(with G. Chinta and J. Jorgenson)

By a discrete torus we mean the Cayley graph associated to a finite product of finite cycle groups with generating set given by choosing a generator for each cyclic factor. In this article we study the spectral theory of the combinatorial Laplacian for sequences of discrete tori when the orders of the cyclic factors tend to infinity at comparable rates. First we show that the sequence of heat kernels corresponding to the degenerating family converges, after re-scaling, to the heat kernel on an associated real torus. We then establish an asymptotic expansion, in the degeneration parameter, of the determinant of the combinatorial Laplacian. The zeta-regularized determinant of the Laplacian of the limiting real torus appears as the constant term in this expansion. On the other hand, using a classical theorem by Kirchhoff the determinant of the combinatorial Laplacian of a finite graph divided by the number of vertices equals the number of spanning trees, called the complexity, of the graph. As a result, we establish a precise connection between the complexity of the Cayley graphs of finite abelian groups and heights of real tori. It is also known that spectral determinants on discrete tori can be expressed using trigonometric functions and that spectral determinants on real tori can be expressed using modular forms on general linear groups. Another interpretation of our analysis is thus to establish a link between limiting values of certain products of trigonometric functions and modular forms. The heat kernel analysis which we employ uses a careful study of I-Bessel functions. Our methods extend to prove the asymptotic behavior of other spectral invariants through degeneration, such as special values of spectral zeta functions and Epstein- Hurwitz type zeta functions.

ζ(2n), quadratic reciprocity, Bessel integrals

To appear in

The discussion centers around three applications of heat kernel considerations on R, Z and their quotients. These are Euler’s formula for zeta(2n), Gauss’ quadratic reciprocity law, and the evaluation of certain integrals of Bessel functions. Some further applications are mentioned, including the functional equation of Riemann’s zeta-function, the reflection formula for the Gamma-function, and certain infinite sums of Bessel functions.