The basic objects of algebraic number theory are number fields, and the basic invariant of a number field is its discriminant, which in some sense measures its arithmetic complexity. A basic finiteness result is that there are only finitely many degree-$d$ number fields of discriminant at most $X$; more generally, for any fixed global field $K$, there are only finitely many degree-$d$ extensions $L/K$ whose discriminant has norm at most $X$. (The classical case is where $K = \mathbb{Q}$.)
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When a set is finite, we greedily ask if we can compute its cardinality. Write $N_d(K,X)$ for the number of degree-$d$ extensions of $K$ with discriminant at most $d$. A folklore conjecture holds that $N_d(K,X)$ is on order $c_d X$. In the case $K = \mathbb{Q}$, this is easy for $d=2$, a theorem of Davenport and Heilbronn for $d=3$, a much harder theorem of Bhargava for $d=4$ and 5, and completely out of reach for $d > 5$. More generally, one can ask about extensions with a specified Galois group $G$; in this case, a conjecture of Malle holds that the asymptotic growth is on order $X^a (\log X)^b$ for specified constants $a,b$.
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I'll talk about two recent results on this old problem:
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1) (joint with TriThang Tran and Craig Westerland) We prove that $N_d(\mathbb{F}_q(t),X)) < c_{\epsilon} X^{1+\epsilon}$ for all $d$, and similarly prove Malle’s conjecture ``up to epsilon" — this is much more than is known in the number field case, and relies on a new upper bound for the cohomology of Hurwitz spaces coming from quantum shuffle algebras: https://arxiv.org/abs/1701.04541
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2) (joint with Matt Satriano and David Zureick-Brown) The form of Malle's conjecture is very reminiscent of the Batyrev-Manin conjecture, which says that the number of rational points of height at most $X$ on a Batyrev-Manin variety also grows like $X^a (\log X)^b$ for specified constants $a,b$. What’s more, an extension of $\mathbb{Q}$ with Galois group $G$ is a rational point on a Deligne--Mumford stack called $BG$, the classifying stack of $G$. A natural reaction is to say “the two conjectures is the same; to count number fields is just to count points on the stack BG with bounded height?” The problem: there is no definition of the height of a rational point on a stack. I'll explain what we think the right definition is, and explain how it suggests a heuristic which has both the Malle conjecture and the Batyrev--Manin conjecture as special cases.