Ball, Simeon and Lavrauw, Michel (2018) Planar arcs. Journal of Combinatorial Theory, Series A, 160 . pp. 261-287. ISSN 0097-3165 (Print) 1096-0899 (Online)
Official URL: http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.jcta.2018.06.015
Let p denote the characteristic of Fq, the finite field with q elements. We prove that if q is odd then an arc of size q+2−t in the projective plane over Fq, which is not contained in a conic, is contained in the intersection of two curves, which do not share a common component, and have degree at most t+p⌊logpt⌋, provided a certain technical condition on t is satisfied. This implies that if q is odd then an arc of size at least q−q+q/p+3 is contained in a conic if q is square and an arc of size at least q−q+[Formula presented] is contained in a conic if q is prime. This is of particular interest in the case that q is an odd square, since then there are examples of arcs, not contained in a conic, of size q−q+1, and it has long been conjectured that if q≠9 is an odd square then any larger arc is contained in a conic. These bounds improve on previously known bounds when q is an odd square and for primes less than 1783. The previously known bounds, obtained by Segre , Hirschfeld and Korchmáros  , and Voloch  , rely on results on the number of points on algebraic curves over finite fields, in particular the Hasse–Weil theorem and the Stöhr–Voloch theorem, and are based on Segre's idea to associate an algebraic curve in the dual plane containing the tangents to an arc. In this paper we do not rely on such theorems, but use a new approach starting from a scaled coordinate-free version of Segre's lemma of tangents. Arcs in the projective plane over Fq of size q and q+1, q odd, were classified by Segre  in 1955. In this article, we complete the classification of arcs of size q−1 and q−2. The main theorem also verifies the MDS conjecture for a wider range of dimensions in the case that q is an odd square. The MDS conjecture states that if 4⩽k⩽q−2, a k-dimensional linear MDS code has length at most q+1. Here, we verify the conjecture for k⩽q−q/p+2, in the case that q is an odd square.
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