# 4. Noether normalisation

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1 4. Noether normalisation We shall say that a ring R is an affine ring (or affine k-algebra) if R is isomorphic to a polynomial ring over a field k with finitely many indeterminates modulo an ideal, i.e., R k[t 1,..., T n ]/I. According to Hilbert s Basis Theorem any affine ring is Noetherian. In his early algebra work in the 1890 s Hilbert gave a structure theorem for affine algebras over a field k (at least in the graded case over an infinite field), generalized later by Noether and Nagata, and nowadays called Noether normalization. It says that any affine algebra R over a field k has a subring S, which is isomorphic with a polynomial ring k[x 1,..., X d ] and such that R is finitely generated when considered as an S-module, see [2,. 15.3]. We prove a slighly more general result in this section. The integer d does not depend on the choice of S and will be called the dimension of the affine k-algebra R. It is an important integer related to the more familiar notion of dimension of a manifold or of a vector space Field extensions. Hilbert was motivated by a well-known result in the theory of field extensions. Let k K be a field extension. If x 1,..., x n is any collection of elements of K, we denote by k(x 1,..., x n ) the subfield of K generated by k and {x 1,..., x n }. We say x 1,..., x d K are algebraically independent over k, if there is no non-zero polynomial F (X 1,..., X d ) k[x 1,..., X d ] such that F (x 1,..., x d ) = 0. Or, equivalently, the k-algebra homomorphism k[x 1,..., X d ] K obtained by substituting x i for X i is injective. We say x K is algebraic over k if there is a non-zero polynomial F (X) k[x] such that F (x) = 0, i.e., the kernel of k[x] K : X x is non-zero. Since the ring k[x] is a principal domain, there is unique monic (or unitary) polynomial that generates this kernel. This polynomial is called the minimal polynomial of x over k and is an important tool in field theory. We recall that any polynomial ring over a field with finitely many variables is a factorial domain; in particular a polynomial is irreducible if and only if it is a prime element, see [2,. 9.3]. We say that the field extension k K has finite transcendence degree d if d is minimal for the property that there are elements x 1,..., x d in K that are algebraically independent over k and such that any element of K is algebraic over the subfield k(x 1,..., x d ). Such collection of elements x 1,..., x d is then called a transcendence basis for the extension. Suppose K = k(y 1,..., y n ), i.e., K is finitely generated by {y 1,..., y n } as a field extension of k. By permuting the generators if necessary we can arrange that y 1,..., y δ are algebraically independent over k, and each y i is algebraic over k(y 1,..., y δ ). Then from the next lemma it follows easily that necessarily δ = d is the transcendence degree of the extension k K and so y 1,..., y d is necessarily already a transcendence basis. Lemma 4.1 (Replacement Lemma). Let k K be a field extension with finite transcendence degree d and let x 1,..., x d be a transcendence basis. Suppose y 1, y 2,..., y n K are algebraically independent over k. Then n d, and there is a reordering of the x i s such that y 1,..., y n, x n+1,..., x d is also a transcendence basis for k K. Proof. We remark that this result is mentioned in [2, 14.9], but not proved there. The proof is nevertheless a bit tricky, so we shall give it here. 6

2 Since x 1,..., x d is a transcendence basis, any element of K is algebraic over k(x 1,..., x d ). Let F min = Y r + φ 1 Y r φ r be the minimum polynomial of y 1, where each φ i is an element of k(x 1,..., x d ), i.e. a rational function in the algebraically independent variables {x 1,..., x d } with coefficients in k. Let f 0 k[x 1,..., x d ] be a common denominator of all the coefficients of F min, then the product f 0 F min k[x 1,..., x d ][Y ] = k[x 1,..., x d, Y ], i.e. is a polynomial. Since k[x 1,..., x d, Y ] is a polynomial ring there is a factorisation of f 0 F min into a product of irreducible polynomials. If we substitute Y := y 1 we obtain 0, hence there must be an irreducible factor, say F, that also becomes 0 when we make the substitution Y := y 1. Necessarily F contains the variable Y. If we see F as an element of k(x 1,..., x d )[Y ] it has at most degree r in the variable Y, since it divides f 0 F min. On the other hand, since it vanishes at Y := y 1 it is divisible by the minimum polynomial F min, so the degree in the variable Y is at least r, hence exactly r. It follows that we can write f 0 F min = g F, where g k[x 1,..., x d ] and F k[x 1,..., x d, Y ] irreducible. Say F = h 0 Y r + h 1 Y r h r where each h i k[x 1,..., x d ] and h 0 0. Notice that in fact 1 h 0 F = F min. So in fact we get that F = h 0 F min is irreducible in k[x 1,..., x d, Y ] and vanishes when we substitute Y := y 1. Let G = g 0 Y e + g 1 Y e g e in k[x 1,..., x d, Y ] (where each g i k[x 1,..., x d ]) be another polynomial that vanishes when we substitute Y := y 1. Then we claim that F divides G in the polynomial ring k[x 1,..., x d, Y ]. At least F min divides G in the ring k(x 1,..., x d )[Y ], by the fundamental property of the minimal polynomial. So, by getting rid of denominators, we get that there are p, q k[x 1,..., x d ] and H k[x 1,..., x d, Y ] such that pg = qf H. So F divides pg in k[x 1,..., x d, Y ], and does not divide p (since p does not contain the variable Y ). So F divides G, since F is irreducible and therefore a prime element in k[x 1,..., x d, Y ]; which proves the claim. In the polynomial F one of the variables x 1,..., x d must occur non-trivially, say x 1, since otherwise y 1 would be even algebraic over k, which it isn t by assumption. So we can write (1) F = p 0 x a 1 + p 1 x a p a, where each p i k[x 2,..., x d, Y ], p 0 0 and a 1. Suppose the coefficient p 0 vanishes after substitution Y := y 1. Then we proved before that F necessarily divides p 0. In particular x 1 occurs in p 0 ; which is a contradiction. So p 0 (x 2,..., x d, y)) 0 and it follows from equation (1) that x 1 is algebraic over the subfield k(x 2,..., x d, y 1 ) (hence any element of K too, the argument for this will be seen later this section). By minimality of d it follows that y 1, x 2,... x d are algebraically independent over k and also form a transcendence basis of K over k. We repeat the argument with y 2 and k(y 1, x 2,..., x d ) and get again an irreducible polynomial F in k[y 1, x 2,..., x d, Y ] that can be expanded as F = h 0 Y r + h 1 Y r h d, 7

3 8 with h i k[y 1, x 2,..., x d ], h 0 0 and such that F vanishes after substitution Y := y 2. In the polynomial F one of the variables x 2,..., x d must occur non-trivially, say x 2, since otherwise y 1 and y 2 would not be algebraically independent over k. So we have an expansion F = p 0 x a 2 + p 1 x a p a, where each coefficient p i k[y 1, x 3,..., x d, Y ], p 0 0 and a 1. Suppose the polynomial p 0 vanishes after substitution Y := y 2. Then F divides p 0, so x 2 occurs in p 0 ; which is a contradiction. So p 0 (y 1, x 3,..., x d, y 2 ) 0 and it follows that x 2 (hence K) is algebraic over k(y 1, y 2, x 3,..., x d ). By minimality of d it follows that y 1, y 2, d 3... x d are algebraically independent over k and also form a transcendence basis. We proceed in a similar fashion, to complete the proof Integral extensions. To generalize we need to modify some notions of field extensions to ring extensions. Let R S be a subring. An element s S is integral over R (see [2, 15.3]) if there is a unitary polynomial F (X) = X n + r 1 X n r n R[X] such that F (s) = 0. If every element of S is integral over R we say that S is integral over R. There is a big difference with field theory, in that there is no minimal such polynomial. Let ev s : R[X] S be the ring homomorphism obtained by substituting X := s, with kernel I say. Then s is integral over R if I contains a monic polynomial. In general it is no longer true that I is a principal ideal, or if so it need not be generated by a monic polynomial! For example, if the extension is Z Q and s = 1 2 then the kernel is principal generated by 2X 1, but it does not contain a monic polynomial. So 1 2 is not integral over Z. Or, in the situation of the extension Q[U] Q[U, W ]/(UW, W 2 ) and s = W, then the kernel is not a principal ideal and generated by XU and X 2 (monic!). This time W is integral over Q[U]. Proposition 4.1. Let R S be an extension of rings. The following are equivalent: (i) s S is integral over R; (ii) R[s] is finitely generated as an R-module; (iii) R[s] is contained in a subring B of S, such that B is finitely generated as an R-module. (iv) There is an R[s]-module with trivial annihilator, that is finitely generated as R-module. Proof. (i) implies (ii): Suppose s S is integral over R, hence there is a relation s n = (r 1 s n r n ), so R[s] is generated as R-module by {1, s, s 2,..., s n 1 }. (ii) implies (iii): Trivial: take B = R[s]. (iii) implies (iv): Let F R[s] be in the annihilator of B, as in the assumption of (iii). Then in particular F = F 1 = 0. So the annihilator of B as R[s]-module is trivial. (iv) implies (i): Let M be an R[s]-module with trivial annihilator and finitely generated as R- module, say by m 1,..., m n. Put δ ij = 0 if i j and δ ij = 1 if i = j. There is an n n matrix B of coefficients r ij in R such that s m j = n i=1 r ijm i, so n i=1 (sδ ij r ij )m i = 0. Consider the n n matrix A with coefficients A ij = sδ ji r ji. It has an adjoint matrix A also with coefficients in R[s], such that A A = det(a)1, where 1 is the n n identity matrix. This is a consequence of

4 the Laplace expansion of the determinant in linear algebra. Or A ik A kj = A ik (sδ jk r jk ) = det(a)δ ij. k k So 0 = A jk (sδ ik r ik )m i = A jk A kim i = det(a)δ ji m i = det(a)m j k i i,k i So det(a) annihilates M, hence det(a) = 0. The characteristic polynomial of the matrix B is the determinant of X1 B, so by substituting X := s we get det A, hence 0. The characteristic polynomial is of the form s n + r 1 s n 1 + r 2 X n r n where the coefficients are some polynomials in the coefficients of B, hence are elements of R. We found a monic polynomial with coefficients in R that has s as zero. So s is integral over R. Remark. In the proof above we used a generalization of the Cayley-Hamilton theorem of linear algebra, that says that if f(x) is the characteristic polynomial of square matrix A over a field, then f(a) is the zero matrix. If M is a finitely generated module over a ring R and φ : M M an R-homomorphism, then there is a monic polynomial F (X) R[X] such that the endomorphism F (φ) acts trivially on M. The proof is the same as the proof in the proposition above. Corollary 4.1. (i) Let s 1,..., s n elements of S that are integral over R, then R[s 1,..., s n ] is a subring that is finitely generated as an R-module. (ii) Let C be the collection of elements in S that are integral over R. Then C is a subring of S. (iii) If R S T are rings such that S is integral over R and T integral over S, then T is integral over R. Proof. Suppose T is a finite S-module (say generated by t 1,..., t n ), and S a finite R-module (say by s 1,..., s m ). Then the s i t j s generate T as R-module. (i) R[s 1 ] is finitely generated as R-module, and R[s 1, s 2 ] is finitely generated as R[s 1 ]- module, hence also as R-module. Etcetera. (ii) Let s 1, s 2 be integral over R, then s 1 s 2 and s 1 s 2 are contained in R[s 1, s 2 ], which is finite;y generated as R-module. Then apply the proposition. (iii) Let t T. It is integral over S, say with integral equation t n + s 1 t n 1 + s 2 t n s n, with each s i S. So t is also integral over the subring R[s 1,..., s n ] and therefore R[s 1,..., s n, t] is finitely generated as a module over R[s 1,..., s n ] (by the powers 1, t,..., t n 1 ). Each s i is integral over R, hence by (i) R[s 1,..., s n ] is finitely generated as R-module. Combining we get that R[s 1,..., s n, t] is also finitely generated as R-module. So by Proposition 4.1, t is integral over R. The ring C in (ii) is called the integral closure of R in S. If R = C, then R is called integrally closed in S. In particular C is integrally closed in S. For example, Z is integrally closed in Q. Now a version of the Noether normalization is as follows. 9

5 10 Theorem 4.1 (Noether normalization). Let S := k[x 1,..., X n ] be a polynomial ring over a field k and let I 1 I 2... I m S be a sequence of ideals in S. There exist x 1,..., x n in S that are algebraically independent over k (put R := k[x 1,..., x n ]), such that (i) the ring extension R S is integral (or equivalently, such that S is a finitely generated module over R) (ii) and there is a sequence of integers d 1 d 2... d m such that I i R = (x di +1, x di +2,..., x n ) R. The proof will use a repeated application of the following special case. Lemma 4.2 (Nagata). Let S := k[x 1,..., X n ] be a polynomial ring over a field k and F S a non-constant polynomial. There exist x 1,..., x n 1 in S, such x 1,..., x n 1, F are algebraically independent over k, and such that (i) for some fixed e each x i is of the form x i = X i X ei n ; (ii) the ring extension R := k[x 1,..., x n 1, F ] S is integral (or equivalently, S is a finitely generated module over R) (iii) and F S R = F R. Proof. Let e 1 be any integer that is larger than any of the exponents of the X i that occur in F. Put x i := X i Xn ei, or X i = x i + Xn ei, for 1 i < n. Any monomial we can expand as polynomial in X n with coefficients in k[x 1,..., x n 1 ]: X a 1 1 Xa 2 2 Xan n = (x 1 + X e n) a 1 (x 2 + X e2 = X an+a 1e+a 2 e a n 1 e n 1 n n ) a2 (x n 1 + Xn en 1 + lower order terms ) a n 1 X an n Now in elementary number theory, if (a 1, a 2,..., a n ) (b 1, b 2,..., b n ) and each a i and b i is a non-negative integer smaller than e, then also a n + a 1 e + a 2 e a n 1 e n 1 b n + b 1 e + b 2 e b n 1 e n 1. Among all monomials X a 1 1 Xa 2 2 Xan n appearing in F there is therefore a unique one where d := a n + a 1 e + a 2 e a n 1 e n 1 is maximal, say with coefficient c 0 k. Then we can expand F as polynomial in X n with coefficients in k[x 1,..., x n 1 ] and get F = c 0 X d n + lower order terms, say c 1 0 F = Xd n + c 1 X d 1 n +..., +c d for some c i k[x 1,..., x d 1 ]. Since F is non-constant d 1. Hence we get a integrality relation X d n + c 1 X d 1 n +..., +c d 1 X n + (c d c 1 0 F ) for X n over k[x 1,..., x n 1, F ]. It follows that S is integral over k[x 1,..., x n 1, F ]. If x 1,..., x n 1, F are not algebraically independent, then the transcendence degree of the quotient field of R over k, (and hence also of k(x 1,..., X n ) over k) is less than n, contradiction.

6 We still have to show (iii). Of course F R F S R. Any f F S R can be written as f = F G with G S. We have an integrality relation with b i R. So multiplying by F e we get G e + b 1 G e b e = 0 f e + b 1 F f e b e F e = 0 11 inside the polynomial ring R. From which it follows that F divides f inside R, or f F R. Remark. There is a different version of this lemma (due to Noether) that works when the field is infinite. In that case we can assume that each x i is a k-linear combination of the X j s, see [3, Lemma 13.2]. Proof of Theorem 4.1. We shall use induction on n starting from the trivial case n = 0. Suppose the result is true for less than n variables. We can also suppose that all ideals are non-zero. Let F be a non-zero element of I 1. Since I m S, F is not a constant and we can apply Lemma 4.2 to get x 1,..., x n 1, x n in S that are algebraically independent over k, with F = x n, and such that the ring extension R := k[x 1,..., x n ] S is integral and F S R = F R. From this it is no loss of generality to suppose that the variable X n is contained in all the ideals. Now consider the sequence of ideals J i := I i k[x 1,..., X n 1 ]. By induction, there are exist x 1,..., x n 1 in k[x 1,..., X n 1 ] that are algebraically independent over k such that (i) the ring extension k[x 1,..., x n 1 ] k[x 1,..., X n 1 ] is integral (ii) and there is a sequence of integers d 1 d 2... d m such that I i k[x 1,..., x n 1 ] = J i k[x 1,..., x n 1 ] = (x di +1, x di +2,..., x n 1 ) k[x 1,..., x n 1 ]. It follows that the ring extension k[x 1,..., x n 1, X n ] k[x 1,..., X n 1, X n ] is also integral, so x 1,..., x n 1, X n are also algebraically independent (by Lemma 4.1). Since X n I i k[x 1,..., x n 1, X n ] any f I i k[x 1,..., x n 1, X n ] can be written uniquely as f = f 1 + f 2 X n, where f 1 I i k[x 1,..., x n 1 ] and f 2 k[x 1,..., x n 1, X n ]. Since I i k[x 1,..., x n 1 ] = (x di +1, x di +2,..., x n 1 ) it follows that I i k[x 1,..., x n 1, X n ] = (x di +1, x di +2,..., x n 1, X n ). Hence the theorem is proved. Corollary 4.2. Let R be an affine algebra over a field k. There are elements y 1,..., y d R that are algebraically independent over k and such that R is finitely generated as a k[y 1,..., y d ]-module. Proof. There is a polynomial ring k[x 1,..., X n ] with an ideal I such that R is isomorphic to k[x 1,..., X n ]/I. By the theorem there are elements x 1,..., x n k[x 1,..., X n ] that are algebraically independent over k, such that k[x 1,..., X n ] is finitely generated as k[x 1,..., x n ]-module. Furthermore I k[x 1,..., x n ] = (x d+1,..., x n ) for some d. Hence we have an inclusion k[x 1,..., x n ]/(x d+1,..., x n ) k[x 1,..., X n ]/I R,

7 12 and k[x 1,..., X n ]/I is integral over k[x 1,..., x n ]/(x d+1,..., x n ). Let y i be the image of the class of x i, for 1 i d. So k[y 1,..., y d ] is isomorphic to k[x 1,..., x n ]/(x d+1,..., x n ) k[x 1,..., x d ], and so y 1,..., y d are algebraically independent over k and R is integral over k[y 1,..., y d ].

8 13 Département de mathématiques et de statistique, Université de Montréal, C.P. 6128, succursale Centre-ville, Montréal (Québec), Canada H3C 3J7 address:

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