, where $\big(\frac{c}{a}\big)$ is the Jacobi symbol.

I would like to prove it but I don't know how to do it. Could you give me a guide?

  • $\begingroup$ $e(x)$ means neither of the things you write, but $e^{2\pi ix}$. The proof of the formula for Gauss sums is long, and I'm certainly not going to write it out, but many books on algebraic number theory will have it. Maybe you could find such a book in the library. In particular, three very good sources are mentioned at the page to which you have linked. $\endgroup$ Mar 8, 2013 at 0:07
  • $\begingroup$ @GerryMyerson Thanks for the definition of $e(x)$. None of the number theory books I have deals with a generalized Gauss sum. Is there any online resource for this? $\endgroup$
    – user65175
    Mar 8, 2013 at 1:12
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ Probably. If there is, you can find it as easily as I can --- I would just type some keywords into the internet and see what comes back. Concerning books, that's what libraries are for. $\endgroup$ Mar 8, 2013 at 4:25

1 Answer 1


The quadratic Gauss sum is given by \begin{eqnarray*} G(s;k) = \sum_{x=0}^{k-1} e\left(\frac{sx^2}k\right), \end{eqnarray*} where $\displaystyle e(\alpha) = e^{2\pi \imath \alpha}$, $s$ is any integer coprime to $p$ and $k$ is a positive integer. The generalized Gauss sums is given by \begin{eqnarray*} G(a,b,c) = \sum_{x=0}^{|c|-1} e\left(\frac{ax^2+bx}c\right), \end{eqnarray*} where $ac \neq 0$ and $ac+b$ is even.

It is well known that \begin{eqnarray*} G(s;k) = \begin{cases} \left(1+\imath^s\right)\left(\frac ks\right)\sqrt{k} &\mbox{ if } k \equiv 0 \mod 4\\ \left(\frac sk\right)\sqrt{k} &\mbox{ if } k \equiv 1 \mod 4\\ 0 &\mbox{ if } k \equiv 2 \mod 4\\ \imath \left(\frac sk\right)\sqrt{k} &\mbox{ if } k \equiv 3 \mod 4 \end{cases} \end{eqnarray*}

There are many proofs for the above formula: Gauss proved it using elementary methods, Dirichlet used a poisson summation formula, Cauchy used a transformation function for the classical theta function, etc... An elementary proof in the style of Gauss is available in the book Gauss and Jacobi Sums by Berndt, Evans and Williams and also the book Introduction to Number Theory by Nagell.

One method is to show, for $k$ odd, $|G(s;k)|^2 = k$, and then determining the sign of $G(s;k)$ will be the hard part. From here you can use reduction properties of the quadratic Gauss sum and the Chinese Remainder Theorem to prove the even cases.

There is no general formula for a generalized Gauss sum. You can find a reciprocity theorem for these sums in the book Gauss and Jacobi Sums as well, also in Introduction to Analytic Number Theory by Apostol.

  • $\begingroup$ What is $p$ s.t. $s$ must be coprime to it? $\endgroup$ Jan 14, 2020 at 18:31

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