Archive for December, 2010


December 31, 2010

The major change in the past few days is the addition of a section on Galois theory, which was recently donated. As a result, the chapter on fields has expanded somewhat.

The chapter on flatness has expanded slightly (with sections on the local and infinitesimal criteria).

Various snippets of code donated (e.g. problem sets) have been moved into the main document, often as worked examples (such as the computation of the radical of a polynomial ring R[x] in terms of the radical of R).

There is now a section discussing a general observation (due to Lam and Reyes) that ideals maximal with respect to a certain property (e.g. being not finitely generated) are often prime.

Importantly for those editing the source, the package ntheorem has now replaced amsthm in the document. Hopefully this will allow for auto-generated theorem lists eventually. In addition, the package cleveref is now used, so that references of the form “Theorem~\ref{name}” can be simplified to “\cref{name}.” This also provides greater versatility if we want to change theorems into propositions or vice versa.

Finally, the book is nearing 300 pages!

Source files

December 26, 2010

The source files on the main website will no longer contain contributions that have not been merged into the main document. The justification is that otherwise the source files would become very large! (There are some JPEGs in the full source.) Right now, the abbreviated source is a couple of hundred kilobytes. The much larger full source files can, as always, be downloaded from the git repository.

The main website no longer contains .tar.gz files (for the source), but now instead uses bzip2, which typically leads to better compression. (Windows users may find it easier to open the larger .zip archives.)

A few minor changes were made: a typo in the name of the chapter on homological methods, pointed out by Keith Conrad, was corrected, and a bit of material on faithful flatness was added. In fact, there is now a new chapter on “flatness” that is in its infancy. The topic is introduced earlier, but there is much more one can say especially after one has introduced derived functors.

Major restructuring

December 21, 2010

Several major restructuring changes have happened in the past few days. In chronological order:

  1. Much material was merged in from the tobeadded folder. In particle, most of the Math 221 notes (including material on Serre’s criterion and the homological theory) are now in the main document. They need editing!
  2. Material was added on Dedekind domains and basic results on how primes split (e.g. in Galois extensions).
  3. Material was added on graded rings. Right now, these are based mostly off EGA II and are geared towards that source. In particular, much emphasis is placed on homogeneous localization and the Proj of a graded ring (which seems to me reasonable since this book is intended to prepare for study in algebraic geometry; feel free to disagree). However, there are more topics (e.g. the associated graded of a filtered ring) that should be added.
  4. The homological algebra preliminaries have all been moved to the end of the book. (Material such as exactness still appears at the beginning, but derived functors do not.) I think this is reasonable: one doesn’t need to know what a derived functor is to understand flatness, and those constructions are somewhat more advanced than most of the first part of the book. At the same time, it will probably be worthwhile to add an additional chapter at the end when flatness is done more systematically via \mathrm{Tor} (which is necessary for things like the infinitesimal and local criteria, if I remember correctly).

The book is now much longer (about 250 pages).

A wish list for CRing?

December 18, 2010

So now that we have several contributions to the CRing project, and several people who have agreed to contribute in the future, we need a wish list of things to add. Here are a few things that I’d like to see. Most of these simply reflect my own interests, so people should feel free to suggest things in the comments.

First, there is material contained in the tobeadded folder but not merged into the main document:

  1. Serre’s criterion for normality (and the baby case for reducedness)
  2. Homological theory (regular local rings, Cohen-Macaulayness, Koszul complexes, etc.)
  3. More on discrete valuation rings

Then there is other material that will require writing “from scratch” (or donations of other people’s notes). First, we have the easy stuff:

  1. We don’t have a formal chapter on “graduations, filtrations, and topologies,” to quote Bourbaki. Namely, students of algebraic geometry have to know what a homogeneous ideal is, or what homogeneous localization means. It will also be useful to collect definitions of things like the associated graded (which we use during dimension theory). The Artin-Rees lemma can be moved here. This will be fairly easy to write up, and likely would be pretty short.
  2. The chapter on field theory right now has many gaps. It’s not clear how much field theory should go in the present book (which is about commutative algebra), but some is definitely appropriate, and we need to fill in the gaps between the definition of characteristic and algebraic closures! Read the rest of this entry »

First round of changes

December 18, 2010

(N.B. In this post, I shall avoid naming which contributor wrote what — this is visible in the git logs to the curious.)

A bunch of things have happened to the CRing project in the past few days. (As usual, reasonably up-to-date PDFs may be downloaded from the main site.)

First of all, things are actually moving! There have been six contributors so far, and it has been less than a week. While the project started with a (slightly edited) version of lecture notes from a commutative algebra class, they now have — very rough — chapters on category theory, field theory, homological algebra, and formally etale stuff.

The Stacks project has kindly released a section of the stacks code to us, on formally etale and smooth morphisms. This appears as the final chapter of the current project. So far, it is somewhat more advanced than the rest of the project, as well as written in a different style, so we will need to make significant edits.

There is a chapter being written on field theory. Right now, it contains a discussion of transcendental extensions, the characteristic of a field, and a proof of the existence of the algebraic closure of a field.  Since this chapter is being written from “scratch,” it is currently rather short and hopefully will be filled in in the future.
Read the rest of this entry »

A niche for CRing?

December 14, 2010

Since this project is pretty new, it’s probably worth spending a little time determining its niche. One thing is clear: it’s an undergraduate-level, open-source, collaborative textbook on commutative algebra. But there are a lot of textbooks out there on commutative algebra, even if none (that I’m aware of; please correct me if I’m wrong) are open source.  So we need a raison d’etre to explain exactly why hammering away on this is worth our time, and to determine what we can say in a sales pitch when asking for contributions.

One way we could set a niche is by being really categorical. This is kind of the current approach: the initial chapter (as I write) is on category theory, while the second is on homological algebra. In this sense, the CRing project attempts a broader mission: to educate about general algebra (including abstract nonsense) instead of either simply assuming familiarity with Tor, Ext, and exact sequences and plunging ahead or by sketching details without proofs. As an undergraduate textbook, this level of self-containment is probably a good idea. On the other hand, being really categorical in a proper sense will avoid the “cop-out” of sketching proofs: since this is a collaborative project, we can do a lot.

That’s another sense in which we have a niche. Since there are already several people collaborating (and we hope more will join), editing can proceed at a much faster pace than it could if only one person were working. The use of the git server has made it extremely efficient to keep track of versions and to allow us to work on it simultaneously. As a result, we should probably aim for significant length.

But these are just a few initial, rambling thoughts. Does anyone want to offer any better ideas?

What’s this all about?

December 14, 2010

[The present post is an announcement of the CRing project, whose official webpage is here. This is cross-posted from Climbing Mount Bourbaki.]

Like most mathematics students, I spend a lot of time writing stuff, for instance homework assignments and (of course) blog posts. So I have a lot of random, unorganized write-ups littered around my hard drive, which might be useful to others if organized properly, but which currently slumber idly.

Last semester, I took a fairly large amount of notes for my commutative algebra class (about 160 pages). I made the notes available on my webpage, and was pleased with the reception that they received from my classmates. After seeing Theo-Johnson Freyd’s projects, I decided that it might be a productive exercise to edit the notes I had taken into a mini-textbook. I quickly made progress, since the basic structure of the book was already set by the lectures. I decided early on that the work was going to be open source: to me, it seemed the best way to ensure that anyone who wanted could freely access and modify it.

But I think the project is bigger now. Namely, instead of an open source textbook, how about a massively collaborative open source textbook? This is to say that I don’t want it to be my work anymore, but my work as well as, and more importantly, the work of enthusiastic professors, procrastinating graduate students, nerdy high-schoolers,  or whoever else wishes to contribute. The goal is to end with an openly available textbook suitable for a beginner familiar only with elementary abstract algebra, but which will provide adequate preparation for the serious study of algebraic geometry.

So, I present you the CRing project. Read the rest of this entry »