# Galois Theory

```Galois Theory
Tom Leinster, University of Edinburgh
Version of 3 May 2021
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Overview of Galois theory
1.1 The view of C from Q . . . . . . . . . . . . .
1.2 Every polynomial has a symmetry group. . . .
1.3 . . . which determines whether it can be solved
Rings and fields
2.1 Rings . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
2.2 Fields . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Polynomials
3.1 The ring of polynomials . . . . . . . . . . . .
3.2 Factorizing polynomials . . . . . . . . . . .
3.3 Irreducible polynomials . . . . . . . . . . . .
Field extensions
4.1 Definition and examples . . . . . . . . . . .
4.2 Algebraic and transcendental elements . . . .
4.3 Simple extensions . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Degree
5.1 Degrees of extensions and polynomials . . . .
5.2 The tower law . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
5.3 Algebraic extensions . . . . . . . . . . . . .
5.4 Ruler and compass constructions . . . . . . .
Splitting fields
6.1 Extending homomorphisms . . . . . . . . . .
6.2 Existence and uniqueness of splitting fields .
6.3 The Galois group . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Preparation for the fundamental theorem
7.1 Normality . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
7.2 Separability . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
7.3 Fixed fields . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
The fundamental theorem of Galois theory
8.1 Introducing the Galois correspondence . . . .
8.2 The theorem . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
8.3 A specific example . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
9.1 Radicals . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
9.2 Solvable polynomials have solvable groups . .
9.3 An unsolvable polynomial . . . . . . . . . .
Finite fields
10.1 πth roots in characteristic π . . . . . . . . . .
10.2 Classification of finite fields . . . . . . . . .
10.3 Multiplicative structure . . . . . . . . . . . .
10.4 Galois groups for finite fields . . . . . . . . .
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These are the 2020–21 course notes for Galois Theory (MATH10080).
Structure Each chapter corresponds to one week of the semester. You should
read Chapter 1 in Week 1, Chapter 2 in Week 2, and so on. I’m writing the notes
as we go along, so the chapters will appear one by one: keep your eye on Learn.
Exercises looking like this are sprinkled through the notes. The idea
is that you try them immediately, before you continue reading.
Most of them are meant to be quick and easy, much easier than assignment or workshop questions. If you can do them, you can take it
as a sign that you’re following. For those that defeat you, talk with
I promise you that if you make a habit of trying every exercise, you’ll
enjoy the course more and understand it better than if you don’t bother.
Digressions like this are optional and not examinable, but might interest
you. They’re usually on points that I find interesting, and often describe
connections between Galois theory and other parts of mathematics.
Here you’ll see
titles of relevant
videos
References to theorem numbers, page numbers, etc., are clickable links.
What to prioritize You know by now that the most important things in almost
any course are the definitions and the results called Theorem. But I also want to
emphasize the proofs. This course presents a wonderful body of theory, and the
idea is that you learn it all, including the proofs that are its beating heart.
A closed-book exam would test that by asking you to reproduce some proofs.
Your exam will be open book, so it can’t ask you to reproduce proofs, but it will
test something arguably harder: that you understand them. So the proofs will need
2
Prerequisites You are required to have taken these two courses:
• Honours Algebra: We’ll need some linear algebra, corresponding to Chapter 1 of that course. For example, you should be able to convince yourself
that an endomorphism of a finite-dimensional vector space is injective if and
only if it is surjective.
We’ll also need everything from Honours Algebra about rings and polynomials (Chapter 3 there), including ideals, quotient rings (factor rings), the
universal property of quotient rings, and the first isomorphism theorem for
rings.
• Group Theory: From that course, we’ll need fundamentals such as normal
subgroups, quotient groups, the universal property of quotient groups, and
the first isomorphism theorem for groups. You should know lots about the
symmetric groups ππ , alternating groups π΄π , cyclic groups πΆπ and dihedral
groups π· π , and I hope you can list all of the groups of order &lt; 8 without
having to think too hard.
Chapter 8 of Group Theory, on solvable groups, will be crucial for us! If
you skipped it, you’ll need to go back and fix that. For example, you’ll need
to understand the statement that π4 is solvable but π΄5 is not.
We won’t need anything on free groups, the Sylow theorems, or the Jordan–
H&ouml;lder theorem.
If you’re a visiting student and didn’t take those courses, please get in touch so we
can decide whether your background is suitable.
Mistakes I’ll be grateful to hear of any mistakes (Tom.Leinster@ed.ac.uk), even
if it’s something very small and even if you’re not sure.
3
Chapter 1
Overview of Galois theory
Introduction to
Week 1
This chapter stands apart from all the others,
Modern treatments of Galois theory take advantage of several well-developed
branches of algebra: the theories of groups, rings, fields, and vector spaces. This
is as it should be! However, assembling all the algebraic apparatus will take us
some time, during which it’s easy to lose sight of what it’s all for.
Galois theory came from two basic insights:
• every polynomial has a symmetry group;
• this group determines whether the polynomial can be solved by radicals (in
a sense I’ll define).
In this chapter, I’ll explain these two ideas in as short and low-tech a way as I can
manage. In Chapter 2 we’ll start again, beginning the modern approach that will
take up the rest of the course. But I hope that all through that long build-up, you’ll
keep in mind the fundamental ideas that you learn in this chapter.
1.1
The view of C from Q
Imagine you lived several centuries ago, before the discovery of complex numbers.
Your whole mathematical world is the real numbers, and there is no square root of
−1. This situation frustrates you, and you decide to do something about it.
So, you invent a new symbol π (for ‘imaginary’) and decree that π 2 = −1. You
still want to be able to do all the usual arithmetic operations (+, &times;, etc.), and you
want to keep all the rules that govern them (associativity, commutativity, etc.). So
you’re also forced to introduce new numbers such as 2 + 3 &times; π, and you end up with
what today we call the complex numbers.
So far, so good. But then you notice something strange. When you invented
the complex numbers, you only intended to introduce one square root of −1. But
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accidentally, you introduced a second one at the same time: −π. (You wait centuries
for a square root of −1, then two arrive at once.) Maybe that’s not so strange in
itself; after all, positive reals have two square roots too. But then you realize
something genuinely weird:
There’s nothing you can do to distinguish π from −π.
Try as you might, you can’t find any reasonable statement that’s true for π but not
−π. For example, you notice that π is a solution of
π§ 3 − 3π§2 − 16π§ − 3 =
17
,
π§
but then you realize that −π is too.
Of course, there are unreasonable statements that are true for π but not −π, such
as ‘π§ = π’. We should restrict to statements that only refer to the known world of
real numbers. More precisely, let’s consider statements of the form
π 1 (π§) π 3 (π§)
=
,
π 2 (π§) π 4 (π§)
(1.1)
where π 1 , π 2 , π 3 , π 4 are polynomials with real coefficients. Any such equation
can be rearranged to give
π(π§) = 0,
where again π is a polynomial with real coefficients, so we might as well just
consider statements of that form. The point is that if π(π) = 0 then π(−π) = 0.
Let’s make this formal.
Definition 1.1.1 Two complex numbers π§ and π§0 are indistinguishable when seen
from R, or conjugate over R, if for all polynomials π with coefficients in R,
π(π§) = 0 ⇐⇒ π(π§0) = 0.
Warning 1.1.2 The standard term is ‘conjugate over R’. ‘Indistinguishable’ is a term I invented for this chapter only, to express the idea
of not being able to tell the two numbers apart.
For example, π and −π are indistinguishable when seen from R. This follows
from a more general result:
Lemma 1.1.3 Let π§, π§0 ∈ C. Then π§ and π§0 are indistinguishable when seen from
R if and only if π§0 = π§ or π§0 = π§.
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Proof ‘Only if’: suppose that π§ and π§0 are indistinguishable when seen from R.
Write π§ = π₯ + ππ¦ with π₯, π¦ ∈ R. Then (π§ − π₯) 2 = −π¦ 2 . Since π₯ and π¦ are real,
indistinguishability implies that (π§0 − π₯) 2 = −π¦ 2 , so π§0 − π₯ = &plusmn;ππ¦, so π§0 = π₯ &plusmn; ππ¦.
‘If’: obviously π§ is indistinguishable from itself, so it’s enough to prove that π§
is indinguishable from π§. I’ll give two proofs. Each one teaches us a lesson that
will be valuable later.
First proof: recall that complex conjugation satisfies
π€1 + π€2 = π€1 + π€2,
π€1 &middot; π€2 = π€1 &middot; π€2
for all π€ 1 , π€ 2 ∈ C, and π = π for all π ∈ R. It follows by induction that for any
polynomial π over R,
π(π€) = π(π€)
for all π€ ∈ C. So
π(π§) = 0 ⇐⇒ π(π§) = 0 ⇐⇒ π(π§) = 0.
Second proof: write π§ = π₯ + ππ¦ with π₯, π¦ ∈ R. Let π be a polynomial over
R such that π(π§) = 0. We will prove that π(π§) = 0. This is trivial if π¦ = 0, so
suppose that π¦ ≠ 0.
Consider the polynomial π(π‘) = (π‘ − π₯) 2 + π¦ 2 . Then π(π§) = 0. You know from
Honours Algebra that
π(π‘) = π(π‘)π(π‘) + π (π‘)
(1.2)
for some polynomials π and π with deg(π) &lt; deg(π) = 2 (so π is either a constant
or of degree 1). Putting π‘ = π§ in (1.2) gives π (π§) = 0. But it’s easy to see that this
is impossible unless π is the zero polynomial (using the assumption that π¦ ≠ 0).
So π(π‘) = π(π‘)π(π‘). But π(π§) = 0, so π(π§) = 0, as required.
We have just shown that for all polynomials π over R, if π(π§) = 0 then
π(π§) = 0. Exchanging the roles of π§ and π§ proves the converse. Hence π§ and π§ are
indistinguishable when seen from R.
Exercise 1.1.4 Both proofs of ‘if’ contain little gaps: ‘It follows by
induction’ in the first proof, and ‘it’s easy to see’ in the second. Fill
them.
Digression 1.1.5 With complex analysis in mind, we could imagine a stricter
definition of indistinguishability in which polynomials are replaced by arbitrary convergent power series (still with coefficients in R). This would allow
functions such as exp, cos and sin, and equations such as exp(ππ) = −1.
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But this apparently different definition of indistinguishability is, in fact,
equivalent. A complex number is still indistinguishable from exactly itself
and its complex conjugate. (For example, exp(−ππ) = −1 too.) Do you see
why?
Example 1.1.6
Lemma 1.1.3 tells us that indistinguishability over R is rather simple. But
the same idea becomes much more interesting if we replace R by Q. And in this
course, we will mainly focus on polynomials over Q.
Define indistinguishability seen from Q, or officially conjugacy over Q,
by replacing R by Q in Definition 1.1.1. From now on, I will usually just say
‘indistinguishable’, dropping the ‘seen from Q’.
√
√
Example 1.1.6 I claim that 2 and − 2 are indistinguishable. And I’ll give
you two different proofs, closely analogous to the two proofs of the ‘if’ part of
Lemma 1.1.3.
First proof: write
√
√
Q( 2) = {π + π 2 : π, π ∈ Q}.
√
√
√
For π€ ∈ Q( 2), there are unique π, π ∈ Q such that π€ = π + π 2, because 2 is
irrational. So it is logically valid to define
√
√
π€
e = π − π 2 ∈ Q( 2).
It is straightforward to check that
π€Β
f1 + π€
f2 ,
π€
Β
f1 &middot; π€
f2
1 + π€2 = π€
1 &middot; π€2 = π€
√
for all π€ 1 , π€ 2 ∈ Q( 2), and that e
π = π for all π ∈ Q. Just as in the proof
√ of
Lemma 1.1.3,√it follows that π€ and π€
e are indistinguishable
for every π€ ∈ Q( 2).
√
In particular, 2 is indistinguishable from − 2.
√Second proof: let π = π(π‘) be a polynomial with coefficients in Q such that
π( 2) = 0. You know from Honours Algebra that
π(π‘) = (π‘ 2 − 2)π(π‘) + π (π‘)
√
for√some polynomials
π(π‘) and π (π‘) over Q with deg π &lt; 2. Putting π‘ = 2 gives
√
π ( 2) = 0. But 2 is irrational and π (π‘) is of the form ππ‘ + π with π,√π ∈ Q, so π
must be the zero polynomial. Hence π(π‘) = (π‘ 2 − 2)π(π‘), giving π(−
√ 2) = 0.
We
√ have just shown that for all polynomials π √over Q, if
√ π( 2) = 0 then
π(− 2) = 0. The same
√ argument with the roles of 2 and − 2 reversed proves
the converse. Hence &plusmn; 2 are indistinguishable.
7
π
π2
1
π3
π4
Figure 1.1: The 5th roots of unity.
Exercise 1.1.7 Let π§ ∈ Q. Show that π§ is distinguishable from π§0 for
any complex number π§0 ≠ π§.
One thing that makes indistinguishability more subtle over Q than over R is
that over Q, more than two numbers can be indistinguishable:
Example 1.1.8 The 5th roots of unity are
1, π, π2 , π3 , π4 ,
where π = π 2ππ/5 (Figure 1.1). Now 1 is distinguishable from the rest, since it is a
root of the polynomial π‘ − 1 and the others are not. (See also Exercise 1.1.7.) But
it turns out that π, π2 , π3 , π4 are all indistinguishable from each other.
Complex conjugates are indistinguishable when seen from R, so they’re certainly indistinguishable when seen from Q. Since π4 = 1/π = π, it follows that
π and π4 are indistinguishable when seen from Q. By the same argument, π2
and π3 are indistinguishable. What’s not so obvious is that π and π2 are indistinguishable. I know two proofs, which are like the two proofs of Lemma 1.1.3 and
Example 1.1.6. But we’re not equipped to do either yet.
Example 1.1.9 More generally, let π be any prime and put π = π 2ππ/π . Then
π, π2 , . . . , π π−1 are indistinguishable.
So far, we have asked when one complex number can be distinguished from
another, using only polynomials over Q. But what about more than one?
Definition 1.1.10 Let π ≥ 0 and let (π§1 , . . . , π§ π ) and (π§01 , . . . , π§0π ) be π-tuples of
complex numbers. We say that (π§ 1 , . . . , π§ π ) and (π§01 , . . . , π§0π ) are indistinguishable
if for all polynomials π(π‘1 , . . . , π‘ π ) over Q in π variables,
π(π§1 , . . . , π§ π ) = 0 ⇐⇒ π(π§01 , . . . , π§0π ) = 0.
8
When π = 1, this is just the previous definition of indistinguishability.
Exercise 1.1.11 Suppose that (π§1 , . . . , π§ π ) and (π§01 , . . . , π§0π ) are indistinguishable. Show that π§π and π§0π are indistinguishable, for each
π ∈ {1, . . . , π }.
Example 1.1.12 For any π§1 , . . . , π§ π ∈ C, the π-tuples (π§1 , . . . , π§ π ) and (π§1 , . . . , π§ π )
are indistinguishable. For let π(π‘1 , . . . , π‘ π ) be a polynomial over Q. Then
π(π§1 , . . . , π§ π ) = π(π§1 , . . . , π§ π )
since the coefficients of π are real, by a similar argument to the one in the first
proof of Lemma 1.1.3. Hence
π(π§1 , . . . , π§ π ) = 0 ⇐⇒ π(π§1 , . . . , π§ π ) = 0,
which is what we had to prove.
Example 1.1.13 Let π = π 2ππ/5 , as in Example 1.1.8. Then
(π, π2 , π3 , π4 )
and
(π4 , π3 , π2 , π)
are indistinguishable, by Example 1.1.12. It can also be shown that
(π, π2 , π3 , π4 )
and
(π2 , π4 , π, π3 )
are indistinguishable, although the proof is beyond us for now. But
(π, π2 , π3 , π4 )
and
(π2 , π, π3 , π4 )
are distinguishable, since if we put π(π‘ 1 , π‘2 , π‘3 , π‘4 ) = π‘2 − π‘12 then
π(π, π2 , π3 , π4 ) = 0 ≠ π(π2 , π, π3 , π4 ).
So the converse of Exercise 1.1.11 is false: just because π§π and π§0π are indistinguishable for all π, it doesn’t follow that (π§ 1 , . . . , π§ π ) and (π§01 , . . . , π§0π ) are indistinguishable.
1.2
Every polynomial has a symmetry group. . .
We are now ready to describe the first main idea of Galois theory: every polynomial
has a symmetry group.
9
Definition 1.2.1 Let π be a polynomial with coefficients in Q. Write πΌ1 , . . . , πΌ π
for its distinct roots in C. The Galois group of π is
Gal( π ) = {π ∈ π π : (πΌ1 , . . . , πΌ π ) and (πΌπ(1) , . . . , πΌπ(π) ) are indistinguishable}.
‘Distinct roots’ means that we ignore any repetition of roots: e.g. if π (π‘) =
π‘ 5 (π‘ − 1) 9 then π = 2 and {πΌ1 , πΌ2 } = {0, 1}.
Exercise 1.2.2 Show that Gal( π ) is a subgroup of π π . (This one is
maybe a bit tricky notationally. Stick to π = 3 if you like.)
Exercise 1.2.2
Digression 1.2.3 I brushed something under the carpet. The definition of
Gal( π ) depends on the order in which the roots are listed. Different orderings
gives different subgroups of π π . However, these subgroups are all conjugate
to each other, and therefore isomorphic as abstract groups. So Gal( π ) is
well-defined as an abstract group, independently of the choice of ordering.
Example 1.2.4 Let π be a polynomial over Q all of whose complex roots
πΌ1 , . . . , πΌ π are rational. If π ∈ Gal( π ) then πΌπ(π) and πΌπ are indistinguishable
for each π, by Exercise 1.1.11. But since they are rational, that forces πΌπ(π) = πΌπ
(by Exercise 1.1.7), and since πΌ1 , . . . , πΌ π are distinct, π(π) = π. Hence π = id. So
the Galois group of π is trivial.
Example 1.2.5 Let π be a quadratic over Q. If π has rational roots then as we
have just seen, Gal( π ) is trivial. If π has two non-real roots then they are complex
conjugate, so Gal( π ) = π2 by Example 1.1.12. The remaining case is where π has
two distinct roots that are real but not rational, and it can be shown that in that case
too, Gal( π ) = π2 .
Warning 1.2.6 On terminology: note that just now I said ‘non-real’.
Sometimes people casually say ‘complex’ to mean ‘not real’. But try
not to do this yourself. It makes as little sense as saying ‘real’ to mean
‘irrational’, or ‘rational’ to mean ‘not an integer’.
Example 1.2.7 Let π (π‘) = π‘ 4 + π‘ 3 + π‘ 2 + π‘ + 1. Then (π‘ − 1) π (π‘) = π‘ 5 − 1, so π has
roots π, π2 , π3 , π4 where π = π 2ππ/5 . We saw in Example 1.1.13 that
1 2 3 4
1 2 3 4
1 2 3 4
,
∈ Gal( π ),
∉ Gal( π ).
4 3 2 1
2 4 1 3
2 1 3 4
In fact, it can be shown that
Gal( π ) =
1 2 3 4
2 4 1 3
10
πΆ4 .
Example 1.2.8 Let π (π‘) = π‘ 3 + ππ‘ 2 + ππ‘ + π be a cubic over Q with no rational
roots. Then
(
√
π΄3 if −27π 2 + 18πππ − 4π3 − 4π 3 π + π 2 π2 ∈ Q,
Gal( π ) π3 otherwise.
This appears as Proposition 22.4 in Stewart, but is way beyond us for now: calculating Galois groups is hard.
Galois groups,
informally
1.3
. . . which determines whether it can be solved
Here we meet the second main idea of Galois theory: the Galois group of a
polynomial determines whether it can be solved. More exactly, it determines
whether the polynomial can be ‘solved by radicals’.
To explain what this means, let’s begin with the quadratic formula. The roots
of a quadratic ππ‘ 2 + ππ‘ + π are
√
−π &plusmn; π 2 − 4ππ
.
2π
After much struggling, it was discovered that there is a similar formula for cubics
ππ‘ 3 + ππ‘ 2 + ππ‘ + π: the roots are given by
q
√
√
3
q
3
−27π 2 π+9πππ−2π 3 +3π 3(27π 2 π 2 −18ππππ+4ππ3 +4π 3 π−π 2 π2 ) + −27π 2 π+9πππ−2π 3 −3π 3(27π 2 π 2 −18ππππ+4ππ3 +4π 3 π−π 2 π2 )
.
√
3
3 2π
(No, you don’t need to memorize that!) This is a complicated formula, and there’s
also something strange about it. Any nonzero complex number
has three cube roots,
√3
√3
and there are two signs in the formula (ignoring the 2 in the denominator), so
it looks as if the formula gives nine roots for the cubic. But a cubic can only have
three roots. What’s going on?
It turns out that some of the nine aren’t roots of the cubic at all. You have to
choose your cube roots carefully. Section 1.4 of Stewart’s book has much more on
this point, as well as an explanation of how the cubic formula was obtained. (We
won’t be going into this ourselves.)
As Stewart also explains, there is a similar but even more complicated formula
for quartics (polynomials of degree 4).
Digression 1.3.1 Stewart doesn’t actually write out the explicit formula for
the cubic, let alone the much worse one for the quartic. He just describes
algorithms by which they can be solved. But if you unwind the algorithm for
the cubic, you get the formula above. I have done this exercise once and do
not recommend it.
11
Once mathematicians discovered how to solve quartics, they naturally looked
for a formula for quintics (polynomials of degree 5). But it was eventually proved
by Abel and Ruffini, in the early 19th century, that there is no formula like the
quadratic, cubic or quartic formula for polynomials of degree ≥ 5. A bit more
precisely, there is no formula for the roots in terms of the coefficients that uses
only the usual arithmetic operations (+, −, &times;, &divide;) and πth roots (for integers π).
Spectacular as this result was, Galois went further, and so will we.
Informally, let us say that a complex number is radical if it can be obtained
from the rationals using only the usual arithmetic operations and πth roots. For
example,
p3 √
√2
7
1
+
2
−
7
2
r
q
4
6 + 5 23
is radical, whichever square root, cube root, etc., we choose. A polynomial over
Q is solvable (or soluble) by radicals if all of its complex roots are radical.
√ over Q is solvable by radicals. This follows from
the quadratic formula: (−π &plusmn; π 2 − 4ππ)/2π is visibly a radical number.
Example 1.3.3 Similarly, the cubic formula shows that every cubic over Q is
solvable by radicals. The same goes for quartics.
Example 1.3.4 Some quintics are solvable by radicals. For instance,
(π‘ − 1)(π‘ − 2)(π‘ − 3)(π‘ − 4)(π‘ − 5)
is solvable by radicals, since all its roots are rational and, therefore, radical. A bit
less trivially, (π‘ − 123) 5 √
+ 456 is solvable by radicals, since its roots are the five
5
complex numbers 123 + −456, which are all radical.
What determines whether a polynomial is solvable by radicals? Galois’s
amazing achievement was to answer this question completely:
Theorem 1.3.5 (Galois) Let π be a polynomial over Q. Then
π is solvable by radicals ⇐⇒ Gal( π ) is a solvable group.
Example 1.3.6 Definition 1.2.1 implies that if π has degree π then Gal( π ) is
isomorphic to a subgroup of ππ . You saw in Group Theory that π4 is solvable,
and that every subgroup of a solvable group is solvable. Hence the Galois group
of any polynomial of degree ≤ 4 is solvable. It follows from Theorem 1.3.5 that
every polynomial of degree ≤ 4 is solvable by radicals.
12
Example 1.3.7 Put π (π‘) = π‘ 5 −6π‘ +3. Later we’ll show that Gal( π ) = π5 . You saw
in Group Theory that π5 is not solvable (or at least, you saw that π΄5 isn’t solvable,
which implies that π5 isn’t either, as π5 contains π΄5 as a subgroup). Hence π is
If there was a quintic formula then all quintics would be solvable by radicals,
for the same reason as in Examples 1.3.2 and 1.3.3. But since this is not the case,
there is no quintic formula.
Galois’s result is much sharper than Abel and Ruffini’s. They proved that there
is no formula providing a solution by radicals of every quintic, whereas Galois
found a way of determining which quintics (and higher) can be solved by radicals
and which cannot.
Digression 1.3.8 From the point of view of modern numerical computation,
this is all a bit odd. Computationally speaking, there is probably not much
difference
between solving π‘ 5 + 3 = 0 to 100 decimal places (that is, finding
√5
−3) and solving π‘ 5 − 6π‘ + 3 = 0 to 100 decimal places (that is, solving
a polynomial that isn’t solvable by radicals). Numerical computation and
abstract algebra have different ideas about what is easy and what is hard!
∗
∗
∗
This completes our overview of Galois theory. What’s next?
Mathematics increasingly emphasizes abstraction over calculation. Individual
mathematicians’ tastes vary, but the historical trend is clear. In the case of Galois
theory, this means dealing with abstract algebraic structures, principally fields,
instead of manipulating explicit algebraic expressions such as polynomials. The
cubic formula already gave you a taste of how hairy that can get.
Developing Galois theory using abstract algebraic structures helps us to see its
connections to other parts of mathematics, and also has some fringe benefits. For
example, we’ll solve some notorious geometry problems that perplexed the ancient
Greeks and remained unsolved for millennia. For that and many other things, we’ll
need some ring theory and some field theory—and that’s what’s next.
13
Chapter 2
Rings and fields
We now start again. This chapter is a mixture of revision and material that is
likely to be new to you. The revision is from Honours Algebra and Introduction
to Number Theory (if you took it, which I won’t assume).
Introduction to
Week 2
2.1
Rings
We’ll begin with some stuff you know—but with a twist.
In this course, the word ring means commutative ring with 1 (multiplicative
identity). Noncommutative rings and rings without 1 are important in some parts
of mathematics, but since we’ll be focusing on commutative rings with 1, it will
be easier to just call them ‘rings’.
Given rings π and π, a homomorphism from π to π is a function π : π → π
satisfying the equations
π(π + π 0) = π(π) + π(π 0),
π(ππ 0) = π(π)π(π 0),
π(0) = 0,
π(1) = 1 (note this!)
π(−π) = −π(π),
for all π, π 0 ∈ π. For example, complex conjugation is a homomorphism C → C.
It is a very useful lemma that if
π(π + π 0) = π(π) + π(π 0),
π(ππ 0) = π(π)π(π 0),
π(1) = 1
for all π, π 0 ∈ π then π is a homomorphism. In other words, to show that π is a
homomorphism, you only need to check it preserves +, &middot; and 1; preservation of 0
and negatives then comes for free. But you do need to check it preserves 1. That
doesn’t follow from the other conditions.
A subring of a ring π is a subset π ⊆ π that contains 0 and 1 and is closed
under addition, multiplication and negatives. Whenever π is a subring of π, the
inclusion π : π → π (defined by π(π ) = π ) is a homomorphism.
14
Warning 2.1.1 In Honours Algebra, rings had 1s but homomorphisms
were not required to preserve 1. Similarly, subrings of π had to have
a 1, but it was not required to be the same as the 1 of π.
For example, take the ring C of complex numbers, the noncommutative
ring π of 2 &times; 2 matrices over C, and the function π : C → π defined
by
π§ 0
π(π§) =
.
0 0
In the terminology of Honours Algebra, π is a homomorphism and
its image im π is a subring of π. But in our terminology, π is not
a homomorphism (as π(1) ≠ πΌ) and im π is not a subring of π (as
πΌ ∉ im π).
Exercise 2.1.2 Let π be a ring and let S be any set (perhaps infinite)
&Ntilde;
of subrings of π. Prove that their intersection π∈S π is also a subring
of π.
(In contrast, in the Honours Algebra setup, even the intersection of
two subrings need not be a subring.)
Example 2.1.3 For any ring π, there is exactly one homomorphism Z → π. Here
is a sketch of the proof.
To show there is at least one homomorphism π : Z → π, we will construct one.
Define π on nonnegative integers π inductively by π(0) = 0 and π(π+1) = π(π)+1.
(Thus, π(π) = 1 π + &middot; &middot; &middot; + 1 π .) Define π on negative integers π by π(π) = −π(−π).
A series of tedious checks shows that π is indeed a ring homomorphism.
To show there is only one homomorphism Z → π, let π be any homomorphism
Z → π; we have to prove that π = π. Certainly π(0) = 0 = π(0). Next prove
by induction on π that π(π) = π(π) for nonnegative integers π. I leave the details
to you, but the crucial point is that because homomorphisms preserve 1, we must
have
π(π + 1) = π(π) + π(1) = π(π) + 1
for all π ≥ 0. Once we have shown that π and π agree on the nonnegative integers,
it follows that for negative π,
π(π) = −π(−π) = −π(−π) = π(π).
The meaning of
‘π &middot; 1’, and
Exercise 2.2.7
Hence π(π) = π(π) for all π ∈ Z; that is, π = π.
Usually we write π(π) as π &middot; 1 π , or simply as π if it is clear from the context
that π is to be interpreted as an element of π.
15
Every ring homomorphism π : π → π has an image im π, which is a subring
of π, and a kernel ker π, which is an ideal of π.
Warning 2.1.4 Subrings in ring theory are analogous to subgroups
in group theory, and ideals in ring theory are analogous to normal
subgroups in group theory. But whereas normal subgroups are a
special kind of subgroup, ideals are not a special kind of subring!
Subrings must contain 1, but most ideals don’t.
Exercise 2.1.5 Prove that the only subring of a ring π that is also an
ideal is π itself.
Quotient rings
Given a ring π and an ideal πΌ P π, we obtain the quotient ring or factor ring
π/πΌ and the canonical homomorphism π πΌ : π → π/πΌ, which is surjective and has
kernel πΌ.
As explained in Honours Algebra, the quotient ring together with the canonical
homomorphism has a ‘universal property’: given any ring π and any homomorphism π : π → π satisfying ker π ⊇ πΌ, there is exactly one homomorphism
π&macr; : π/πΌ → π such that this diagram commutes:
π
ππΌ /
π
π/πΌ
π&macr;
π.
(For a diagram to commute means that whenever there are two different paths
from one object to another, the composites along the two paths are equal. Here, it
means that π = π&macr; β¦ π πΌ .) The first isomorphism theorem says that if π is surjective
and has kernel equal to πΌ then π&macr; is an isomorphism. So π πΌ : π → π/πΌ is essentially
the only surjective homomorphism out of π with kernel πΌ.
Digression 2.1.6 Loosely, the ideals of a ring π correspond one-to-one with
the surjective homomorphisms out of π. This means four things:
•
given an ideal πΌ P π, we get a surjective homomorphism out of π
(namely, π πΌ : π → π/πΌ);
•
given a surjective homomorphism π out of π, we get an ideal of π
(namely, ker π);
•
if we start with an ideal πΌ of π, take its associated surjective homomorphism π πΌ : π → π/πΌ, then take its associated ideal, we end up where
we started (that is, ker(π πΌ ) = πΌ);
16
•
if we start with a surjective homomorphism π : π → π, take its associated ideal ker π, then take its associated surjective homomorphism
πker π : π → π/ker π, we end up where we started (at least ‘up to isomorphism’, in that we have the isomorphism π&macr; : π/ker π → π making
the triangle commute). This is the first isomorphism theorem.
Analogous stories can be told for groups and for modules.
An integral domain is a ring π such that 0 π ≠ 1 π and for π, π 0 ∈ π,
ππ 0 = 0 ⇒ π = 0 or π 0 = 0.
Exercise 2.1.7 The trivial ring or zero ring is the one-element set
with its only possible ring structure. Show that the only ring in which
0 = 1 is the trivial ring.
Equivalently, an integral domain is a nontrivial ring in which cancellation is
valid: π π  = π 0 π  implies π = π 0 or π  = 0.
Digression 2.1.8 Why is the condition 0 ≠ 1 in the definition of integral
domain?
My answer begins with a useful general point: the sum of no things should
always be interpreted as 0. (The amount you pay in a shop is the sum of the
prices of the individual things. If you buy no things, you pay &pound;0.) Similarly,
the product of no things should be interpreted as 1.
Now consider the following condition on a ring π: for all π ≥ 0 and
π 1 , . . . , π π ∈ π,
π 1π 2 &middot; &middot; &middot; π π = 0 ⇒ there exists π ∈ {1, . . . , π} such that π π = 0.
(2.1)
In the case π = 0, this says: if 1 = 0 then there exists π ∈ ∅ such that π π = 0.
But any statement beginning ‘there exists π ∈ ∅’ is false! So in the case π = 0,
condition (2.1) states that 1 ≠ 0. And for π = 2, it’s the main condition in the
definition of integral domain. So ‘1 ≠ 0’ is the 0-fold analogue of the main
condition.
On the other hand, if (2.1) holds for π = 0 and π = 2 then a simple induction
shows that it holds for all π ≥ 0. Conclusion: an integral domain can
equivalently be defined as a ring in which (2.1) holds for all π ≥ 0.
Let π be a subset of a ring π. The ideal hπi generated by π is the intersection
of all the ideals of π containing π. You can show that any intersection of ideals is
an ideal (much as you did for subrings in Exercise 2.1.2), so hπi is an ideal. It is
17
the smallest ideal of π containing π. That is, hπi is an ideal containing π, and if πΌ
is another ideal containing π then hπi ⊆ πΌ. When π is a finite set {π 1 , . . . , π π }, we
write hπi as hπ 1 , . . . , π π i, and it satisfies
hπ 1 , . . . , π π i = {π 1π 1 + &middot; &middot; &middot; + π π π π : π 1 , . . . , π π ∈ π}.
(2.2)
In particular, when π = 1,
hπi = {ππ : π ∈ π}.
Ideals of the form hπi are called principal ideals. A principal ideal domain is
an integral domain in which every ideal is principal.
Example 2.1.9 Z is a principal ideal domain. Indeed, if πΌ P Z then either πΌ = {0},
in which case πΌ = h0i, or πΌ contains some positive integer, in which case we can
define π to be the least positive integer in πΌ and use the division algorithm to show
that πΌ = hπi.
Exercise 2.1.10 Fill in the details of Example 2.1.9.
Let π and π  be elements of a ring π. We say that π divides π , and write π | π , if
there exists π ∈ π such that π  = ππ. This condition is equivalent to π  ∈ hπi, and to
hπ i ⊆ hπi.
An element π’ ∈ π is a unit if it has a multiplicative inverse, or equivalently
if hπ’i = π. The units form a group π &times; under multiplication. For instance,
Z&times; = {1, −1}.
Exercise 2.1.11 Let π and π  be elements of an integral domain. Show
that π | π  | π ⇐⇒ hπi = hπ i ⇐⇒ π  = π’π for some unit π’.
Elements π and π  of a ring are coprime if for π ∈ π,
π | π and π | π  ⇒ π is a unit.
Proposition 2.1.12 Let π be a principal ideal domain and π, π  ∈ π. Then
π and π  are coprime ⇐⇒ ππ + ππ  = 1 for some π, π ∈ π.
Proof ⇒: suppose that π and π  are coprime. Since π is a principal ideal domain,
hπ, π i = hπ’i for some π’ ∈ π. Since π ∈ hπ, π i = hπ’i, we must have π’ | π, and
similarly π’ | π . But π and π  are coprime, so π’ is a unit. Hence 1 ∈ hπ’i = hπ, π i.
But by equation (2.2),
hπ, π i = {ππ + ππ  : π, π ∈ π},
and the result follows.
⇐: suppose that ππ + ππ  = 1 for some π, π ∈ π. If π’ ∈ π with π’ | π and π’ | π
then π’ | (ππ + ππ ) = 1, so π’ is a unit. Hence π and π  are coprime.
18
2.2
Fields
A field is a ring πΎ in which 0 ≠ 1 and every nonzero element is a unit. Equivalently,
it is a ring such that πΎ &times; = πΎ \ {0}. Every field is an integral domain.
Exercise 2.2.1 Write down all the examples of fields that you know.
A field πΎ has exactly two ideals: {0} and πΎ. For if {0} ≠ πΌ P πΎ then π’ ∈ πΌ for
some π’ ≠ 0; but then π’ is a unit, so hπ’i = πΎ, so πΌ = πΎ.
Lemma 2.2.2 Every homomorphism between fields is injective.
Proof Let π : πΎ → πΏ be a homomorphism between fields. Then ker π P πΎ, so
ker π is either {0} or πΎ. If ker π = πΎ then π(1) = 0; but π(1) = 1 by definition
of homomorphism, so 0 = 1 in πΏ, contradicting the assumption that πΏ is a field.
Hence ker π = {0}, that is, π is injective.
Warning 2.2.3 With the Honours Algebra definition of homomorphism, Lemma 2.2.2 would be false, since the map with constant value
0 would be a homomorphism.
Let π be any ring. By Example 2.1.3, there is a unique homomorphism
π : Z → π. Its kernel is an ideal of the principal ideal domain Z. Hence
ker π = hπi for a unique integer π ≥ 0. This π is called the characteristic of π,
and written as char π. Explicitly,
(
the least π &gt; 0 such that π &middot; 1 π = 0 π , if such an π exists;
(2.3)
char π =
0,
otherwise.
Another way to say it: for π ∈ Z, we have π &middot; 1 π = 0 if and only if π is a multiple
of char π.
The concept of characteristic is mostly used in the case of fields.
Examples 2.2.4
i. Q, R and C all have characteristic 0.
ii. For a prime number π, we write F π for the field Z/hπi of integers modulo
π. Then char F π = π.
Lemma 2.2.5 The characteristic of an integral domain is 0 or a prime number.
19
Proof Let π be an integral domain and write π = char π. Suppose that π &gt; 0; we
must prove that π is prime.
Since 1 ≠ 0 in an integral domain, π ≠ 1. (Remember that 1 is not a prime!
So that step was necessary.) Now let π, π &gt; 0 with ππ = π. Writing π for the
unique homomorphism Z → π, we have
π(π) π(π) = π(ππ) = π(π) = 0,
and π is an integral domain, so π(π) = 0 or π(π) = 0. WLOG, π(π) = 0. But
ker π = hπi, so π | π, so π = π. Hence π is prime.
Examples 2.2.4 show that there exist fields of every possible characteristic.
But there is no way of mapping between fields of different characteristics:
Lemma 2.2.6 Let π : πΎ → πΏ be a homomorphism of fields. Then char πΎ = char πΏ.
Proof Write ππΎ and ππΏ for the unique homomorphisms from Z to πΎ and πΏ,
respectively. Since ππΏ is the unique homomorphism Z → πΏ, the triangle
Z
ππΎ
ππΏ

πΎ
π
/
πΏ
commutes. (Concretely, this says that π(π &middot; 1πΎ ) = π &middot; 1 πΏ for all π ∈ Z.) Hence
ker(π β¦ ππΎ ) = ker ππΏ . But π is injective by Lemma 2.2.2, so ker(π β¦ ππΎ ) = ker ππΎ .
Hence ker ππΎ = ker ππΏ , or equivalently, char πΎ = char πΏ.
For example, the inclusion Q → R is a homomorphism of fields, and both have
characteristic 0.
Exercise 2.2.7 This proof of Lemma 2.2.6 is quite abstract. Find
a more concrete proof, taking equation (2.3) as your definition of
characteristic. (You will still need the fact that π is injective.)
The meaning of
‘π &middot; 1’, and
Exercise 2.2.7
A subfield of a field πΎ is a subring that is a field. The prime subfield of πΎ
is the intersection of all the subfields of πΎ. It is straightforward to show that any
intersection of subfields is a subfield (just as you showed in Exercise 2.1.2 that any
intersection of subrings is a subring). Hence the prime subfield is a subfield. It is
the smallest subfield of πΎ, in the sense that any other subfield of πΎ contains it.
Concretely, the prime subfield of πΎ is
π &middot; 1πΎ
: π, π ∈ Z with π &middot; 1πΎ ≠ 0 .
π &middot; 1πΎ
20
To see this, first note that this set is a subfield of πΎ. It is the smallest subfield of πΎ:
for if πΏ is a subfield of πΎ then 1πΎ ∈ πΏ by definition of subfield, so π &middot; 1πΎ ∈ πΏ for
all integers π, so (π &middot; 1πΎ )/(π &middot; 1πΎ ) ∈ πΏ for all integers π and π such that π &middot; 1πΎ ≠ 0.
Examples 2.2.8
i. The field Q has no proper subfields, so the prime subfield
of Q is Q itself.
ii. Let π be a prime. The field F π has no proper subfields, so the prime subfield
of F π is F π itself.
Exercise 2.2.9 What is the prime subfield of R? Of C?
The prime subfields appearing in Examples 2.2.8 were Q and F π . In fact, these
are the only prime subfields of anything:
Lemma 2.2.10 Let πΎ be a field.
i. If char πΎ = 0 then the prime subfield of πΎ is Q.
ii. If char πΎ = π &gt; 0 then the prime subfield of πΎ is F π .
In the statement of this lemma, as so often in mathematics, the word ‘is’ means
‘is isomorphic to’. I hope you’re comfortable with that by now.
Proof For (i), suppose that char πΎ = 0. By definition of characteristic, π &middot; 1πΎ ≠ 0
for all integers π ≥ 0. One can check that there is a well-defined homomorphism
π : Q → πΎ defined by π/π β¦→ (π &middot; 1πΎ )/(π &middot; 1πΎ ). (The check uses the fact that
π : π → π &middot; 1πΎ is a homomorphism.) Now π is injective, being a homomorphism
of fields, so im π Q. But im π is a subring of πΎ, and in fact a subfield since it is
isomorphic to Q. It is the prime subfield, since Q has no proper subfields.
For (ii), suppose that char πΎ = π &gt; 0. By Lemma 2.2.5, π is prime. The
unique homomorphism π : Z → πΎ has kernel hπi, by definition. By the first
isomorphism theorem, im π Z/hπi = F π . But im π is a subring of πΎ, and in
fact a subfield since is it isomorphic to F π . It is the prime subfield, since F π has
no proper subfields.
Lemma 2.2.11 Every finite field has positive characteristic.
Proof By Lemma 2.2.10, a field of characteristic 0 contains a copy of Q and is
therefore infinite.
21
Warning 2.2.12 There are also infinite fields of positive characteristic! We haven’t met one yet, but we will soon.
So far, we have rather few examples of fields. The following construction will
allow us to manufacture many, many more.
An element π of a ring π is irreducible if π is not 0 or a unit, and if for π, π ∈ π,
Building blocks
π = ππ ⇒ π or π is a unit.
For example, the irreducibles in Z are &plusmn;2, &plusmn;3, &plusmn;5, . . .. An element of a ring is
reducible if it is not 0, a unit, or irreducible. So 0 and units count as neither
reducible nor irreducible.
Exercise 2.2.13 What are the irreducible elements of a field?
Proposition 2.2.14 Let π be a principal ideal domain and 0 ≠ π ∈ π. Then
π is irreducible ⇐⇒ π/hπi is a field.
Proof Write π for the canonical homomorphism π → π/hπi.
⇒: suppose that π is irreducible. To show that 1 π/hπi ≠ 0 π/hπi , note that since
π is not a unit, 1 π ∉ hπi = ker π, so
1 π/hπi = π(1 π ) ≠ 0 π/hπi .
Next we have to show that every nonzero element of π/hπi is a unit, or
equivalently that π(π ) is a unit whenever π  ∈ π with π  ∉ hπi. We have π - π , and
π is irreducible, so π and π  are coprime. Hence by Proposition 2.1.12 (and the
assumption that π is a principal ideal domain), we can choose π, π ∈ π such that
ππ + ππ  = 1 π .
Applying π to each side gives
π(π)π(π) + π(π)π(π ) = 1 π/hπi .
But π(π) = 0, so π(π)π(π ) = 1, so π(π ) is a unit.
⇐: suppose that π/hπi is a field. Then 1 π/hπi ≠ 0 π/hπi , that is, π(1 π ) ∉ ker π =
hπi, that is, π - 1 π . Hence π is not a unit.
Next we have to show that if π, π ∈ π with π = ππ then π or π is a unit. We
have
0 = π(π) = π(π)π(π)
22
and π/hπi is an integral domain, so WLOG π(π) = 0. Then π ∈ ker π = hπi, so
π = ππ0 for some π0 ∈ π. This gives
π = ππ = ππ0 π.
But π ≠ 0 by hypothesis, and π is an integral domain, so π0 π = 1. Hence π is a
unit.
Example 2.2.15 When π is an integer, Z/hπi is a field if and only if π is irreducible
(that is, &plusmn; a prime number).
Proposition 2.2.14 enables us to construct fields from irreducible elements. . . but irreducible elements of a principal ideal domain. Right now that’s
not much help, because we don’t have many examples of principal ideal domains.
But we will soon.
23
Chapter 3
Polynomials
This chapter revisits and develops some themes you met in Honours Algebra.
Although it’s long, it contains material you’ve seen before. Before you begin, it
Introduction to
Week 3
3.1
The ring of polynomials
You already know the definition of polynomial, but I want to make a point by
phrasing it in an unfamiliar way.
Definition 3.1.1 Let π be a ring. A polynomial over π is an infinite sequence
(π 0 , π 1 , π 2 , . . .) of elements of π such that {π : ππ ≠ 0} is finite.
The set of polynomials over π forms a ring as follows:
(π 0 , π 1 , . . .) + (π 0 , π 1 , . . .) = (π 0 + π 0 , π 1 + π 1 , . . .),
(π 0 , π 1 , . . .) &middot; (π 0 , π 1 , . . .) = (π 0 , π 1 , . . .)
&Otilde;
where π π =
ππ π π ,
(3.1)
(3.2)
(3.3)
π, π : π+ π=π
the zero of the ring is (0, 0, . . .), and the multiplicative identity is (1, 0, 0, . . .).
Of course, we almost always write (π 0 , π 1 , π 2 , . . .) as π 0 + π 1 π‘ + π 2 π‘ 2 + &middot; &middot; &middot; , or
the same with some other symbol in place of π‘. In that notation, formulas (3.1)
and (3.2) look like the usual formulas for addition and multiplication of polynomials. Nevertheless:
Warning 3.1.2 A polynomial is not a function!
A polynomial gives rise to a function, as we’ll recall in a moment. But
a polynomial itself is a purely formal object.
24
Why study
polynomials?
The set of polynomials over π is written as π[π‘] (or π[π’], π[π₯], etc.). Since
π = π[π‘] is itself a ring, we can consider the ring π[π’] = (π[π‘]) [π’], usually written
as π[π‘, π’], and similarly π[π‘, π’, π£] = (π[π‘, π’]) [π£], etc.
We use π , π, β, . . . and π (π‘), π(π‘), β(π‘), . . . interchangeably to denote elements
of π[π‘]. A polynomial π = (π 0 , π 1 , . . .) over π gives rise to a function
π →
π
π β¦→ π 0 + π 1π + π 2π 2 + &middot; &middot; &middot; .
(The sum on the right-hand side makes sense because only finitely many ππ s are
nonzero.) This function is usually called π too. But calling it that is slightly
dangerous, because:
Warning 3.1.3 Different polynomials can give rise to the same function. For example, consider π‘, π‘ 2 ∈ F2 [π‘]. They are different polynomials: going back to Definition 3.1.1, they’re alternative notation for
the sequences
(0, 1, 0, 0, . . .)
and
(0, 0, 1, 0, . . .),
which are plainly not the same. On the other hand, they induce the
same function F2 → F2 , because π = π 2 for all (both) π ∈ F2 .
Exercise 3.1.4 Show that whenever π is a finite nontrivial ring, it is
possible to find distinct polynomials over π that induce the same function π → π. (Hint: are there finitely or infinitely many polynomials
over π? Functions π → π?)
The ring of polynomials has a universal property: a homomorphism from π[π‘]
to some other ring π΅ is determined by its effect on constant polynomials and on π‘
itself, in the following sense.
The universal
property of π[π‘]
Lemma 3.1.5 (Universal property of the polynomial ring) Let π and π΅ be
rings. For every homomorphism π : π → π΅ and every π ∈ π΅, there is exactly one
homomorphism π : π[π‘] → π΅ such that
π (π) = π(π)
π (π‘) = π.
for all π ∈ π,
(3.4)
(3.5)
On the left-hand side of (3.4), the ‘π’ means the polynomial π + 0π‘ + 0π‘ 2 + &middot; &middot; &middot; .
25
Proof To show there is at most one such π, take any homomorphism π : π[π‘] → π΅
&Iacute;
satisfying (3.4) and (3.5). Then for every polynomial π ππ π‘ π over π,
&Otilde;
&Otilde;
ππ π‘ π =
π (ππ )π (π‘) π
since π is a homomorphism
π
π
=
π
&Otilde;
π(ππ )ππ
by (3.4) and (3.5).
π
So π is uniquely determined.
To show there is at least one such π, define a function π : π[π‘] → π΅ by
&Otilde;
&Otilde;
ππ π‘ π =
π(ππ )ππ
π
π
π
&Iacute;
( π ππ π‘ π ∈ π[π‘]). Then π clearly satisfies conditions (3.4) and (3.5). It remains to
check that π is a homomorphism. I will do the worst part of this, which is to check
that π preserves multiplication, and leave the rest to you.
&Iacute;
&Iacute;
So, take polynomials π (π‘) = π ππ π‘ π and π(π‘) = π π π π‘ π . Then π (π‘)π(π‘) =
&Iacute;
π
π π π π‘ , where π π is as defined in equation (3.3). We have
&Otilde;
ππ π‘ π
π ( π π) = π
&Otilde;π
=
π(π π )π π
by definition of π
π
&Otilde; &Otilde;
=
π
ππ π π π π
by definition of π π
π, π : π+ π=π
π
=
&Otilde;
&Otilde;
π(ππ )π(π π )π π
since π is a homomorphism
π π, π : π+ π=π
=
&Otilde;
=
&Otilde;
π(ππ )π(π π )ππ+ π
π, π
π(ππ )π
π
π
&Otilde;
π(π π )π
π
π
= π ( π )π (π)
by definition of π.
Here are three uses for the universal property of the ring of polynomials. First:
Definition 3.1.6 Let π : π → π be a ring homomorphism. The induced homomorphism
π∗ : π[π‘] → π[π‘]
is the unique homomorphism π[π‘] → π[π‘] such that π∗ (π) = π(π) for all π ∈ π
and π∗ (π‘) = π‘.
26
The universal property guarantees that there is one and only one homomorphism π∗ with these properties. Concretely,
&Otilde;
&Otilde;
π
π(ππ )π‘ π
ππ π‘ =
π∗
π
π
&Iacute;
for all π ππ π‘ π ∈ π[π‘].
Second, let π be a ring and π ∈ π. By the universal property, there is a unique
homomorphism evπ : π[π‘] → π such that evπ (π) = π for all π ∈ π and evπ (π‘) = π.
Concretely,
&Otilde;
&Otilde;
ππ π‘ π =
ππ π π
evπ
π
&Iacute;
π
for all π ππ ∈ π[π‘]. This map evπ is called evaluation at π.
&Iacute;
(The notation ππ π‘ π for what is officially (π 0 , π 1 , . . .) makes it look obvious that
we can evaluate a polynomial at an element and that this gives a homomorphism:
of course ( π &middot; π)(π) = π (π)π(π), for instance! But that’s only because of the
notation: there was actually something to prove here.)
Third, let π be a ring and π ∈ π. For any π (π‘) ∈ π[π‘], we can ‘substitute
π‘ = π’ + π’ to get a polynomial in π’. What exactly does this mean? Formally, there
is a unique homomorphism π : π[π‘] → π[π’] such that π (π) = π for all π ∈ π and
π (π‘) = π’ + π. Concretely,
&Otilde;
&Otilde;
ππ (π’ + π) π .
π
ππ π‘ π =
π‘π
π
π
This particular substitution is invertible. Informally, the inverse is ‘substitute
π’ = π‘ − π’. Formally, there is a unique homomorphism π 0 : π[π’] → π[π‘] such
that π 0 (π) = π for all π ∈ π and π 0 (π’) = π‘ − π. These maps π and π 0 carrying out
the substitutions are inverse to each other, as you can deduce this from either the
universal property or the concrete descriptions. So, the substitution maps
π[π‘] o
π
π0
/
π[π’]
(3.6)
define an isomorphism between π[π‘] and π[π’]. For example, since isomorphism
preserve irreducibility (and everything else that matters!), π (π‘) is irreducible if
and only if π (π‘ − π) is irreducible.
Exercise 3.1.7 What happens to everything in the previous paragraph
if we substitute π‘ = π’ 2 + π instead?
The rest of this section is about degree.
27
&Iacute;
Definition 3.1.8 The degree deg( π ) of a nonzero polynomial π (π‘) = ππ π‘ π is the
largest π ≥ 0 such that π π ≠ 0. By convention, deg(0) = −∞, where −∞ is a
formal symbol which we give the properties
−∞ &lt; π,
(−∞) + π = −∞,
(−∞) + (−∞) = −∞
for all integers π.
Digression 3.1.9 Defining deg(0) like this is helpful because it allows us
to make statements about all polynomials without having to make annoying
exceptions for the zero polynomial (e.g. Lemma 3.1.10(i)).
But putting deg(0) = −∞ also makes intuitive sense. At least for polynomials
over R, the degree of a nonzero polynomial tells us how fast it grows: when π‘
is large, π (π‘) behaves roughly like π‘ deg( π ) . What about the zero polynomial?
Well, whether or not π‘ is large, 0(π‘) = 0, and π‘ −∞ can sensibly be interpreted
as limπ →−∞ π‘ π = 0. So it makes sense to put deg(0) = −∞.
Lemma 3.1.10 Let π be an integral domain. Then:
i. deg( π π) = deg( π ) + deg(π) for all π , π ∈ π[π‘];
ii. π[π‘] is an integral domain;
iii. when π is a field, the units in π[π‘] are the polynomials of degree 0 (that is,
the nonzero constants);
iv. when π is a field, π (π‘) ∈ π[π‘] is irreducible if and only if deg( π ) &gt; 0 and
π cannot be expressed as a product of two polynomials of degree &gt; 0.
Proof At least parts (i)–(iii) were in Honours Algebra (Section 3.3). Part (iv)
follows from the general definition of irreducible element of a ring.
3.2
Factorizing polynomials
Every nonzero integer can be expressed as a product of primes in an essentially
unique way. But the analogous statement is not true in all rings, or even all
integral domains. Some rings have elements that can’t be expressed as a product
of irreducibles at all. In other rings, factorizations into irreducibles exist but are
not unique. (By ‘not unique’ I mean more than just changing the order of the
factors or multiplying them by units.)
The big theorem of this section is that, happily, every polynomial over a field
can be factorized, essentially uniquely, into irreducibles.
We begin with a result on division of polynomials from Section 3.3 of Honours
Algebra.
28
Proposition 3.2.1 Let πΎ be a field and π , π ∈ πΎ [π‘]. Then there is exactly one pair
of polynomials π, π ∈ πΎ [π‘] such that π = ππ + π and deg(π) &lt; deg(π).
We use this to prove an extremely useful fact:
Proposition 3.2.2 Let πΎ be a field. Then πΎ [π‘] is a principal ideal domain.
Proof First, πΎ [π‘] is an integral domain, by Lemma 3.1.10(ii).
Now let πΌ P πΎ [π‘]. If πΌ = {0} then πΌ = h0i. Otherwise, put π = min{deg( π ) :
0 ≠ π ∈ πΌ} and choose π ∈ πΌ such that deg(π) = π.
I claim that πΌ = hπi. To prove this, let π ∈ πΌ; we must show that π | π .
By Proposition 3.2.1, π = ππ + π for some π, π ∈ πΎ [π‘] with deg(π) &lt; π. Now
π = π − ππ ∈ πΌ since π , π ∈ πΌ, so the minimality of π implies that π = 0. Hence
π = ππ, as required.
If you struggled with Exercise 2.1.10, that proof should give you a clue.
Warning 3.2.3 Lemma 3.1.10(ii) implies that πΎ [π‘1 , . . . , π‘ π ] is an
integral domain for all π ≥ 2, but it is not a principal ideal domain.
For example, the ideal
hπ‘1 , π‘2 i = { π (π‘1 , π‘2 ) ∈ Q[π‘ 1 , π‘2 ] : π has constant term 0}
is not principal.
Also, Proposition 3.2.2 really needed the hypothesis that πΎ is a field;
it’s not enough for it to be a principal ideal domain. For example, Z is
a principal ideal domain, but in Z[π‘], the ideal
h2, π‘i = { π (π‘) ∈ Z[π‘] : the constant term of π is even}
is not principal.
Exercise 3.2.4 Prove that the ideals in Warning 3.2.3 are indeed not
principal.
Exercise 3.2.4: a
non-principal ideal
At the end of Chapter 2, I promised I’d give you a way of manufacturing lots
of new fields. Here it is!
Corollary 3.2.5 Let πΎ be a field and let 0 ≠ π ∈ πΎ [π‘]. Then
π is irreducible ⇐⇒ πΎ [π‘]/h π i is a field.
Proof This follows from Propositions 2.2.14 and 3.2.2.
29
To manufacture new fields using Corollary 3.2.5, we’ll need a way of knowing
which polynomials are irreducible. That’s the topic of Section 3.3, but for now let’s
stick to our mission: proving that every polynomial factorizes into irreducibles in
an essentially unique way.
To achieve this mission, we’ll need two more lemmas.
Lemma 3.2.6 Let πΎ be a field and let π (π‘) ∈ πΎ [π‘] be a nonconstant polynomial.
Then π (π‘) is divisible by some irreducible in πΎ [π‘].
The word nonconstant just means ‘of degree &gt; 0’.
Proof Let π be a nonconstant polynomial of smallest possible degree such that
π | π . (For this to make sense, there must be at least one nonconstant polynomial
dividing π , and there is: π .) I claim that π is irreducible. Proof: if π = π1 π2 then
each ππ divides π , so by the minimality of deg(π), each ππ has degree 0 or deg(π).
They cannot both have degree deg(π), since deg(π1 ) + deg(π2 ) = deg(π) &gt; 0. So
at least one has degree 0, i.e., is a unit.
Lemma 3.2.7 Let πΎ be a field and π , π, β ∈ πΎ [π‘]. Suppose that π is irreducible
and π | πβ. Then π | π or π | β.
This behaviour is familiar in the integers: if a prime π divides some product
ππ, then π | π or π | π.
Proof Suppose that π - π. Since π is irreducible, π and π are coprime. Since πΎ [π‘]
is a principal ideal domain, Proposition 2.1.12 implies that there are π, π ∈ πΎ [π‘]
such that
π π + ππ = 1.
Multiplying both sides by β gives
π π β + ππβ = β.
But π | π π β and π | πβ, so π | β.
Theorem 3.2.8 Let πΎ be a field and 0 ≠ π ∈ πΎ [π‘]. Then
π = π π1 π2 &middot; &middot; &middot; π π
for some π ≥ 0, π ∈ πΎ and monic irreducibles π1 , . . . , ππ ∈ πΎ [π‘]. Moreover, π
and π are uniquely determined by π , and π1 , . . . , ππ are uniquely determined
up to reordering.
30
In the case π = 0, the product π1 &middot; &middot; &middot; ππ should be interpreted as 1 (as in
Digression 2.1.8). Monic means that the leading coefficient is 1.
Proof First we prove that such a factorization exists, by induction on deg( π ). If
deg( π ) = 0 then π is a constant π and we take π = 0. Now suppose that deg( π ) &gt; 0
and assume the result for polynomials of smaller degree. By Lemma 3.2.6, there
is an irreducible π dividing π , and we can assume that π is monic by dividing by
a constant if necessary. Then π /π is a nonzero polynomial of smaller degree than
π , so by inductive hypothesis,
π /π = πβ1 &middot; &middot; &middot; βπ
for some π ∈ πΎ and monic irreducibles β1 , . . . , βπ . Rearranging gives
π = πβ1 &middot; &middot; &middot; βπ π,
completing the induction.
Now we prove uniqueness, again by induction on deg( π ). If deg( π ) = 0 then
π is a constant π and the only possible factorization is the one with π = 0. Now
suppose that deg( π ) &gt; 0, and take two factorizations
π π1 &middot; &middot; &middot; ππ = π = ππ1 &middot; &middot; &middot; ππ
(3.7)
where π, π ∈ πΎ and ππ , π π are monic irreducible. Since deg( π ) &gt; 0, we have
π, π ≥ 1. Now ππ | ππ1 &middot; &middot; &middot; ππ , so by Lemma 3.2.7, ππ | π π for some π. By
rearranging, we can assume that π = π. But ππ is also irreducible, so ππ = πππ
for some nonzero π ∈ πΎ, and both ππ and ππ are monic, so π = 1. Hence ππ = ππ .
Cancelling in (3.7) (which we can do as πΎ [π‘] is an integral domain) gives
π π1 &middot; &middot; &middot; ππ−1 = ππ1 &middot; &middot; &middot; ππ−1 .
By inductive hypothesis, π = π, π = π, and the lists of irreducibles π1 , . . . , ππ−1
and π1 , . . . , ππ−1 are the same up to reordering. This completes the induction. One way to find an irreducible factor of a polynomial π (π‘) ∈ πΎ [π‘] is to find a
root (an element π ∈ πΎ such that π (π) = 0):
Lemma 3.2.9 Let πΎ be a field, π (π‘) ∈ πΎ [π‘] and π ∈ πΎ. Then
π (π) = 0 ⇐⇒ (π‘ − π) | π (π‘).
Proof ⇒: suppose that π (π) = 0. By Proposition 3.2.1,
π (π‘) = (π‘ − π)π(π‘) + π (π‘)
(3.8)
for some π, π ∈ πΎ [π‘] with deg(π) &lt; 1. Then π is a constant, so putting π‘ = π
in (3.8) gives π = 0.
⇐: if π (π‘) = (π‘ − π)π(π‘) for some polynomial π then π (π) = 0.
31
Definition 3.2.10 Let πΎ be a field, let 0 ≠ π ∈ πΎ [π‘], and let π ∈ πΎ be a root of
π . The multiplicity of π is the unique integer π ≥ 1 such that (π‘ − π) π | π (π‘) but
(π‘ − π) π+1 - π (π‘).
Exercise 3.2.11 This definition assumes that there is a unique π with
these properties (that is, there is one and only one such π). Prove it.
Example 3.2.12 Over any field πΎ, the polynomial π‘ has a root at 0 with multiplicity
1, and the polynomial π‘ 2 has a root at 0 with multiplicity 2. This is true even when
πΎ = F2 , in which case π‘ and π‘ 2 induce the same function πΎ → πΎ (Warning 3.1.2).
Proposition 3.2.13 Let πΎ be a field and let 0 ≠ π ∈ πΎ [π‘]. Write π 1 , . . . , π π for
the distinct roots of π in πΎ, and π 1 , . . . , π π for their multiplicities. Then
π (π‘) = (π‘ − π 1 ) π1 &middot; &middot; &middot; (π‘ − π π ) π π π(π‘)
for some π(π‘) ∈ πΎ [π‘] that has no roots.
Proof By induction on π. If π = 0, this is immediate (again interpreting an empty
product as 1). Now suppose that π ≥ 1. By definition, (π‘ − π π ) π π | π (π‘), so we
can put
π (π‘)
e
∈ πΎ [π‘].
π (π‘) =
(π‘ − π π ) π π
Any root of e
π is a root of π , so it is one of π 1 , . . . , π π . But e
π (π π ) ≠ 0: for
e
e
if π (π π ) = 0 then (π‘ − π π ) | π (π‘) by Lemma 3.2.9, so (π‘ − π π ) π π +1 | π (π‘), a
contradiction. Hence any root of e
π is one of π 1 , . . . , π π−1 . These are indeed roots
e
of π , with multiplicities π 1 , . . . , π π−1 . So by inductive hypothesis,
e
π (π‘) = (π‘ − π 1 ) π1 &middot; &middot; &middot; (π‘ − π π−1 ) π π−1 π(π‘)
for some π(π‘) ∈ πΎ [π‘] with no roots, completing the induction.
Corollary 3.2.14 Let πΎ be a field and π ∈ πΎ [π‘]. Suppose that π has distinct roots
π 1 , . . . , π π ∈ πΎ with multiplicities π 1 , . . . , π π . Then π 1 + &middot; &middot; &middot; + π π ≤ deg( π ). In other words, a polynomial of degree π has no more than π roots, even when
you count the roots with multiplicities (e.g. count a double root twice).
A field is algebraically closed if every nonconstant polynomial has at least one
root. For example, C is algebraically closed (the fundamental theorem of algebra).
Proposition 3.2.13 implies:
Corollary 3.2.15 Let πΎ be an algebraically closed field and let 0 ≠ π ∈ πΎ [π‘].
Write π 1 , . . . , π π for the distinct roots of π in πΎ, and π 1 , . . . , π π for their multiplicities. Then
π (π‘) = π(π‘ − π 1 ) π1 &middot; &middot; &middot; (π‘ − π π ) π π ,
where π is the leading coefficient of π .
32
3.3
Irreducible polynomials
Determining whether an integer is prime is generally hard, and determining
whether a polynomial is irreducible is hard too. This section presents a few
techniques for doing so.
Let’s begin with the simplest cases. Recall Lemma 3.1.10(iv): a polynomial is
irreducible if and only if it is nonconstant (has degree &gt; 0) and cannot be expressed
as a product of two nonconstant polynomials.
Lemma 3.3.1 Let πΎ be a field and π ∈ πΎ [π‘].
i. If π is constant then π is not irreducible.
ii. If deg( π ) = 1 then π is irreducible.
iii. If deg( π ) ≥ 2 and π has a root then π is reducible.
iv. If deg( π ) ∈ {2, 3} and π has no root then π is irreducible.
Proof Parts (i) and (ii) follow from what we just recalled, and (iii) follows
from Lemma 3.2.9. For (iv), suppose for a contradiction that π = πβ with
deg(π), deg(β) ≥ 1. We have deg(π) + deg(β) ∈ {2, 3}, so without loss of generality, deg(π) = 1. Also without loss of generality, π is monic, say π(π‘) = π‘ + π; but
then π (−π) = 0, a contradiction.
Warning 3.3.2 The converse of (iii) is false! To show a polynomial is
irreducible, it’s not enough to show it has no root (unless it has degree
2 or 3). For instance, (π‘ 2 + 1) 2 ∈ Q[π‘] has no root but is reducible.
Examples 3.3.3
i. Let π be a prime. Then π (π‘) = 1 + π‘ + &middot; &middot; &middot; + π‘ π−1 ∈ F π [π‘] is
reducible, since π (1) = 0.
ii. Let π (π‘) = π‘ 3 − 10 ∈ Q[π‘]. Then deg( π ) = 3 and π has no root in Q, so π is
irreducible by part (iv) of the lemma.
iii. Over C or any other algebraically closed field, the irreducibles are exactly
the polynomials of degree 1.
Exercise 3.3.4 If I gave you a quadratic over Q, how would you decide
whether it is reducible or irreducible?
From now on we focus on πΎ = Q. Any polynomial over Q can be multiplied
by a nonzero rational constant to get a polynomial over Z, and that’s often a helpful
move, so we’ll look at Z[π‘] too.
33
Definition 3.3.5 A polynomial over Z is primitive if its coefficients have no
common divisor except for &plusmn;1.
For example, 15 + 6π‘ + 10π‘ 2 is primitive but 15 + 6π‘ + 30π‘ 2 is not.
Lemma 3.3.6 Let π (π‘) ∈ Q[π‘]. Then there exist a primitive polynomial πΉ (π‘) ∈
Z[π‘] and πΌ ∈ Q such that π = πΌπΉ.
&Iacute;
Proof Write π (π‘) = π (ππ /ππ )π‘ π , where ππ ∈ Z and 0 ≠ ππ ∈ Z. Take any common
&Iacute;
multiple π of the ππ s; then writing ππ = ππ π/ππ ∈ Z, we have π (π‘) = (1/π) ππ π‘ π .
Now let π be the greatest common divisor of the ππ s, put ππ = ππ /π ∈ Z, and put
&Iacute;
πΉ (π‘) = ππ π‘ π . Then πΉ (π‘) is primitive and π (π‘) = (π/π)πΉ (π‘).
If the coefficients of a polynomial π (π‘) ∈ Q[π‘] happen to all be integers, the
word ‘irreducible’ could mean two things: irreducibility in the ring Q[π‘] or in the
ring Z[π‘]. We say that π is irreducible over Q or Z to distinguish between the two.
Suppose we have a polynomial over Z that’s irreducible over Z. In principle it
could still be reducible over Q: although there’s no nontrivial way of factorizing
it over Z, perhaps it can be factorized when you give yourself the freedom of
non-integer coefficients. But the next result tells us that you can’t.
Lemma 3.3.7 (Gauss)
primitive.
i. The product of two primitive polynomials over Z is
ii. If a polynomial over Z is irreducible over Z, it is irreducible over Q.
Proof For (i), let π and π be primitive polynomials over Z. Let π be a prime
number. (We’re going to show that π doesn’t divide all the coefficients of π π.)
Write π : Z → Z/πZ = F π for the canonical homomorphism, which induces a
homomorphism π∗ : Z[π‘] → F π [π‘] as in Definition 3.1.6.
Since π is primitive, π does not divide all the coefficients of π . Equivalently,
π∗ ( π ) ≠ 0. Similarly, π∗ (π) ≠ 0. But F π [π‘] is an integral domain, so
π∗ ( π π) = π∗ ( π )π∗ (π) ≠ 0,
so π does not divide all the coefficients of π π. This holds for all primes π, so π π
is primitive.
For (ii), let π ∈ Z[π‘] be a polynomial irreducible over Z. Let π, β ∈ Q[π‘] with
π = πβ. By Lemma 3.3.6, π = πΌπΊ and β = π½π» for some πΌ, π½ ∈ Q and primitive
πΊ, π» ∈ Z[π‘]. Then πΌπ½ = π/π for some coprime integers π and π, giving
π π = ππΊπ».
(All three of these polynomials are over Z.) Now π divides every coefficient of
π π , hence every coefficient of ππΊπ». Since π and π are coprime, π divides every
coefficient of πΊπ». But πΊπ» is primitive by (i), so π = &plusmn;1, so π = &plusmn;ππΊπ». Since π
is irreducible over Z, either πΊ or π» is constant, so π or β is constant, as required.
34
Gauss’s lemma quickly leads to a test for irreducibility. It involves taking a
polynomial over Z and reducing it mod π, for some prime π. This means applying
the map π∗ : Z[π‘] → F π [π‘] from the last proof. As we saw after Definition 3.1.6,
&Iacute;
&Iacute;
if π (π‘) = ππ π‘ π then π∗ ( π )(π‘) = π(ππ )π‘ π , where π(ππ ) is the congruence class of
ππ mod π. I’ll write π = π(π) and π = π∗ ( π ). That is, π is ‘ π mod π’.
Proposition 3.3.8 (Mod π method) Let π (π‘) = π 0 + π 1 π‘ + &middot; &middot; &middot; + π π π‘ π ∈ Z[π‘]. If
there is some prime π such that π - π π and π ∈ F π [π‘] is irreducible, then π is
irreducible over Q.
I’ll give some examples first, then the proof.
Examples 3.3.9
i. Let’s use the mod π method to show that π (π‘) = 9+14π‘ −8π‘ 3
is irreducible over Q. Take π = 7: then π (π‘) = 2 − π‘ 3 ∈ F7 [π‘], so it’s enough
to show that 2 − π‘ 3 is irreducible over F7 . Since this has degree 3, it’s enough
to show that π‘ 3 = 2 has no solution in F7 (by Lemma 3.3.1(iv)). And you
can easily check this by computing 03 , (&plusmn;1) 3 , (&plusmn;2) 3 and (&plusmn;3) 3 mod 7.
ii. The condition in Proposition 3.3.8 that π - π π can’t be dropped. For instance,
consider π (π‘) = 6π‘ 2 + π‘ and π = 2.
Warning 3.3.10 Take π (π‘) as in Example 3.3.9(i), but this time take
π = 3. Then π (π‘) = −π‘ + π‘ 3 ∈ F3 [π‘], which is reducible. But that
doesn’t mean π is reducible! The mod π method only ever lets you
show that a polynomial is irreducible over Q, not reducible.
Proof of Proposition 3.3.8 Take a prime π satisfying the conditions in the Proposition. By Gauss’s lemma, it is enough to prove that π is irreducible over Z.
Since π is irreducible, deg( π ) &gt; 0, so deg( π ) &gt; 0.
Now let π = πβ in Z[π‘]. We have π = πβ and π is irreducible, so without
loss of generality, π is constant. The leading coefficient of π is the product of the
leading coefficients of π and β, and is not divisible by π, so the leading coefficient
of π is not divisible by π. Hence deg(π) = deg(π) = 0.
We finish with an irreducibility test that turns out to be surprisingly powerful.
Proposition 3.3.11 (Eisenstein’s criterion) Let π (π‘) = π 0 + &middot; &middot; &middot; + π π π‘ π ∈ Z[π‘],
with π ≥ 1. Suppose there exists a prime π such that:
• π - ππ;
• π | ππ for all π ∈ {0, . . . , π − 1};
• π2 - π0.
35
Then π is irreducible over Q.
To prove this, we will use the concept of the codegree codeg( π ) of a polynomial
&Iacute;
π (π‘) = π ππ π‘ π , which is defined to be the least π such that ππ ≠ 0 (if π ≠ 0), or as
the formal symbol ∞ if π = 0. For polynomials π and π over an integral domain,
codeg( π π) = codeg( π ) + codeg(π).
Clearly codeg( π ) ≤ deg( π ) unless π = 0.
Proof By Gauss’s lemma, it is enough to show π is irreducible over Z. Let
π, β ∈ Z[π‘] with π = πβ. Continue to write π (π‘) ∈ F π [π‘] for π reduced mod π;
then π = πβ. Since
π 2 - π 0 = π (0) = π(0)β(0),
we may assume without loss of generality that π - π(0). Hence codeg(π) = 0.
Also, codeg( π ) = π, since π divides each of π 0 , . . . , π π−1 but not π π . So
π = codeg( π ) = codeg(π) + codeg(β) = codeg(β) ≤ deg(β) ≤ deg(β),
(3.9)
giving π ≤ deg(β). But π = πβ with deg( π ) = π, so deg(β) = π and deg(π) = 0.
Exercise 3.3.12 The last step in (3.9) was ‘deg(β) ≤ deg(β)’. Why
is that true? And when does equality hold?
Example 3.3.13 Let
5
1
2
π(π‘) = π‘ 5 − π‘ 4 + π‘ 3 + ∈ Q[π‘].
9
3
3
Then π is irreducible over Q if and only if
9π(π‘) = 2π‘ 5 − 15π‘ 4 + 9π‘ 3 + 3
Testing for
irreducibility
is irreducible over Q, which it is by Eisenstein’s criterion with π = 3.
Exercise 3.3.14 Use Eisenstein’s criterion to show that for every
π ≥ 1, there is an irreducible polynomial over Q of degree π.
I’ll give you one more example, and it’s not just any old polynomial: it’s an
important one that we’ll need when we come to think about solvability by radicals.
It needs a lemma.
Lemma 3.3.15 Let π be a prime and 0 &lt; π &lt; π. Then π | ππ .
36
For example, the 7th row of Pascal’s triangle is 1, 7, 21, 35, 35, 21, 7, 1, and 7
divides all of these numbers apart from the first and last.
Proof We have π!( π − π)! ππ = π!, and π divides
π! but not π! or ( π − π)! (since π
π
is prime and 0 &lt; π &lt; π), so π must divide π .
Example 3.3.16 Let π be a prime. The πth cyclotomic polynomial is
π‘π − 1
.
(3.10)
π‘−1
I claim that Φ π is irreducible. We can’t apply Eisenstein to Φ π as it stands, because
whichever prime we choose (whether it’s π or another one) doesn’t divide any of
the coefficients. However, we saw on p. 27 that Φ π (π‘) is irreducible if and only if
Φ π (π‘ − π) is irreducible, for any π ∈ Q. We’ll take π = −1. We have
Φ π (π‘) = 1 + π‘ + &middot; &middot; &middot; + π‘ π−1 =
(π‘ + 1) π − 1
(π‘ + 1) − 1
π 1&Otilde; π‘ π
=
π‘
π‘ π=1 π
π
π
= π+
π‘ +&middot;&middot;&middot;+
π‘ π−2 + π‘ π−1 .
2
π−1
Φ π (π‘ + 1) =
So Φ π (π‘ + 1) is irreducible by Eisenstein’s criterion and Lemma 3.3.15, hence
Φ π (π‘) is irreducible too.
Digression 3.3.17 I defined the πth cyclotomic polynomial Φ π only when
π is prime. The definition of Φπ for general π ≥ 1 is not the obvious
generalization of (3.10). It’s this:
&Ouml;
Φπ (π‘) =
(π‘ − π),
π
where the product runs over all primitive πth roots of unity π. (In this
context, ‘primitive’ means that π is the smallest number satisfying π π = 1;
it’s a different usage from ‘primitive polynomial’.)
Many surprising things are true. It’s not obvious that the coefficients of Φπ
are real, but they are. Even given that they’re real, it’s not obvious that they’re
rational, but they are. Even given that they’re rational, it’s not obvious that
they’re integers, but they are. The degree of Φπ is π(π), the number of
integers between 1 and π that are coprime with π (Euler’s function). It’s also
true that the polynomial Φπ is irreducible for all π, not just primes.
Some of these things are quite hard to prove, and results from Galois theory
help. We probably won’t get into all of this, but you can read more here.
37
Chapter 4
Field extensions
Introduction to
Week 4
Roughly speaking, an ‘extension’ of a field πΎ is a field π that contains πΎ as a
subfield. It’s not much of an exaggeration to say that field extensions are the central
objects of Galois theory, in much the same way that vector spaces are the central
objects of linear algebra.
It will be a while before it becomes truly clear why field extensions are so
important, but here are a couple of indications:
• For any polynomial π over Q, we can take the smallest subfield π of C that
contains all the complex roots of π , and that’s an extension of Q.
• For any irreducible polynomial π over a field πΎ, the quotient ring π =
πΎ [π‘]/h π i is a field. The constant polynomials form a subfield of π isomorphic to πΎ, so π is an extension of πΎ.
It’s important to distinguish between these two types of example. The first extends
Q by all the roots of π , whereas the second extends πΎ by just one root of π —as
we’ll see.
But let’s begin at the beginning.
4.1
Definition and examples
Definition 4.1.1 A field extension consists of a field πΎ, a field π, and a homomorphism π : πΎ → π.
Since homomorphisms between fields are injective (Lemma 2.2.2), πΎ is isomorphic to the subfield im(π) of π. It is usually safe to identify π(π) with π
for each π ∈ πΎ—in other words, pretend that πΎ is actually a subfield of π and
π(π) = π. We then say that π is an extension of πΎ and write π : πΎ.
38
It’s worth taking a minute to make sure you understand the relationship between
subsets and injections. This is a fundamental point about sets, not fields. Given
a set π΄ and a subset π΅ ⊆ π΄, there’s an inclusion function π : π΅ → π΄, defined by
π(π) = π for all π ∈ π΅. (Remember that any function has a specified domain and
codomain, so this isn’t the same thing as the identity on π΅.) This inclusion function
is an injective. On the other hand, given any injective function between sets, say
π : π → π΄, the image im π is a subset of π΄, and there’s a bijection π0 : π → im π
given by π0 (π₯) = π(π₯) (π₯ ∈ π). Hence π is ‘isomorphic to’ (in bijection with) the
subset im π of π΄. This back-and-forth process means that subsets and injections
are more or less the same thing.
Digression 4.1.2 If a field extension is basically the same thing as a field π
together with a subfield πΎ, you might wonder why we bother with the more
general Definition 4.1.1, involving an arbitrary homomorphism π. It turns
out that in the long run, it makes things easier.
There are two factors at play. The first is purely set-theoretic. The concept
of subset isn’t actually as simple as it appears, at least when you look at what
mathematicians do rather than what we claim we do. For example, (1) it’s
common to define the set C as R2 , (2) everyone treats R as a subset of C,
but (3) almost no one would say that R is a subset of R2 (if you wrote ‘the
point π of R2 ’ on an exam, you’d be marked wrong). In truth, the common
conventions are inconsistent. A good way to make everything respectable is
to do everything in terms of injections rather than subsets. It would take up
too much space to go into this here, but Definition 4.1.1 is one example of
this approach in action.
The second factor is algebraic. According to Definition 4.1.1, a field extension is simply a homomorphism between fields, so it includes examples such
as the conjugation map : C → C. You might feel this example obeys the
letter but not the spirit of Definition 4.1.1. But again, it turns out to be useful
to include such examples. When we come to count isomorphisms between
fields in a few weeks, you’ll see why.
Examples 4.1.3
i. The inclusion π : Q → C is a field extension, usually just
written as C : Q. Similarly, there are field extensions C : R and R : Q.
ii. Let
√
√
Q( 2) = {π + π 2 : π, π ∈ Q}.
√
Then Q( 2) is a subring of C (easily), and in fact it’s a subfield: for if
(π, π) ≠ (0, 0) then
√
1
π−π 2
√ =
π + π 2 π 2 − 2π 2
39
√
(noting that the denominators
are
not
0
because
2√
is irrational). So we
√
have an extension
C
:
Q(
2).
Also,
because
Q
⊆
Q(
2), we have another
√
extension Q( 2) : Q.
iii. By direct calculation or later theory (which will make it much easier),
√
√
√
Q( 2, π) = {π + π 2 + ππ + π 2π : π, π, π, π ∈ Q}
√
is also a subfield of C, so we have an extension Q( 2, π) : Q.
iv. Let πΎ be a field. A rational expression over πΎ is a ratio of two polynomials
π (π‘)
,
π(π‘)
where π (π‘), π(π‘) ∈ πΎ [π‘] with π ≠ 0. Two such expressions, π1 /π1 and
π2 /π2 , are regarded as equal if π1 π2 = π2 π1 in πΎ [π‘]. So formally, a rational
expression is an equivalence class of pairs ( π , π) under the equivalence
relation in the last sentence. The set of rational expressions over πΎ is
denoted by πΎ (π‘).
Rational expressions are added, subtracted and multiplied in the ways you’d
expect, making πΎ (π‘) into a field. There is a homomorphism π : πΎ → πΎ (π‘)
given by π(π) = π/1 (π ∈ πΎ). In other words, πΎ (π‘) contains a copy of πΎ as
the constant rational expressions. So, we have a field extension πΎ (π‘) : πΎ.
v. In particular, when πΎ = F π for some prime π, we have the field extension
F π (π‘) : F π . Note that F π (π‘) is an infinite field of characteristic π! Fields
of positive characteristic don’t have to be finite. So I’ve now fulfilled the
promise I made in Warning 2.2.12.
Warning 4.1.4 People sometimes say ‘rational function’ to mean
‘rational expression’. But just as for polynomials (Warnings 3.1.2
and 3.1.3), I want to emphasize that rational expressions are not functions. For instance, 1/(π‘ − 1) is a totally respectable element of πΎ (π‘).
You don’t have to—and shouldn’t—worry about what happens when
π‘ = 1, because π‘ is just a formal symbol (a mark on a piece of paper)
rather than a variable, and 1/(π‘ − 1) is just a formal expression, not a
function.
If this puzzles you, I suggest going back to those warnings about
polynomials, which make the same point in a simpler setting.
40
Exercise
4.1.5 Find two examples of fields πΎ such that Q ( πΎ (
√
Q( 2, π). (The symbol ( means proper subset.)
For any kind of algebraic structure, there is a notion of the ‘substructure
generated by’ a given subset. For example, when π is a subset of a group πΊ,
you know what the subgroup generated by π is: it’s the intersection of all the
subgroups containing π. Similarly, when π is a subset of a vector space π, the
linear subspace generated by π (or ‘spanned by π’, as one usually says) is the
intersection of all the linear subspaces containing π. We now make a similar
definition for fields.
Definition 4.1.6 Let πΎ be a field and π a subset of πΎ. The subfield of πΎ generated
by π is the intersection of all subfields of πΎ containing π.
You can check that any intersection of subfields of πΎ is a subfield of πΎ (even if
it’s an uncountably infinite intersection). In fact, you already did most of the work
for this in Exercise 2.1.2. So, the subfield πΉ of πΎ generated by π really is a subfield
of πΎ. It contains π itself. By definition of intersection, πΉ is the smallest subfield
of πΎ containing π, in the sense that any subfield of πΎ containing π contains πΉ.
Exercise 4.1.7 Check the truth of all the statements in the previous
paragraph.
Examples 4.1.8
of πΎ.
i. The subfield of πΎ generated by ∅ is the prime subfield
ii. Let πΏ be the subfield of C generated by {π}. I claim that
πΏ = {π + ππ : π, π ∈ Q}.
To prove this, we have to show that πΏ is the smallest subfield of C containing
π. First, it is a subfield of C (by an argument similar to Example 4.1.3(ii))
and it contains 0 + 1π = π. Now let πΏ 0 be any subfield of C containing π. Then
πΏ 0 contains the prime subfield of C (by definition of prime subfield), which
is Q. So whenever π, π ∈ Q, we have π, π, π ∈ πΏ 0 and so π + ππ ∈ πΏ 0. Hence
πΏ ⊆ πΏ 0, as required.
√
iii. A very similar argument shows
√ that the subfield of C generated by 2 is
what we have been calling Q( 2).
41
Exercise 4.1.9 What is the subfield of C generated by {7/8}? By
{2 + 3π}? By R ∪ {π}?
We will be very interested in chains of fields
πΎ⊆πΏ⊆π
in which πΎ and π are regarded as fixed and πΏ as variable. You can think of πΎ as
the floor, π as the ceiling, and πΏ as varying in between.
Definition 4.1.10 Let π : πΎ be a field extension and π ⊆ π. We write πΎ (π ) for
the subfield of π generated by πΎ ∪ π , and call it πΎ with π adjoined.
So, πΎ (π ) is the smallest subfield of π containing both πΎ and π .
When π is a finite set {πΌ1 , . . . , πΌπ }, we write πΎ ({πΌ1 , . . . , πΌπ }) as
πΎ (πΌ1 , . . . , πΌπ ).
√
Examples 4.1.11
i. Take π : πΎ to be C√: Q and π = { 2}. Then πΎ (π ) is the
smallest subfield of C containing Q ∪ { 2}. But every subfield of C contains
Q: that’s what it means for Q to be√the prime subfield of C. So, πΎ (π ) is the
2. By Example 4.1.8(iii),
smallest subfield of C containing
√ that’s exactly
√
√
what we’ve been calling Q( 2) all along. We refer to Q( 2) as ‘Q with 2
ii. Similarly, Q with π adjoined is
Q(π) = {π + ππ : π, π ∈ Q}
√
(Example
4.1.8(ii)), and Q with { 2, π} adjoined is the subfield denoted by
√
Q( 2, π) in Example 4.1.3(iii).
iii. Let π be a field and π ⊆ π. Write πΎ for the prime subfield of π. Then
πΎ (π) is the smallest subfield of π containing πΎ and π. But every subfield
of π contains πΎ, by definition of prime subfield. So πΎ (π) is the smallest
subfield of π containing π; that is, it’s the subfield of π generated by π.
√
We already saw this argument in (i), in the case π = C and π = { 2}.
iv. Let πΎ be any field and let π be the field πΎ (π‘) of rational expressions over πΎ,
which is an extension of πΎ. You might worry that there’s some ambiguity
in the notation: πΎ (π‘) could either mean the field of rational expressions
over πΎ (as defined in Example 4.1.3(iv)) or the subfield of πΎ (π‘) obtained by
adjoining the element π‘ of πΎ (π‘) to πΎ (as in Definition 4.1.10).
42
In fact, they’re the same. In other words, the smallest subfield of πΎ (π‘)
containing πΎ and π‘ is πΎ (π‘) itself. Or equivalently, the only subfield of πΎ (π‘)
containing πΎ and π‘ is πΎ (π‘) itself. To see this, let πΏ be any such subfield. For
&Iacute;
any polynomial π (π‘) = ππ π‘ π over πΎ, we have π (π‘) ∈ πΏ, since ππ , π‘ ∈ πΏ and
πΏ is closed under multiplication and addition. Hence for any polynomials
π (π‘), π(π‘) over πΎ with π(π‘) ≠ 0, we have π (π‘), π(π‘) ∈ πΏ, so π (π‘)/π(π‘) ∈ πΏ
as πΏ is closed under division by nonzero elements. So πΏ = πΎ (π‘).
Warning 4.1.12 It is not true in general that
πΎ (πΌ) = {π + ππΌ : π, π ∈ πΎ }
(false!)
(4.1)
√
Examples
like
Q(
2) and Q(π) do satisfy this, but that’s only because
√
2 and π satisfy quadratic equations. Certainly the right-hand side is
a subset of πΎ (πΌ), but in general it’s much smaller, and isn’t a subfield.
You’ve just seen an example: the field πΎ (π‘) of rational expressions is
much bigger than the set {π + ππ‘ : π, π ∈ πΎ } of polynomials of degree
≤ 1. And that set of polynomials isn’t closed under multiplication.
Another example: let πΌ be the real cube root of 2. You can show that
πΌ2 cannot be expressed as π + ππΌ for any π, π ∈ Q (a fact we’ll come
back to in Example 4.2.9(ii)). But πΌ ∈ Q(πΌ), so πΌ2 ∈ Q(πΌ), so (4.1)
fails in this case. In fact,
Q(πΌ) = {π + ππΌ + ππΌ2 : π, π, π ∈ Q}.
We’ll see why next week.
Exercise 4.1.13 Let π : πΎ be a field extension. Show that πΎ (π ∪ π) =
(πΎ (π ))(π) whenever π , π ⊆ π. (For example, πΎ (πΌ, π½) = (πΎ (πΌ))(π½)
whenever πΌ, π½ ∈ π.)
4.2
Algebraic and transcendental elements
A complex number πΌ is said to be ‘algebraic’ if
π 0 + π 1 πΌ + &middot; &middot; &middot; + π π πΌπ = 0
for some rational numbers ππ , not all zero. (You may have seen this definition with
‘integer’ instead of ‘rational number’; it makes no difference, as you can always
clear the denominators.) This concept generalizes to arbitrary field extensions:
43
Definition 4.2.1 Let π : πΎ be a field extension and πΌ ∈ π. Then πΌ is algebraic
over πΎ if there exists π ∈ πΎ [π‘] such that π (πΌ) = 0 but π ≠ 0, and transcendental
otherwise.
Exercise 4.2.2 Show that every element of πΎ is algebraic over πΎ.
Examples 4.2.3
i. Let π ≥ 1. Then π 2ππ/π ∈ C is algebraic over Q, since
π (π‘) = π‘ π − 1 is a nonzero polynomial such that π (π 2ππ/π ) = 0.
ii. The numbers π and π are both transcendental over Q. Both statements are
hard to prove (and we won’t). By Exercise 4.2.2, any complex number
transcendental over Q is irrational. Proving the irrationality of π and π is
already a challenge; proving they’re transcendental is even harder.
iii. Although π is transcendental over Q, it is algebraic over R, since it’s an
element of R. (Again, we’re using Exercise 4.2.2.) Moral: you shouldn’t say
an element of a field is just ‘algebraic’ or ‘transcendental’; you should say
it’s ‘algebraic/transcendental over πΎ’, specifying your πΎ. Or at least, you
should do this when there’s any danger of confusion.
iv. Take the field πΎ (π‘) of rational expressions over a field πΎ. Then π‘ ∈ πΎ (π‘) is
transcendental over πΎ, since π (π‘) = 0 ⇐⇒ π = 0.
The set of complex numbers algebraic over Q is written as Q. It’s a fact that Q
is a subfield of C, but this is extremely hard to prove by elementary means. Next
week I’ll show you that with a surprisingly small amount of abstract algebra, you
can transform this from a very hard problem into an easy one.
So that you appreciate the miracle later, I give you this unusual exercise now.
Exercise 4.2.4 Attempt to prove any part of the statement that Q is a
subfield of C. For example, try to show that Q is closed under addition,
or multiplication, or reciprocals. I have no idea how to do any of these
using only our current tools, but it’s definitely worth a few minutes of
doomed effort to get a sense of the difficulties.
Let π : πΎ be a field extension and πΌ ∈ π. An annihilating polynomial of πΌ
is a polynomial π ∈ πΎ [π‘] such that π (πΌ) = 0. So, πΌ is algebraic if and only if it
has some nonzero annihilating polynomial.
It is natural to ask not only whether πΌ is annihilated by some nonzero polynomial, but which polynomials annihilate it. The situation is pleasantly simple:
44
Lemma 4.2.5 Let π : πΎ be a field extension and πΌ ∈ π. Then there is a
polynomial π(π‘) ∈ πΎ [π‘] such that
hπi = {annihilating polynomials of πΌ over πΎ }.
(4.2)
If πΌ is transcendental over πΎ then π = 0. If πΌ is algebraic over πΎ then there is a
unique monic polynomial π satisfying (4.2).
Proof By the universal property of polynomial rings (Lemma 3.1.5), there is a
unique homomorphism
π : πΎ [π‘] → π
such that π (π) = π for all π ∈ πΎ and π (π‘) = πΌ. (Here we’re taking the ‘π’ of
Lemma 3.1.5 to be the inclusion πΎ → π.) Then
&Otilde;
&Otilde;
ππ π‘ π =
π
π π πΌπ
for all
&Iacute;
ππ π‘ π ∈ πΎ [π‘], so
ker π = {annihilating polynomials of πΌ over πΎ }.
Now ker π is an ideal of the principal ideal domain πΎ [π‘] (using Proposition 3.2.2),
so ker π = hπi for some π ∈ πΎ [π‘].
If πΌ is transcendental then ker π = {0}, so π = 0.
If πΌ is algebraic then π ≠ 0. Multiplying a polynomial by a nonzero constant
does not change the ideal it generates (by Exercise 2.1.11 and Lemma 3.1.10(iii)),
so we can assume that π is monic. It remains to prove that π is the only monic
polynomial such that hπi = ker π. But if π
e is another monic polynomial such that
hπ
ei = ker π then π
e = ππ for some nonzero constant π (again by Exercise 2.1.11
and Lemma 3.1.10(iii)), and both are monic, so π = 1 and π
e = π.
Definition 4.2.6 Let π : πΎ be a field extension and let πΌ ∈ π be algebraic over πΎ.
The minimal polynomial of πΌ is the unique monic polynomial π satisfying (4.2).
Exercise 4.2.7 What is the minimal polynomial of an element π of
πΎ?
This is an important definition, so we give some equivalent ways of stating it.
Lemma 4.2.8 Let π : πΎ be a field extension, let πΌ ∈ π be algebraic over πΎ, and
let π ∈ πΎ [π‘] be a monic polynomial. The following are equivalent:
i. π is the minimal polynomial of πΌ over πΎ;
45
ii. π(πΌ) = 0, and π | π for all annihilating polynomials π of πΌ over πΎ;
iii. π(πΌ) = 0, and deg(π) ≤ deg( π ) for all nonzero annihilating polynomials
π of πΌ over πΎ;
iv. π(πΌ) = 0 and π is irreducible over πΎ.
Part (iii) says the minimal polynomial is a monic annihilating polynomial of
least degree.
Proof (i)⇒(ii) follows from the definition of minimal polynomial.
(ii)⇒(iii) because if π | π ≠ 0 then deg(π) ≤ deg( π ).
(iii)⇒(iv): assume (iii). First, π is not constant: for if π is constant then π = 1
(since π is monic); but π(πΌ) = 0, so 1 = 0 in πΎ, a contradiction. Next, suppose
that π = π π for some π , π ∈ πΎ [π‘]. Then 0 = π(πΌ) = π (πΌ)π(πΌ), so without loss
of generality, π (πΌ) = 0. By (iii), deg( π ) ≥ deg(π), so deg( π ) = deg(π) and
deg(π) = 0. This proves (iv).
(iv)⇒(i): assume (iv), and write π πΌ for the minimal polynomial of πΌ. We
have π πΌ | π by definition of π πΌ and since π(πΌ) = 0. But π is irreducible and π πΌ
is not constant, so π is a nonzero constant multiple of π πΌ . Since both are monic,
π = π πΌ , proving (i).
√
Examples 4.2.9
i. The minimal polynomial of 2 over Q is π‘ 2 − 2. There are
several ways to see this.
√
First method: π‘ 2 −2 is a monic annihilating polynomial
of 2, and no nonzero
√
polynomial of degree ≤ 1 over Q annihilates 2 since it is irrational. Then
use Lemma 4.2.8(iii).
Second method: π‘ 2 − 2 is an irreducible monic annihilating polynomial. It
is irreducible either because π‘ 2 − 2 has degree 2 and has no rational roots
(using Lemma 3.3.1(iv)), or by Eisenstein’s criterion with prime 2. Then
use Lemma 4.2.8(iv).
√3
ii. The minimal polynomial of 2 over Q is π‘ 3 − 2. This will follow from
Lemma 4.2.8(iv) as long as π‘ 3 − 2 is irreducible, which you can show using
either Lemma 3.3.1(iv) or Eisenstein.
But unlike in (i), it’s not so easy to show directly that π‘ 3 −2 is the annihilating
√3
polynomial of least degree. Try proving with your bare hands that 2
satisfies no quadratic equation over Q, i.e. that the equation
√3 2
√3
2 = π 2+π
has no solution for π, π ∈ Q. It’s not impossible, but it’s a mess. (You
naturally begin by cubing both sides, but look what happens next. . . ) So
the theory really gets us something here.
Two traps
46
iii. Let π be a prime number, and put π = π 2ππ/π ∈ C. Then π is a root of π‘ π − 1,
but that is not the minimal polynomial of π, since it is reducible:
π‘ π − 1 = (π‘ − 1)π(π‘)
where
π(π‘) = π‘ π−1 + &middot; &middot; &middot; + π‘ + 1.
Since π π −1 = 0 but π−1 ≠ 0, we must have π(π) = 0. By Example 3.3.16,
π is irreducible over Q. Hence π is the minimal polynomial of π over Q.
4.3
Simple extensions
We can say a lot about extensions generated by a single element.
Definition 4.3.1 A field extension π : πΎ is simple if there exists πΌ ∈ π such that
π = πΎ (πΌ).
Examples 4.3.2 √ i. √Surprisingly many algebraic extensions are simple. For
2, 3) : Q√is a simple
extension (despite appearances), because
instance, Q(
√ √
√
in fact Q( 2, 3) = Q( 2 + 3).
ii. πΎ (π‘) : πΎ is simple, where πΎ (π‘) is the field of rational expressions over πΎ.
√ √
√
√
Exercise√4.3.3√Prove that Q( 2, 3) = Q( 2 + 3). Hint: begin by
finding ( 2 + 3) 3 .
Given a simple extension π : πΎ and an element πΌ that generates it, we can
take the minimal polynomial of πΌ, which is irreducible over πΎ. But in the opposite
direction, if you hand me a field πΎ and an irreducible polynomial π over πΎ, I can
cook up for you a simple extension π : πΎ and an element πΌ ∈ π whose minimal
polynomial is the π you gave me.
This works as follows. Whenever π is an irreducible polynomial over a field πΎ,
the quotient πΎ [π‘]/hπi is a field (Corollary 3.2.5). We have ring homomorphisms
π
πΎ → πΎ [π‘] −→ πΎ [π‘]/hπi,
where the first map sends π ∈ πΎ to the constant polynomial π and π is the canonical
homomorphism. Their composite is a homomorphism
of fields πΎ → πΎ [π‘]/hπi.
So, we have a field extension πΎ [π‘]/hπi : πΎ. And one of the elements of
πΎ [π‘]/hπi is π(π‘), which I will call πΌ.
47
Lemma 4.3.4
Let π be a monic irreducible polynomial over a field πΎ. Then
πΎ [π‘]/hπi : πΎ is a simple extension generated by πΌ (in the notation above), and
the minimal polynomial of πΌ over πΎ is π.
Proof We have ker π = hπi by definition of π, and ker π is the set of annihilating
polynomials of πΌ over πΎ, so π is the minimal polynomial of πΌ over πΎ (by definition
of minimal polynomial).
To see that πΌ generates πΎ [π‘]/hπi over πΎ, let πΏ be a subfield of πΎ [π‘]/hπi
containing πΎ and πΌ. Then π −1 πΏ is a subring of πΎ [π‘] containing πΎ and π‘ (since
π(π‘) = πΌ), which forces π −1 πΏ = πΎ [π‘] and so πΏ = πΎ [π‘]/hπi.
We’ll show that πΎ [π‘]/hπi is the only simple extension of πΎ by an element with
minimal polynomial π. But the word ‘only’ is going to have to be interpreted in
an up-to-isomorphism sense (as in ‘there’s only one group of order 2’). Here it is
formally.
Definition 4.3.5 Let πΎ be a field, and let π : πΎ → π and π0 : πΎ → π 0 be extensions
of πΎ. A homomorphism π : π → π 0 is said to be a homomorphism over πΎ if
/
π
π`
0
π
&gt;
π0
π
πΎ
commutes. If π is invertible then we call π an isomorphism over πΎ.
Exercise 4.3.6 In this definition, show that if π is invertible then π−1
is also a homomorphism over πΎ.
How to understand
simple algebraic
extensions
The next result not only classifies the simple extensions by an algebraic element
(part (i)), but also those by a transcendental element (part (ii)).
Theorem 4.3.7 (Classification of simple extensions) Let πΎ be a field.
i. Let π ∈ πΎ [π‘] be a monic irreducible polynomial. Then there exist an
extension π : πΎ and an algebraic element πΌ ∈ π such that π = πΎ (πΌ)
and πΌ has minimal polynomial π over πΎ.
Moreover, if (π, πΌ) and (π 0, πΌ0) are two such pairs, there is an isomorphism π : π → π 0 over πΎ such that π(πΌ) = πΌ0.
ii. There exist an extension π : πΎ and a transcendental element πΌ ∈ π
such that π = πΎ (πΌ).
Moreover, if (π, πΌ) and (π 0, πΌ0) are two such pairs, there is an isomor-
48
phism π : π → π 0 over πΎ such that π(πΌ) = πΌ0.
Proof The first part of (i) follows from Lemma 4.3.4. For ‘Moreover’, we may as
well take π = πΎ [π‘]/hπi and πΌ as in Lemma 4.3.4. The homomorphism
π:
πΎ [π‘] →
π0
&Iacute; π
&Iacute;
ππ π‘ β¦→
ππ πΌ0π
(4.3)
has kernel hπi, so πΎ [π‘]/hπi im π by the first isomorphism theorem, so im π is
a field. Also, π (π) = π for all π ∈ πΎ. Hence im π is a subfield of π 0 containing
π (π‘) = πΌ0 and πΎ. But we are assuming that π 0 = πΎ (πΌ0), which means that
the only subfield of π 0 containing πΎ and πΌ0 is π 0 itself. So im π = π 0, giving
πΎ [π‘]/hπi π 0. Diagram:
π
πΎ [π‘] e
π
/
πΎ [π‘]/hπi
O
π
/
%
9π
0
πΎ
(If you’re losing the thread, it may help to go back to the review of the universal
property of quotients and the first isomorphism theorem on p. 16.) The isomorphism π : πΎ [π‘]/hπi → π 0 that we have constructed is an isomorphism over πΎ,
and π (πΌ) = π (π(π‘)) = πΌ0. So π = π satisfies the conditions of the theorem.
To prove the first part of (ii), we simply take π to be the field πΎ (π‘) of rational expressions over πΎ and πΌ = π‘. Then π‘ ∈ π is transcendental over πΎ
(Example 4.2.3(iv)).
For ‘Moreover’, take any simple extension π 0 of πΎ by a transcendental element
πΌ0. Any π , π ∈ πΎ [π‘] with π ≠ 0 give rise to an element π (πΌ0)/π(πΌ0) ∈ π 0, where
π(πΌ0) ≠ 0 because πΌ0 is transcendental. One can check that this gives a well-defined
homomorphism
π : πΎ (π‘) →
π0
π (π‘)
π (πΌ0)
β¦→
π(π‘)
π(πΌ0)
( π , π ∈ πΎ [π‘], π ≠ 0). Now π is injective (being a homomorphism of fields), so
πΎ (π‘) im π, so im π is a subfield of π 0. Also, im π contains π (π‘) = πΌ0, and
π (π) = π for each π ∈ πΎ. So im π is a subfield of π 0 containing πΌ0 and πΎ, which
since π 0 = πΎ (πΌ0) implies that im π = π 0. So π : πΎ (π‘) → π 0 is an isomorphism,
and it is an isomorphism over πΎ satisfying π (π‘) = πΌ0. Hence π = π satisfies the
conditions of the theorem.
49
Conclusion: given any field πΎ (not necessarily Q!) and any monic irreducible
π(π‘) ∈ πΎ [π‘], we can say the words ‘adjoin to πΎ a root πΌ of π’, and this unambiguously defines an extension πΎ (πΌ) : πΎ. (At least, unambiguously up to isomorphism
over πΎ—but who could want more?) Similarly, we can unambiguously adjoin to
πΎ a transcendental element.
Examples 4.3.8
i. Let πΎ be any field not containing a square root of 2. Then
2
2
π‘ − 2 is irreducible
√ over πΎ. So we can adjoin to πΎ a root of π‘ − 2, giving
an extension πΎ ( 2) : πΎ.
We√have already seen this example many times when πΎ = Q, in which case
any
πΎ ( 2) can be seen as a subfield of C. But the construction works for √
πΎ. For instance, 2 has no square root in F3 , so there is an extension F3 ( 2)
of F3 . It can be constructed as F3 [π‘]/hπ‘ 2 − 2i.
ii. The polynomial π(π‘) = 1 + π‘ + π‘ 2 is irreducible over F2 , so we may adjoin to
F2 a root πΌ of π. Then F2 (πΌ) = F2 [π‘]/h1 + π‘ + π‘ 2 i.
√
Exercise 4.3.9 How many elements does the field F3 ( 2) have? What
Warning 4.3.10 Take πΎ = Q and π(π‘) = π‘ 3 − 2, which is irreducible.
Write πΌ1 , πΌ2 , πΌ3 for the roots of π in C. Then Q(πΌ1 ), Q(πΌ2 ) and
Q(πΌ3 ) are all different as subsets of C. For example, one of the πΌπ
is the real cube root of 2 (say πΌ1 ), which implies that Q(πΌ1 ) ⊆ R,
whereas the other two are not real, so Q(πΌπ ) P R for π ≠ 1. However,
Q(πΌ1 ) : Q, Q(πΌ2 ) : Q and Q(πΌ3 ) : Q are all isomorphic as abstract
field extensions of Q. This follows from Theorem 4.3.7, since all the
πΌπ have the same minimal polynomial, π.
You’re already very familiar with this kind of situation in other
branches of algebra, whether you realize it or not. For instance, in linear algebra, take three vectors v1 , v2 , v3 in R2 , none a scalar multiple
of any other. Then span(v1 ), span(v2 ) and span(v3 ) are all different
as subsets of R2 , but they are all isomorphic as abstract vector spaces
(since they’re all 1-dimensional). A similar example could be given
with a group containing several subgroups that are all isomorphic.
You’ve seen that Galois theory involves aspects of group theory and ring theory.
In the next chapter, you’ll see how linear algebra enters the picture too.
50
Chapter 5
Degree
We’ve already seen that if you adjoin to Q a square root of 2, then each element of
the resulting field can be specified using two rational numbers, π and π:
√
√
Q( 2) = π + π 2 : π, π ∈ Q .
Introduction to
Week 5
We’ve also seen that if you adjoin to Q a cube root of 2, then it takes three rational
numbers to specify each element of the resulting field:
n
o
√3
√3
√3 2
Q( 2) = π + π 2 + π 2 : π, π, π ∈ Q
√3
2) : Q is in some sense
(Warning 4.1.12). This might
us
to
suspect
that
Q(
√
a ‘bigger’ extension than Q( 2) : Q.
The first thing we’ll do in this chapter is to make√this intuition rigorous.
We’ll
√3
define the ‘degree’ of an extension and see that Q( 2) : Q and Q( 2) : Q have
degrees 2 and 3, respectively.
The concept of degree is incredibly useful, and not only in Galois theory.
In fact, I’ll show you how it can be used to solve three problems that remained
unsolved for literally millennia, since the time of the ancient Greeks.
5.1
Degrees of extensions and polynomials
The concept of degree is an excellent illustration of a powerful mathematical
technique: forgetting.
Let π : πΎ be a field extension. What happens if we forget how to multiply
together elements of π that aren’t in πΎ?
We still have the field πΎ. What remains of π is its underlying additive abelian
group (π, +, 0), and because we haven’t forgotten how to multiply elements of πΎ
51
with elements of π, we still have the multiplication function πΎ &times; π → π. So,
we have a field πΎ, an abelian group π, and an action of πΎ on π.
In other words, whenever π : πΎ is a field extension, π is a vector space over
πΎ in a natural way.
Definition 5.1.1 The degree [π : πΎ] of a field extension π : πΎ is the dimension
of π as a vector space over πΎ.
If π is a finite-dimensional vector space over πΎ, it’s clear what this means. If
π is infinite-dimensional over πΎ, we write [π : πΎ] = ∞, where ∞ is a formal
symbol which we give the properties
π &lt; ∞,
π&middot;∞=∞
(π ≥ 1),
∞&middot;∞=∞
(where π is an integer). An extension π : πΎ is finite if [π : πΎ] &lt; ∞.
Digression 5.1.2 You know that whenever π is a finite-dimensional vector
space, (i) there exists a basis of π, and (ii) there is a bijection between any
two bases. This makes it possible to define the dimension of a vector space
as the number of elements in a basis. In fact, both (i) and (ii) are true for
every vector space, not just the finite-dimensional ones. So we can define
the dimension of an arbitrary vector space as the ‘number’ of elements in a
basis, where now ‘number’ means cardinal, i.e. isomorphism class of sets.
We could interpret Definition 5.1.1 using this general definition of dimension.
For instance, suppose we had one field extension π : πΎ such that π had a
countably infinite basis over πΎ, and another, π 0 : πΎ, such that π 0 had an
uncountably infinite basis over πΎ. Then [π : πΎ] and [π 0 : πΎ] would be
different.
However, we’ll lump all the infinite-dimensional extensions together and say
that their degrees are all ∞. We’ll mostly be dealing with finite extensions
anyway, and won’t need to distinguish between sizes of ∞. It’s a bit like the
difference between a house that costs a million pounds and a house that costs
ten million: although the difference in cost is huge, most of us would lump
them together in a single category called ‘unaffordable’.
Examples 5.1.3
i. Every field π contains at least one nonzero element,
namely, 1. So [π : πΎ] ≥ 1 for every field extension π : πΎ.
If π = πΎ then {1} is a basis, so [π : πΎ] = 1. On the other hand, if
[π : πΎ] = 1 then the one-element linearly independent set {1} must be a
basis, which implies that every element of π is equal to π &middot; 1 = π for some
π ∈ πΎ, and so π = πΎ. Hence
[π : πΎ] = 1 ⇐⇒ π = πΎ.
52
ii. Every element of C is equal to π₯ + π¦π for a unique pair (π₯, π¦) of elements of
R. That is, {1, π} is a basis of C over R. Hence [C : R] = 2.
iii. Let πΎ be a field and πΎ (π‘) the field of rational expressions over πΎ. Then
1, π‘, π‘ 2 , . . . are linearly independent over πΎ, so [πΎ (π‘) : πΎ] = ∞.
Warning 5.1.4 The degree [πΎ : πΎ] of πΎ over itself is 1, not 0.
Degrees of extensions are never 0. See Example 5.1.3(i).
Theorem 5.1.5 Let πΎ (πΌ) : πΎ be a simple extension, with πΌ algebraic over πΎ.
Write π ∈ πΎ [π‘] for the minimal polynomial of πΌ and π = deg(π). Then
1, πΌ, . . . , πΌπ−1
is a basis of πΎ (πΌ) over πΎ. In particular, [πΎ (πΌ) : πΎ] = deg(π).
Proof By Lemma 4.3.4 and Theorem 4.3.7(i), we might as well take πΎ (πΌ) =
πΎ [π‘]/hπi and πΌ = π(π‘), where π : πΎ [π‘] → πΎ [π‘]/hπi is the canonical homomorphism.
Since π is surjective, every element of πΎ (πΌ) is equal to π( π ) for some π ∈ πΎ [π‘].
By Proposition 3.2.1, there are unique π, π ∈ πΎ [π‘] such that π = ππ + π and
deg(π) &lt; π. In particular, there is a unique polynomial π ∈ πΎ [π‘] such that
π − π ∈ hπi and deg(π) &lt; π. Equivalently, there are unique π 0 , . . . , π π−1 ∈ πΎ such
that
π (π‘) − π 0 + π 1 π‘ + &middot; &middot; &middot; + π π−1 π‘ π−1 ∈ hπi.
Equivalently, there are unique π 0 , . . . , π π−1 ∈ πΎ such that
π( π ) = π π 0 + π 1 π‘ + &middot; &middot; &middot; + π π−1 π‘ π−1 .
Equivalently (since π(π‘) = πΌ), there are unique π 0 , . . . , π π−1 ∈ πΎ such that
π( π ) = π 0 + π 1 πΌ + &middot; &middot; &middot; π π−1 πΌπ−1 .
We have now shown that every element of πΎ (πΌ) can be expressed as a πΎ-linear
combination of 1, πΌ, . . . , πΌπ−1 in a unique way. In other words, 1, πΌ, . . . , πΌπ−1 is a
basis of πΎ (πΌ) over πΎ.
Exercise 5.1.6 For a prime π, find [Q(π 2ππ/π ) : Q].
53
Theorem 5.1.5 implies that when πΌ ∈ π is algebraic over πΎ, with minimal
polynomial of degree π, the subset {π 0 + π 1 πΌ + &middot; &middot; &middot; + π π−1 πΌπ−1 : ππ ∈ πΎ } is a
subfield of π. This isn’t particularly obvious: for instance, why is it closed under
taking reciprocals? But it’s true.
Corollary 5.1.7 Let π : πΎ be a field extension and πΌ ∈ π. Then
πΎ (πΌ) : πΎ is finite ⇐⇒ πΌ is algebraic over πΎ.
Proof For ⇒, we prove the contrapositive. If πΌ is transcendental over πΎ then
πΎ (πΌ) is isomorphic to πΎ (π‘) over πΎ (by Theorem 4.3.7(ii)), and [πΎ (π‘) : πΎ] = ∞
by Example 5.1.3(iii).
Theorem 5.1.5 gives ⇐.
For a field extension π : πΎ and πΌ ∈ π, the degree of πΌ over πΎ is [πΎ (πΌ) : πΎ].
We write it as degπΎ (πΌ). So, degπΎ (πΌ) &lt; ∞ if and only if πΌ is algebraic over πΎ, and
in that case, degπΎ (πΌ) is the degree of the minimal polynomial of πΌ over πΎ.
Examples 5.1.8
i. Let πΌ ∈ C be an algebraic number over Q whose minimal
polynomial is quadratic. Then by Theorem 5.1.5,
Q(πΌ) = {π + ππΌ : π, π ∈ Q}.
√
We’ve already seen this in many examples, such as πΌ = 2 and πΌ = π.
ii. Let πΌ be the real cube root of 2. By Example 4.2.9(ii), the minimal
polynomial of πΌ over Q is π‘ 3 − 2, so degQ (πΌ) = 3. It follows that
Q(πΌ) ≠ {π + ππΌ : π, π ∈ Q}, since otherwise the two-element set {1, πΌ}
would span the three-dimensional vector space Q(πΌ). So we have another
proof that 22/3 cannot be written as a Q-linear combination of 1 and 21/3 .
As observed in Example 4.2.9(ii), this is messy to prove directly.
Theorem 5.1.5 is quite powerful. Here are two more corollaries of it.
Corollary 5.1.9
i. Let π : πΏ : πΎ be field extensions and π½ ∈ π. Then
[πΏ (π½) : πΏ] ≤ [πΎ (π½) : πΎ].
ii. Let π : πΎ be a field extension and πΌ, π½ ∈ π. Then [πΎ (πΌ, π½) : πΎ (πΌ)] ≤
[πΎ (π½) : πΎ].
Proof For (i): if [πΎ (π½) : πΎ] = ∞ then the inequality is clear. Otherwise, π½ is
algebraic over πΎ (by Corollary 5.1.7), with minimal polynomial π ∈ πΎ [π‘], say.
Then π is an annihilating polynomial for π½ over πΏ, so the minimal polynomial of
π½ over πΏ has degree ≤ deg(π). The result follows from Theorem 5.1.5.
Part (ii) follows by taking πΏ = πΎ (πΌ).
54
π
π½
[πΎ (π½):πΎ]
[πΏ(π½):πΏ]
πΏ
πΎ
Figure 5.1: Visualization of Corollary 5.1.9(i) (not to be taken too seriously).
Informally, I think of part (i) as in Figure 5.1. The degree of π½ over πΎ measures
how far π½ is from being in πΎ. Since πΏ contains πΎ, it might be that π½ is closer to πΏ
than to πΎ (i.e. [πΏ (π½) : πΏ] &lt; [πΎ (π½) : πΎ]), and it’s certainly no further away.
Exercise 5.1.10 Give an example to show that the inequality in Corollary 5.1.9(ii) can be strict. Your example can be as trivial as you like.
Corollary 5.1.11 Let π : πΎ be a field extension and πΌ1 , . . . , πΌπ ∈ π. Suppose that each πΌπ is algebraic over πΎ of degree ππ . Then every element
πΌ ∈ πΎ (πΌ1 , . . . , πΌπ ) can be represented as a polynomial in πΌ1 , . . . , πΌπ over πΎ:
&Otilde;
ππ1 ,...,π π πΌ1π1 &middot; &middot; &middot; πΌππ π
πΌ=
π 1 ,...,π π
for some ππ1 ,...,π π ∈ πΎ, where ππ ranges over 0, . . . , ππ − 1.
Proof By induction on π. When π = 0, this is trivial. Now let π ≥ 1 and suppose
the result holds for π − 1. Let
πΌ ∈ πΎ (πΌ1 , . . . , πΌπ ) = πΎ (πΌ1 , . . . , πΌπ−1 ) (πΌπ ).
By Theorem 5.1.5 applied to the extension (πΎ (πΌ1 , . . . , πΌπ−1 ))(πΌπ )
πΎ (πΌ1 , . . . , πΌπ−1 ), noting that degπΎ (πΌ1 ,...,πΌπ−1 ) (πΌπ ) ≤ degπΎ (πΌπ ) = ππ , we have
πΌ=
π&Otilde;
π −1
ππ πΌππ
:
(5.1)
π=0
for some π 0 , . . . , π ππ −1 ∈ πΎ (πΌ1 , . . . , πΌπ−1 ). By inductive hypothesis, for each π we
have
&Otilde;
π π−1
ππ =
ππ1 ,...,π π−1 ,π πΌ1π1 &middot; &middot; &middot; πΌπ−1
(5.2)
π 1 ,...,π π−1
for some ππ1 ,...,π π−1 ,π ∈ πΎ, where ππ ranges over 0, . . . , ππ − 1. Substituting (5.2)
into (5.1) completes the induction.
55
Example 5.1.12 Back in Example 4.1.11(ii), I claimed that
√
√
√
Q( 2, π) = {π + π 2 + ππ + π 2π : π, π, π, π ∈ Q}.
√
√
Corollary 5.1.11 applied to Q( 2, π) : Q proves this, since degQ ( 2) = degQ (π) =
2.
Exercise 5.1.13 Let π : πΎ be a field extension and πΌ a transcendental element of π. Can every element of πΎ (πΌ) be represented as a
polynomial in πΌ over πΎ?
5.2
The tower law
We now know about the degrees of simple extensions—those obtained by adjoining
The following result is invaluable.
Theorem 5.2.1 (Tower law) Let π : πΏ : πΎ be field extensions.
i. If (πΌπ )π∈πΌ is a basis of πΏ over πΎ and (π½ π ) π ∈π½ is a basis of π over πΏ, then
(πΌπ π½ π )(π, π)∈πΌ&times;π½ is a basis of π over πΎ.
ii. π : πΎ is finite ⇐⇒ π : πΏ and πΏ : πΎ are finite.
iii. [π : πΎ] = [π : πΏ] [πΏ : πΎ].
The sets πΌ and π½ here could be infinite. I’ll say that a family (ππ )π∈πΌ of elements
of a field is finitely supported if the set {π ∈ πΌ : ππ ≠ 0} is finite.
Proof To prove (i), we show that (πΌπ π½ π )(π, π)∈πΌ&times;π½ is a linearly independent spanning
set of π over πΎ.
For linear independence, let (ππ π )(π, π)∈πΌ&times;π½ be a finitely supported family of ele&Iacute;
&Iacute; &Iacute;
&Iacute;
ments of πΎ such that π, π ππ π πΌπ π½ π = 0. Then π ( π ππ π πΌπ ) π½ π = 0, with π ππ π πΌπ ∈ πΏ
&Iacute;
for each π ∈ π½. Since (π½ π ) π ∈π½ is linearly independent over πΏ, we have π ππ π πΌπ = 0
for each π ∈ π½. But (πΌπ )π∈πΌ is linearly independent over πΎ, so ππ π = 0 for each π ∈ πΌ
and π ∈ π½.
To show (πΌπ π½ π )(π, π)∈πΌ&times;π½ spans π over πΎ, let π ∈ π. Since (π½ π ) π ∈π½ spans π over
&Iacute;
πΏ, we have π = π π π π½ π for some finitely supported family (π π ) π ∈π½ of elements of
&Iacute;
πΏ. Since (πΌπ )π∈πΌ spans πΏ over πΎ, for each π ∈ π½ we have π π = π ππ π πΌπ for some
&Iacute;
finitely supported family (ππ π )π∈πΌ of πΎ. Hence π = π, π ππ π πΌπ π½ π , as required.
Parts (ii) and (iii) follow.
56
√ √
Example 5.2.2 What is [Q( 2, 3) : Q]? The tower law gives
√ √
√ √
√ √
Q( 2, 3) : Q = Q( 2, 3) : Q( 2) Q( 2) : Q
√ √ √
= 2 Q( 2, 3) : Q( 2) .
We have
√ √
√ √
Q( 2, 3) : Q( 2) ≤ Q( 3) : Q = 2
√
√ √
√
√
by Corollary
√ √ 5.1.9(ii).
√ On the other hand, 3 ∉ Q( 2), so√Q(√2, 3) ≠
√ Q( 2),
so [Q( 2, 3) : Q( 2)]
√ &gt; √1 by Example 5.1.3(i). So [Q( 2, 3) : Q( 2)] = 2,
giving the answer: [Q( 2, 3) : Q] = 4.
√ √ √
√ √
By the same argument as in Example √
5.1.12,
√ {1, 2, 3, 6} spans Q( 2, 3)
over Q. But we have just shown that Q( 2, 3) has dimension
√ 4√over Q. Hence
this spanning set is a basis. That is, for every element πΌ ∈ Q( 2, 3), there is one
and only one 4-tuple (π, π, π, π) of rational numbers such that
√
√
√
πΌ = π + π 2 + π 3 + π 6.
√
√
Exercise 5.2.3 In that example, I claimed that 3 ∉ Q( 2). Prove it.
Corollary 5.2.4 Let π : πΏ 0 : πΏ : πΎ be field extensions. If π : πΎ is finite then
[πΏ 0 : πΏ] divides [π : πΎ].
Proof Apply the tower law to π : πΏ 0 : πΏ then π : πΏ : πΎ.
That result might remind you of Lagrange’s theorem on group orders. The
resemblance is no coincidence, as we’ll see.
Exercise 5.2.5 Show that a field extension whose degree is a prime
number must be simple.
That result might remind you of the fact that a group of prime order must be
cyclic, and that’s no coincidence either!
A second corollary of the tower law:
Corollary 5.2.6 Let π : πΎ be a field extension and πΌ1 , . . . , πΌπ ∈ π. Then
[πΎ (πΌ1 , . . . , πΌπ ) : πΎ] ≤ [πΎ (πΌ1 ) : πΎ] &middot; &middot; &middot; [πΎ (πΌπ ) : πΎ].
Proof By the tower law and then Corollary 5.1.9(ii),
[πΎ (πΌ1 , . . . , πΌπ ) : πΎ]
= [πΎ (πΌ1 , . . . , πΌπ ) : πΎ (πΌ1 , . . . , πΌπ−1 )] &middot; &middot; &middot; [πΎ (πΌ1 , πΌ2 ) : πΎ (πΌ1 )] [πΎ (πΌ1 ) : πΎ]
≤ [πΎ (πΌπ ) : πΎ] &middot; &middot; &middot; [πΎ (πΌ2 ) : πΎ] [πΎ (πΌ1 ) : πΎ].
57
finitely
generated
algebraic
finite
Figure 5.2: Finiteness conditions on a field extension
Example 5.2.7 What is [Q(121/4 , 61/15 ) : Q]? You can check (hint, hint) that
degQ (121/4 ) = 4 and degQ (61/15 ) = 15. So by Corollary 5.2.4, [Q(121/4 , 61/15 ) :
Q] is divisible by 4 and 15. But also, Corollary 5.2.6 implies that [Q(121/4 , 61/15 ) :
Q] ≤ 4 &times; 15 = 60. Since 4 and 15 are coprime, the answer is 60.
Exercise 5.2.8 Generalize Example 5.2.7. In other words, what
general result does the argument of Example 5.2.7 prove, not involving
the particular numbers chosen there?
5.3
Algebraic extensions
We defined a field extension π : πΎ to be finite if [π : πΎ] &lt; ∞, that is, π is
finite-dimensional as a vector space over πΎ. Here are two related conditions.
Definition 5.3.1 A field extension π : πΎ is finitely generated if π = πΎ (π ) for
some finite subset π ⊆ π.
Definition 5.3.2 A field extension π : πΎ is algebraic if every element of π is
algebraic over πΎ.
Recall from Corollary 5.1.7 that πΌ is algebraic over πΎ if and only if πΎ (πΌ) : πΎ is
finite. So for a field extension to be algebraic is also a kind of finiteness condition.
Examples 5.3.3
i. For any field πΎ, the extension πΎ (π‘) : πΎ is finitely generated
(take the ‘π ’ above to be {π‘}) but not finite, by Corollary 5.1.7.
ii. In Section 4.2 you met the set Q of complex numbers algebraic over Q. We’ll
very soon prove that it’s a subfield of C. It is algebraic over Q, by definition.
But you’ll show in Workshop 3 that it is not finite over Q.
Our three finiteness conditions are related as follows (Figure 5.2).
58
Proposition 5.3.4 The following conditions on a field extension π : πΎ are equivalent:
i. π : πΎ is finite;
ii. π : πΎ is finitely generated and algebraic;
iii. π = πΎ (πΌ1 , . . . , πΌπ ) for some finite set {πΌ1 , . . . , πΌπ } of elements of π algebraic over πΎ.
Proof (i)⇒(ii): suppose that π : πΎ is finite.
To show that π : πΎ is finitely generated, take a basis πΌ1 , . . . , πΌπ of π over
πΎ. Every subfield πΏ of π containing πΎ is a πΎ-linear subspace of π, so if
πΌ1 , . . . , πΌπ ∈ πΏ then πΏ = π. This proves that the only subfield of π containing
πΎ ∪ {πΌ1 , . . . , πΌπ } is π itself; that is, π = πΎ (πΌ1 , . . . , πΌπ ). So π : πΎ is finitely
generated.
To show that π : πΎ is algebraic, let πΌ ∈ π. Then by part (ii) of the tower law
(Theorem 5.2.1), πΎ (πΌ) : πΎ is finite, so by Corollary 5.1.7, πΌ is algebraic over πΎ.
(ii)⇒(iii) is immediate from the definitions.
(iii)⇒(i): suppose that π = πΎ (πΌ1 , . . . , πΌπ ) for some πΌπ ∈ π algebraic over πΎ.
Then
[π : πΎ] ≤ [πΎ (πΌ1 ) : πΎ] &middot; &middot; &middot; [πΎ (πΌπ ) : πΎ]
by Corollary 5.2.6. For each π, we have [πΎ (πΌπ ) : πΎ] &lt; ∞ since πΌπ is algebraic
over πΎ (using Corollary 5.1.7 again). So [π : πΎ] &lt; ∞.
We already saw that when π = πΎ (πΌ1 , . . . , πΌπ ) with each πΌπ algebraic, every
element of π is a polynomial in πΌ1 , . . . , πΌπ (Corollary 5.1.11). So for any finite
extension π : πΎ, there is some finite set of elements such that everything in π
can be expressed as a polynomial over πΎ in these elements.
Exercise 5.3.5 Let π : πΎ be a field extension and πΎ ⊆ πΏ ⊆ π. In
the proof of Proposition 5.3.4, I said that if πΏ is a subfield of π then
πΏ is a πΎ-linear subspace of π. Why is that true? And is the converse
also true? Give a proof or a counterexample.
Corollary 5.3.6 Let πΎ (πΌ) : πΎ be a simple extension. The following are equivalent:
i. πΎ (πΌ) : πΎ is finite;
ii. πΎ (πΌ) : πΎ is algebraic;
iii. πΌ is algebraic over πΎ.
59
Proof (i)⇒(ii) follows from (i)⇒(ii) of Proposition 5.3.4.
(ii)⇒(iii) is immediate from the definitions.
(iii)⇒(i) follows from (iii)⇒(i) of Proposition 5.3.4.
Here’s a spectacular application of Corollary 5.3.6.
Proposition 5.3.7 Q is a subfield of C.
Proof By Corollary 5.3.6,
Q = {πΌ ∈ C : [Q(πΌ) : Q] &lt; ∞}.
For all πΌ, π½ ∈ Q,
[Q(πΌ, π½) : Q] ≤ [Q(πΌ) : Q] [Q(π½) : Q] &lt; ∞
by Corollary 5.2.6. Hence
[Q(πΌ + π½) : Q] ≤ [Q(πΌ, π½) : Q] &lt; ∞,
giving πΌ + π½ ∈ Q. Similarly, πΌ &middot; π½ ∈ Q. For all πΌ ∈ Q,
[Q(−πΌ) : Q] = [Q(πΌ) : Q] &lt; ∞,
giving −πΌ ∈ Q. Similarly, 1/πΌ ∈ Q (if πΌ ≠ 0). And clearly 0, 1 ∈ Q.
If you did Exercise 4.2.4, you’ll appreciate how hard that result is to prove from
first principles, and how amazing it is that the proof above is so clean and simple.
5.4
Ruler and compass constructions
The ancient Greeks developed planar geometry to an extraordinary degree, discovering how to perform a very wide range of constructions using only ruler and
compasses. But there were three particular constructions that they couldn’t figure
out how to do using only these instruments:
• Trisect the angle: given an angle π, construct the angle π/3.
• Duplicate the cube: given a length, construct a new length whose cube is
twice the cube of the original.√ That is, given two points distance πΏ apart,
3
construct two points distance 2πΏ apart.
• Square the circle: given a circle, construct a square with the same area.
That
is, given two points distance πΏ apart, construct two points distance
√
ππΏ apart.
60
The challenge of finding constructions lay unanswered for thousands of years. And
it wasn’t for lack of attention: mathematicians kept on looking. My Galois theory
lecture notes from when I was an undergraduate contain the following words:
Thomas Hobbes claimed to have solved these. John Wallis disagreed.
A 17th century pamphlet war ensued.
Twitter users may conclude that human nature has not changed.
It turns out that the reason why no one could find a way to do these constructions
is that they’re impossible. We’ll prove it using field theory.
In order to prove that you can’t do these things using ruler and compasses, it’s
necessary to know that you can do certain other things using ruler and compasses.
I’ve made a video showing how to do the various constructions we’ll need.
Ruler and compass
constructions
Digression 5.4.1 The standard phrase is ‘ruler and compass constructions’,
but it’s slightly misleading. A ruler has distance markings on it, whereas
for the problems of ancient Greece, you’re supposed to use only a ‘straight
edge’: a ruler without markings (and no, you’re not allowed to mark it). As
Stewart explains (Section 7.1), with a marked or markable straight edge, you
can solve all three problems. Also, for what it’s worth, an instrument for
drawing circles is strictly speaking a pair of compasses. But like everyone
else, we’ll say ‘ruler and compass’—
—when we really mean ‘straight edge and compasses’—
The problems as stated above are maybe not quite precise; let’s formalize them.
Starting from a subset Σ of the plane, our instruments allow the following
constructions:
• given two distinct points π΄, π΅ of Σ, draw the (infinite) line through π΄ and π΅;
• given two distinct points π΄, π΅ of Σ, draw the circle with centre π΄ passing
through π΅.
61
A point in the plane is immediately constructible from Σ if it is a point of
intersection between two distinct lines, or two distinct circles, or a line and a
circle, of the form above. A point πΆ in the plane is constructible from Σ if
there is a finite sequence πΆ1 , . . . , πΆπ = πΆ of points such that πΆπ is immediately
constructible from Σ ∪ {πΆ1 , . . . , πΆπ−1 } for each π.
So far I have written in the Greek spirit by saying ‘the plane’ rather than R2 .
But now fix a coordinate system. For Σ ⊆ R2 , write
πΎΣ = Q {πΌ ∈ R : πΌ is a coordinate of some point in Σ} ,
which is a subfield of R. The condition on πΌ means that (πΌ, π¦) ∈ Σ for some π¦ ∈ R
or (π₯, πΌ) ∈ Σ for some π₯ ∈ R.
The key to the impossibility proofs is the following definition. For subfields
πΎ ⊆ π ⊆ R, let us say that π : πΎ is an iterated quadratic extension if there is
some finite sequence of subfields
πΎ = πΎ0 ⊆ πΎ1 ⊆ &middot; &middot; &middot; ⊆ πΎπ = π
such that [πΎπ : πΎπ−1 ] = 2 for all π ∈ {1, . . . , π}.
Theorem 5.4.2 Let Σ ⊆ R2 and (π₯, π¦) ∈ R2 . If (π₯, π¦) is constructible from Σ
then there is an iterated quadratic extension of πΎΣ containing π₯ and π¦.
Before I show you the proof, I’ll state a corollary that reveals how this theorem
Corollary 5.4.3 Let Σ ⊆ R2 and (π₯, π¦) ∈ R2 . If (π₯, π¦) is constructible from Σ then
π₯ and π¦ are algebraic over πΎΣ , and their degrees over πΎΣ are powers of 2.
Proof Take an iterated quadratic extension π of πΎΣ with π₯ ∈ π. Then [π :
πΎΣ ] = 2π for some π ≥ 0, by the tower law. But then degπΎΣ (π₯) = [πΎΣ (π₯) : πΎΣ ]
divides 2π by Corollary 5.2.4, and is therefore a power of 2. And similarly for π¦.
We will show that if (for instance) we could trisect angles, we would be able
to construct a point whose coordinates do not have degree a power of 2, giving a
To prove Theorem 5.4.2, we need a lemma.
Lemma 5.4.4 Let πΎ be a subfield of R and πΌ, π½ ∈ R. Suppose that πΌ and π½ are
each contained in some iterated quadratic extension of πΎ. Then there is some
iterated quadratic extension of πΎ containing both πΌ and π½.
62
Proof Take subfields
πΎ = πΎ0 ⊆ πΎ1 ⊆ &middot; &middot; &middot; ⊆ πΎπ ⊆ R,
πΎ = πΏ0 ⊆ πΏ1 ⊆ &middot; &middot; &middot; ⊆ πΏπ ⊆ R
with πΌ ∈ πΎπ , π½ ∈ πΏ π , and [πΎπ : πΎπ−1 ] = 2 = [πΏ π : πΏ π−1 ] for all π, π.
For each π ∈ {1, . . . , π}, choose some π½ π ∈ πΏ π \ πΏ π−1 ; then πΏ π = πΏ π−1 (π½ π ).
Hence πΏ π = πΎ (π½1 , . . . , π½ π ) for each π.
Now consider the chain of subfields
πΎ = πΎ0 ⊆ πΎ1 ⊆ &middot; &middot; &middot; ⊆ πΎπ ⊆ πΎπ (π½1 ) ⊆ πΎπ (π½1 , π½2 ) ⊆ &middot; &middot; &middot; ⊆ πΎπ (π½1 , . . . , π½π ).
(5.3)
For each π ∈ {1, . . . , π}, Corollary 5.1.9(i) gives the inequality
[πΎπ (π½1 , . . . , π½ π ) : πΎπ (π½1 , . . . , π½ π−1 )] ≤ [πΎ (π½1 , . . . , π½ π ) : πΎ (π½1 , . . . , π½ π−1 )]
= [πΏ π : πΏ π−1 ] = 2.
So in the chain of subfields (5.3), each successive extension has degree 1 or
2. An extension of degree 1 is an equality, so by ignoring repeats, we see that
πΎπ (π½1 , . . . , π½π ) is an iterated quadratic extension of πΎ. Finally,
πΌ ∈ πΎπ ⊆ πΎπ (π½1 , . . . , π½π ),
π½ ∈ πΏ π = πΎ (π½1 , . . . , π½π ) ⊆ πΎπ (π½1 , . . . , π½π ),
so πΌ, π½ ∈ πΎπ (π½1 , . . . , π½π ), as required.
Exercise 5.4.5 In the second paragraph of the proof, I claimed that
πΏ π = πΏ π−1 (π½ π ). The general principle here is that if π : πΎ is a field
extension of degree 2 and πΎ ∈ π \ πΎ then π = πΎ (πΎ). Prove this.
Proof of Theorem 5.4.2 Suppose that (π₯, π¦) is constructible from Σ in π steps.
If π = 0 then (π₯, π¦) ∈ Σ, so π₯, π¦ ∈ πΎΣ , which is trivially an iterated quadratic
extension of πΎΣ .
Now let π ≥ 1, and suppose inductively that each coordinate of each point
of R2 constructible from Σ in &lt; π steps lies in some iterated quadratic extension
of πΎΣ . By definition, (π₯, π¦) is an intersection point of two distinct lines/circles
through points constructible in &lt; π steps. By inductive hypothesis, each coordinate
of each of those points lies in some iterated quadratic extension of πΎΣ , so by
Lemma 5.4.4, there is an iterated quadratic extension πΏ of πΎΣ containing all the
points’ coordinates. The coefficients in the equations of the lines/circles then also
lie in πΏ.
We now show that deg πΏ (π₯) ∈ {1, 2}.
63
If (π₯, π¦) is the intersection point of two distinct lines, then π₯ and π¦ satisfy two
linearly independent equations
ππ₯ + ππ¦ + π = 0,
π π₯ + π 0 π¦ + π0 = 0
0
with π, π, π, π0, π0, π0 ∈ πΏ. Solving gives π₯ ∈ πΏ.
If (π₯, π¦) is an intersection point of a line and a circle, then
ππ₯ + ππ¦ + π = 0,
π₯ 2 + π¦ 2 + ππ₯ + ππ¦ + π = 0
with π, π, π, π, π, π ∈ πΏ. If π = 0 then π ≠ 0 and π₯ = −π/π ∈ πΏ. Otherwise, we
can eliminate π¦ to give a quadratic over πΏ satisfied by π₯, so that deg πΏ (π₯) ∈ {1, 2}.
If (π₯, π¦) is an intersection point of two circles, then
π₯ 2 + π¦ 2 + ππ₯ + ππ¦ + π = 0,
π₯ 2 + π¦ 2 + π 0π₯ + π0 π¦ + π 0 = 0
with π, π, π , π 0, π0, π 0 ∈ πΏ. Subtracting, we reduce to the case of a line and a circle,
again giving deg πΏ (π₯) ∈ {1, 2}.
Hence deg πΏ (π₯) ∈ {1, 2}. If deg πΏ (π₯) = 1 then π₯ ∈ πΏ, which is an iterated
quadratic extension of πΎΣ . If deg πΏ (π₯) = 2, i.e. [πΏ(π₯) : πΏ] = 2, then πΏ (π₯) is an
iterated quadratic extension of πΎΣ . In either case, π₯ lies in some iterated quadratic
extension of πΎΣ . The same is true of π¦. Hence by Lemma 5.4.4, there is an iterated
quadratic extension of πΎΣ containing π₯ and π¦. This completes the induction. Now we solve the problems of ancient Greece. In all cases, we take Σ =
{(0, 0), (1, 0)}. Then πΎΣ = Q.
Proposition 5.4.6 The angle cannot be trisected by ruler and compass.
Proof Suppose it can be. Construct an equilateral triangle with (0, 0) and (1, 0)
as two of its vertices (which can be done by ruler and compass; Figure 5.3). Trisect
the angle of the triangle at (0, 0). Plot the point (π₯, π¦) where the trisector meets the
circle with centre (0, 0) through (1, 0). Then π₯ = cos(π/9), so by Corollary 5.4.3,
degQ (cos(π/9)) is a power of 2.
Now we use the trigonometric formula
cos 3π = 4(cos π) 3 − 3 cos π.
Taking π = π/9 and using cos(π/3) = 1/2, we get 8π₯ 3 − 6π₯ − 1 = 0. Reduced mod
5, this cubic has no roots and is therefore irreducible (by Lemma 3.3.1(iv)). So by
the mod π test, 8π‘ 3 − 6π‘ − 1 is irreducible over Q. Hence (8π‘ 3 − 6π‘ − 1)/8 is the
minimal polynomial of π₯ over Q, giving degQ (π₯) = 3. Since 3 is not a power of 2,
64
(π₯, π¦)
(0, 0)
(1, 0)
Figure 5.3: The impossibility of trisecting 60β¦ .
Proposition 5.4.7 The cube cannot be duplicated by ruler and compass.
Proof Suppose it can be. Since (0, 0) and (1, 0)
√3 are distance 1 apart, we can
construct from them two points π΄ and π΅ distance
√3 2 apart. From π΄ and π΅ we can
construct, using ruler and compass, the point
( 2, 0). (The video shows how to
√3
‘transport distances’ like this.) So degQ ( 2) is a power of 2, by Corollary 5.4.3.
√3
But degQ ( 2) = 3 by Example 5.1.8(ii), a contradiction.
Proposition 5.4.8 The circle cannot be squared by ruler and compass.
This one is the most outrageously false, yet the hardest to prove.
Proof Suppose it can be. Since the circle with centre (0, 0) through (1, 0) √has
π,
area π, we can construct by ruler and compass a square with side-length
√
and from that, we
√ can construct by ruler and compass the point ( π, 0). So by
Corollary 5.4.3, π is algebraic over Q with degree a power of 2. Since Q is a
subfield of C, it follows that π is algebraic over Q. But it is a (hard) theorem that
π is transcendental over Q.
Digression 5.4.9 Stewart has a nice alternative approach to all this, in his
Chapter 7. He treats the plane as the complex plane, and he shows that the
set of all points in C constructible from 0 and 1 is a subfield. In fact, it is the
smallest subfield of C closed under taking square roots. He calls it Qpy , the
‘Pythagorean closure’ of Q. It can also be described as the set of complex
numbers contained in some iterated quadratic extension of Q.
There is one more famous ruler and compass problem: for which integers π is
the regular π-sided polygon constructible, starting from just a pair of points in the
plane?
The answer has to do with Fermat primes, which are prime numbers of the
form 2π’ + 1 for some π’ ≥ 1. A little exercise in number theory shows that if 2π’ + 1
is prime then π’ must itself be a power of 2. The only known Fermat primes are
0
22 + 1 = 3,
1
22 + 1 = 5,
2
22 + 1 = 17,
65
3
22 + 1 = 257,
4
22 + 1 = 65537.
Whether there are any others is a longstanding open question. In any case, it can
be shown that the regular π-sided polygon is constructible if and only if
π = 2π π 1 &middot; &middot; &middot; π π
for some π, π ≥ 0 and distinct Fermat primes π 1 , . . . , π π .
We will not do the proof, but it involves cyclotomic polynomials. A glimpse
of the connection: let π be a prime such that the regular π-sided polygon is
constructible. Consider the regular π-sided polygon inscribed in the unit circle
in C, with one of its vertices at 1. Then another vertex is at π 2ππ/π , and from
constructibility, one can deduce that degQ (π 2ππ/π ) is a power of 2. But we saw in
Example 3.3.16 that degQ (π 2ππ/π ) = π − 1. So π − 1 is a power of 2, that is, π
is a Fermat prime. Galois theory, number theory and Euclidean geometry come
together!
66
Chapter 6
Splitting fields
Introduction to
Week 6
In Chapter 1, we met a definition of the symmetry group of a polynomial over
Q. It was phrased in terms of indistinguishable tuples, it was possibly a little
mysterious, and it was definitely difficult to work with (e.g. we couldn’t compute
the symmetry group of 1 + π‘ + π‘ 2 + π‘ 3 + π‘ 4 ).
In this chapter, we’re going to give a different but equivalent definition of the
symmetry group of a polynomial. It’s a two-step process:
1. We show how every polynomial π over πΎ gives rise to an extension of πΎ,
called the ‘splitting field’ of π .
2. We show how every field extension has a symmetry group.
The symmetry group, or ‘Galois group’, of a polynomial is then defined to be the
symmetry group of its splitting field extension.
How does these two steps work?
1. When πΎ = Q, the splitting field of π is the smallest subfield of C containing
all the complex roots of π . For a general field πΎ, it’s constructed by adding
the roots of π one at a time, using simple extensions, until we obtain an
extension of πΎ in which π splits into linear factors.
2. The symmetry group of a field extension π : πΎ is defined as the group of
automorphisms of π over πΎ. This is the same idea you’ve seen many times
before, for symmetry groups of other mathematical objects.
Why bother? Why not define the symmetry group of π directly, as in Chapter 1?
• Because this strategy works over every field πΎ, not just Q.
• Because there are field extensions that do not arise from a polynomial, and
their symmetry groups are sometimes important. For example, an important
67
structure in number theory, somewhat mysterious to this day, is the symmetry
group of the algebraic numbers Q over Q.
• Because using abstract algebra means you can cut down on explicit calculations with polynomials. (By way of analogy, you’ve seen how abstract
linear algebra with vector spaces and linear maps allows you to cut down on
calculations with matrices.) It also makes connections with other parts of
mathematics more apparent.
6.1
Extending homomorphisms
In your degree so far, you’ll have picked up the general principle that for many
kinds of mathematical object (such as groups, rings, fields, vector spaces, modules,
metric spaces, topological spaces, measure spaces, . . . ), it’s important to consider
the appropriate notion of mapping between them (such as homomorphisms, linear
maps, continuous maps, . . . ). And since Chapter 4, you know that the basic objects
of Galois theory are field extensions.
So it’s no surprise that sooner or later, we’ll have to think about mappings from
one field extension to another. That moment is now: we’ll need what’s in this
section in order to establish the basic facts about splitting fields.
When we think about a field extension π : πΎ, we generally regard the field
πΎ as our starting point and π as a field that extends it. (This doesn’t mean
anything rigorous.) Similarly, we might start with a homomorphism π : πΎ → πΎ 0
between fields, together with extensions π of πΎ and π 0 of πΎ 0, and look for a
homomorphism π → π 0 that extends π. The language is as follows.
Definition 6.1.1 Let π : πΎ → π and π0 : πΎ 0 → π 0 be field extensions. Let
π : πΎ → πΎ 0 be a homomorphism of fields. A homomorphism π : π → π 0
extends π if the square
π
Extension problems
πO
/
πO 0
π0
π
/
πΎ
πΎ0
π
commutes (that is, π β¦ π = π0 β¦ π).
Here I’ve used the definition of a field extension as a homomorphism π of fields
(Definition 4.1.1). Most of the time we view πΎ as a subset of π and πΎ 0 as a subset
of π 0, with π and π0 being the inclusions. In that case, for π to extend π just means
that
π(π) = π(π) for all π ∈ πΎ.
68
The basic questions are: given the two field extensions and the homomorphism π,
is there some π that extends π? If so, how many?
We’ll consider these questions later. This section simply gathers together three
general results about extensions of field homomorphisms.
Recall that any ring homomorphism π : π → π induces a homomorphism
π∗ : π[π‘] → π[π‘] (Definition 3.1.6).
Explanation of
Lemma 6.1.2
Lemma 6.1.2 Let π : πΎ and π 0 : πΎ 0 be field extensions, let π : πΎ → πΎ 0 be
a homomorphism, and let π : π → π 0 be a homomorphism extending π. Let
πΌ ∈ π and π (π‘) ∈ πΎ [π‘]. Then
π (πΌ) = 0 ⇐⇒ π∗ ( π ) π(πΌ) = 0.
&Iacute;
&Iacute;
Proof Write π (π‘) = π ππ π‘ π , where ππ ∈ πΎ. Then (π∗ ( π ))(π‘) = π π(ππ )π‘ π ∈
πΎ 0 [π‘], so
&Otilde;
&Otilde;
(π∗ ( π ))(π(πΌ)) =
π(ππ )π(πΌ) π =
π(ππ )π(πΌ) π = π( π (πΌ)),
π
π
where the second equality holds because π extends π. Since π is injective
(Lemma 2.2.2), the result follows.
Exercise 6.1.3 Show that if π is injective then so is π∗ , and if π is an
isomorphism then so is π∗ .
Lemma 6.1.4 Let π : πΎ and π 0 : πΎ 0 be field extensions, let π : πΎ → πΎ 0 be an
isomorphism, and let π : π → π 0 be a homomorphism extending π. Let πΌ ∈ π
be algebraic over πΎ with minimal polynomial π. Then π(πΌ) is algebraic over πΎ 0
with minimal polynomial π∗ (π).
Proof By Lemma 6.1.2, π∗ (π) is an annihilating polynomial of π(πΌ) over πΎ 0.
Also π∗ (π) ≠ 0, since π ≠ 0 and π∗ is injective. So π(πΌ) is algebraic over πΎ 0.
(Recall that an element is algebraic if it has a nonzero annihilating polynomial.)
Since π∗ : πΎ [π‘] → πΎ 0 [π‘] is an isomorphism and π ∈ πΎ [π‘] is irreducible,
π∗ (π) ∈ πΎ 0 [π‘] is irreducible. It is also monic. Hence π∗ (π) is a monic irreducible
annihilating polynomial of π(πΌ), so it is the minimal polynomial of π(πΌ).
An isomorphism between fields, rings, groups, vector spaces, etc., can be
understood as simply a renaming of the elements. For example, if I tell you that
the ring π is left Noetherian but not right Artinian, and that π is isomorphic to π,
then you can deduce that π is left Noetherian but not right Artinian without having
the slightest idea what those terms mean. Just as long as they don’t depend on the
names of the elements of the ring concerned (which such definitions never do),
you’re fine.
69
Proposition 6.1.5 Let π : πΎ → πΎ 0 be an isomorphism of fields, let πΎ (πΌ) : πΎ be a
simple extension where πΌ has minimal polynomial π over πΎ, and let πΎ 0 (πΌ0) : πΎ 0
be a simple extension where πΌ0 has minimal polynomial π∗ (π) over πΎ 0. Then
there is a unique isomorphism π : πΎ (πΌ) → πΎ 0 (πΌ0) that extends π and satisfies
π(πΌ) = πΌ0.
Diagram:
πΎ (πΌ)
O
πΎ
π
/
π
0)
πΎ 0 (πΌ
O
/
πΎ0
We often use a dotted arrow to denote a map whose existence is part of the
conclusion of a theorem, rather than a hypothesis.
π
Proof View πΎ 0 (πΌ0) as an extension of πΎ via the composite homomorphism πΎ −→
πΎ 0 → πΎ 0 (πΌ0). Then the minimal polynomial of πΌ0 over πΎ is π. (If this isn’t
intuitively clear to you, think of the isomorphism π as renaming.) Hence by
the classification of simple extensions, Theorem 4.3.7, there is an isomorphism
π : πΎ (πΌ) → πΎ 0 (πΌ0) over πΎ such that π(πΌ) = πΌ0. Then π extends π.
It only remains to prove uniqueness. Let π
e be any homomorphism πΎ (πΌ) →
πΎ 0 (πΌ0) that extends π and satisfies π
e(πΌ) = πΌ0. Then π
e(π) = π(π) = π(π) for all
0
π ∈ πΎ and π
e(πΌ) = πΌ = π(πΌ). Since every element of πΎ (πΌ) is a polynomial in πΌ
with coefficients in πΎ, it follows that π
e = π.
6.2
Existence and uniqueness of splitting fields
Let π be a polynomial over a field πΎ. Informally, a splitting field for π is an
extension of πΎ where π has all its roots, and which is no bigger than it needs to be.
Warning 6.2.1 If π is irreducible, we know how to create an extension
of πΎ where π has at least one root: take the simple extension πΎ [π‘]/h π i,
in which the equivalence class of π‘ is a root of π (Lemma 4.3.4).
But πΎ [π‘]/h π i is not usually a splitting field for π . For example, take
πΎ = Q and π (π‘) = π‘ 3 − 2, as in Warning 4.3.10. Write πΌ for the real
cube root of 2. (Half the counterexamples in Galois theory involve the
real cube root of 2.) Then Q[π‘]/h π i is isomorphic to the subfield Q(πΌ)
of R, which only contains one root of π : the other two are non-real,
hence not in Q(πΌ).
70
Definition 6.2.2 Let π be a polynomial over a field π. Then π splits in π if
π (π‘) = π½(π‘ − πΌ1 ) &middot; &middot; &middot; (π‘ − πΌπ )
for some π ≥ 0 and π½, πΌ1 , . . . , πΌπ ∈ π.
Equivalently, π splits in π if all its irreducible factors in π [π‘] are linear.
Examples 6.2.3
i. A field π is algebraically closed if and only if every polynomial over π splits in π.
√
ii. Let π (π‘) = π‘ 4 − 4π‘ 2 − 5. Then π splits in Q(π, 5), since
π (π‘) = (π‘ 2 + 1)(π‘ 2 − 5)
√
√
= (π‘ − π)(π‘ + π)(π‘ − 5)(π‘ + 5).
But π does not split in Q(π), as its factorization into irreducibles in Q(π) [π‘]
is
π (π‘) = (π‘ − π)(π‘ + π)(π‘ 2 − 5),
which contains a nonlinear factor. Moral: π may have one root or even
several roots in π, but still not split in π.
iii. Let π = F2 (πΌ), where πΌ is a root of π (π‘) = 1 + π‘ + π‘ 2 , as in Example 4.3.8(ii).
We have
π (1 + πΌ) = 1 + (1 + πΌ) + (1 + 2πΌ + πΌ2 ) = 1 + πΌ + πΌ2 = 0,
so π has two distinct roots in π, giving
π (π‘) = (π‘ − πΌ)(π‘ − (1 + πΌ))
in π [π‘]. Hence π splits in π.
this doesn’t typically happen (Warning 6.2.1).
Definition 6.2.4 Let π be a polynomial over a field πΎ. A splitting field of π over
πΎ is an extension π of πΎ such that:
i. π splits in π;
ii. π = πΎ (πΌ1 , . . . , πΌπ ), where πΌ1 , . . . , πΌπ are the roots of π in π.
71
Exercise 6.2.5 Show that (ii) can equivalently be replaced by: ‘if πΏ
is a subfield of π containing πΎ, and π splits in πΏ, then πΏ = π’.
Examples 6.2.6
i. Let π ∈ Q[π‘]. Write πΌ1 , . . . , πΌπ for the complex roots of
π . Then Q(πΌ1 , . . . , πΌπ ) (the smallest subfield of C containing πΌ1 , . . . , πΌπ ) is
a splitting field of π over Q.
ii. Let π (π‘) = π‘ 3 − 2 ∈ Q[π‘]. Its complex roots are πΌ, ππΌ and π2 πΌ, where πΌ is
the real cube root of 2 and π = π 2ππ/3 . Hence a splitting field of π over Q is
Q(πΌ, ππΌ, π2 πΌ) = Q(πΌ, π).
Now degQ (πΌ) = 3 as π is irreducible, and degQ (π) = 2 as π has minimal
polynomial 1 + π‘ + π‘ 2 . By an argument like that in Example 5.2.7, it follows
that [Q(πΌ, π) : Q] = 6. On the other hand, [Q(πΌ) : Q] = 3. So again, the
extension we get by adjoining all the roots of π is bigger than the one we get
by adjoining just one root of π .
iii. Take π (π‘) = 1 + π‘ + π‘ 2 ∈ F2 [π‘], as in Example 6.2.3(iii). By Theorem 5.1.5,
{1, πΌ} is a basis of F2 (πΌ) over F2 , so
F2 (πΌ) = {0, 1, πΌ, 1 + πΌ}
= F2 ∪ {the roots of π in F2 (πΌ)}.
Hence F2 (πΌ) is a splitting field of π over F2 .
Exercise 6.2.7 In Example 6.2.6(ii), I said that Q(πΌ, ππΌ, π2 πΌ) =
Q(πΌ, π). Why is that true?
Digression 6.2.8 Splitting fields over Q are easy, as Example 6.2.6(i) shows.
Q, namely, C.
In fact, for any field πΎ, it’s possible to build an algebraically closed field
containing πΎ. And there is a unique ‘smallest’ algebraically closed field
containing πΎ, called its algebraic closure πΎ. For example, the algebraic
closure of Q is Q, the subfield of C consisting of the algebraic numbers. (For
a proof that Q is indeed algebraically closed, see Workshop 3.)
Many texts on Galois theory include constructions of the algebraic closure
of a field, but we won’t do it.
72
Our mission for the rest of this section is to show that every polynomial π has
exactly one splitting field. So that’s actually two tasks: first, show that π has at
least one splitting field, then, show that π has only one splitting field. The first
task is easy, and in fact we prove a little bit more:
Lemma 6.2.9 Let π be a polynomial over a field πΎ. Then there exists a splitting
field π of π over πΎ such that [π : πΎ] ≤ deg( π )!.
(So that this lemma holds for π = 0, we had better define (−∞)! = 1.)
Proof If π is constant then πΎ is a splitting field of π over πΎ, and the result holds
trivially.
Now suppose inductively that deg( π ) ≥ 1. We may choose an irreducible
factor π of π . By Theorem 4.3.7, there is an extension πΎ (πΌ) of πΎ with π(πΌ) = 0.
Then (π‘ − πΌ) | π (π‘) in πΎ (πΌ) [π‘], giving a polynomial π(π‘) = π (π‘)/(π‘ − πΌ) over
πΎ (πΌ).
We have deg(π) = deg( π ) − 1, so by inductive hypothesis, there is a splitting
field π of π over πΎ (πΌ) with [π : πΎ (πΌ)] ≤ deg(π)!. Then π is a splitting field of
π over πΎ. (Check that you understand why.) Also, by the tower law,
[π : πΎ] = [π : πΎ (πΌ)] [πΎ (πΌ) : πΎ] ≤ (deg( π ) − 1)! &middot; deg(π) ≤ deg( π )!,
completing the induction.
Proving that every polynomial has only one splitting field is harder. As ever,
‘only one’ has to be understood up to isomorphism: after all, if you’re given a
splitting field, you can always rename its elements to get an isomorphic copy that’s
not literally identical to the original one. But isomorphism is all that matters.
Our proof of the uniqueness of splitting fields depends on the following result,
which will also be useful for other purposes as we head towards the fundamental
theorem of Galois theory.
Proposition 6.2.10 Let π : πΎ → πΎ 0 be an isomorphism of fields, let π ∈ πΎ [π‘], let
π be a splitting field of π over πΎ, and let π 0 be a splitting field of π∗ ( π ) over πΎ 0.
Then:
i. there exists an isomorphism π : π → π 0 extending π;
ii. there are at most [π : πΎ] such extensions π.
Diagram:
π
πO
/
/
πO 0
πΎ
π
73
πΎ0
Proof We prove both statements by induction on deg( π ). If π is constant then
both field extensions are trivial, so there is exactly one isomorphism π extending π.
Now suppose that deg( π ) ≥ 1. We can choose a monic irreducible factor π of
π . Then π splits in π since π does and π | π ; choose a root πΌ ∈ π of π. We have
π (πΌ) = 0, so (π‘ − πΌ) | π (π‘) in πΎ (πΌ) [π‘], giving a polynomial π(π‘) = π (π‘)/(π‘ − πΌ)
over πΎ (πΌ). Then π is a splitting field of π over πΎ (πΌ), and deg(π) = deg( π ) − 1.
Also, π∗ (π) splits in π 0 since π∗ ( π ) does and π∗ (π) | π∗ ( π ). Write
πΌ10 , . . . , πΌ0π  for the distinct roots of π∗ (π) in π 0. Note that
1 ≤ π  ≤ deg(π∗ (π)) = deg(π).
Counting
isomorphisms: the
proof of
Proposition 6.2.10
(6.1)
Since π∗ is an isomorphism, π∗ (π) is monic and irreducible, and is therefore the
minimal polynomial of πΌ0π for each π ∈ {1, . . . , π }. Hence by Proposition 6.1.5,
for each π, there is a unique isomorphism π π : πΎ (πΌ) → πΎ 0 (πΌ0π ) that extends π and
satisfies π π (πΌ) = πΌ0π . (See diagram below.)
For each π ∈ {1, . . . , π }, we have a polynomial
π π∗ (π) =
π π∗ ( π )
π∗ ( π )
=
π π∗ (π‘ − πΌ) π‘ − πΌ0π
over πΎ 0 (πΌ0π ), and π 0 is a splitting field of π∗ ( π ) over πΎ 0, so π 0 is also a splitting
field of π π∗ (π) over πΎ 0 (πΌ0π ).
To prove that there is at least one isomorphism π extending π, choose any
π ∈ {1, . . . , π } (as we may since π  ≥ 1). By applying the inductive hypothesis to
π and π π , there is an isomorphism π extending π π :
/
π
πO
πΎ (πΌ)
O
ππ
/
πO 0
πΎ 0 (πΌ0π )
/
O
πΎ
πΎ0
π
But then π also extends π, as required.
To prove there are at most [π : πΎ] isomorphisms π : π → π 0 extending
π, first note that any such π satisfies (π∗ ( π ))(π(πΌ)) = 0 (by Lemma 6.1.2), so
π(πΌ) = πΌ0π for some π ∈ {1, . . . , π }. Every element of πΎ (πΌ) is a polynomial
in πΌ over πΎ, and π(π) = π(π) ∈ πΎ 0 for all π ∈ πΎ, so π maps πΎ (πΌ) into
πΎ 0 (πΌ0π ). Now π(πΎ (πΌ)) contains πΎ 0 (since π is an isomorphism) and πΌ0π , so
π(πΎ (πΌ)) = πΎ 0 (πΌ0π ). Since homomorphisms of fields are injective, π restricts to
an isomorphism πΎ (πΌ) → πΎ 0 (πΌ0π ) satisfying πΌ β¦→ πΌ0π . By the uniqueness part of
74
Proposition 6.1.5, this restricted isomorphism must be π π . Thus, π extends π π for
a unique π ∈ {1, . . . , π }, giving
(number of isos π extending π) =
π
&Otilde;
(number of isos π extending π π ).
π=1
For each π, the number of isomorphisms π extending π π is ≤ [π : πΎ (πΌ)], by
inductive hypothesis. So, using the tower law and (6.1),
(number of isos π extending π) ≤ π  &middot; [π : πΎ (πΌ)] = π  &middot;
[π : πΎ]
≤ [π : πΎ],
deg(π)
completing the induction.
Exercise 6.2.11 Why does the proof of Proposition 6.2.10 not show
that there are exactly [π : πΎ] isomorphisms π extending π? How
could you strengthen the hypotheses in order to obtain that conclusion?
(The second question is a bit harder, and we’ll see the answer next
week.)
This brings us to the foundational result on splitting fields. Recall that an
automorphism of an object π is an isomorphism π → π.
Theorem 6.2.12 Let π be a polynomial over a field πΎ. Then:
i. there exists a splitting field of π over πΎ;
ii. any two splitting fields of π are isomorphic over πΎ;
iii. when π is a splitting field of π over πΎ,
(number of automorphisms of π over πΎ) ≤ [π : πΎ] ≤ deg( π )!.
Proof Part (i) is immediate from Lemma 6.2.9, and part (ii) follows from Proposition 6.2.10 by taking πΎ 0 = πΎ and π = idπΎ . The first inequality in (iii) follows
from Proposition 6.2.10 by taking πΎ 0 = πΎ, π 0 = π and π = idπΎ , and the second
follows from Lemma 6.2.9.
Up to now we have been saying ‘a’ splitting field. Theorem 6.2.12 gives us the
right to speak of the splitting field of a given polynomial π over a given field πΎ.
We write it as SFπΎ ( π ).
We finish with a left over lemma that will be useful later.
75
Lemma 6.2.13
i. Let π : π : πΎ be field extensions, π ∈ πΎ [π‘], and π ⊆ π.
Suppose that π is the splitting field of π over πΎ. Then π(π ) is the splitting
field of π over πΎ (π ).
ii. Let π be a polynomial over a field πΎ, and let πΏ be a subfield of SFπΎ ( π )
containing πΎ (so that SFπΎ ( π ) : πΏ : πΎ). Then SFπΎ ( π ) is the splitting field of
π over πΏ.
Proof For (i), π splits in π, hence in π(π ). Writing π for the set of roots of π
in π, we have π = πΎ (π) and so π(π ) = πΎ (π)(π ) = πΎ (π ∪ π ) = πΎ (π )(π); that
is, π(π ) is generated over πΎ (π ) by π. This proves (i), and (ii) follows by taking
π = SFπΎ ( π ) and π = πΏ.
6.3
The Galois group
What gives Galois theory its special flavour is the use of groups to study fields and
polynomials. Here is the central definition.
Definition 6.3.1 The Galois group Gal(π : πΎ) of a field extension is the group
of automorphisms of π over πΎ, with composition as the group operation.
Exercise 6.3.2 Check that this really does define a group. You’ll need
the result of Exercise 4.3.6, for instance.
In other words, an element of Gal(π : πΎ) is an isomorphism π : π → π such
that π (π) = π for all π ∈ πΎ.
Examples 6.3.3
i. What is Gal(C : R)? Certainly the identity is an automorphism of C over R. So is complex conjugation π, as implicitly shown
in the first proof of Lemma 1.1.3. So {id, π} ⊆ Gal(C : R). I claim that
Gal(C : R) has no other elements. For let π ∈ Gal(C : R). Then
(π (π)) 2 = π (π 2 ) = π (−1) = −π (1) = −1
as π is a homomorphism, so π (π) = &plusmn;π. If π (π) = π then
π (π + ππ) = π (π) + π (π)π (π) = π + ππ
for all π, π ∈ R (since π is an automorphism over R), giving π = id. Similarly,
if π (π) = −π then π = π. So Gal(C : R) = {id, π} πΆ2 .
76
ii. Let πΌ be the real cube root of 2. For each π ∈ Gal(Q(πΌ) : Q), we have
(π (πΌ)) 3 = π (πΌ3 ) = π (2) = 2
and π (πΌ) ∈ Q(πΌ) ⊆ R, so π (πΌ) = πΌ. Every element of Q(πΌ) can be
expressed as a polynomial in πΌ over Q (by Theorem 5.1.5), so π = id. Hence
Gal(Q(πΌ) : Q) is trivial.
Exercise 6.3.4 Prove that Gal(Q(π 2ππ/3 ) : Q) = {id, π}, where π(π§) =
π§. (Hint: imitate Example 6.3.3(i).)
The Galois group of a polynomial is defined to be the Galois group of its
splitting field extension:
Definition 6.3.5 Let π be a polynomial over a field πΎ. The Galois group GalπΎ ( π )
of π over πΎ is Gal(SFπΎ ( π ) : πΎ).
So the definitions fit together like this:
polynomial β¦−→ field extension β¦−→ group.
We will soon prove that Definition 6.3.5 is equivalent to the definition of Galois
group in Chapter 1, where we went straight from polynomials to groups.
Theorem 6.2.12(iii) says that
| GalπΎ ( π )| ≤ [SFπΎ ( π ) : πΎ] ≤ deg( π )!.
(6.2)
In particular, GalπΎ ( π ) is always a finite group.
Examples 6.3.6
i. GalQ (π‘ 2 + 1) = Gal(Q(π) : Q) = {id, π} πΆ2 , where π is
complex conjugation on Q(π). The second equality is proved by the same
argument as in Example 6.3.3(i), replacing C : R by Q(π) : Q.
Calculating the
Galois group with
bare hands, part 1
Calculating the
Galois group with
bare hands, part 2
ii. Let π (π‘)√ = (π‘ 2 + 1)(π‘ 2 − 2). Then GalQ ( π ) is the group of automorphisms
of Q(π, 2) over Q. Similar arguments to those in Examples
√
√6.3.3 show that
every π ∈ GalQ ( π ) must satisfy π (π) = &plusmn;π and π ( 2) = &plusmn; 2, and that the
two choices of sign determine π completely. And one can show that all four
choices are possible, so that | GalQ ( π )| = 4. There are two groups of order
four, πΆ4 and πΆ2 &times; πΆ2 . But each element of GalQ ( π ) has order 1 or 2, so
GalQ ( π ) is not πΆ4 , so GalQ ( π ) πΆ2 &times; πΆ2 .
I’ve been sketchy with the details here, because it’s not really sensible to try
to calculate Galois groups until we have a few more tools at our disposal.
We start to assemble them now.
77
Figure 6.1: The Galois group πΊ = GalπΎ ( π ) permutes the roots πΌπ of π . (Image
In the examples so far, we’ve seen that if πΌ is a root of π then so is π (πΌ) for
every π ∈ GalπΎ ( π ). This is true in general, and is best expressed in terms of group
actions (Figure 6.1). In a slogan: the Galois group permutes the roots.
Lemma 6.3.7 Let π be a polynomial over a field πΎ. Let π be the set of roots of π
in SFπΎ ( π ). Then there is an action of GalπΎ ( π ) on π defined by
GalπΎ ( π ) &times; π →
π
(π, πΌ)
β¦→ π (πΌ).
(6.3)
Proof First, if π ∈ GalπΎ ( π ) and πΌ ∈ π then π (πΌ) ∈ π, by Lemma 6.1.2 with
πΎ = πΎ 0, π = π 0 and π = id. For the function (6.3) to be an action means that
(π β¦ π)(πΌ) = π(π (πΌ)) and id(πΌ) = πΌ for all π, π ∈ GalπΎ ( π ) and πΌ ∈ π, which are
true by definition.
The action of the
Galois group
An action of a group πΊ on a set π is essentially the same thing as a homomorphism from πΊ to the group Sym(π) of bijections from π to π. (If we write ππ₯ as
ππ (π₯), then the homomorphism πΊ → Sym(π) is π β¦→ ππ .) We now adopt this
viewpoint in the case of Galois groups.
Let π be a polynomial over a field πΎ, and write πΌ1 , . . . , πΌ π for the distinct roots
of π in SFπΎ ( π ). For each π ∈ {1, . . . , π }, Lemma 6.3.7 implies that π (πΌπ ) = πΌ π for
a unique π. Write π as ππ (π), so that
π (πΌπ ) = πΌππ (π) .
Then we have a function
Γ:
GalπΎ ( π ) → π π
π
β¦→ ππ ,
and it is straightforward to check that Γ is a homomorphism.
78
(6.4)
Exercise 6.3.8 What is the kernel of Γ, in concrete terms?
If you remember the definition of Galois group in Chapter 1 (Definition 1.2.1),
the mention of π π should have set your antennae tingling. There, we defined the
Galois group as a certain subgroup of π π , namely, the one consisting of those
permutations π for which the tuples
(πΌ1 , . . . , πΌ π ),
(πΌπ(1) , . . . , πΌπ(π) )
are indistinguishable. Let’s now make the definition of indistinguishability official,
switch to the standard name (recall Warning 1.1.2), and generalize from Q to an
arbitrary field.
Definition 6.3.9 Let π : πΎ be a field extension, let π ≥ 0, and let (πΌ1 , . . . , πΌ π ) and
(πΌ10 , . . . , πΌ0π ) be π-tuples of elements of π. Then (πΌ1 , . . . , πΌ π ) and (πΌ10 , . . . , πΌ0π )
are conjugate over πΎ if for all π ∈ πΎ [π‘1 , . . . , π‘ π ],
π(πΌ1 , . . . , πΌ π ) = 0 ⇐⇒ π(πΌ10 , . . . , πΌ0π ) = 0.
In the case π = 1, we omit the brackets and say that πΌ and πΌ0 are conjugate to mean
that (πΌ) and (πΌ0) are.
We show now that the two definitions of the Galois group of π are equivalent.
Proposition 6.3.10 Let π be a polynomial over a field πΎ, with distinct roots
πΌ1 , . . . , πΌ π in SFπΎ ( π ). Define the group homomorphism Γ : GalπΎ ( π ) → π π as
in (6.4). Then Γ is injective, and its image is
{π ∈ π π : (πΌ1 , . . . , πΌ π ) and (πΌπ(1) , . . . , πΌπ(π) ) are conjugate over πΎ }.
(6.5)
In particular, (6.5) is a subgroup of π π isomorphic to GalπΎ ( π ).
Proof To show that Γ is injective, let π ∈ ker Γ. Then π (πΌπ ) = πΌπ for all π.
Now SFπΎ ( π ) = πΎ (πΌ1 , . . . , πΌ π ), with each πΌπ algebraic over πΎ, so every element
of SFπΎ ( π ) can be expressed as a polynomial in πΌ1 , . . . , πΌ π over πΎ (by Corollary 5.1.11). Since π : SFπΎ ( π ) → SFπΎ ( π ) fixes each element of πΎ and each πΌπ , it
is the identity on all of SFπΎ ( π ). Thus, ker Γ is trivial, so Γ is injective.
Now we prove that im Γ is the set (6.5). In one direction, let π ∈ im Γ.
Then π = ππ for some π ∈ GalπΎ ( π ) (writing Γ(π) = ππ , as before). For every
π ∈ πΎ [π‘1 , . . . , π‘ π ],
π(πΌππ (1) , . . . , πΌππ (π) ) = π(π (πΌ1 ), . . . , π (πΌ π )) = π ( π(πΌ1 ), . . . , π(πΌ π )),
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where the first equality is by definition of ππ and the second is because π is a
homomorphism over πΎ. But π is an isomorphism, so it follows that
π(πΌππ (1) , . . . , πΌππ (π) ) = 0 ⇐⇒ π(πΌ1 , . . . , πΌ π ) = 0.
Hence π belongs to the set (6.5).
In the other direction, let π be a permutation in (6.5). By Corollary 5.1.11,
every element of SFπΎ ( π ) can be expressed as π(πΌ1 , . . . , πΌ π ) for some π ∈
πΎ [π‘1 , . . . , π‘ π ]. Now for π, π ∈ πΎ [π‘1 , . . . , π‘ π ], we have
π(πΌ1 , . . . , πΌ π ) = π(πΌ1 , . . . , πΌ π ) ⇐⇒ π(πΌπ(1) , . . . , πΌπ(π) ) = π(πΌπ(1) , . . . , πΌπ(π) )
(by applying Definition 6.3.9 of conjugacy with π − π as the ‘π’). So there is a
well-defined, injective function π : SFπΎ ( π ) → SFπΎ ( π ) satisfying
π ( π(πΌ1 , . . . , πΌ π )) = π(πΌπ(1) , . . . , πΌπ(π) )
(6.6)
for all π ∈ πΎ [π‘1 , . . . , π‘ π ]. Moreover, π is surjective because π is a permutation,
π (π) = π for all π ∈ πΎ (by taking π = π in (6.6)), and π (πΌπ ) = πΌπ(π) for all π (by
taking π = π‘π in (6.6)). You can check that π is a homomorphism of fields. Hence
π ∈ GalπΎ ( π ) with Γ(π) = π, proving that π ∈ im Γ.
The final sentence of the proposition follows because every injective group
homomorphism πΎ : πΊ → π» induces an isomorphism between πΊ and the subgroup
im πΎ of π».
Exercise 6.3.11 I skipped two small bits in that proof: ‘π is surjective
because π is a permutation’ (why?), and ‘You can check that π is a
homomorphism of fields’. Fill the gaps.
Digression 6.3.12 As you may know, an action of a group πΊ on a set π
is called faithful if the corresponding homomorphism πΊ → Sym(π) is
injective. A more concrete way to say that is that the only element π ∈ πΊ
that fixes everything (ππ₯ = π₯ for all π₯ ∈ π) is the identity. Equivalently, if
π, β ∈ πΊ and ππ₯ = βπ₯ for all π₯ then π = β. Most actions that one meets in
practice are faithful; those that aren’t involve a kind of redundancy.
It’s important in Galois theory to be able to move easily between fields. For
example, you might start with a polynomial whose coefficients belong to one field
πΎ, but later decide to consider the coefficients as belonging to some larger field πΏ.
Here’s what happens to the Galois group when you do that.
Corollary 6.3.13 Let πΏ : πΎ be a field extension and π ∈ πΎ [π‘]. Then Gal πΏ ( π )
embeds naturally as a subgroup of GalπΎ ( π ).
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The phrasing here is slightly vague: it means there is an injective homomorphism Gal πΏ ( π ) → GalπΎ ( π ), and there is such an obvious choice of homomorphism
that we tend to regard Gal πΏ ( π ) as being a subgroup of GalπΎ ( π ).
Proof This follows from Proposition 6.3.10 together with the observation that if
two π-tuples are conjugate over πΏ, they are conjugate over πΎ.
Example 6.3.14 Consider the Galois group of π (π‘) = (π‘ 2 + 1)(π‘ 2 − 2) over Q, R
and C. In Example 6.3.6(ii), we saw that GalQ ( π ) πΆ2 &times; πΆ2 .
Over R, the Galois group of π is the same as that of π‘ 2 + 1, since both
roots of π‘ 2 − 2 lie in R and are therefore preserved by elements of GalR ( π ). So
GalR ( π ) = GalR (π‘ 2 + 1) πΆ2 .
Finally, GalC ( π ) is trivial. Indeed, every polynomial π ∈ C[π‘] has trivial
Galois group over C: for π splits in C, so SFC (π) = C, so SFC (π) : C is a trivial
extension and so has trivial Galois group.
Corollary 6.3.15 Let π be a polynomial over a field πΎ, with π distinct roots in
SFπΎ ( π ). Then | GalπΎ ( π )| divides π!.
Proof By Proposition 6.3.10, GalπΎ ( π ) is isomorphic to a subgroup of π π , which
has π! elements. The result follows from Lagrange’s theorem.
The inequalities (6.2) already gave us | GalπΎ ( π )| ≤ deg( π )!. Corollary 6.3.15
improves on this in two respects. First, it gives us | GalπΎ ( π )| ≤ π!, where
π ≤ deg( π ) in all cases, and π &lt; deg( π ) if π has repeated roots in its splitting
field. A trivial example: if π (π‘) = π‘ 2 then π = 1 and deg( π ) = 2. Second, it tells
us that | GalπΎ ( π )| is not only less than or equal to π!, but a factor of it.
Galois theory is about the interplay between field extensions and groups.
In the next chapter, we’ll see that just as every field extension giving rise to
a group of automorphisms (its Galois group), every group of automorphisms
gives rise to a field extension. We’ll also go deeper into the different types of
field extension: normal extensions (the mirror image of normal subgroups) and
separable extensions (which have to do with repeated roots). All that will lead us
towards the fundamental theorem of Galois theory.
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Chapter 7
Preparation for the fundamental
theorem
Introduction to
Week 7
Very roughly, the fundamental theorem of Galois theory says that you can tell a
lot about a field extension by looking at its Galois group. A bit more specifically,
it says that the subgroups and quotients of Gal(π : πΎ), and their orders, give
us information about the subfields of π containing πΎ, and their degrees. For
example, one part of the fundamental theorem is that
[π : πΎ] = | Gal(π : πΎ)|.
The theorem doesn’t hold for all extensions, just those that are ‘nice enough’.
Crucially, this includes splitting field extensions SFQ ( π ) : Q of polynomials π
over Q—the starting point of classical Galois theory.
Let’s dip our toes into the water by thinking about why it might be true that
[π : πΎ] = | Gal(π : πΎ)|, at least for extensions that are nice enough.
The simplest nontrivial extensions are the simple algebraic extensions, π =
πΎ (πΌ). Write π for the minimal polynomial of πΌ over πΎ and πΌ1 , πΌ2 , . . . , πΌπ  for
the distinct roots of π in π. For every element π of Gal(π : πΎ), we have
π(π(πΌ)) = 0 by Lemma 6.1.2, and so π(πΌ) = πΌ π for some π ∈ {1, . . . , π }. On the
other hand, for each π ∈ {1, . . . , π }, there is exactly one π ∈ Gal(π : πΎ) such that
π(πΌ) = πΌ π , by Proposition 6.1.5. So | Gal(π : πΎ)| = π .
We know that [π : πΎ] = deg(π). So [π : πΎ] = | Gal(π : πΎ)| if and only if
deg(π) is equal to π , the number of distinct roots of π in π. Certainly π  ≤ deg(π).
But are π  and deg(π) equal?
There are two reasons why √
they might not be. First, π might not split in π.
3
For√instance, if πΎ =√Q and πΌ = 2 then π(π‘) = π‘ 3 − 2, which has only one root in
3
3
Q( 2), so | Gal(Q( 2) : Q)| = 1 &lt; 3 = deg(π). An algebraic extension is called
‘normal’ if this problem doesn’t occur, that is, if the minimal polynomial of every
element does split. That’s what Section 7.1 is about.
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Second, we might have π  &lt; deg(π) because some of the roots of π in π are
repeated. If they are, the number π  of distinct roots will be less then deg(π). An
algebraic extension is called ‘separable’ if this problem doesn’t occur, that is, if the
minimal polynomial of every element has no repeated roots in its splitting field.
That’s what Section 7.2 is about.
If we take any finite extension π : πΎ (not necessarily simple) that is both
normal and separable, then it is indeed true that | Gal(π : πΎ)| = [π : πΎ]. And in
fact, these conditions are enough to make the whole fundamental theorem work,
as we’ll see next week.
I hesitated before putting normality and separability into the same chapter,
because you should think of them in quite different ways:
• Normality has a clear conceptual meaning (as I explain in a video), and its
importance was recognized by Galois himself. Despite the name, most field
extensions aren’t normal; normality isn’t something to be taken for granted.
• In contrast, Galois never considered separability, because it holds automatically over Q (his focus), and in fact over any field of characteristic 0, as
well as any finite field. It takes some work to find an extension that isn’t
separable. You can view separability as more of a technicality.
There’s one more concept in this chapter: the ‘fixed field’ of a group of
automorphisms (Section 7.3). Every Galois theory text I’ve seen contains at least
one proof that makes you ask ‘how did anyone think of that?’ I would argue that
the proof of Theorem 7.3.6 is the one and only truly ingenious argument in this
course: maybe not the hardest, but the most ingenious. Your opinion may differ!
7.1
Normality
Definition 7.1.1 An algebraic field extension π : πΎ is normal if for all πΌ ∈ π,
the minimal polynomial of πΌ splits in π.
We also say π is normal over πΎ to mean that π : πΎ is normal.
Lemma 7.1.2 Let π : πΎ be an algebraic extension. Then π : πΎ is normal if and
only if every irreducible polynomial over πΎ either has no roots in π or splits in π.
Put another way, normality means that any polynomial over πΎ with at least one
root in π has all its roots in π.
Proof Suppose that π : πΎ is normal, and let π be an irreducible polynomial over
πΎ. If π has a root πΌ in π then the minimal polynomial of πΌ is π /π, where π ∈ πΎ
83
What does it mean
to be normal?
is the leading coefficient of π . Since π : πΎ is normal, π /π splits in π, so π does
too.
Conversely, suppose that every irreducible polynomial over πΎ either has no
roots in π or splits in π. Let πΌ ∈ π. Then the minimal polynomial of πΌ has at
least one root in π (namely, πΌ), so it splits in π.
√3
√3
Examples 7.1.3
i. Consider Q( 2) √
: Q. The minimal
polynomial
of
2 over
√3
√3
3
2
3
Q is π‘ − 2, whose roots
√ in C are 2 ∈ R and π 2, π 2 ∈ C \ R, where
2ππ/3 . Since Q( 3 2) ⊆ R, the minimal polynomial π‘ 3 − 2 does not split
π = π√
√3
3
in Q( 2). Hence Q( 2) is not normal over Q.
√3
Alternatively, using the equivalent condition in Lemma 7.1.2, Q( 2) : Q is
not normal
because π‘ 3 − 2 is an irreducible polynomial over Q that has a root
√3
in Q( 2) but does not split there.
√3
One way to think about the non-normality of Q( 2) : Q is as follows. The
three roots of π‘ 3 − 2 are indistinguishable (conjugate) over Q, since they have
the same minimal polynomial. But if they’re indistinguishable, it would
be strange for an extension to contain some but not all of them, since that
would be making a distinction between
elements that are supposed to be
√3
indistinguishable. In that sense, Q( 2) is ‘abnormal’.
ii. Let π be a polynomial over a field πΎ. Then SFπΎ ( π ) : πΎ is always normal,
as we shall see (Theorem 7.1.5).
iii. Every extension of degree 2 is normal (just as, in group theory, every
subgroup of index 2 is normal). You’ll be asked to show this in Workshop 4,
but you also know enough to do it now.
Exercise 7.1.4 What happens if you drop the word ‘irreducible’ from
Lemma 7.1.2? Is it still true?
Normality of field extensions is intimately related to normality of subgroups,
and conjugacy in field extensions is also related to conjugacy in groups. The video
‘What does it mean to be normal?’ explains both kinds of normality and conjugacy
in intuitive terms.
Here’s the first of our two theorems about normal extensions. It describes
which extensions arise as splitting field extensions.
Theorem 7.1.5 Let π : πΎ be a field extension. Then
π = SFπΎ ( π ) for some π ∈ πΎ [π‘] ⇐⇒ π : πΎ is finite and normal.
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SF πO (π)
π = πΎ (πΌ1O , . . . , πΌπ )
π
πΎ (πΏ) g
π
/
πΎ (πΌ1 , . . O . , πΌπ , π)
/
7
πΎ (π)
πΎ
Figure 7.1: Maps used in the proof that splitting field extensions are normal.
Splitting field
extensions are
normal
Proof For ⇐, suppose that π : πΎ is finite and normal. By finiteness, there is a
basis πΌ1 , . . . , πΌπ of π over πΎ, and each πΌπ is algebraic over πΎ (by Proposition 5.3.4).
For each π, let ππ be the minimal polynomial of πΌπ over πΎ; then by normality, ππ
splits in π. Hence π = π 1 π 2 &middot; &middot; &middot; π π ∈ πΎ [π‘] splits in π. The set of roots of π in
π contains {πΌ1 , . . . , πΌπ }, and π = πΎ (πΌ1 , . . . , πΌπ ), so π is generated over πΎ by
the set of roots of π in π. Thus, π is a splitting field of π over πΎ.
For ⇒, take π ∈ πΎ [π‘] such that π = SFπΎ ( π ). We may assume that π ≠ 0,
since if π = 0 then π = πΎ, which is certainly finite and normal over πΎ.
Write πΌ1 , . . . , πΌπ for the roots of π in π. Then π = πΎ (πΌ1 , . . . , πΌπ ). Each πΌπ
is algebraic over πΎ (since π ≠ 0), so by Proposition 5.3.4, π : πΎ is finite.
We now show that π : πΎ is normal, which is the most substantial part of the
proof (Figure 7.1). Let πΏ ∈ π, with minimal polynomial π ∈ πΎ [π‘]. Certainly π
splits in SF π (π), so to show that π splits in π, it is enough to show that every
root π of π in SF π (π) lies in π.
Since π is a monic irreducible annihilating polynomial of π over πΎ, it is the
minimal polynomial of π over πΎ. Hence by Theorem 4.3.7, there is an isomorphism
π : πΎ (πΏ) → πΎ (π) over πΎ. Now observe that:
• π = SFπΎ (πΏ) ( π ), by Lemma 6.2.13(ii);
• πΎ (πΌ1 , . . . , πΌπ , π) is a splitting field of π over πΎ (π), by Lemma 6.2.13(i)
(taking the ‘π’, ‘π’ and ‘π ’ there to be SF π ( π ), π and {π});
• π ∗ ( π ) = π , since π ∈ πΎ [π‘] and π is a homomorphism over πΎ.
So by Proposition 6.2.10, there is some isomorphism π : π → πΎ (πΌ1 , . . . , πΌπ , π)
extending π. Then π is an isomorphism over πΎ, since π is.
85
Since πΏ is in πΎ (πΌ1 , . . . , πΌπ ), it can be expressed as a polynomial in πΌ1 , . . . , πΌπ
over πΎ (by Corollary 5.1.11). Since π is a map over πΎ, it follows that π(πΏ) is a polynomial in π(πΌ1 ), . . . , π(πΌπ ) over πΎ. But π(πΏ) = π (πΏ) = π; moreover, for each π we
have π (π(πΌπ )) = 0 (by Lemma 6.1.2 with π = idπΎ ) and so π(πΌπ ) ∈ {πΌ1 , . . . , πΌπ }.
Hence π is a polynomial in πΌ1 , . . . , πΌπ over πΎ, giving π ∈ πΎ (πΌ1 , . . . , πΌπ ) = π, as
required.
Corollary 7.1.6 Let π : πΏ : πΎ be field extensions. If π : πΎ is finite and normal
then so is π : πΏ.
Proof Follows from Theorem 7.1.5 and Lemma 6.2.13(ii).
Warning 7.1.7
does not follow
that πΏ : πΎ is normal. For instance,
√3
√3 It2ππ/3
) : Q( 2) : Q. The first field is the√ splitting
consider Q( 2, π
3
field of π‘ 3 − 2 over Q, and therefore normal over Q, but Q( 2) is not
(Example 7.1.3(i)).
Theorem 7.1.5 is the first of two theorems about normality. The second is to
do with the action of the Galois group of an extension.
Warning 7.1.8 By definition, the Galois group Gal(π : πΎ) of an
extension π : πΎ acts on π. But if π is the splitting field of some
polynomial π over πΎ then the action of Gal(π : πΎ) on π restricts to
an action on the roots of π (a finite set), as we saw in Section 6.3. So
there are two actions of the Galois group under consideration, one the
restriction of the other. Both are important.
When a group acts on a set, a basic question is: what are the orbits? For
Gal(π : πΎ) acting on π, the answer is: the conjugacy classes of π over πΎ. Or at
least, that’s the case when π : πΎ is finite and normal:
Proposition 7.1.9 Let π : πΎ be a finite normal extension and πΌ, πΌ0 ∈ π. Then
πΌ and πΌ0 are conjugate over πΎ ⇐⇒ πΌ0 = π(πΌ) for some π ∈ Gal(π : πΎ).
Proof For ⇐, let π ∈ Gal(π : πΎ) with πΌ0 = π(πΌ). Then πΌ and πΌ0 are conjugate
over πΎ, by Lemma 6.1.2 (with π 0 = π, πΎ 0 = πΎ and π = idπΎ ).
For ⇒, suppose that πΌ and πΌ0 are conjugate over πΎ. Since π : πΎ is finite,
both are algebraic over πΎ, and since they are conjugate over πΎ, they have the
same minimal polynomial π ∈ πΎ [π‘]. By Theorem 4.3.7, there is an isomorphism
π : πΎ (πΌ) → πΎ (πΌ0) over πΎ such that π (πΌ) = πΌ0 (see diagram below).
86
By Theorem 7.1.5, π is the splitting field of some polynomial π over πΎ. Hence
π is also the splitting field of π over both πΎ (πΌ) and πΎ (πΌ0), by Lemma 6.2.13(ii).
Moreover, π ∗ ( π ) = π since π is a homomorphism over πΎ and π is a polynomial
over πΎ. So by Proposition 6.2.10(i), there is an automorphism π of π extending
π:
π
/π
πO
O
πΎ (πΌ)b
π
/
πΎ&lt; (πΌ0)
πΎ
Then π ∈ Gal(π : πΎ) with π(πΌ) = π (πΌ) = πΌ0, as required.
That result was about the action of Gal(π : πΎ) on the field π, but it has
a powerful corollary involving the action of the Galois group on the roots of an
irreducible polynomial π , when π = SFπΎ ( π ):
Corollary 7.1.10 Let π be an irreducible polynomial over a field πΎ. Then the
action of GalπΎ ( π ) on the roots of π in SFπΎ ( π ) is transitive.
Recall what transitive means, for an action of a group πΊ on a set π: for all
∈ π, there exists π ∈ πΊ such that ππ₯ = π₯ 0.
π₯, π₯ 0
Proof Since π is irreducible, the roots of π in SFπΎ ( π ) all have the same minimal
polynomial, namely, π divided by its leading coefficient. So they are all conjugate
over πΎ. Since SFπΎ ( π ) : πΎ is finite and normal (by Theorem 7.1.5), the result
follows from Proposition 7.1.9.
Exercise 7.1.11 Show by example that Corollary 7.1.10 becomes false
if you drop the word ‘irreducible’.
Example 7.1.12 Let π (π‘) = 1 + π‘ + &middot; &middot; &middot; + π‘ π−1 ∈ Q[π‘], where π is prime. Since
(1 − π‘) π (π‘) = 1 − π‘ π , the roots of π in C are π, π2 , . . . , π π−1 , where π = π 2ππ/π .
By Example 3.3.16, π is irreducible over Q. Hence by Corollary 7.1.10, for each
π ∈ {1, . . . , π − 1}, there is some π ∈ GalQ ( π ) such that π(π) = ππ .
This is spectacular! Until now, we’ve been unable to prove such things without
a huge amount of explicit checking, which, moreover, only works on a case-by-case
basis. For example, if you watched the video ‘Calculating Galois groups with bare
hands, part 2’, you’ll have seen how much tedious calculation went into the single
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case π = 5, π = 2:
But the theorems we’ve proved make all this unnecessary.
In fact, for each π ∈ {1, . . . , π − 1}, there’s exactly one element ππ of GalQ ( π )
such that ππ (π) = ππ . For since SFQ ( π ) = Q(π, . . . , π π−1 ) = Q(π), two elements
of GalQ ( π ) that take the same value on π must be equal. Hence
GalQ ( π ) = {π1 , . . . , π π−1 }.
We’ll see later that GalQ ( π ) πΆ π−1 .
Example 7.1.13 Let’s calculate πΊ = GalQ (π‘ 3 − 2). Since π‘ 3 − 2 has 3 distinct
roots in C, it has 3 distinct roots in its splitting field. By Proposition 6.3.10, πΊ is
isomorphic to a subgroup of π3 . Now πΊ acts transitively on the 3 roots, so it has at
least 3 elements, so it is isomorphic to either π΄3 or π3 . Since two of the roots are
non-real complex conjugates, one of the elements of πΊ is complex conjugation,
which has order 2. Hence 2 divides |πΊ |, forcing πΊ π3 .
We now show how a normal field extension gives rise to a normal subgroup.
Whenever you meet a normal subgroup, you should immediately want to form the
resulting quotient, so we do that too.
Theorem 7.1.14 Let π : πΏ : πΎ be field extensions with π : πΎ finite and
normal.
i. πΏ : πΎ is a normal extension ⇐⇒ ππΏ = πΏ for all π ∈ Gal(π : πΎ).
ii. If πΏ : πΎ is a normal extension then Gal(π : πΏ) is a normal subgroup of
Gal(π : πΎ) and
Gal(π : πΎ)
Gal(πΏ : πΎ).
Gal(π : πΏ)
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Before the proof, here’s some context and explanation.
Part (i) answers the question implicit in Warning 7.1.7: we know from Corollary 7.1.6 that π : πΏ is normal, but when is πΏ : πΎ normal? In part (i), ππΏ means
{π(πΌ) : πΌ ∈ πΏ}. For ππΏ to be equal to πΏ means that π fixes πΏ as a set (in other
words, permutes it within itself), not that π fixes each element of πΏ.
In part (ii), it’s true for all π : πΏ : πΎ that Gal(π : πΏ) is a subset of Gal(π : πΎ),
since
Gal(π : πΏ) = {automorphisms π of π such that π(πΌ) = πΌ for all πΌ ∈ πΏ}
⊆ {automorphisms π of π such that π(πΌ) = πΌ for all πΌ ∈ πΎ }
= Gal(π : πΎ).
It’s also always true that Gal(π : πΏ) is a subgroup of Gal(π : πΎ), as you can
easily check. But part (ii) tells us something much more substantial: it’s a normal
subgroup when πΏ : πΎ is a normal extension.
Proof of Theorem 7.1.14 For (i), first suppose that πΏ is normal over πΎ, and let
π ∈ Gal(π : πΎ). For all πΌ ∈ πΏ, Proposition 7.1.9 implies that πΌ and π(πΌ) are
conjugate over πΎ, so they have the same minimal polynomial, so π(πΌ) ∈ πΏ by
normality. Hence ππΏ ⊆ πΏ. The same argument with π−1 in place of π gives
π−1 πΏ ⊆ πΏ, and applying π to each side then gives πΏ ⊆ ππΏ. So ππΏ = πΏ.
Conversely, suppose that ππΏ = πΏ for all π ∈ Gal(π : πΎ). Let πΌ ∈ πΏ with
minimal polynomial π. Since π : πΎ is normal, π splits in π. Each root πΌ0 of
π in π is conjugate to πΌ over πΎ, so by Proposition 7.1.9, πΌ0 = π(πΌ) for some
π ∈ Gal(π : πΎ), giving πΌ0 ∈ ππΏ = πΏ. Hence π splits in πΏ and πΏ : πΎ is normal.
For (ii), suppose that πΏ : πΎ is normal. To prove that Gal(π : πΏ) is a normal
subgroup of Gal(π : πΎ), let π ∈ Gal(π : πΎ) and π ∈ Gal(π : πΏ). We show that
π−1 ππ ∈ Gal(π : πΏ), or equivalently,
π−1 ππ(πΌ) = πΌ for all πΌ ∈ πΏ,
or equivalently,
ππ(πΌ) = π(πΌ) for all πΌ ∈ πΏ.
But by (i), π(πΌ) ∈ πΏ for all πΌ ∈ πΏ, so π (π(πΌ)) = π(πΌ) since π ∈ Gal(π : πΏ).
This completes the proof that Gal(π : πΏ) P Gal(π : πΎ).
Finally, we prove the statement on quotients (still supposing that πΏ : πΎ is a
normal extension). Every automorphism π of π over πΎ satisfies ππΏ = πΏ (by (i)),
and therefore restricts to an automorphism πˆ of πΏ. The function
π:
Gal(π : πΎ) → Gal(πΏ : πΎ)
π
β¦→
πˆ
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is a group homomorphism, since it preserves composition. Its kernel is Gal(π :
πΏ), by definition. If we can prove that π is surjective then the last part of the
theorem will follow from the first isomorphism theorem.
To prove that π is surjective, we must show that each automorphism π of πΏ
over πΎ extends to an automorphism π of π:
πO
π
πΏ`
π
/
/
πO
&gt;
πΏ
πΎ
The argument is similar to the second half of the proof of Proposition 7.1.9. By
Theorem 7.1.5, π is the splitting field of some π ∈ πΎ [π‘]. Then π is also the
splittting field of π over πΏ. Also, π∗ ( π ) = π since π is a homomorphism over πΎ and
π is a polynomial over πΎ. So by Proposition 6.2.10(i), there is an automorphism
π of π extending π, as required.
Example 7.1.15 Take π : πΏ : πΎ to be
√3
Q 2, π : Q(π) : Q,
√3
where π = π 2ππ/3 . As you will recognize by now, Q( 2, π) is the splitting field of
π‘ 3 − 2 over Q, so it is a finite normal extension of Q by Theorem 7.1.5.
Also, Q(π) is the splitting field of π‘ 2 +π‘ +1 over Q, so it too is a normal extension
of Q. Part (i) of Theorem 7.1.14 implies that every element of GalQ (π‘ 3 −2) restricts
to an automorphism of Q(π).
Part (ii) implies that
√3
√3
Gal Q 2, π : Q(π) P Gal Q 2, π : Q
and that
√3
Gal Q 2, π : Q
√3
Gal(Q(π) : Q).
Gal Q 2, π : Q(π)
(7.1)
√3
What does this say explicitly? We showed in Example 7.1.13 that Gal(Q( 2, π) :
Q) π3 . That is, each element of the Galois group permutes the three roots
√3
√3
√3
2, π 2, π2 2
90
of π‘ 3 − 2, and all six permutations
are realized by some element of the Galois
√3
group. An element√ of Gal(Q( 2, π) : Q) that √fixes π is determined by which
3
3
of the three roots 2 is mapped to, so Gal(Q( 2, π) : Q(π)) π΄3 . Finally,
Gal(Q(π) : Q) πΆ2 by Example 7.1.12. So in this case, the isomorphism (7.1)
states that
π3
πΆ2 .
π΄3
3
Exercise 7.1.16 Draw a diagram
√3 showing the three roots of π‘ − 2 and
the elements of π» = Gal(Q( 2, π) : Q(π)) acting on them.
√3 There is
a simple geometric description of the elements of Gal(Q( 2, π) : Q)
that belong to the subgroup π». What is it?
7.2
Separability
Theorem 6.2.12 implies that | Gal(π : πΎ)| ≤ [π : πΎ] whenever π : πΎ is a
splitting field extension. Why is this an inequality, not an equality? The answer can
be traced back to the proof of Proposition 6.2.10 on extension of isomorphisms.
There, we had an irreducible polynomial called π∗ (π), and we wrote π  for the
number of distinct roots of π∗ (π) in its splitting field. Ultimately, the source of
the inequality | Gal(π : πΎ)| ≤ [π : πΎ] was the fact that π  ≤ deg(π∗ (π)).
But is this last inequality actually an equality? That is, does an irreducible
polynomial of degree π always have π distinct roots in its splitting field? Certainly
it has π roots when counted with multiplicity. But there will be fewer than π
distinct roots if any of the roots are repeated (have multiplicity ≥ 2, as defined in
Definition 3.2.10). The question is whether this can ever happen.
Exercise 7.2.1 Try to find an example of an irreducible polynomial
of degree π with fewer than π distinct roots in its splitting field. Or
if you can’t, see if you can prove that this is impossible over Q—that
is, an irreducible over Q has no repeated roots in C. Both are quite
hard, but ten minutes spent trying may help you to appreciate what’s
to come.
Definition 7.2.2 An irreducible polynomial over a field is separable if it has no
repeated roots in its splitting field.
Equivalently, an irreducible polynomial π ∈ πΎ [π‘] is separable if it splits into
distinct linear factors in SFπΎ ( π ):
π (π‘) = π(π‘ − πΌ1 ) &middot; &middot; &middot; (π‘ − πΌπ )
91
for some π ∈ πΎ and distinct πΌ1 , . . . , πΌπ ∈ SFπΎ ( π ). Put another way, an irreducible
π is separable if and only if it has deg( π ) distinct roots in its splitting field.
Example 7.2.3 π‘ 3 − 2 ∈ Q[π‘] is separable, since it has 3 distinct roots in C, hence
in its splitting field.
Example 7.2.4 This is an example of an irreducible polynomial that’s inseparable.
It’s a little bit complicated, although in fact it’s the simplest example there is.
Let π be a prime, let πΎ be the field F π (π’) of rational expressions over F π
(where π’ is the variable symbol), and let π (π‘) = π‘ π − π’. By definition, π has at
least one root πΌ in its splitting field. We have
π
(π‘ − πΌ) =
π &Otilde;
π
π‘ π (−πΌ) π−π = π‘ π − πΌ π = π (π‘),
π
π=0
where the second equality follows from Lemma 3.3.15. So π (π‘) = (π‘ − πΌ) π in
SFπΎ ( π ), which means that πΌ is the only root of π in its splitting field—despite π
having degree π &gt; 1.
We now show that π is irreducible over πΎ. The unique factorization of π
into irreducible polynomials over SFπΎ ( π ) is π (π‘) = (π‘ − πΌ) π , so any nontrivial
factorization of π in πΎ [π‘] is of the form
π (π‘) = (π‘ − πΌ) π (π‘ − πΌ) π−π
where 0 &lt; π &lt; π and both factors belong to πΎ [π‘]. The coefficient of π‘ π−1 in
(π‘ − πΌ) π is −ππΌ, so −ππΌ ∈ πΎ. But π is invertible in πΎ, so πΌ ∈ πΎ, contradicting
Exercise 7.2.5.
Exercise 7.2.5 Show that π’ has no πth root in F π (π’); that is, there is no
πΌ ∈ F π (π’) with πΌ π = π’. (Hint: consider the degree of polynomials.)
Warning 7.2.6 Definition 7.2.2 is only a definition of separability
for irreducible polynomials. There is a definition of separability for
arbitrary polynomials, but it’s not simply Definition 7.2.2 with the
word ‘irreducible’ deleted. We won’t need it, but here it is: an
arbitrary polynomial is called separable if each of its irreducible factors
is separable. So π‘ 2 is separable, even though it has a repeated root.
In real analysis, we can test whether a root is repeated by asking whether the
92
derivative is 0 there:
Over an arbitrary field, there’s no general definition of differentiation, as there is
no sense of what a ‘limit’ might be. But even without limits, we can differentiate
polynomials in the following sense.
&Iacute;π
Definition 7.2.7 Let πΎ be a field and let π (π‘) = π=0
ππ π‘ π ∈ πΎ [π‘]. The formal
derivative of π is
π
&Otilde;
(π· π )(π‘) =
πππ π‘ π−1 ∈ πΎ [π‘].
π=1
We use π· π rather than π 0 to remind ourselves not to take the familiar properties
of differentiation for granted. Nevertheless, the usual basic laws hold:
Lemma 7.2.8 Let πΎ be a field. Then
π· ( π + π) = π· π + π·π,
π· ( π π) = π &middot; π·π + π· π &middot; π,
π·π = 0
for all π , π ∈ πΎ [π‘] and π ∈ πΎ.
Exercise 7.2.9 Check a couple of the properties in Lemma 7.2.8.
The real analysis test for repetition of roots has an algebraic analogue:
Lemma 7.2.10 Let π be a nonzero polynomial over a field πΎ. The following are
equivalent:
i. π has a repeated root in SFπΎ ( π );
ii. π and π· π have a common root in SFπΎ ( π );
iii. π and π· π have a nonconstant common factor in πΎ [π‘].
Proof (i)⇒(ii): suppose that π has a repeated root πΌ in SFπΎ ( π ). Then π (π‘) =
(π‘ − πΌ) 2 π(π‘) for some π(π‘) ∈ (SFπΎ ( π )) [π‘]. Hence
(π· π )(π‘) = (π‘ − πΌ) 2π(π‘) + (π‘ − πΌ) &middot; (π·π)(π‘) ,
93
so πΌ is a common root of π and π· π in SFπΎ ( π ).
(ii)⇒(iii): suppose that π and π· π have a common root πΌ in SFπΎ ( π ). Then πΌ
is algebraic over πΎ (since π ≠ 0), and the minimal polynomial of πΌ over πΎ is then
a nonconstant common factor of π and π· π .
(iii)⇒(ii): if π and π· π have a nonconstant common factor π then π splits in
SFπΎ ( π ), and any root of π in SFπΎ ( π ) is a common root of π and π· π .
(ii)⇒(i): suppose that π and π· π have a common root πΌ ∈ SFπΎ ( π ). Then
π (π‘) = (π‘ − πΌ)π(π‘) for some π ∈ (SFπΎ ( π )) [π‘], giving
(π· π )(π‘) = π(π‘) + (π‘ − πΌ) &middot; (π·π)(π‘).
But (π· π )(πΌ) = 0, so π(πΌ) = 0, so π(π‘) = (π‘ − πΌ)β(π‘) for some β ∈ (SFπΎ ( π )) [π‘].
Hence π (π‘) = (π‘ − πΌ) 2 β(π‘), and πΌ is a repeated root of π in its splitting field. The point of Lemma 7.2.10 is that condition (iii) allows us to test for repetition
of roots in SFπΎ ( π ) without ever leaving πΎ [π‘], or even knowing what SFπΎ ( π ) is.
Proposition 7.2.11 Let π be an irreducible polynomial over a field. Then π is
inseparable if and only if π· π = 0.
Proof This follows from (i) ⇐⇒ (iii) in Lemma 7.2.10. Since π is irreducible,
π and π· π have a nonconstant common factor if and only if π divides π· π ; but
deg(π· π ) &lt; deg( π ), so π | π· π if and only if π· π = 0.
Corollary 7.2.12 Let πΎ be a field.
i. If char πΎ = 0 then every irreducible polynomial over πΎ is separable.
ii. If char πΎ = π &gt; 0 then an irreducible polynomial π ∈ πΎ [π‘] is inseparable if
and only if
π (π‘) = π 0 + π 1 π‘ π + &middot; &middot; &middot; + ππ π‘ π π
for some π 0 , . . . , ππ ∈ πΎ.
In other words, the only irreducible polynomials that are inseparable are the
polynomials in π‘ π in characteristic π. Inevitably, Example 7.2.4 is of this form.
&Iacute;
Proof Let π (π‘) = ππ π‘ π be an irreducible polynomial. Then π is inseparable if
and only if π· π = 0, if and only if πππ = 0 for all π ≥ 1. If char πΎ = 0, this implies
that ππ = 0 for all π ≥ 1, so π is constant, which contradicts π being irreducible. If
char πΎ = π, then πππ = 0 for all π ≥ 1 is equivalent to ππ = 0 whenever π - π.
Remark 7.2.13 In the final chapter we will show that every irreducible polynomial
over a finite field is separable. So, it is only over infinite fields of characteristic π
that you have to worry about inseparability.
94
We now build up to showing that | Gal(π : πΎ)| = [π : πΎ] whenever π : πΎ
is a finite normal extension in which the minimal polynomial of every element of
π is separable. First, some terminology:
Definition 7.2.14 Let π : πΎ be an algebraic extension. An element of π is
separable over πΎ if its minimal polynomial over πΎ is separable. The extension
π : πΎ is separable if every element of π is separable over πΎ.
Examples 7.2.15
i. Every algebraic extension of fields of characteristic 0 is
separable, by Corollary 7.2.12.
ii. Every algebraic extension of a finite field is separable, by Remark 7.2.13.
iii. The splitting field of π‘ π − π’ over F π (π’) is inseparable: indeed, the element
denoted by πΌ in Example 7.2.4 is inseparable over F π (π’), since its minimal
polynomial is the inseparable polynomial π‘ π − π’.
Exercise 7.2.16 Let π : πΏ : πΎ be field extensions. Show that if
π : πΎ is algebraic then so are π : πΏ and πΏ : πΎ.
Lemma 7.2.17 Let π : πΏ : πΎ be field extensions, with π : πΎ algebraic. If π : πΎ
is separable then so are π : πΏ and πΏ : πΎ.
Proof Both π : πΏ and πΏ : πΎ are algebraic by Exercise 7.2.16, so it does make
sense to ask whether they are separable. (We only defined what it means for an
algebraic extension to be separable.) That πΏ : πΎ is separable is immediate from the
definition. To show that π : πΏ is separable, let πΌ ∈ π. Write π πΏ and π πΎ for the
minimal polynomials of πΌ over πΏ and πΎ, respectively. Then π πΎ is an annihilating
polynomial of πΌ over πΏ, so π πΏ | π πΎ in πΏ [π‘]. Since π : πΎ is separable, π πΎ
splits into distinct linear factors in SFπΎ (π πΎ ). Since π πΏ | π πΎ , so does π πΏ . Hence
π πΏ ∈ πΏ [π‘] is separable, so πΌ is separable over πΏ.
As hinted in the introduction to this section, we will prove that | Gal(π : πΎ)| =
[π : πΎ] by refining Proposition 6.2.10.
Proposition 7.2.18 Let π : πΎ → πΎ 0 be an isomorphism of fields, let π ∈ πΎ [π‘], let
π be a splitting field of π over πΎ, and let π 0 be a splitting field of π∗ ( π ) over πΎ 0.
Suppose that the extension π 0 : πΎ 0 is separable. Then there are exactly [π : πΎ]
isomorphisms π : π → π 0 extending π.
Proof This is almost the same as the proof of Proposition 6.2.10, but with the
inequality π  ≤ deg(π∗ (π)) replaced by an equality, which holds by separability.
For the inductive hypothesis to go through, we need the extension π 0 : πΎ 0 (πΌ0π ) to
be separable, and this follows from the separability of π 0 : πΎ 0 by Lemma 7.2.17.
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Theorem 7.2.19 | Gal(π : πΎ)| = [π : πΎ] for every finite normal separable
extension π : πΎ.
Proof By Theorem 7.1.5, π = SFπΎ ( π ) for some π ∈ πΎ [π‘]. The result follows
from Proposition 7.2.18, taking π 0 = π, πΎ 0 = πΎ, and π = idπΎ .
Examples 7.2.20
i. | GalπΎ ( π )| = [SFπΎ ( π ) : πΎ] for any polynomial π over a
field πΎ of characteristic 0.
For instance, [SFQ (π‘ 3 − 2) : Q] = 6 by a similar argument to Example 5.2.7,
using that SFQ (π‘ 3 − 2) contains elements of degree 2 and 3 over Q. Hence
| GalQ ( π )| = 6. But GalQ ( π ) embeds into π3 by Proposition 6.3.10, so
GalQ ( π ) π3 . We already proved this in Example 7.1.15, using a different
argument.
ii. Consider πΎ = F π (π’) and π = SFπΎ (π‘ π − π’). With notation as in Example 7.2.4, we have π = πΎ (πΌ), so [π : πΎ] = degπΎ (πΌ) = π. On the other
hand, | Gal(π : πΎ)| = 1 by Corollary 6.3.15. So Theorem 7.2.19 fails if we
drop the separability hypothesis.
Digression 7.2.21 With some effort, one can show that in any algebraic
extension π : πΎ, the separable elements form a subfield of π. (See Stewart,
Theorem 17.22.) It follows that a finite extension πΎ (πΌ1 , . . . , πΌπ ) : πΎ is
separable if and only if each πΌπ is. Hence a splitting field extension SFπΎ ( π ) :
πΎ is separable if and only if every root of π is separable in SFπΎ ( π ), which
itself is equivalent to π being separable in the sense of Warning 7.2.6.
So: SFπΎ ( π ) is separable over πΎ if and only if π is separable over πΎ. Thus,
the different meanings of ‘separable’ interact nicely.
Digression 7.2.22 It’s a stunning fact that every finite separable extension
is simple. This is called the theorem of the primitive element. For instance,
whenever πΌ1 , . . . , πΌπ are complex numbers algebraic over Q, there is some
πΌ ∈ C (a ‘primitive element’) such that
√ Q(πΌ
√ 1 , . . . ,√πΌπ ) =√Q(πΌ). We saw one
case of this in Example 4.3.2(i): Q( 2, 3) = Q( 2 + 3).
The theorem of the primitive element was at the heart of most early accounts
of Galois theory, and appears in many modern treatments too, but we will
not prove it.
7.3
Fixed fields
When a group πΊ acts on a set π, we usually want to know which elements of
π are fixed by every element of πΊ. Here, we’ll ask this question for groups of
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automorphisms of a field.
The following preliminary definition will come in handy.
Definition 7.3.1 Let π and π be sets, and let π» ⊆ {functions π → π }. The
equalizer of π» is
Eq(π») = {π₯ ∈ π : π (π₯) = π(π₯) for all π , π ∈ π»}.
So the equalizer of π» is the part of π on which all the functions in π» are equal.
Lemma 7.3.2 Let π and π 0 be fields, and let π» ⊆ {homomorphisms π → π 0 }.
Then Eq(π») is a subfield of π.
Proof We must show that 0, 1 ∈ Eq(π»), that if πΌ ∈ Eq(π») then −πΌ ∈ Eq(π») and
1/πΌ ∈ Eq(π») (when πΌ ≠ 0), and that if πΌ, π½ ∈ Eq(π») then πΌ + π½, πΌπ½ ∈ Eq(π»). I
will show just the last of these, leaving the rest to you. Suppose that πΌ, π½ ∈ Eq(π»).
For all π, π ∈ π», we have
π(πΌπ½) = π(πΌ)π(π½) = π (πΌ)π (π½) = π (πΌπ½),
so πΌπ½ ∈ Eq(π»).
Write Aut(π) for the group of automorphisms of a field π.
Definition 7.3.3 Let π be a field and let π» a subgroup of Aut(π). The fixed
field of π» is
Fix(π») = {πΌ ∈ π : π(πΌ) = πΌ for all π ∈ π»}.
Lemma 7.3.4 Fix(π») is a subfield of π.
Proof In fact, Fix(π») = Eq(π»), since id π is an element of π». The result follows
from Lemma 7.3.2.
Exercise 7.3.5 Using Lemma 7.3.4, show that every automorphism
of a field is an automorphism over its prime subfield. In other words,
Aut(π) = Gal(π : πΎ) whenever π is a field with prime subfield πΎ.
Here’s the big, ingenious, result about fixed fields. It will play a crucial part in
the proof of the fundamental theorem of Galois theory.
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Theorem 7.3.6 Let π be a field and π» a finite subgroup of Aut(π). Then
[π : Fix(π»)] ≤ |π»|.
As Fix(π») gets bigger, [π : Fix(π»)] gets smaller. Theorem 7.3.6 tells us that
the smaller |π»| is, the more of π must be fixed by π». For some intuition about
both the statement and the proof, watch the video ‘The size of fixed fields’.
Proof Write π = |π»|. It is enough to prove that any π + 1 elements πΌ0 , . . . , πΌπ of
π are linearly dependent over Fix(π»).
Let
π = (π₯ 0 , . . . , π₯ π ) ∈ π π+1 : π₯ 0 π (πΌ0 ) + &middot; &middot; &middot; + π₯ π π (πΌπ ) = 0 for all π ∈ π» .
The size of fixed
fields
Then π is defined by π homogeneous linear equations in π + 1 variables, so it is a
nontrivial π-linear subspace of π π+1 .
Claim: let (π₯ 0 , . . . , π₯ π ) ∈ π and π ∈ π». Then (π(π₯ 0 ), . . . , π(π₯ π )) ∈ π.
Proof: For all π ∈ π», we have
π₯ 0 (π−1 β¦ π)(πΌ0 ) + &middot; &middot; &middot; + π₯ π (π−1 β¦ π)(πΌπ ) = 0
since π−1 β¦ π ∈ π». Applying π to both sides gives that for all π ∈ π»,
π(π₯ 0 )π (πΌ0 ) + &middot; &middot; &middot; + π(π₯ π )π (πΌπ ) = 0,
Remarks on the
proof of
Theorem 7.3.6
(actually a PDF,
not a video)
proving the claim.
Since π is nontrivial, there is a least π ≥ 0 such that π contains some nonzero
vector x = (π₯ 0 , . . . , π₯ π ) with π₯π = 0 for all π &gt; π. Then π₯ π ≠ 0, and since π is
closed under scalar multiplication by π, we may assume that π₯ π = 1.
We now show that π₯π ∈ Fix(π») for all π. Let π ∈ π». By the claim,
(π(π₯0 ), . . . , π(π₯ π )) ∈ π. Since π is a linear subspace,
(π(π₯0 ) − π₯0 , . . . , π(π₯ π ) − π₯ π ) ∈ π .
But π(π₯ π ) − π₯ π = π(1) − 1 = 0 and π(π₯π ) − π₯π = 0 − 0 = 0 for all π &gt; π, so by
minimality of π, also π(π₯π ) − π₯π = 0 for all π &lt; π. Hence π₯π ∈ Fix(π») for all π.
We have shown that π contains a nonzero vector x ∈ Fix(π») π+1 . But taking
&Iacute;
π = id in the definition of π gives π₯π πΌπ = 0. Hence πΌ0 , . . . , πΌπ are linearly
dependent over Fix(π»).
Example 7.3.7 Let π : C → C be complex conjugation. Then π» = {id, π} is a
subgroup of Aut(C), and Theorem 7.3.6 predicts that [C : Fix(π»)] ≤ 2. Since
Fix(π») = R, this is true.
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Exercise 7.3.8 Find another example of Theorem 7.3.6.
Digression 7.3.9 In fact, Theorem 7.3.6 is an equality: [π : Fix(π»)] =
|π»|. This is proved directly in many Galois theory books (e.g. Stewart,
Theorem 10.5). In our approach it will be a consequence of the fundamental
theorem of Galois theory (rather than a step on the way to proving it), at least
under certain hypotheses on π and π».
The reverse inequality, [π : Fix(π»)] ≥ |π»|, is closely related to the result
called ‘linear independence of characters’. (A good reference is Lang, Algebra, 3rd edition, Theorem 4.1.) Another instance of linear independence of
characters is that the functions π§ β¦→ π 2 ππππ§ (π ∈ Z) are linearly independent,
a fundamental fact in the theory of Fourier series.
We finish by adding a further connecting strand between the concepts of normal
extension and normal subgroup, complementary to the strands in Theorem 7.1.14.
It needs a lemma that fundamentally has nothing to do with fields, and is really a
general result about groups acting on sets, as the proof shows.
Lemma 7.3.10 Let π be a field, π» a subgroup of Aut(π), and π ∈ Aut(π).
Then Fix(ππ»π−1 ) = π Fix(π»).
Proof Let πΌ ∈ π. Then
πΌ ∈ Fix(ππ»π−1 ) ⇐⇒ πππ−1 (πΌ) = πΌ for all π ∈ π»
⇐⇒ ππ−1 (πΌ) = π−1 (πΌ) for all π ∈ π»
⇐⇒ π−1 (πΌ) ∈ Fix(π»)
⇐⇒ πΌ ∈ π Fix(π»).
Proposition 7.3.11 Let π : πΎ be a finite normal extension and π» a normal
subgroup of Gal(π : πΎ). Then Fix(π») is a normal extension of πΎ.
Proof Since every element of π» is an automorphism over πΎ, the subfield Fix(π»)
of π contains πΎ. For each π ∈ Gal(π : πΎ), we have
π Fix(π») = Fix(ππ»π−1 ) = Fix(π»),
where the first equality holds by Lemma 7.3.10 and the second because π» is normal
in Gal(π : πΎ). Hence by Theorem 7.1.14(i), Fix(π») : πΎ is a normal extension.
The stage is now set for the central result of the course: the fundamental
theorem of Galois theory.
99
Chapter 8
The fundamental theorem of Galois
theory
We’ve been building up to this moment all semester. Let’s do it!
Introduction to
Week 8
8.1
Introducing the Galois correspondence
Let π : πΎ be a field extension, with πΎ viewed as a subfield of π, as usual.
An intermediate field of π : πΎ is a subfield of π containing πΎ. Write
F = {intermediate fields of π : πΎ }.
For πΏ ∈ F , we draw diagrams like this:
π
πΏ
πΎ,
with the bigger fields higher up.
Also write
G = {subgroups of Gal(π : πΎ)}.
For π» ∈ G , we draw diagrams like this:
1
π»
Gal(π : πΎ),
100
where 1 denotes the trivial subgroup and the bigger groups are lower down. It will
become clear soon why we’re using opposite conventions for the field and group
diagrams.
For πΏ ∈ F , the group Gal(π : πΏ) consists of all automorphisms π of π that
fix each element of πΏ. Since πΎ ⊆ πΏ, any such π certainly fixes each element of πΎ.
Hence Gal(π : πΏ) is a subgroup of Gal(π : πΎ). This process defines a function
Gal(π : −) :
F →
G
πΏ β¦→ Gal(π : πΏ).
In the expression Gal(π : −), the symbol − should be seen as a blank space into
which arguments can be inserted.
Warning 8.1.1 The group we’re associating with πΏ is Gal(π : πΏ),
not Gal(πΏ : πΎ)! Both groups matter, but only one is a subgroup of
Gal(π : πΎ), which is what we’re interested in here.
We showed just now that Gal(π : πΏ) is a subgroup of Gal(π : πΎ).
If you wanted to show that Gal(πΏ : πΎ) is (isomorphic to) a subgroup
of Gal(π : πΎ)—which it isn’t—then you’d probably do it by trying
to prove that every automorphism of πΏ over πΎ extends uniquely to π.
And that’s false. For instance, when πΏ = πΎ, the identity on πΏ typically
has many extensions to π: they’re the elements of Gal(π : πΎ).
Although Gal(πΏ : πΎ) isn’t a subgroup of Gal(π : πΎ), it is a quotient
of it, at least when both extensions are finite and normal. We saw this
in Theorem 7.1.14, and we’ll come back to it in Section 8.2.
In the other direction, for π» ∈ G , the subfield Fix(π») of π contains πΎ. Indeed,
π» ⊆ Gal(π : πΎ), and by definition, every element of Gal(π : πΎ) fixes every
element of πΎ, so Fix(π») ⊇ πΎ. Hence Fix(π») is an intermediate field of π : πΎ.
This process defines a function
Fix :
G →
F
π» β¦→ Fix(π»).
We have now defined functions
Fo
Gal(π:−)
Fix
/
G.
The fundamental theorem of Galois theory tells us how these functions behave:
how the concepts of Galois group and fixed field interact. The proof will bring
together most of the big results we’ve proved so far, and assumes that the extension
is finite, normal and separable. But first, let’s say the simple things that are true
for all extensions:
101
π
1
πΏ2
Gal(π : πΏ 2 )
πΏ1
Gal(π : πΏ 1 )
πΎ
Gal(π : πΎ)
Figure 8.1: The function πΏ β¦→ Gal(π : πΏ) is order-reversing (Lemma 8.1.2(i)).
Lemma 8.1.2 Let π : πΎ be a field extension, and define F and G as above.
i. For πΏ 1 , πΏ 2 ∈ F ,
πΏ 1 ⊆ πΏ 2 ⇒ Gal(π : πΏ 1 ) ⊇ Gal(π : πΏ 2 )
(Figure 8.1). For π»1 , π»2 ∈ G ,
π»1 ⊆ π»2 ⇒ Fix(π»1 ) ⊇ Fix(π»2 ).
ii. For πΏ ∈ F and π» ∈ G ,
πΏ ⊆ Fix(π») ⇐⇒ π» ⊆ Gal(π : πΏ).
iii. For all πΏ ∈ F ,
πΏ ⊆ Fix(Gal(π : πΏ)).
For all π» ∈ G ,
π» ⊆ Gal(π : Fix(π»)).
Warning 8.1.3 In part (i), the functions Gal(π : −) and Fix reverse
inclusions. The bigger you make πΏ, the smaller you make Gal(π : πΏ),
because it gets harder for an automorphism to fix everything in πΏ. And
the bigger you make π», the smaller you make Fix(π»), because it gets
harder for an element of π to be fixed by everything in π». That’s why
the field and group diagrams are opposite ways up.
102
Proof (i): I leave the first half as an exercise. For the second, suppose that
π»1 ⊆ π»2 , and let πΌ ∈ Fix(π»2 ). Then π (πΌ) = πΌ for all π ∈ π»2 , so π (πΌ) = πΌ for all
π ∈ π»1 , so πΌ ∈ Fix(π»1 ).
(ii): both sides are equivalent to the statement that π (πΌ) = πΌ for all π ∈ π» and
πΌ ∈ πΏ.
(iii): the first statement follows from the ⇐ direction of (ii) by taking π» =
Gal(π : πΏ), and the second follows from the ⇒ direction of (ii) by taking
πΏ = Fix(π»). (Or, they can be proved directly.)
Exercise 8.1.4 Prove the first half of Lemma 8.1.2(i).
Exercise 8.1.5 Draw a diagram like Figure 8.1 for the second half of
Lemma 8.1.2(i).
Digression 8.1.6 If you’ve done some algebraic geometry, the formal structure of Lemma 8.1.2 might seem familiar. Given a field πΎ and a natural
number π, we can form the set F of subsets of πΎ π and the set G of ideals of
πΎ [π‘1 , . . . , π‘ π ], and there are functions F G defined by taking the annihilating ideal of a subset of πΎ π and the zero-set of an ideal of πΎ [π‘1 , . . . , π‘ π ].
The analogue of Lemma 8.1.2 holds.
In general, a pair of ordered sets F and G equipped with functions F G
satisfying the properties above is called a Galois connection. This in turn is
a special case of the category-theoretic notion of adjoint functors.
The functions
Fo
Gal(π:−)
Fix
/
G.
are called the Galois correspondence for π : πΎ. This terminology is mostly used
in the case where the functions are mutually inverse, meaning that
πΏ = Fix(Gal(π : πΏ)),
π» = Gal(π : Fix(π»))
for all πΏ ∈ F and π» ∈ G . We saw in Lemma 8.1.2(iii) that in both cases, the
left-hand side is a subset of the right-hand side. But they are not always equal:
√3
Example 8.1.7 Let π : πΎ be Q( 2) : Q. Since [π : πΎ] is 3, which is a
prime number, the tower law implies that there are no nontrivial intermediate
fields: F = {π, πΎ }. We saw in Example 6.3.3(ii) that Gal(π : πΎ) is trivial,
so G = {Gal(π : πΎ)}. Hence F has two elements and G has only one. This
103
makes it impossible for there to be mutually inverse functions between F and G .
Specifically, what goes wrong is that
√3 √3 Fix Gal Q 2 : Q = Fix idQ( √3 2) = Q 2 ≠ Q.
Exercise 8.1.8 Let π be a prime number, let πΎ = F π (π’), and let π be
the splitting field of π‘ π − π’ over πΎ, as in Examples 7.2.4 and 7.2.20(ii).
Prove that Gal(π : −) and Fix are not mutually inverse.
If Gal(π : −) and Fix are mutually inverse then they set up a one-to-one
correspondence between the set F of intermediate fields of π : πΎ and the set G
of subgroups of Gal(π : πΎ). The fundamental theorem of Galois theory tells us
that this dream comes true when π : πΎ is finite, normal and separable. And it
tells us more besides.
8.2
The theorem
The moment has come.
Theorem 8.2.1 (Fundamental theorem of Galois theory) Let π : πΎ be a
finite normal separable extension. Write
F = {intermediate fields of π : πΎ },
G = {subgroups of Gal(π : πΎ)}.
i. The functions F o
Gal(π:−)
Fix
/
G are mutually inverse.
ii. | Gal(π : πΏ)| = [π : πΏ] for all πΏ ∈ F , and [π : Fix(π»)] = |π»| for
all π» ∈ G .
iii. Let πΏ ∈ F . Then
πΏ is a normal extension of πΎ
⇐⇒ Gal(π : πΏ) is a normal subgroup of Gal(π : πΎ),
and in that case,
Gal(π : πΎ)
Gal(πΏ : πΎ).
Gal(π : πΏ)
104
Proof First note that for each πΏ ∈ F , the extension π : πΏ is finite and normal (by
Corollary 7.1.6) and separable (by Lemma 7.2.17). Also, the group Gal(π : πΎ)
is finite (by Theorem 7.2.19), so every subgroup is finite too.
We prove (i) and (ii) together. First let π» ∈ G . We have
|π»| ≤ | Gal(π : Fix(π»))| = [π : Fix(π»)] ≤ |π»|,
(8.1)
where the first inequality holds because π» ⊆ Gal(π : Fix(π»)) (Lemma 8.1.2(iii)),
the equality follows from Theorem 7.2.19 (since π : Fix(π») is finite, normal and
separable), and the second inequality follows from Theorem 7.3.6 (since π» is
finite). So equality holds throughout (8.1), giving
π» = Gal(π : Fix(π»)),
[π : Fix(π»)] = |π»|.
Now let πΏ ∈ F . We have
[π : Fix(Gal(π : πΏ))] = | Gal(π : πΏ)| = [π : πΏ],
where the first equality follows from the previous paragraph by taking π» = Gal(π :
πΏ), and the second follows from Theorem 7.2.19. But πΏ ⊆ Fix(Gal(π : πΏ)) by
Lemma 8.1.2(iii), so πΏ = Fix(Gal(π : πΏ)) by Workshop 3, q. 1. This completes
the proof of (i) and (ii).
We have already proved most of (iii) as Theorem 7.1.14(ii). It only remains to
show that whenever πΏ is an intermediate field such that Gal(π : πΏ) is a normal
subgroup of Gal(π : πΎ), then πΏ is a normal extension of πΎ. By Proposition 7.3.11,
Fix(Gal(π : πΏ)) : πΎ is normal. But by (i), Fix(Gal(π : πΏ)) = πΏ, so πΏ : πΎ is
normal, as required.
The fundamental theorem of Galois theory is about field extensions that are
finite, normal and separable. Let’s take a moment to think about what those
conditions mean.
An extension π : πΎ is finite and normal if and only if π is the splitting field
of some polynomial over πΎ (Theorem 7.1.5). So, the theorem can be understood
as a result about splitting fields of polynomials.
Not every splitting field extension is separable (Example 7.2.15(iii)). However,
we know of two settings where separability is guaranteed. The first is fields of
characteristic zero (Example 7.2.15(i)). The most important of these is Q, which
is our focus in this chapter: we’ll consider examples in which π : πΎ is the splitting
field extension of a polynomial over Q. The second is where the fields are finite
(Example 7.2.15(ii)). We’ll come to finite fields in the final chapter.
105
Digression 8.2.2 Normality and separability are core requirements of Galois
theory, but there are extensions of the fundamental theorem (well beyond this
course) in which the finiteness condition on π : πΎ is relaxed.
The first level of relaxation replaces ‘finite’ by ‘algebraic’. Then Gal(π : πΎ)
is no longer a finite group, but it does acquire an interesting topology. One
example is where π is the algebraic closure πΎ of πΎ, and Gal(πΎ : πΎ) is
called the absolute Galois group of πΎ. It contains all splitting fields of
polynomials over πΎ, so to study it is to study all polynomials over πΎ at once.
Going further, we can even drop the condition that the extension is algebraic.
In this realm, we need the notion of ‘transcendence degree’, which counts
how many algebraically independent elements can be found in the extension.
You’ll want to see some examples! Section 8.3 is devoted to a single example
of the fundamental theorem, showing every aspect of the theorem in all its glory.
I’ll give a couple of simpler examples in a moment, but before that, it’s helpful to
review some of what we did earlier:
Remark 8.2.3 When working out the details of the Galois correspondence for a
polynomial π ∈ πΎ [π‘], it’s not only the fundamental theorem that’s useful. Some
of our earlier results also come in handy, such as the following.
i. Lemma 6.3.7 states that GalπΎ ( π ) acts on the set of roots of π in SFπΎ ( π ), and
the injectivity part of Proposition 6.3.10 states that the action is faithful:
if π, π ∈ GalπΎ ( π ) and π(πΌ) = π (πΌ) for every root πΌ of π in SFπΎ ( π ), then
π = π. In words, an element of the Galois group is entirely determined by
what it does to the roots.
ii. Corollary 6.3.15 states that | GalπΎ ( π )| divides π!, where π is the number of
distinct roots of π in its splitting field.
iii. Let πΌ and π½ be roots of π in SFπΎ ( π ). Then there is an element of the Galois
group mapping πΌ to π½ if and only if πΌ and π½ are conjugate over πΎ (have
the same minimal polynomial). This follows from Proposition 7.1.9. In
particular, if π is irreducible then there is always an element of the Galois
group that maps πΌ to π½ (Corollary 7.1.10).
iv. Let πΏ be an intermediate field of SFπΎ ( π ) : πΎ such that πΏ : πΎ is normal.
Then every automorphism of πΏ over πΎ can be extended to an automorphism
of SFπΎ ( π ) over πΎ. This was shown in the last paragraph of the proof of
Theorem 7.1.14.
Examples 8.2.4
i. Let π : πΎ be a normal separable extension of prime degree π. By the fundamental theorem, | Gal(π : πΎ)| = [π : πΎ] = π.
106
Every group of prime order is cyclic, so Gal(π : πΎ) πΆ π . By the tower
law, π : πΎ has no nontrivial intermediate fields, and by Lagrange’s theorem, Gal(π : πΎ) has no nontrivial subgroups. So F = {π, πΎ } and
G = {1, Gal(π : πΎ)}:
π
1
πΎ
Gal(π : πΎ)
Both π and πΎ are normal extensions of πΎ, and both 1 and Gal(π : πΎ) are
normal subgroups of Gal(π : πΎ).
√
ii. Let π (π‘) = (π‘ 2 + 1)(π‘ 2 − 2) ∈ Q[π‘]. Put π = SFQ ( π ) = Q( 2, π) and
πΊ = Gal(π : πΎ) = GalQ ( π ). Then π : πΎ is a finite normal separable
extension, so the fundamental theorem applies. We already calculated πΊ in
a sketchy way in Example 6.3.6(ii). Let’s do it again in full, using what we
now know.
First,
√ √ √ [π : πΎ] = Q 2, π : Q 2 Q 2 : Q = 2 &times; 2 = 4
(much as in Example 5.2.2).
√
Now consider
√ how
√ πΊ acts
√ on the set {&plusmn; 2, &plusmn;π} of roots of π . The
√ conjugacy
√
class of 2 is { 2, − 2}, so for each π ∈ πΊ we have π( 2) = &plusmn; 2.
Similarly, π(π) = &plusmn;π for each π ∈ πΊ. The two choices of sign determine π
entirely, so |πΊ | ≤ 4. But by the fundamental theorem, |πΊ | = [π : πΎ] = 4, so
each of the four possibilities does in fact occur. So πΊ = {id, π+− , π−+ , π−− },
where
√ √
√ √
√ √
π−+ 2 = − 2,
π−− 2 = − 2,
π+− 2 = 2,
π+− (π) = −π,
π−+ (π) = π,
π−− (π) = −π.
The only two groups of order 4 are πΆ4 and πΆ2 &times; πΆ2 , and each element of πΊ
has order 1 or 2, so πΊ πΆ2 &times; πΆ2 .
The subgroups of πΊ are
1
hπ+− i
hπ−+ i
πΊ
107
hπ−− i
(8.2)
where lines indicate inclusions. Here hπ+− i is the subgroup generated by
π+− , which is {id, π+− }, and similarly for π−+ and π−− .
What are the fixed fields of these subgroups?
theorem
√
√ The fundamental
√
implies that Fix(πΊ) = Q. Also, π+− ( 2) = 2, so Q( 2) ⊆ Fix(hπ+− i).
But
√ √ √ Q 2, π : Q 2 = 2 = |hπ+− i| = Q 2, π : Fix(hπ+− i)
√
(where the last step is by the fundamental theorem), so Q( 2) = Fix(hπ+− i).
Similar arguments apply to π−+ and π−− , so the fixed fields of the groups in
diagram (8.2) are
Q
Q
√ 2
√ 2, π
Q(π)
Q
√ 2π
(8.3)
Q
√
Equivalently, the groups in (8.2) are√the Galois groups of Q( 2, π) over the
fields in (8.3). For instance, Gal(Q( 2, π) : Q(π)) = hπ−+ i.
Since the overall Galois group πΊ πΆ2 &times; πΆ2 is abelian, every subgroup is
normal. Hence all the extensions in diagram (8.3) are normal too.
Exercise 8.2.5 In this particular example, one can also see directly
that all the extensions in (8.3) are normal. How?
Like any big theorem, the fundamental theorem of Galois theory has some
important corollaries. Here’s one.
Corollary 8.2.6 Let π : πΎ be a finite normal separable extension. Then for every
πΌ ∈ π \ πΎ, there is some automorphism π of π over πΎ such that π(πΌ) ≠ πΌ.
Proof Theorem 8.2.1(i) implies that Fix(Gal(π : πΎ)) = πΎ. Now πΌ ∉ πΎ, so
πΌ ∉ Fix(Gal(π : πΎ)), which is what had to be proved.
Example 8.2.7 For any π ∈ Q[π‘] and irrational πΌ ∈ SFQ ( π ), there is some
π ∈ GalQ ( π ) that does not fix πΌ. This is clear if πΌ ∉ R, as we can take π to be
complex conjugation restricted to SFQ ( π ). But it is not so obvious otherwise.
108
π
ππ
−π
π
π
−ππ
Figure 8.2: The roots of π , and the effects on them of π, π ∈ GalQ ( π ).
8.3
A specific example
Chapter 13 of Stewart’s book opens with these words:
The extension that we discuss is a favourite with writers on Galois
theory, because of its archetypal quality. A simpler example would
be too small to illustrate the theory adequately, and anything more
complicated would be unwieldy. The example is the Galois group of
the splitting field of π‘ 4 − 2 over Q.
We go through the same example here. My presentation of it is different from
Stewart’s, so you can consult his book if anything that follows is unclear.
Write π (π‘) = π‘ 4 − 2 ∈ Q[π‘], which is irreducible by Eisenstein’s criterion.
Write πΊ = GalQ ( π ).
Splitting field Write π for the unique real positive root of π . Then the roots of
π are &plusmn;π and &plusmn;ππ (Figure 8.2). So SFQ ( π ) = Q(π, ππ) = Q(π, π). We have
[Q(π, π) : Q] = [Q(π, π) : Q(π)] [Q(π) : Q] = 2 &times; 4 = 8,
where the first factor is 2 because Q(π) ⊆ R and the second factor is 4 because π
is the minimal polynomial of π over Q (being irreducible) and deg( π ) = 4. By the
fundamental theorem, |πΊ | = 8.
Galois group We now look for the 8 elements of the Galois group. We’ll use
the principle that if π, π ∈ πΊ with π(π) = π (π) and π(π) = π (π) then π = π. To see
this, note that π(πΌ) = π (πΌ) whenever πΌ is a root of π , and since the action of πΊ
on the roots of π is faithful, π = π.
Complex conjugation on C restricts to an automorphism π of Q(π, π) over Q,
giving an element π ∈ πΊ of order 2.
109
I now claim that πΊ has an element π satisfying π(π) = ππ and π(π) = π. In that
case, π will act on the roots of π as follows:
π β¦→ ππ β¦→ −π β¦→ −ππ β¦→ π
(Figure 8.2). This element π will have order 4.
Proof of claim: since π is irreducible, πΊ acts transitively on the roots of π in
SFQ ( π ), so there is some π ∈ πΊ such that π(π) = ππ. The conjugacy class of π
over Q is {&plusmn;π}, so π(π) = &plusmn;π. If π(π) = π then we can take π = π. If π(π) = −π then
(π β¦ π)(π) = π(π) = ππ,
(π β¦ π)(π) = π(−π) = −π(π) = π,
so we can take π = π β¦ π.
(From now on, I will usually omit the β¦ sign and write things like ππ instead. Of
course, juxtaposition is also used to mean multiplication, as in ππ. But confusion
shouldn’t arise: automorphisms are composed and numbers are multiplied.)
Figure 8.2 suggests that πΊ is the dihedral group π· 4 , the symmetry group of
the square.
Warning 8.3.1 The symmetry group of a regular π-sided polygon has
2π elements: π rotations and π reflections. Some authors call it π· π
and others call it π· 2π . I will call it π· π , as in the Group Theory course.
If this is right, we should have ππ = π −1 π. (This is one of the defining equations
of the dihedral group; you saw it in Example 3.2.12 of Group Theory.) Let’s check
this algebraically:
ππ(π) = ππ = −ππ,
π −1 π(π) = π −1 (π) = −ππ,
ππ(π) = π(π) = −π,
π −1 π(π) = π −1 (−π) = −π,
so ππ and π −1 π are equal on π and π, so ππ = π −1 π. It follows that πππ = π −π π for
all π ∈ Z.
Figure 8.3 shows the effect of 8 elements of πΊ on π, π and ππ. Since no two
of them have the same effect on both π and π, they are all distinct elements of πΊ.
Since |πΊ | = 8, they are the only elements of πΊ. So πΊ π· 4 .
Warning 8.3.2 The ‘geometric description’ in Figure 8.3 applies only
to the roots, not the whole of the splitting field Q(π, π). For example,
π 2 is rotation by π on the set of roots, but it is not rotation by π on the
rest of Q(π, π): it fixes each element of Q, for instance.
110
π∈πΊ
π(π)
π(π)
π(ππ)
order
id
π
π2
3
π = π −1
π
ππ = π −1 π
ππ 2 = π 2 π
ππ −1 = ππ
π
ππ
−π
−ππ
π
−ππ
−π
ππ
π
π
π
π
−π
−π
−π
−π
ππ
−π
−ππ
π
−ππ
−π
ππ
π
1
4
2
4
2
2
2
2
geometric description
(see Warning 8.3.2)
identity
rotation by π/2
rotation by π
rotation by −π/2
reflection in real axis
reflection in axis through 1 − π
reflection in imaginary axis
reflection in axis through 1 + π
Figure 8.3: The Galois group of π‘ 4 − 2 over Q.
Subgroups of the Galois group Since |πΊ | = 8, any nontrivial proper subgroup
of πΊ has order 2 or 4. Let’s look in turn at subgroups of order 2 and 4, also
determining which ones are normal. This is pure group theory, with no mention
of fields.
• The subgroups of order 2 are of the form hπi = {id, π} where π ∈ πΊ has
order 2. So, they are
hπ 2 i, hπi, hππi, hππ 2 i, hππ −1 i.
If you watched the video ‘What does it mean to be normal?’, you may be
able to guess which of these subgroups are normal in πΊ, the symmetry group
of the square. It should be those that can be specified without referring to
particular vertices or edges of the square. So, just the first should be normal.
Let’s check.
We know that ππ 2 = π 2 π, so π 2 commutes with both π and π, which generate
πΊ. Hence π 2 is in the centre of πΊ (commutes with everything in πΊ). It
follows that hπ 2 i is a normal subgroup of πΊ. On the other hand, for each
π ∈ Z, the subgroup hπππ i is not normal, since
π(πππ ) π −1 = (ππ) ππ−1 = (ππ −1 ) ππ−1 = πππ−2 ∉ hπππ i.
• The subgroups of πΊ of order 4 are isomorphic to either πΆ4 or πΆ2 &times; πΆ2 , since
these are the only groups of order 4.
The only elements of πΊ of order 4 are π &plusmn;1 , so the only subgroup of πΊ
isomorphic to πΆ4 is hπi = {id, π, π 2 , π 3 = π −1 }.
Now consider subgroups π» of πΊ isomorphic to πΆ2 &times; πΆ2 .
111
Exercise 8.3.3 Show that every such π» must contain π 2 . (Hint:
think geometrically.)
We have π 2 ∈ π», and both other nonidentity elements of π» have order 2, so
they are of the form πππ for some π ∈ Z. The two such subgroups π» are
hπ, π 2 i = {id, π, π 2 , ππ 2 },
hππ, π 2 i = {id, ππ, π 2 , ππ −1 }.
Finally, any subgroup of index 2 of any group is normal, so all the subgroups
of πΊ of order 4 are normal.
Hence the subgroup structure of πΊ π· 4 is as follows, where a box around a
subgroup means that it is normal in πΊ.
order 1
1
hπi
hπ, π 2 i πΆ2 &times; πΆ2
hππ 2 i
hπ 2 i
hππi
hπi πΆ4
πΊ = hπ, πi π· 4
hππ −1 i
order 2
hππ, π 2 i πΆ2 &times; πΆ2
order 4
order 8
Fixed fields We now find Fix(π») for each π» ∈ G , again considering the subgroups of orders 2 and 4 in turn.
• Order 2: take Fixhπi (officially Fix(hπi), but let’s drop the brackets). We
have π(π) = π, so π ∈ Fixhπi, so Q(π) ⊆ Fixhπi. But [Q(π, π) : Q(π)] = 2,
and by the fundamental theorem, [Q(π, π) : Fixhπi] = |hπi| = 2, so Fixhπi =
Q(π).
Finding fixed fields
The same argument shows that for any π ∈ πΊ of order 2, if we can spot
some πΌ ∈ Q(π, π) such that π(πΌ) = πΌ and [Q(π, π) : Q(πΌ)] ≤ 2, then
Fixhπi = Q(πΌ). For π = ππ 2 , we can take πΌ = ππ (by Figure 8.3). We have
degQ (ππ) = 4 since ππ is a root of π , so [Q(ππ) : Q] = 4, or equivalently,
[Q(π, π) : Q(ππ)] = 2. Hence Fixhππ 2 i = Q(ππ).
112
Exercise 8.3.4 I took a small liberty in the sentence beginning
‘The same argument’, because it included an inequality but the
previous argument didn’t. Prove the statement made in that sentence.
It is maybe not so easy to spot an πΌ for ππ, but the geometric description
in Figure 8.3 suggests taking πΌ = π (1 − π). And indeed, one can check that
ππ fixes π (1 − π). One can also check that π (1 − π) is not the root of any
nonzero quadratic over Q, so degQ (π (1 − π)) is ≥ 4 (since it divides 8), so
[Q(π, π) : Q(π (1 − π))] ≤ 8/4 = 2. Hence Fixhππi = Q(π (1 − π)). Similarly,
Fixhππ −1 i = Q(π (1 + π)).
Finally,
π 2 (π 2 ) = (π 2 (π)) 2 = (−π) 2 = π 2 ,
π 2 (π) = π,
so Q(π 2 , π) ⊆ Fixhπ 2 i. But [Q(π, π) : Q(π 2 , π)] = 2, so Fixhπ 2 i = Q(π 2 , π).
• Order 4: for π» = hπ, π 2 i, note that π 2 is fixed by both π and π 2 , so
π 2 ∈ Fix(π»), so Q(π 2 ) ⊆ Fix(π»). But π 2 ∉ Q, so [Q(π 2 ) : Q] ≥ 2, so
[Q(π, π) : Q(π 2 )] ≤ 4. The fundamental theorem guarantees that
[Q(π, π) : Fix(π»)] = |π»| = 4,
so Fix(π») = Q(π 2 ).
The same argument applies to the other two subgroups π» of order 4: if
we can spot an element πΌ ∈ Q(π, π) \ Q fixed by the generators of π», then
Fix(π») = Q(πΌ). This gives Fixhπi = Q(π) and Fixhππ, π 2 i = Q(π 2π).
In summary, the fixed fields of the subgroups of πΊ are as follows.
degree 1
Q(π, π)
Q(π)
Q(π 2 )
Q(ππ)
Q(π 2 , π)
Q(π (1 − π))
Q(π)
Q(π (1 + π))
degree 2
Q(π 2π)
degree 4
degree 8
Q
In the right-hand column, ‘degree’ means the degree of Q(π, π) over the subfield
concerned. The fundamental theorem implies that the Galois group of Q(π, π)
over each intermediate field is the corresponding subgroup of πΊ in the earlier
diagram. For example, Gal(Q(π, π) : Q(π 2 , π)) = hπ 2 i. The fundamental theorem
also implies that the intermediate fields that are normal over Q are the boxed ones.
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Quotients
Finally, the fundamental theorem tells us that
Gal(Q(π, π) : Q)
Gal(πΏ : Q)
Gal(Q(π, π) : πΏ)
whenever πΏ is an intermediate field normal over Q.
For πΏ = Q(π 2 , π), this gives
πΊ/hπ 2 i Gal(Q(π 2 , π) : Q).
Normal subgroups
and normal
extensions
(8.4)
The left-hand side is the quotient of π· 4 by a subgroup isomorphic to πΆ2 . It has
order 4, but it has no element of order 4: for the only elements of πΊ of order 4
are π &plusmn;1 , whose images in πΊ/hπ 2 i have order 2. Hence πΊ/hπ 2 i πΆ2 &times; πΆ2 . On
the other hand, Q(π 2 , π) is the splitting field over Q of (π‘ 2 − 2)(π‘ 2 + 1), which by
Example 8.2.4(ii) has Galois group πΆ2 &times; πΆ2 . This confirms the isomorphism (8.4).
The other three intermediate fields normal over Q, I leave to you:
Exercise 8.3.5 Choose one of Q(π 2 ), Q(π) or Q(π 2π), and do the same
for it as I just did for Q(π 2 , π).
As you’ve now seen, it can take quite some time to work through a particular example of the Galois correspondence. You’ll get practice at doing this in
workshop questions.
Beyond examples, there are at least two things we can do with the fundamental
theorem of Galois theory. The first is to resolve the old question on solvability
of polynomials by radicals, which we met back in Chapter 1. The second is to
work out the structure of finite fields. We will carry out these two missions in the
remaining two weeks.
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Chapter 9
Introduction to
Week 9
We began this course with a notorious old problem: can every polynomial be
solved by radicals? Theorem 1.3.5 gave the answer and more: not only is it
impossible to find a general formula that does it, but we can tell which specific
polynomials can be solved by radicals.
Theorem 1.3.5 states that a polynomial over Q is solvable by radicals if and only
if it has the right kind of Galois group—a solvable one. In degree 5 and higher,
there are polynomials that have the wrong kind of group. These polynomials are
We’ll prove one half of this ‘if and only if’ statement: if π is solvable by
radicals then GalQ ( π ) is solvable. This is the half that’s needed to show that some
polynomials are not solvable by radicals. The proof of the other direction is in
Chapter 18 of Stewart’s book, but we won’t do it.
If you’re taking Algebraic Topology, you’ll already be familiar with the idea
that groups can be used to solve problems that seem to have nothing to do with
groups. You have a problem about some objects (such as topological spaces or
field extensions), you associate groups with those objects (maybe their fundamental
groups or their Galois groups), you translate your original problem into a problem
about groups, and you solve that instead. For example, the question of whether R2
and R3 are homeomorphic is quite difficult using only general topology; but using
algebraic topology, we can answer ‘no’ by noticing that the fundamental group of
R2 with a point removed is not isomorphic to the fundamental group of R3 with a
point removed. In much the same way, we’ll answer a difficult question about field
extensions by converting it into a question about groups.
For this chapter, you’ll need to remember something about solvable groups.
At a minimum, you’ll need the definition, the fact that any quotient of a solvable
group is solvable, and the fact that π5 is not solvable.
115
9.1
We speak of square roots, cube roots, and so on, but we also speak about roots
of polynomials. To distinguish between these two related usages, we will use the
word ‘radical’ for square roots etc. (Radical comes from the Latin word for root.
A radish is a root, and a change or policy is radical if it gets right down to the roots
of the matter.)
Back in Chapter 1, I said that a complex number is called radical if ‘it can be
obtained from the rationals using only the usual arithmetic operations [addition,
subtraction, multiplication and division] and πth roots [for π ≥ 1]’. As an example,
I said that
p3 √
√2
7
1
+
2− 7
2
(9.1)
r
q
4
5 2
6+ 3
is radical, whichever square root, cube root, etc., we choose (p. 12). Let’s now
make this definition precise.
√
The first point is that the notation π π§ or π§1/π is highly dangerous:
Warning 9.1.1 Let π§ be a complex number and π ≥ 2. Then there
√
is no single number called π π§ or π§ 1/π . There are π elements πΌ of C
√
such that πΌπ = π§. So, the notation π π§ or π§1/π makes no sense if it is
intended to denote a single complex number. It is simply invalid.
When π§ belongs to the set R+ of nonnegative reals, the convention is
√
that π π§ or π§ 1/π denotes the unique πΌ ∈ R+ such that πΌπ = π§. There is
also a widespread convention that when π§ is a negative real and π is
√
odd, π π§ or π§1/π denotes the unique real πΌ such that πΌπ = π§. In these
cases, there is a sensible and systematic way of choosing one of the
πth roots of π§. But for a general π§ and π, there is not.
Complex analysis has a lot to say about different choices of πth roots.
But we don’t need to go into that. We simply treat all the πth roots of π§
on an equal footing, not attempting to pick out any of them as special.
With this warning in mind, we define the radical numbers without using nota√
tion like π π§ or π§1/π .
The definition of
Definition 9.1.2 Let Qrad be the smallest subfield of C such that for πΌ ∈ C,
πΌπ ∈ Qrad for some π ≥ 1 ⇒ πΌ ∈ Qrad .
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(9.2)
So any rational number is radical; the sum, product, difference or quotient of
are no more radical numbers than can be obtained by those rules.
For the definition of Qrad to make sense, we need there to be a smallest subfield
of C with the property (9.2). This will be true as long as the intersection of any
family of subfields of C satisfying (9.2) is again a subfield of C satisfying (9.2):
for then Qrad is the intersection of all subfields of C satisfying (9.2).
Exercise 9.1.3 Check that the intersection of any family of subfields
of C satisfying (9.2) is again a subfield of C satisfying (9.2). (That any
intersection of subfields is a subfield is a fact we met back on p. 20;
the new aspect is (9.2).)
Example 9.1.4 Consider again the expression (9.1). It’s not quite as random as
it looks. I chose it so that the various radicals are covered by one of the two
conventionspmentioned in Warning 9.1.1: they’re all πth roots of positive reals
√2
3√
7
2 − 7, which is an odd root of a negative real. Let π§ be the
except for
number (9.1), choosing the radicals according to those conventions.
I claim that π§ is radical, or equivalently that π§ belongs to every subfield πΎ of C
satisfying (9.2).
p5
2/3 ∈ πΎ
First, Q ⊆ πΎ since Q is the prime subfield of
C.
So
2/3
∈
πΎ,
and
so
p5
by (9.2). Also, 6 ∈ πΎ and πΎ is a field, so 6 + 2/3 ∈ πΎ. But then by (9.2) again,
the denominator of (9.1) is in πΎ. A similar argument shows that the numerator is
in πΎ. Hence π§ ∈ πΎ.
Definition 9.1.5 A polynomial over Q is solvable by radicals if all of its complex
The simplest nontrivial example of a polynomial solvable by radicals is something of the form π‘ π − π, where π ∈ Q. The theorem we’re heading for is that
any polynomial solvable by radicals has solvable Galois group, and if that’s true
then the group GalQ (π‘ π − π) must be solvable. Let’s consider that group now. The
results we prove about it will form part of the proof of the big theorem.
We begin with the case π = 1.
Lemma 9.1.6 For all π ≥ 1, the group GalQ (π‘ π − 1) is abelian.
Proof Write π = π 2ππ/π . The complex roots of π‘ π − 1 are 1, π, . . . , ππ−1 , so
SFQ (π‘ π − 1) = Q(π).
Let π, π ∈ GalQ (π‘ π − 1). Since π permutes the roots of π‘ π − 1, we have
π(π) = ππ for some π ∈ Z. Similarly, π (π) = π π for some π ∈ Z. Hence
(π β¦ π)(π) = π(π π ) = π(π) π = ππ π ,
117
and similarly (π β¦ π)(π) = ππ π . So (π β¦ π)(π) = (π β¦ π)(π). Since SFQ (π‘ π − 1) =
Q(π), it follows that π β¦ π = π β¦ π.
Exercise 9.1.7 In the last sentence of that proof, how exactly does it
‘follow’?
Much more can be said about the Galois group of π‘ π − 1, and you’ll see a bit
more at Workshop 5. But this is all we need for our purposes.
Now that we’ve considered π‘ π − 1, let’s do π‘ π − π for an arbitrary π.
Lemma 9.1.8 Let πΎ be a field and π ≥ 1. Suppose that π‘ π − 1 splits in πΎ. Then
GalπΎ (π‘ π − π) is abelian for all π ∈ πΎ.
The hypothesis that π‘ π − 1 splits in πΎ might seem so restrictive as to make
this lemma useless. For instance, it doesn’t hold in Q or even R (for π &gt; 2).
Nevertheless, this turns out to be the key lemma in the whole story of solvability
Proof If π = 0 then GalπΎ (π‘ π − π) is trivial; suppose otherwise.
Choose a root π of π‘ π − π in SFπΎ (π‘ π − π). For any other root π, we have
(π/π) π = π/π = 1 (valid since π ≠ 0), and π‘ π − 1 splits in πΎ, so π/π ∈ πΎ.
It follows that SFπΎ (π‘ π − π) = πΎ (π). Moreover, given π, π ∈ GalπΎ (π‘ π − π), we
have π(π)/π ∈ πΎ (since π(π) is a root of π‘ π − π), so
π(π)
π(π)π (π)
π(π)
&middot;π =
&middot; π (π) =
.
(π β¦ π)(π) = π
π
π
π
Similarly, (πβ¦π)(π) = π(π)π (π)/π, so (π β¦π)(π) = (πβ¦π)(π). Since SFπΎ (π‘ π −π) =
πΎ (π), it follows that π β¦ π = π β¦ π.
Warning 9.1.9 For π ∈ Q, the Galois group of π‘ π − π over Q is
not usually abelian. For instance, you saw on Assignment 4 that
GalQ (π‘ 3 − 2) is the nonabelian group π3 .
Exercise 9.1.10 What does the proof of Lemma 9.1.8 tell you about
the eigenvectors and eigenvalues of the elements of GalπΎ (π‘ π − π)?
Exercise 9.1.11 Use Lemmas 9.1.6 and 9.1.8 to show that GalQ (π‘ π −π)
is solvable for all π ∈ Q.
This is harder than most of these exercises, but I recommend it as a
way of getting into the right frame of mind for the theory that’s coming
in Section 9.2.
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Digression 9.1.12 We’re only going to do the theory of solvability by radicals
over Q. It can be done over any field, but Q has two special features. First, Q
can be embedded into an algebraically closed field that we know very well,
namely, C. This makes some things easier. Second, char Q = 0. For fields of
characteristic π, the proof that any polynomial with a solvable Galois group
is solvable by radicals has some extra complications.
9.2
Solvable polynomials have solvable groups
Here we’ll prove that every polynomial over Q that is solvable by radicals has
solvable Galois group.
You know by now that in Galois theory, we tend not to jump straight from
polynomials to groups. We go via the intermediate stage of field extensions, as in
the diagram
polynomial β¦−→ field extension β¦−→ group
that I first drew after the definition of GalπΎ ( π ) (page 77). That is, we understand
polynomials through their splitting field extensions.
So it shouldn’t be a surprise that we do the same here, defining a notion of
‘solvable extension’ and showing (roughly speaking) that
solvable polynomial β¦−→ solvable extension β¦−→ solvable group.
Solvable
polynomials have
solvable groups:
a map
In other words, we’ll define ‘solvable extension’ in such a way that (i) if π ∈ Q[π‘]
is a polynomial solvable by radicals then SFQ ( π ) : Q is a solvable extension, and
(ii) if π : πΎ is a solvable extension then Gal(π : πΎ) is a solvable group. Hence
if π is solvable by radicals then GalQ ( π ) is solvable—the result we’re aiming for.
(I glossed over some details in that paragraph; we’ll get to those.)
Definition 9.2.1 Let π : πΎ be a finite normal separable extension. Then π : πΎ
is solvable (or π is solvable over πΎ) if there exist π ≥ 0 and intermediate fields
πΎ = πΏ 0 ⊆ πΏ 1 ⊆ &middot; &middot; &middot; ⊆ πΏπ = π
such that πΏ π : πΏ π−1 is normal and Gal(πΏ π : πΏ π−1 ) is abelian for each π ∈ {1, . . . , π }.
Exercise 9.2.2 Let π : π : πΎ be extensions, with π : π, π : πΎ and
π : πΎ all finite, normal and separable. Show that if π : π and π : πΎ
are solvable then so is π : πΎ.
We will focus on subfields of C, where separability is automatic (Example 7.2.15(i)).
119
Example 9.2.3 Let π ∈ Q and π ≥ 1. Then SFQ (π‘ π − π) : Q is a finite normal
separable extension, being a splitting field extension over Q. I claim that it is
solvable.
Proof: if π = 0 then SFQ (π‘ π − π) = Q, and Q : Q is solvable (taking π = 0 and
πΏ 0 = Q in Definition 9.2.1). Now assume that π ≠ 0. Choose a complex root π of
π‘ π − π and write π = π 2ππ/π . Then the complex roots of π‘ π − π are
π, ππ, . . . , ππ−1 π.
So SFQ (π‘ π − π) contains (ππ π)/π = ππ for all π, and so π‘ π − 1 splits in SFQ (π‘ π − π).
Hence
Q ⊆ SFQ (π‘ π − 1) ⊆ SFQ (π‘ π − π).
Now SFQ (π‘ π − 1) : Q is normal (being a splitting field extension) and has abelian
Galois group by Lemma 9.1.6. Also SFQ (π‘ π − π) : SFQ (π‘ π −1) is normal (being the
splitting field extension of π‘ π − π over SFQ (π‘ π − 1), by Lemma 6.2.13(ii)), and has
abelian Galois group by Lemma 9.1.8. So SFQ (π‘ π − π) : Q is a solvable extension,
as claimed.
The definition of solvable extension bears a striking resemblance to the definition of solvable group. Indeed:
Lemma 9.2.4 Let π : πΎ be a finite normal separable extension. Then
π : πΎ is solvable ⇐⇒ Gal(π : πΎ) is solvable.
Proof We will only need the ⇒ direction, and that is all I prove here. For the
converse, see Workshop 5.
Suppose that π : πΎ is solvable. Take intermediate fields
πΎ = πΏ 0 ⊆ πΏ 1 ⊆ &middot; &middot; &middot; ⊆ πΏπ = π
as in Definition 9.2.1. For each π ∈ {1, . . . , π }, the extension π : πΏ π−1 is finite,
normal and separable (by Corollary 7.1.6 and Lemma 7.2.17), so we can apply the
fundamental theorem of Galois theory to it. Since πΏ π : πΏ π−1 is a normal extension,
Gal(π : πΏ π ) is a normal subgroup of Gal(π : πΏ π−1 ) and
Gal(π : πΏ π−1 )
Gal(πΏ π : πΏ π−1 ).
Gal(π : πΏ π )
By hypothesis, the right-hand side is abelian, so the left-hand side is too. So the
sequence of subgroups
Gal(π : πΎ) = Gal(π : πΏ 0 ) ⊇ Gal(π : πΏ 1 ) ⊇ &middot; &middot; &middot; ⊇ Gal(π : πΏ π ) = 1
exhibits Gal(π : πΎ) as a solvable group.
120
Exercise 9.2.5 Prove the ⇐ direction of Lemma 9.2.4. It’s a very
similar argument to the proof of ⇒.
According to the story I’m telling, solvability by radicals of a polynomial
should correspond to solvability of its splitting field extension. Thus, the subfields
of C that are solvable over Q should be exactly the splitting fields SFQ ( π ) of
polynomials π that are solvable by radicals. (This is indeed true, though we won’t
entirely prove it.) Now if π , π ∈ Q[π‘] are both solvable by radicals then so is π π,
and SFQ ( π π) is a solvable extension of Q containing both SFQ ( π ) and SFQ (π).
So it should be the case that for any two subfields of C solvable over Q, there is
some larger subfield, also solvable over Q, containing both. We now prove this.
Lemma 9.2.6 Let πΏ and π be subfields of C such that the extensions πΏ : Q and
π : Q are finite, normal and solvable. Then there is some subfield π of C such
that πΏ ∪ π ⊆ π and π : Q is also finite, normal and solvable.
Proof Take subfields
Q = πΏ 0 ⊆ &middot; &middot; &middot; ⊆ πΏ π = πΏ,
Q = π0 ⊆ &middot; &middot; &middot; ⊆ ππ  = π
such that πΏ π : πΏ π−1 is normal with abelian Galois group for each π, and similarly
for π π . There is a chain of subfields
Q = πΏ 0 ⊆ &middot; &middot; &middot; ⊆ πΏ π = πΏ = π0 (πΏ) ⊆ &middot; &middot; &middot; ⊆ ππ  (πΏ) = π (πΏ)
(9.3)
of C, where π π (πΏ) is the subfield of C generated by π π ∪ πΏ (an instance of the
notation πΎ (π ) of Definition 4.1.10). Put π = π (πΏ). Certainly πΏ ∪ π ⊆ π. We
show that π : Q is finite, normal and solvable.
Since πΏ : Q is finite and normal, πΏ = SFQ ( π ) for some π ∈ Q[π‘], and similarly,
π = SFQ (π). Now π is the subfield of C generated by πΏ ∪ π, so it is generated by
the roots of π and the roots of π, or equivalently the roots of π π. So π = SFQ ( π π),
which is finite and normal over Q.
To see that π : Q is solvable, we show that each successive extension in (9.3)
is normal with abelian Galois group. For those to the left of πΏ, this is immediate. For those to the right, let π ∈ {1, . . . , π }. Since π π : π π−1 is finite and normal, π π = SF π π−1 (β) for some β ∈ π π−1 [π‘]. Then π π (πΏ) =
SF π π−1 (πΏ) (β) by Lemma 6.2.13(i), so π π (πΏ) : π π−1 (πΏ) is normal. Its Galois group is Gal π π−1 (πΏ) (β), which by Corollary 6.3.13 is isomorphic to a subgroup of Gal π π−1 (β). But Gal π π−1 (β) is Gal(π π : π π−1 ), which is abelian, so
Gal(π π (πΏ) : π π−1 (πΏ)) is abelian.
121
Digression 9.2.7 This proof, and some others in this section, can be uncluttered slightly using the notion of compositum. By definition, the compositum of subfields πΏ, π of a field πΉ is the smallest subfield containing πΏ and
π. For example, the π of the proof is the compositum of πΏ and π.
In our usual notation, the compositum of πΏ and π is π (πΏ) or πΏ(π). The
standard notation for the compositum is πΏ π, which has the advantage of
being symmetric and the disadvantage of being misleading: it is not the set
{πΌπ½ : πΌ ∈ πΏ, π½ ∈ π } (although it is the smallest subfield of πΉ containing
that set).
The various fields used in the proof of Lemma 9.2.6, together with the fields
πΏ π (π) = πΏ π π, can be drawn like this:
πΏπ
πΏπ π
.
πΏ ππ
..
..
.
πΏ π0
πΏ0 π
π
πΏ
ππ
..
..
.
πΏπ
.
πΏ0
π0
Q
I have chosen not to use the compositum explicitly in this course, but once
you know about it, you’ll notice how often it appears implicitly in Galois
theory proofs.
The heart of the proof that solvable polynomials have solvable Galois groups
is the following lemma (which in turn depends on Lemmas 9.1.6 and 9.1.8 on the
Galois groups of π‘ π − 1 and π‘ π − π). Loosely, it says that the set of complex numbers
that can be reached from Q by solvable extensions is closed under taking πth roots.
Write
Qsol = {πΌ ∈ C : πΌ ∈ πΏ for some subfield πΏ ⊆ C that is finite, normal and solvable
over Q}.
In fact, Qsol = Qrad , but we don’t know that yet.
Lemma 9.2.8 Let πΌ ∈ C and π ≥ 1. If πΌπ ∈ Qsol then πΌ ∈ Qsol .
122
The proof (below) is slightly subtle. Here’s why.
Let πΏ be a subfield of C that’s finite, normal and solvable over Q, and take
πΌ ∈ C and π ≥ 1 such that πΌπ ∈ πΏ. To find some larger π that contains πΌ
itself and is also solvable over Q, we could try putting π = SF πΏ (π‘ π − πΌπ ). Now
π : Q is indeed solvable (as can be shown using Exercises 9.1.11 and 9.2.2), but
the trouble is that π : Q is not in general normal. And normality is part of the
definition of Qsol , ultimately because it’s an essential requirement if we want to
use the fundamental theorem of Galois theory.
An example should clarify.
√
√
√4
2 =
Example
9.2.9
Put
πΌ
=
2
and
take
π
=
2.
We
have
πΌ
2
∈
Q(
2), and
√
Q( 2) : Q is finite, normal and solvable (since its Galois group is
the
abelian
√4
2
sol
group πΆ2 ), so πΌ ∈ Q . Hence, according to Lemma 9.2.8, πΌ = 2 should be
contained in some finite normal solvable extension π of Q.
√
How can we find such an π? We can’t take π = SFQ(√2) (π‘ 2 − 2), since this
√4
is Q( 2), which
√4 is not√normal over Q. (You may have already contemplated the
extensions Q( 2) : Q( 2) : Q in Workshop 4, q. 4.)
To find a bigger π, still finite √
and solvable over Q but also normal,
we have
√
to adjoin a square root not just of 2 but also of its conjugate, − 2. This is the
crucial point: the whole idea of normality is that conjugates are treated equally.
(Normal behaviour means that anything
you do for one element, you do for all
√4
4
its conjugates.) The result is Q( 2, π) = SFQ (π‘
√4 − 2), which is indeed a finite,
solvable and normal extension of Q containing 2.
Proof of Lemma 9.2.8 Write π = πΌπ ∈ Qsol . Choose a subfield πΎ of C such that
π ∈ πΎ and πΎ : Q is finite, normal and solvable.
Step 1: enlarge πΎ to a field in which π‘ π − 1 splits. Put πΏ = SFπΎ (π‘ π − 1) ⊆ C.
Since πΎ : Q is finite and normal, πΎ = SFQ ( π ) for some π ∈ Q[π‘], and then
πΏ = SFQ (π‘ π − 1) π (π‘) . Hence πΏ : Q is finite and normal. It follows from
Corollary 7.1.6 that πΏ : πΎ is normal. Its Galois group is GalπΎ (π‘ π − 1), which is
isomorphic to a subgroup of GalQ (π‘ π − 1) (by Corollary 6.3.13), which is abelian
(by Lemma 9.1.6). Hence Gal(πΏ : πΎ) is abelian. Also πΎ : Q is solvable, so πΏ : Q
is solvable.
In summary, πΏ is a subfield of C such that π ∈ πΏ and πΏ : Q is finite, normal
and solvable, and, moreover, π‘ π − 1 splits in πΏ. We now forget about πΎ.
Step 2: adjoin the πth roots of the conjugates of π. Write π ∈ Q[π‘] for the
minimal polynomial of π over Q, and put π = SF πΏ (π(π‘ π )) ⊆ C. Then πΌ ∈ π, as
π(πΌπ ) = π(π) = 0. We show that π : Q is finite, normal and solvable.
123
Since πΏ : Q is finite and normal, πΏ = SFQ (π) for some π ∈ Q[π‘]. Then
π = SFQ (π(π‘)π(π‘ π )), so π : Q is finite and normal. It follows that π : πΏ is finite
and normal too (by Corollary 7.1.6).
To show that π : Q is solvable, it is enough to show that π : πΏ is solvable (by
Exercise 9.2.2). Since πΏ : Q is normal and π ∈ Q[π‘] is the minimal polynomial
of π ∈ πΏ, it follows by definition of normality that π splits in πΏ, say
π
&Ouml;
(π‘ − ππ )
π(π‘) =
π=1
(ππ ∈ πΏ). Define subfields πΏ 0 ⊆ &middot; &middot; &middot; ⊆ πΏ π  of C by
πΏ0 = πΏ
πΏ 1 = SF πΏ 0 (π‘ π − π 1 )
πΏ 2 = SF πΏ 1 (π‘ π − π 2 )
..
.
πΏ π  = SF πΏ π −1 (π‘ π − π π  ).
Then
πΏ π = πΏ π½ ∈ π : π½π ∈ {π 1 , . . . , ππ } .
In particular, πΏ π  = π. For each π ∈ {1, . . . , π }, the extension πΏ π : πΏ π−1 is finite
and normal (being a splitting field extension), and its Galois group is abelian (by
Lemma 9.1.8 and the fact that π‘ π − 1 splits in πΏ ⊆ πΏ π−1 ). So π : πΏ is solvable. Now we can relate the set Qrad of radical numbers, defined in terms of basic
arithmetic operations, to the set Qsol , defined in terms of field extensions.
Proposition 9.2.10 Qrad ⊆ Qsol . That is, every radical number is contained in
some subfield of C that is a finite, normal, solvable extension of Q.
As I mentioned, Qrad and Qsol are actually equal, although we won’t prove this.
Proof By definition of Qrad , it is enough to show that Qsol is a subfield of C
with the property that πΌπ ∈ Qsol ⇒ πΌ ∈ Qsol . We have just proved that property
(Lemma 9.2.8), so it only remains to show that Qsol is a subfield of C.
The argument is similar to the proof that the algebraic numbers form a field
(Proposition 5.3.7). Let πΌ, π½ ∈ Qsol . Then πΌ ∈ πΏ and π½ ∈ π for some πΏ, π that
are finite, normal and solvable over Q. By Lemma 9.2.6, πΌ, π½ ∈ π for some π that
is finite, normal and solvable over Q. Then πΌ+ π½ ∈ π, so πΌ+ π½ ∈ Qsol , and similarly
πΌ &middot; π½ ∈ Qsol . This shows that Qsol is closed under addition and multiplication. The
other parts of the proof (negatives, reciprocals, 0 and 1) are straightforward.
This brings us to the main result of this chapter. Notice that it doesn’t mention
field extensions: it goes straight from polynomials to groups.
124
Theorem 9.2.11 Let π ∈ Q[π‘]. If the polynomial π is solvable by radicals
then the group GalQ ( π ) is solvable.
Proof Suppose that π is solvable by radicals. Write πΌ1 , . . . , πΌπ ∈ C for its roots.
For each π, we have πΌπ ∈ Qrad (by definition of solvability by radicals), hence
πΌπ ∈ Qsol (by Proposition 9.2.10). So each of πΌ1 , . . . , πΌπ is contained in some
subfield of C that is finite, normal and solvable over Q. By Lemma 9.2.6, there is
some subfield π of C that is finite, normal and solvable over Q and contains all of
πΌ1 , . . . , πΌπ . Thus,
SFQ ( π ) = Q(πΌ1 , . . . , πΌπ ) ⊆ π.
By Lemma 9.2.4, Gal(π : Q) is solvable. Now SFQ ( π ) : Q is normal, so
by the fundamental theorem of Galois theory, Gal(SFQ ( π ) : Q) is a quotient of
Gal(π : Q). But Gal(SFQ ( π ) : Q) = GalQ ( π ), and a quotient of a solvable group
is solvable, so GalQ ( π ) is solvable.
Examples 9.2.12
i. For π ∈ Q and π ≥ 1, the polynomial π‘ π − π is solvable by
radicals, so the group GalQ (π‘ π − π) is solvable. You may already have proved
this in Exercise 9.1.11. It also follows from Example 9.2.3 and Lemma 9.2.4.
ii. Let π 1 , . . . , π π ∈ Q and π1 , . . . , π π ≥ 1. Each of the polynomials π‘ ππ −ππ is
&Icirc;
solvable by radicals, so their product is too. Hence GalQ π (π‘ ππ − ππ ) is a
solvable group.
Theorem 9.2.11 is most sensational in its contrapositive form: if GalQ ( π ) is not
solvable then π is not solvable by radicals. That’s the subject of the next section.
Digression 9.2.13 The converse of Theorem 9.2.11 is also true: if GalQ ( π )
is solvable then π is solvable by radicals. You can even unwind the proof
to obtain an explicit formula for the solving the quartic by radicals (Stewart,
Chapter 18).
To prove this converse statement, we have to deduce properties of a field
extension from assumptions about its Galois group. A solvable group is
built up from abelian groups, and every finite abelian group is a direct sum
of cyclic groups. The key step in the proof of the converse has come to be
known as ‘Hilbert’s Theorem 90’ (Stewart’s Theorem 18.18), which gives
information about any field extension whose Galois group is cyclic.
Digression 9.2.14 The proof of Theorem 9.2.11 might not have ended quite
how you expected. Given my explanations earlier in the chapter, you might
justifiably have imagined we were going to show that when the polynomial
π is solvable by radicals, the extension SFQ ( π ) : Q is solvable. That’s not
125
what we did. We showed that SFQ ( π ) is contained in some larger subfield
π such that π : Q is solvable, then used that to prove the solvability of the
group GalQ ( π ).
But all is right with the world: SFQ ( π ) : Q is a solvable extension. Indeed, its
Galois group GalQ ( π ) is solvable, so Lemma 9.2.4 implies that SFQ ( π ) : Q
is solvable too.
9.3
An unsolvable polynomial
Here we give a specific example of a polynomial over Q that is not solvable by
radicals. By Theorem 9.2.11, our task is to construct a polynomial whose Galois
group is not solvable. The smallest non-solvable group is π΄5 (of order 60). Our
polynomial has Galois group π5 (of order 120), which is also non-solvable.
Finding Galois groups is hard, and we will use a whole box of tools and tricks,
from Cauchy’s theorem on groups to Rolle’s theorem on differentiable functions.
First we establish a useful fact on the order of Galois groups.
Lemma 9.3.1 Let π be an irreducible polynomial over a field πΎ, with SFπΎ ( π ) : πΎ
separable. Then deg( π ) divides | GalπΎ ( π )|.
Proof Let πΌ be a root of π in SFπΎ ( π ). By irreducibility, deg( π ) = [πΎ (πΌ) : πΎ],
which divides [SFπΎ ( π ) : πΎ] by the tower law, which is equal to | GalπΎ ( π )| by
Theorem 7.2.19 (using separability).
Next, we need some results about the symmetric group ππ . I assume you know
that ππ is generated by the ‘adjacent transpositions’ (12), (23), . . . , (π − 1 π). This
may have been proved in Fundamentals of Pure Mathematics, and as the Group
Theory notes say (p. 58):
This is intuitively clear: suppose you have π people lined up and you
want them to switch into a different order. To put them in the order
you want them, it’s clearly enough to have people move up and down
the line; and each time a person moves one place, they switch places
with the person next to them.
Here’s a different way of generating ππ .
Lemma 9.3.2 For π ≥ 2, the symmetric group ππ is generated by (12) and
(12 &middot; &middot; &middot; π).
126
Proof We have
(12 &middot; &middot; &middot; π)(12)(12 &middot; &middot; &middot; π) −1 = (23),
either by direct calculation or the general fact that π(π 1 &middot; &middot; &middot; π π )π −1 =
(π(π 1 ) &middot; &middot; &middot; π(π π )) for any π ∈ ππ and cycle (π 1 &middot; &middot; &middot; π π ). So any subgroup π»
of ππ containing (12) and (12 &middot; &middot; &middot; π) also contains (23). By the same argument, π»
also contains (34), . . . , (π − 1 π). But the adjacent transpositions generate ππ , so
π» = ππ .
Lemma 9.3.3 Let π be a prime number, and let π ∈ Q[π‘] be an irreducible
polynomial of degree π with exactly π − 2 real roots. Then GalQ ( π ) π π .
Proof Since char Q = 0 and π is irreducible, π is separable and therefore has π
distinct roots in C. By Proposition 6.3.10, the action of GalQ ( π ) on the roots of
π in C defines an isomorphism between GalQ ( π ) and a subgroup π» of π π . Since
π is irreducible, π divides | GalQ ( π )| = |π»| (by Lemma 9.3.1). So by Cauchy’s
theorem, π» has an element π of order π. Then π is a π-cycle, since these are the
only elements of π π of order π.
The complex conjugate of any root of π is also a root of π , so complex
conjugation restricts to an automorphism of SFQ ( π ) over Q. Exactly two of the
roots of π are non-real; complex conjugation transposes them and fixes the rest.
So π» contains a transposition π.
Without loss of generality, π = (12). Since π is a π-cycle, ππ (1) = 2 for
some π ∈ {1, . . . , π − 1}. Since π is prime, ππ also has order π, so it is a π-cycle.
Now without loss of generality, ππ = (123 &middot; &middot; &middot; π). So (12), (12 &middot; &middot; &middot; π) ∈ π», forcing
π» = π π by Lemma 9.3.2. Hence GalQ ( π ) π π .
Exercise 9.3.4 Explain why, in the last paragraph, ππ has order π.
Theorem 9.3.5 Not every polynomial over Q of degree 5 is solvable by radicals.
Proof We show that π (π‘) = π‘ 5 − 6π‘ + 3 satisfies the conditions of Lemma 9.3.3.
Then GalQ ( π ) is π5 , which is not solvable, so by Theorem 9.2.11, π is not solvable
Evidently deg( π ) is the prime number 5, and π is irreducible by Eisenstein’s
criterion with prime 3. It remains to prove that π has exactly 3 real roots. This is
where we use some analysis, considering π as a function R → R (Figure 9.1).
We have
lim π (π₯) = −∞,
π (0) &gt; 0,
π₯→−∞
π (1) &lt; 0,
lim π (π₯) = ∞,
π₯→∞
127
Figure 9.1: The function π₯ β¦→ π₯ 5 − 6π₯ + 3.
and π is continuous on R, so by the intermediate value theorem, π haspat least 3
real roots. On the other hand, π 0 (π₯) = 5π₯ 4 − 6 has only 2 real roots (&plusmn; 4 6/5), so
by Rolle’s theorem, π has at most 3 real roots. Hence π has exactly 3 real roots,
as required.
Exercise 9.3.6 Prove that for every π ≥ 5, there is some polynomial
of degree π that is not solvable by radicals.
Digression 9.3.7 We now know that some polynomials π over Q are not
solvable by radicals, which means that not all their complex roots are radical.
Could it be that some of the roots are radical and others are not? Yes: simply
take a polynomial π that is not solvable by radicals and put π (π‘) = π‘π(π‘).
Then the roots of π are 0 (which is radical) together with the roots of π
But what if π is irreducible? In that case, either all the roots of π are radical
or none of them are. This follows from the fact that the extension Qrad : Q is
normal, which we will not prove.
Digression 9.3.8 There are many similarities between the theory of constructibility of points by ruler and compass and the theory of solvability of
polynomials by radicals. In both cases, the challenge is to construct some
things (points in the plane or roots of polynomials) using only certain tools
(ruler and compass or a machine for taking πth roots). In both cases, there
were difficult questions of constructibility that remained open for a very long
time, and in both cases, they were solved by Galois theory.
The solutions have something in common too. For the geometry problem,
we used iterated quadratic extensions, and for the polynomial problem, we
used solvable extensions, which could reasonably be called iterated abelian
extensions. For the geometry problem, we showed that the coordinates of any
128
point constructible by ruler and compass satisfy a certain condition on their
degree over Q (Corollary 5.4.3); for the polynomial problem, we showed that
any polynomial solvable by radicals satisfies a certain condition on its Galois
group. There are other similarities: compare Lemmas 5.4.4 and 9.2.6, for
example, and maybe you can find more similarities still.
We have now used the fundamental theorem of Galois theory to solve a major
problem about Q. What else can we do with it?
The fundamental theorem is about separable extensions. Our two main sources
of separable extensions are:
• fields of characteristic 0 such as Q (Example 7.2.15(i)), which we’ve explored
• finite fields (Example 7.2.15(ii)), which we’ve barely touched.
In the next and final chapter, we’ll use the fundamental theorem and other results
we’ve proved to explore the world of finite fields. In contrast to the complicated
world of finite groups, finite fields are almost shockingly simple.
129
Chapter 10
Finite fields
This chapter is dessert. Through this semester, we’ve developed a lot of sophisticated theory for general fields. All of it works for finite fields, but becomes much
simpler there. It’s a miniature world in which life is sweet. For example:
Introduction to
Week 10
• If we want to apply the fundamental theorem of Galois theory to a field
extension π : πΎ, we first have to ask whether it is finite, and whether it
is normal, and whether it is separable. When π and πΎ are finite, all three
conditions are automatic (Lemma 10.4.2).
• There are many fields of different kinds, and to classify them all would be a
near-impossible task. But for finite fields, the classificiation is very simple,
as we’ll see. We know exactly what finite fields there are and how many
elements they have.
• The Galois correspondence for arbitrary field extensions can also be complicated. But again, it’s simple for finite fields. Their Galois groups are very
easy (they’re all cyclic), we know what their subgroups are, and it’s easy to
describe all the subfields of any finite field.
So although the world of finite fields is not trivial, there’s a lot about it that’s
surprisingly straightforward.
Two aspects of finite fields may seem counterintuitive. First, they always have
positive characteristic, which means they satisfy some equation like 1 + &middot; &middot; &middot; + 1 = 0.
Second (and relatedly), πth powers and πth roots behave strangely in fields of
characteristic π—at least, ‘strange’ if, like most of us, characteristic 0 is what you’re
most familiar with. But the behaviour of πth roots and powers is fundamental to
all the nice properties of finite fields.
130
10.1
πth roots in characteristic π
Recall from Lemma 2.2.11 that every finite field has positive characteristic, which,
by Lemma 2.2.5, must be a prime number π.
Square roots usually √come in pairs: how many times in your life have you
written a &plusmn; sign before a ? But in characteristic 2, plus and minus are the same,
so the two square roots become one. We’ll see that this pattern persists.
Proposition 10.1.1 Let π be a prime number and π a ring of characteristic π.
i. The function
π → π
π β¦→ π π
π:
is a homomorphism.
ii. If π is a field then π is injective.
iii. If π is a finite field then π is an automorphism of π.
Proof For (i), certainly π preserves multiplication and 1. To show that π preserves
addition, let π, π  ∈ π: then by Lemma 3.3.15 and the hypothesis that char π = π,
π
π (π + π ) = (π + π ) =
π &Otilde;
π
π π π  π−π = π π + π  π = π (π) + π (π ).
π
π=0
Now (ii) follows since every homomorphism between fields is injective, and (iii)
since every injection from a finite set to itself is bijective.
The homomorphism π : π β¦→ π π is called the Frobenius map, or, in the case
of finite fields, the Frobenius automorphism.
That π is a homomorphism is a shocker. Writing ‘(π₯ + π¦) π = π₯ π + π¦ π ’ is a
classic mistake in school-level algebra. But here, it’s true!
Examples 10.1.2
i. The Frobenius automorphism of F π = Z/hπi is not very
interesting. When πΊ is a finite group of order π, Lagrange’s theorem implies
that π π = 1 for all π ∈ πΊ. Applying this to the multiplicative group
F&times;π = F π \ {0} gives π π−1 = 1 whenever 0 ≠ π ∈ F π . It follows that π π = π
for all π ∈ F π . That is, π is the identity. Everything is its own πth root!
ii. The proof that the Frobenius map preserves addition may seem familiar.
We essentially did it in Example 7.2.4, in the case of the ring (F π (π’)) [π‘] of
polynomials over the field F π (π’) of rational expressions over F π .
131
iii. We don’t have many examples of finite fields yet (but we will soon). Apart
from those of the form F π , the simplest is F2 (πΌ), where πΌ is a root of the irreducible polynomial 1 + π‘ + π‘ 2 over F2 (Example 4.3.8(ii)). By Theorem 5.1.5,
F2 (πΌ) = {π + ππΌ : π, π ∈ F2 } = {0, 1, πΌ, 1 + πΌ}.
Since 1 + πΌ + πΌ2 = 0 and F2 (πΌ) has characteristic 2,
πΌ2 = 1 + πΌ,
(1 + πΌ) 2 = πΌ.
So the Frobenius automorphism of F2 (πΌ) interchanges πΌ and 1 + πΌ. Like all
automorphisms, it fixes 0 and 1.
Exercise 10.1.3 Write out the addition and multiplication tables of
F2 (πΌ).
Corollary 10.1.4 Let π be a prime number.
i. In a field of characteristic π, every element has at most one πth root.
ii. In a finite field of characteristic π, every element has exactly one πth root.
Proof Part (i) says that the Frobenius map is injective, and part (ii) says that it is
bijective, as Proposition 10.1.1 states.
Examples 10.1.5
i. In a field of characteristic 2, every element has at most
one square root.
ii. In C, there are π different πth roots of unity. But in a field of characteristic
π, there is only one: 1 itself.
iii. Let πΎ be a field of characteristic π and π ∈ πΎ. Corollary 10.1.4(i) says that
π has at most one πth root. It may have none. For instance, Exercise 7.2.5
asked you to show that in F π (π’), the element π’ has no πth root.
iv. In the 4-element field F2 (πΌ) of Example 10.1.2(iii), the only square root of
πΌ is 1 + πΌ, and the only square root of 1 + πΌ is πΌ. Each is the square root of
the other.
Exercise 10.1.6√Work out the values of the Frobenius automorphism
on the field F3 ( 2), which you first met in Exercise 4.3.9.
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10.2
Classification of finite fields
If you try to write down a formula for the number of groups or rings with a given
number of elements, you’ll find that it’s hard and the results are quite strange. For
instance, more than 99% of the first 50 billion groups have order 1024.
But fields turn out to be much, much easier. We’ll obtain a complete classification of finite fields in the next two pages.
The order of a finite field π is its cardinality, or number of elements, |π |.
Warning 10.2.1 Order and degree mean different things. For instance, if the order of a field is 9, then its degree over its prime
subfield F3 is 2.
Lemma 10.2.2 Let π be a finite field. Then char π is a prime number π, and
|π | = π π where π = [π : F π ] ≥ 1.
In particular, the order of a finite field is a prime power.
Proof By Lemmas 2.2.5 and 2.2.11, char π is a prime number π. By
Lemma 2.2.10, π has prime subfield F π . Since π is finite, 1 ≤ [π : F π ] &lt; ∞;
write π = [π : F π ]. As a vector space over F π , then, π is π-dimensional and so
isomorphic to Fππ . But |Fππ | = |F π | π = π π , so |π | = π π .
Example 10.2.3 There is no field of order 6, since 6 is not a prime power.
Lemma 10.2.2 prompts two questions: given a prime power π π , is there some
field of order π π ? And if so, how many are there?
The answer to the first question is yes:
Lemma 10.2.4 Let π be a prime number and π ≥ 1. Then the splitting field of
π
π‘ π − π‘ over F π has order π π .
π
Proof Put π (π‘) = π‘ π − π‘ ∈ F π [π‘] and π = SFF π ( π ). Then π· π = −1 (since
π ≥ 1), so by (i)⇒(ii) of Lemma 7.2.10, π has no repeated roots in π. Hence π
has at least π π elements.
Write π for the Frobenius map of π. The set πΏ of roots of π in π is the set of
fixed points of π π = π β¦ &middot; &middot; &middot; β¦ π, which is Eq{π π , id π }. Since π is a homomorphism,
πΏ is a subfield of π (by Lemma 7.3.2), and contains all the roots of π in π. Hence
by definition of splitting field, πΏ = π; that is, every element of π is a root of π .
Since deg( π ) = π π , this implies that π has at most π π elements.
As for the second question, there is exactly one field of each prime power order.
To show this, we need a lemma.
133
Lemma 10.2.5 Let π be a finite field of order π. Then πΌ π = πΌ for all πΌ ∈ π.
The proof uses the same argument as in Example 10.1.2(i).
Proof The multiplicative group π &times; has order π−1, so Lagrange’s theorem implies
that πΌ π−1 = 1 for all πΌ ∈ π &times; = π \ {0}. Hence πΌ π = πΌ whenever 0 ≠ πΌ ∈ π, and
clearly the equation holds for πΌ = 0 too.
Exercise 10.2.6 Verify that π½4 = π½ for all π½ in the 4-element field
F2 (πΌ) of Examples 10.1.2(iii) and 10.1.5(iv),
Lemma 10.2.7 Every finite field of order π is a splitting field of π‘ π − π‘ over F π .
Proof Let π be a field of order π. By Lemma 10.2.2, π = π π for some prime π
and π ≥ 1, and char π = π. Hence π has prime subfield F π . By Lemma 10.2.5,
π
every element of π is a root of π (π‘) = π‘ π − π‘. So π has |π | = π π = deg( π )
distinct roots in π, and therefore splits in π. The set of roots of π in π generates
π, since it is equal to π. Hence π is a splitting field of π .
Together, these results completely classify the finite fields.
Theorem 10.2.8 (Classification of finite fields)
i. Every finite field has
π
order π for some prime π and integer π ≥ 1.
ii. For each prime π and integer π ≥ 1, there is exactly one field of order
π π , up to isomorphism. It has characteristic π and is a splitting field for
π
π‘ π − π‘ over F π .
Proof This is immediate from the results above together with the uniqueness of
splitting fields (Theorem 6.2.12(ii)).
When π &gt; 1 is a prime power, we write Fπ for the one and only field of order π.
Warning 10.2.9 Fπ is not Z/hπi unless π is a prime. It can’t be,
because Z/hπi is not a field (Example 2.2.15). To my knowledge, there
is no description of Fπ simpler than the splitting field description.
We now know exactly how many finite fields there are of each order. But in
algebra, it’s important to think not just about the objects (such as vector spaces,
groups, modules, rings, fields, . . . ), but also the maps (homomorphisms) between
objects. So now that we’ve counted the finite fields, it’s natural to try to count the
homomorphisms between finite fields. Field homomorphisms are injective, so this
boils down to counting subfields and automorphisms. Galois theory is very well
equipped to do that! We’ll come to this in the final section. But first, we consider
another way in which finite fields are very simple.
134
10.3
Multiplicative structure
The multiplicative group πΎ &times; of a finite field πΎ is as easy as can be:
Proposition 10.3.1 For an arbitrary field πΎ, every finite subgroup of πΎ &times; is cyclic.
In particular, if πΎ is finite then πΎ &times; is cyclic.
The multiplicative
group of a finite
field is cyclic
Proof This was Theorem 5.1.13 and Corollary 5.1.14 of Group Theory.
Example 10.3.2 In examples earlier in the course, we frequently used the πth root
of unity π = π 2ππ/π ∈ C, which has the property that every other πth root of unity
is a power of π.
Can we find an analogue of π in an arbitrary field πΎ? It’s not obvious how
to generalize the formula π 2ππ/π , since the exponential is a concept from complex
analysis. But Proposition 10.3.1 solves our problem. For π ≥ 1, put
ππ (πΎ) = {πΌ ∈ πΎ : πΌπ = 1}.
Then ππ (πΎ) is a subgroup of πΎ &times; , and is finite since its elements are roots of π‘ π − 1.
So by Proposition 10.3.1, ππ (πΎ) is cyclic. Let π be a generator of ππ (πΎ). Then
every πth root of unity in πΎ is a power of π, which is what we were aiming for.
Note, however, that ππ (πΎ) may have fewer than π elements, or equivalently,
the order of π may be less than π. For instance, if char πΎ = π then π π (πΎ) is trivial
and π = 1, by Example 10.1.5(ii).
Exercise 10.3.3 Let πΎ be a field and let π» be a finite subgroup of πΎ &times;
of order π. Prove that π» ⊆ ππ (πΎ).
Example 10.3.4 The group F&times;π is cyclic, for any prime π. This means that there
is some π ∈ {1, . . . , π − 1} such that π, π2 , . . . runs through all elements of
{1, . . . , π − 1} when taken mod π. In number theory, such an π is called a
primitive root mod π (another usage of the word ‘primitive’). For instance, you
can check that 3 is a primitive root mod 7, but 2 is not, since 23 ≡ 1 (mod 7).
Corollary 10.3.5 Every extension of one finite field over another is simple.
Proof Let π : πΎ be an extension with π finite. By Proposition 10.3.1, the group
π &times; is generated by some element πΌ ∈ π &times; . Then π = πΎ (πΌ).
This is yet another pleasant aspect of finite fields.
135
Exercise 10.3.6 In the proof of Corollary 10.3.5, once we know that
the group π &times; is generated by πΌ, how does it follow that π = πΎ (πΌ)?
Digression 10.3.7 In Digression 7.2.22, I mentioned the theorem of the
primitive element: every finite separable extension π : πΎ is simple. One of
the standard proofs involves splitting into two cases, according to whether
π is finite or infinite. We’ve just done the finite case.
Corollary 10.3.8 For every prime number π and integer π ≥ 1, there exists an
irreducible polynomial over F π of degree π.
Proof The field F π π has prime subfield F π . By Corollary 10.3.5, the extension
F π π : F π is simple, say F π π = F π (πΌ). The minimal polynomial of πΌ over F π is
irreducible of degree [F π (πΌ) : F π ] = [F π π : F π ] = π.
This is not obvious. For example, can you find an irreducible polynomial of
degree 100 over F31 ?
10.4
Galois groups for finite fields
We now work out the Galois correspondence for any extension of one finite field
over another.
Warning 10.4.1 The term ‘finite field extension’ means an extension π : πΎ that’s finite in the sense defined on p. 52: π is finitedimensional as a vector space over πΎ. It doesn’t mean that π and πΎ
are finite fields. But the safest policy is to avoid this term entirely.
The three hypotheses of the fundamental theorem of Galois theory are always
satisfied when both fields in the extension are finite:
Lemma 10.4.2 Let π : πΎ be a field extension.
i. If πΎ is finite then π : πΎ is separable.
ii. If π is also finite then π : πΎ is finite and normal.
Proof For (i), we show that every irreducible polynomial π over πΎ is separable.
Write char πΎ = π &gt; 0, and suppose for a contradiction that π is inseparable. By
Corollary 7.2.12,
π (π‘) = π 0 + π 1 π‘ π + &middot; &middot; &middot; + ππ π‘ π π
136
for some π 0 , . . . , ππ ∈ πΎ. For each π, there is a (unique) πth root ππ of ππ in πΎ, by
Corollary 10.1.4(ii). Then
π
π
π
π (π‘) = π 0 + π 1 π‘ π + &middot; &middot; &middot; + ππ π‘ π π .
But by Proposition 10.1.1(i), the function π β¦→ π π is a homomorphism πΎ [π‘] →
πΎ [π‘], so
π (π‘) = (π 0 + π 1 π‘ + &middot; &middot; &middot; + ππ π‘ π ) π .
For (ii), suppose that π is finite. Write char π = π &gt; 0. By Theorem 10.2.8,
π is a splitting field over F π , so by Lemma 6.2.13(ii), it is also a splitting field
over πΎ. Hence π : πΎ is finite and normal, by Theorem 7.1.5.
Part (i) fulfils the promise made in Remark 7.2.13 and Example 7.2.15(ii), and
the lemma as a whole lets us use the fundamental theorem freely in the world
of finite fields. We now work out the Galois correspondence for the extension
F π π : F π of an arbitrary finite field over its prime subfield.
Proposition 10.4.3 Let π be a prime and π ≥ 1. Then Gal(F π π : F π ) is cyclic of
order π, generated by the Frobenius automorphism of F π π .
By Workshop 4, q. 7, Gal(F π π : F π ) is the group of all automorphisms of F π π .
Proof Write π for the Frobenius automorphism of F π π ; then π ∈ Gal(F π π : F π ).
π
First we calculate the order of π. By Lemma 10.2.5, πΌ π = πΌ for all πΌ ∈ F π π , or
π
equivalently, π π = id. If π is a positive integer such that π π = id then πΌ π = πΌ for
π
all πΌ ∈ F π π , so the polynomial π‘ π − π‘ has π π roots in F π π , so π π ≤ π π , so π ≤ π.
Hence π has order π.
On the other hand, [F π π : F π ] = π, so by the fundamental theorem of Galois
theory, | Gal(F π π : F π )| = π. The result follows.
Exercise 10.4.4 What is the fixed field of hπi ⊆ Gal(F π π : F π )?
In Fundamentals of Pure Mathematics or Group Theory, you presumably saw
that the cyclic group of order π has exactly one subgroup of order π for each divisor
π of π. (And by Lagrange’s theorem, there are no subgroups of other orders.)
subgroups of cyclic groups.
In the case at hand, Gal(F π π : F π ) = hπi πΆπ , and when π | π, the unique
subgroup of order π is hπ π/π i.
137
Proposition 10.4.6 Let π be a prime and π ≥ 1. Then F π π has exactly one subfield
of order π π for each divisor π of π, and no others. It is
π
πΌ ∈ F ππ : πΌ π = πΌ .
Proof The subfields of F π π are the intermediate fields of F π π : F π , which by the
fundamental theorem of Galois theory are precisely the fixed fields Fix(π») of
subgroups π» of Gal(F π π : F π ). Any such π» is of the form hπ π/π i with π | π, and
π/π
Fixhπ π/π i = πΌ ∈ F π π : πΌ π = πΌ .
The tower law and the fundamental theorem give
[Fixhπ π/π i : F π ] =
[F π π : F π ]
[F π π :
Fixhπ π/π i]
=
π
|hπ π/π i|
=
π
,
π
so | Fixhπ π/π i| = π π/π . As π runs through the divisors of π, the quotient π/π also
runs through the divisors of π, so putting π = π/π gives the result.
Warning 10.4.7 The subfields of F π π are of the form F π π where π
divides π, not π ≤ π. For instance, F8 has no subfield isomorphic to
F4 (that is, no 4-element subfield), since 8 = 23 , 4 = 22 , and 2 - 3.
Let π be a divisor of π. By Proposition 10.4.6, F π π has exactly one subfield
isomorphic to F π π . We can therefore speak of the extension F π π : F π π without
ambiguity. Since F π π = Fixhπ π i and hπ π i πΆπ/π , it follows from the fundamental
theorem that
Gal(F π π : F π π ) πΆπ/π .
(10.1)
So in working out the Galois correspondence for F π π : F π , we have accidentally
derived the Galois group of a completely arbitrary extension of finite fields.
In the Galois correspondence for F π π : F π , all the extensions and subgroups
involved are normal, either by Lemma 10.4.2 or because cyclic groups are abelian.
For π | π, the isomorphism
Gal(F π π : F π )
Gal(F π π : F π )
Gal(F π π : F π π )
supplied by the fundamental theorem amounts to
πΆπ
πΆπ .
πΆπ/π
Alternatively, substituting π = π/π, this is πΆπ /πΆ π πΆπ/π .
138
Example 10.4.8 Consider the Galois correspondence for F π12 : F π , where π is
any prime. Writing π for the Frobenius automorphism of F π12 , the subgroups of
πΊ = Gal(F π12 : F π ) are
hπ 12 i πΆ1 1
order 1
hπ 6 i πΆ2
hπ 4 i
order 2
order 3
πΆ3
hπ 3 i πΆ4
hπ 2 i
order 4
order 6
πΆ6
πΊ = hπi πΆ12
order 12
Their fixed fields are
degree 1
F π12
degree 2
F π6
degree 3
F π4
F π3
degree 4
degree 6
F π2
degree 12
Fπ
Here, ‘degree’ means the degree of F π12 over the subfield, and (for instance) the
subfield of F π12 called F π4 is
4
πΌ ∈ F π12 : πΌ π = πΌ F π4 .
The Galois group Gal(F π12 : F π4 ) is hπ 4 i πΆ3 , and similarly for the other subfields.
Exercise 10.4.9 What do the diagrams of Example 10.4.8 look like
for π 8 in place of π 12 ? What about π 432 ? (Be systematic!)
Ordered sets
In Workshop 5, you’ll be asked to work through the Galois correspondence for
an arbitrary extension F π π : F π π of finite fields, but there’s not much more to do:
almost all the work is contained in the case π = 1 that we have just done.
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