OPEN - $500

Does every set of $n$ distinct points in $\mathbb{R}^2$ determine $\gg n/\sqrt{\log n}$ many distinct distances?

A $\sqrt{n}\times\sqrt{n}$ integer grid shows that this would be the best possible. Nearly solved by Guth and Katz [GuKa15] who proved that there are always $\gg n/\log n$ many distinct distances.

A stronger form (see [604]) may be true: is there a single point which determines $\gg n/\sqrt{\log n}$ distinct distances, or even $\gg n$ many such points, or even that this is true averaged over all points.

See also [661].

OPEN - $500

Does every set of $n$ distinct points in $\mathbb{R}^2$ contain at most $n^{1+O(1/\log\log n)}$ many pairs which are distance 1 apart?

The unit distance problem. In [Er94b] Erdős dates this conjecture to 1946.

This would be the best possible, as is shown by a set of lattice points. It is easy to show that there are $O(n^{3/2})$ many such pairs. The best known upper bound is $O(n^{4/3})$, due to Spencer, Szemerédi, and Trotter [SST84]. In [Er83c] and [Er85] Erdős offers \$250 for an upper bound of the form $n^{1+o(1)}$.

Part of the difficulty of this problem is explained by a result of Valtr (see [Sz16]), who constructed a metric on $\mathbb{R}^2$ and a set of $n$ points with $\gg n^{4/3}$ unit distance pairs (with respect to this metric). The methods of the upper bound proof of Spencer, Szemerédi, and Trotter [SST84] generalise to include this metric. Therefore to prove an upper bound better than $n^{4/3}$ some special feature of the Euclidean metric must be exploited.

See a survey by Szemerédi [Sz16] for further background and related results.

SOLVED

Let $f(n)$ be minimal such that the following holds. For any $n$ points in $\mathbb{R}^2$, not all on a line, there must be at least $f(n)$ many lines which contain exactly 2 points (called 'ordinary lines'). Does $f(n)\to \infty$? How fast?

Conjectured by Erdős and de Bruijn. The Sylvester-Gallai theorem states that $f(n)\geq 1$. The fact that $f(n)\geq 1$ was conjectured by Sylvester in 1893. Erdős rediscovered this conjecture in 1933 and told it to Gallai who proved it.

That $f(n)\to \infty$ was proved by Motzkin [Mo51]. Kelly and Moser [KeMo58] proved that $f(n)\geq\tfrac{3}{7}n$ for all $n$. This is best possible for $n=7$. Motzkin conjectured that for $n\geq 13$ there are at least $n/2$ such lines. Csima and Sawyer [CsSa93] proved a lower bound of $f(n)\geq \tfrac{6}{13}n$ when $n\geq 8$. Green and Tao [GrTa13] proved that $f(n)\geq n/2$ for sufficiently large $n$. (A proof that $f(n)\geq n/2$ for large $n$ was earlier claimed by Hansen but this proof was flawed.)

The bound of $n/2$ is best possible for even $n$, since one could take $n/2$ points on a circle and $n/2$ points at infinity. Surprisingly, Green and Tao [GrTa13] show that if $n$ is odd then $f(n)\geq 3\lfloor n/4\rfloor$.

SOLVED

For $A\subset \mathbb{R}^2$ we define the upper density as
\[\overline{\delta}(A)=\limsup_{R\to \infty}\frac{\lambda(A \cap B_R)}{\lambda(B_R)},\]
where $\lambda$ is the Lebesgue measure and $B_R$ is the ball of radius $R$.

Estimate \[m_1=\sup \overline{\delta}(A),\] where $A$ ranges over all measurable subsets of $\mathbb{R}^2$ without two points distance $1$ apart. In particular, is $m_1\leq 1/4$?

A question of Moser [Mo66]. A lower bound of $m_1\geq \pi/8\sqrt{3}\approx 0.2267$ is given by taking the union of open circular discus of radius $1/2$ at a regular hexagonal lattice suitably spaced aprt. Croft [Cr67] gives a small improvement of $m_1\geq 0.22936$.

The trivial upper bound is $m_1\leq 1/2$, since for any unit vector $u$ the sets $A$ and $A+u$ must be disjoint. Erdős' question was solved by Ambrus, Csiszárik, Matolcsi, Varga, and Zsámboki [ACMVZ23] who proved that $m_1\leq 0.247$.

OPEN - $500

Given $n$ distinct points $A\subset\mathbb{R}^2$ must there be a point $x\in A$ such that
\[\#\{ d(x,y) : y \in A\} \gg n^{1-o(1)}?\]
Or even $\gg n/\sqrt{\log n}$?

The pinned distance problem, a stronger form of [89]. The example of an integer grid show that $n/\sqrt{\log n}$ would be best possible.

It may be true that there are $\gg n$ many such points, or that this is true on average. In [Er97e] Erdős offers \$500 for a solution to this problem, but it is unclear whether he intended this for proving the existence of a single such point or for $\gg n$ many such points.

In [Er97e] Erdős wrote that he initially 'overconjectured' and thought that the answer to this problem is the same as for the number of distinct distances between all pairs (see [89]), but this was disproved by Harborth. It could be true that the answers are the same up to an additive factor of $n^{o(1)}$.

The best known bound is \[\gg n^{c-o(1)},\] due to Katz and Tardos [KaTa04], where \[c=\frac{48-14e}{55-16e}=0.864137\cdots.\]

SOLVED

Is there some function $f(n)\to \infty$ as $n\to\infty$ such that there exist $n$ distinct points on the surface of a two-dimensional sphere with at least $f(n)n$ many pairs of points whose distances are the same?

See also [90]. This was solved by Erdős, Hickerson, and Pach [EHP89]. For $D>1$ and $n\geq 2$ let $u_D(n)$ be such that there is a set of $n$ points on the sphere in $\mathbb{R}^3$ with radius $D$ such that there are $u_D(n)$ many pairs which are distance $1$ apart (so that this problem asked for $u_D(n)\geq f(n)n$ for some $D$).

Erdős, Hickerson, and Pach [EHP89] proved that $u_{\sqrt{2}}(n)\asymp n^{4/3}$ and $u_D(n)\gg n\log^*n$ for all $D>1$ and $n\geq 2$ (where $\log^*$ is the iterated logarithm function).

This lower bound was improved by Swanepoel and Valtr [SwVa04] to $u_D(n) \gg n\sqrt{\log n}$. The best upper bound for general $D$ is $u_D(n)\ll n^{4/3}$.

SOLVED

Given any $n$ distinct points in $\mathbb{R}^2$ let $f(n)$ count the number of distinct lines determined by these points. What are the possible values of $f(n)$?

A question of Grünbaum. The Sylvester-Gallai theorem implies that if $f(m)>1$ then $f(m)\geq n$. Erdős showed that, for some constant $c>0$, all integers in $[cn^{3/2},\binom{n}{2}]$ are possible except $\binom{n}{2}-1$ and $\binom{n}{2}-3$.

Solved (for all sufficiently large $n$) completely by Erdős and Salamon [ErSa88]; the full description is too complicated to be given here.

SOLVED - $250

For a set of $n$ points $P\subset \mathbb{R}^2$ let $\ell_1,\ldots,\ell_m$ be the lines determined by $P$, and let $A=\{\lvert \ell_1\cap P\rvert,\ldots,\lvert \ell_m\cap P\rvert\}$.

Let $F(n)$ count the number of possible sets $A$ that can be constructed this way. Is it true that \[F(n) \leq \exp(O(\sqrt{n}))?\]

Erdős writes it is 'easy to see' that this bound would be best possible. This was proved by Szemerédi and Trotter [SzTr83].