Published online by Cambridge University Press: 31 July 2017
The zeta function of a curve C over a finite field may be expressed in terms of the characteristic polynomial of a unitary matrix ΘC. We develop and present a new technique to compute the expected value of tr(ΘCn) for various moduli spaces of curves of genus g over a fixed finite field in the limit as g is large, generalising and extending the work of Rudnick [Rud10] and Chinis [Chi16]. This is achieved by using function field zeta functions, explicit formulae, and the densities of prime polynomials with prescribed ramification types at certain places as given in [BDF+16] and [Zha]. We extend [BDF+16] by describing explicit dependence on the place and give an explicit proof of the Lindelöf bound for function field Dirichlet L-functions L(1/2 + it, χ). As applications, we compute the one-level density for hyperelliptic curves, cyclic ℓ-covers, and cubic non-Galois covers.