# Lecture 6: Etale Fundamental Group

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1 Lecture 6: Etale Fundamental Group October 5, Review of the topological fundamental group and covering spaces 1.1 Topological fundamental group Suppose X is a path-connected topological space, and x X. Then we can define a group π 1 (X, x) as follows: An element consists of a continuous map γ : R/Z X such that γ(0) = x, which one should think of as a loop based at x, up to homotopy, so that two paths γ 1, γ 2 are considered identical if there is a continuous map F : (R/Z) [0, 1] X sending all of 0 [0, 1] to x such that F 0 = γ 1, F 1 = γ 2. The multiplication is given by concatenation, so that { γ 1 (2t) 0 t 1 γ 1 γ 2 (t) = 2 1 γ 2 (2t) 2 < t < 1. In other words, we first follow γ 2, and then γ 1. This is referred to as the fundamental group of X, though of course we made a choice of a point x X. However, if y X is any other point, and p : [0, 1] X is such that p(0) = x, p(1) = y, then there is an isomorphism p : π 1 (X, x) π 1 (X, y) given by using informal notation γ p γ p 1. In other words, we follow p backwards to x, then follow γ, then follow p back to y. Thus, the group π 1 (X, x) is - up to isomorphism - independent of x. If φ : X is a continuous map between path-connected spaces, and φ(y) = x then we get an induced homomorphism π 1 (, y) π 1 (X, x). 1.2 Covering spaces and main theorem We say that φ : X is a covering space, if each point x X has an open neighborhood U such that φ 1 (U) is homeomorphism to U I for a discrete set I. It is easy to see that if X is connected, then φ 1 (x) is 1

2 independent of x, and we call it the degree of φ, written deg φ. Given such a space, we get an action of π 1 (X, x) on by defining γ as follows: Consider γ as a function γ : [0, 1] X, and define γ y : [0, 1] to be the lift of γ such that γ(0) = y. Then we define γ y to be γ y (1). This gives us a functor F from covering spaces over X to π 1 (X, x)-sets. Then we have the following theorem: Theorem 1.1. Suppose X is a path-connected, locally simply connected space. Then F : {Covering Spaces over X} {π 1 (X, x) sets} is an equivalence of categories. Note that it follows that there exists a universal covering space X corresponding to the π 1 (X, x) viewed as a π 1 (X, x)-set via the natural left action, whose automorphism group is naturally isomorphic to π 1 (X, x). 1.3 Recovering G from the category of G-sets Finally, we describe how - for path connected, locally simply connected X- to recover π 1 (X, x) purely in terms of covering spaces, without mentioning loops at all. In fact, this amounts to a purely algebraic fact about groups: Let G be a group, and consider the forgetful functor F : {G sets} sets which takes a G-set M, and forgets the G-action. Define the Automorphism group of F, written Aut(F ) to be the group of sets of elements (φ M Aut(F (M))) M that is, for each G-set M we assign an automorphism φ M of the underlying set F (M) in a way which is compatible with morphisms. That is, if t : M N is a morphism of G-sets, then φ N F (t) = F (t) φ M. Theorem 1.2. For any group G, G = Aut(F ). Proof. First, there is a natural homomorphism ψ : G Aut(F ) given by ψ(g) M (m) = g m. Likewise, if we consider G as a G-set in the natural way, then for any g G there is a morphism of G-sets given by r g (g ) = g g. Thus, it follows that if φ Aut(F ), then φ G = r g for a g = φ G (1 G ). It is easy to check that ξ(φ) = φ G (1 G ) gives a homorphism ξ : Aut(F ) G and that ξ is a left-inverse to ψ. It remains to prove the ξ has no kernel. So Suppose φ G (1 G ) = 1 G. Then for any M, there is a natural morphism of G-sets t m : G M defined by 2

3 t m (g) = g m. Thus, it follows that φ M F (t m ) = F (t m ). Thus, φ M (m) = m, and so φ M is the identity for all M, as desired. 2 Finite Etale Morphisms In the algebraic setting, there is no apparent analogues of loops that one can use, but we do have a reasonably good analogue of covering spaces in finite etale morphisms! 2.1 Geometric points Let X be a connected scheme, and x : Spec k X be a geometric point of X. The following lemma justifies why geometric points in algebraic geometry are a good analogue of points in topological spaces. Definition. Let φ : X be any morphism of schemes. Given a geometric point y : Spec k, we define φ(y) to be the geometric point φ y. We say that y is a geometric point above x, and write φ 1 (x) for the set of all such geometric points. Lemma 2.1. Let φ : X be finite etale. Then there is a natural number n such that for all geometric points x in X, φ 1 (x) = n. Proof. Since φ is finite flat, we know from last lecture that locally we can pick neighborhoods Spec A in X, containing the image of x, such that φ 1 (Spec A) = Spec B where B is free of rank n as an A-module. x gives a morphism A k, thus B A k is free of rank n over k. Moreover, since separability is preserved under base change, B A k is a direct sum of fields separable over k. It follows that B A k = k n, from which the lemma easily follows. We denote the number n in the above lemma by [ : X] and refer to it as the degree of over X. 2.2 Galois Covers Let F ET/X denote the category of finite etale X-schemes. Let, Z F ET/X, with π, π Z the morphisms to X, such that is connected. Any X-morphism φ : Z must map φ x : π 1 (x) to π 1 z (x). Moreover, since Z X is separated and unramified and is connected, we know from lecture 4, cor. 2.4 that φ is determined by where φ x takes a single geometric 3

4 point. As a special case, it follows that for a connected F ET/X, we have that Aut X [ : X]. Definition. We say that F ET/X is Galois over X if is connected Aut X = [ : X]. Equivalently, if is connected and the action of Aut X on π 1 (x) is transitive. Lemma 2.2. For any connected F ET/X there exists a Galois Z over X which surjects onto. Proof. Let n = [ : X], and consider (n) := X X X, }{{} n where there are n terms in the fiber product. Let y 1,..., y n be the geometric points in π 1 (x). Now consider the geometric point z := (y 1,..., y n ) of (n), and let Z be the connected component of (n) containing z. We claim that Z is galois over X. First, consider the morphism π 1,2 : Z X given by projecting onto the first two co-ordinates. Since all our schemes are Noetherian, and π 1,2 is finite flat, the map π 1,2 is surjective onto a connected component. Since the diagonal : X is an open immersion (as is etale) and its also finite (being a quotient) it follows that the diagonal is a connected component of X. Thus, since π 1,2 ( z) has image not contained in the diagonal, it follows that π 1,2 has image disjoint from the diagonal, and therefore Z has no geometric points above the diagonal. Reasoning similarly for all πi, j, it follows that all geometric point in Z are of the form z σ = (y σ(1),..., y σ(n) ) for some automorphism σ of {1, 2,..., n}. But there is an autmorphism σ of (n) permuting the coefficients of, which send z to z σ. It must also send Z to Z, since Z is the connected component containing those two points, and thereby the automorphism group of Z act transitively on the geometric points of π 1 Z (X). Hence Z is Galois. Finally, consider the projection π 1 : Z. π 1 is finite, and also etale by Lecture 5, lemma 1.1. Thus π 1 is surjective. Lemma 2.3. If and Z are Galois over X, then there exist a Galois W over X which surjects onto and Z. 4

5 Proof. Take W to be any connected component of X Z. It is easy to see that the automorphisms of X Z act transitively on the geometric points above x, and thus it follows as in the proof above that W is Galois. Likewise, one can show the projections from W to and Z are finite and flat by Lecture 5, lemma 1.1, and thus surjective. 2.3 Universal cover of X Since we are only working with finite maps, we cannot expect an object in F ET/X to play the role of the universal covering space in topology. However, we can approximate it by finite objects as follows: Definition. A universal cover X over X consists of the following data 1 : A partially ordered set I, which is filtered in the sense that for any two objects, there is some object less than or equal to both of them. For each i I a Galois cover X i of X. For any two objects i, j I with i < j a transition morphism φ ij : X i X j such that φ jk φ ij = φ ik. Such that any connected F ET/X is covered by X i for some i I. Moreover, we say that X is based, and we write x for its base point if each X i is assigned a geometric point x i in a compatible way with the transition maps. Lemma 2.4. There exists a based universal cover. Proof. Let (X i, x i ) i I be a set of Galois schemes over X together with a geometric point over x, indexed by some set I. Now we define an order in I by declaring that i j iff there is a morphism from X i to X j, in which case we set φ ij to be the morphism carrying x i to x j note we can always ensure this as X j is Galois by composing with an automorphism of X j over X. It is clear that this defines a partially ordered set, and its filtered by lemma 2.3. Moreover, by lemma 2.2 every finite etale connected is covered by some X i. Thus, we have constructed a based universal cover ( X, x). 1 In the language of category theory, we can consider X a pro-object in the category F ET/X, though we will not expand on this 5

6 For any scheme Z over X, we define hom X ( X, Z) to be the direct limit of lim hom X (X i, Z). Lemma 2.5. For any F ET/X, there is a natural isomorphism F : hom X ( X, ) π 1 (x) given by φ φ( x). Proof. WLOG we take to be connected. We first prove that F is surjective. Let y π 1 (x). Now pick i I such that there is a map φ : X i. Now φ is etale, hence surjective, hence surjective on geometric points. Thus there exist a geometric point in X i, which we may write as g x i for g Aut X X i such that φ(g x i ) = y. Then the map φ g gives an element of hom X ( X, ), and F (φ g) = y. Now to show that F is injective. So let i, j I and consider two maps ψ i : X i and ψ j : X j such that ψ i (x i ) = ψ j (x j ). We must show that the images of ψ i and ψ j are the same in hom X ( X, ). Let k I be such that X k has surjective maps φ ik and φ jk to X i and X j, mapping x k to x i and x j respectively. Then the images of ψ i and ψ j in hom X (X k, ) both map x k to y. Thus, the two maps must be the same, and the claim follows. Thus we see that X plays the analagous role in F ET/X to a universal cover. 2.4 Quotients of finite etale morphisms To understand all of F ET/X from just the Galois objects, we shall need to take quotients of schemes. We begin by looking at a more general context: Definition. Suppose X is a scheme and G is a group acting on X. We say that a morphism φ : X is the categorial quotient of X by G if for any morphism ψ : X Z for which ψ = ψ g for all g G, ψ factors uniquely through φ. In this case, we write = G\X. Note that if group schemes exist, they are unique up to isomorphism by the universal property. It turns out that such quotients do not always exist, so one must be a little careful. However, we have the following fairly general lemma: Lemma 2.6. Suppose f : X is an affine morphism of schemes, and G is a finite group acting on which preserves f. Then G\ exists. 6

7 Proof. First, note that if (U α ) α is an open covering of X such that the quotient of f 1 (U α ) by G exists for each α, then we can glue all these quotients by the uniqueness given in the universal property to create a quotient of by G. Thus, the statement is local on X, and so we may suppose X = Spec A is affine. Since f is an affine morphism, it follows by definition that = Spec B is affine. We claim that Spec B G is the quotient of Spec B by G. To prove this, suppose φ : Spec B Z is a G-invariant morphism. Then for each point P Spec B, pick an affine neighborhood U = Spec C of Z containing f(p ), and look at f 1 (U). Pick an element b 0 which vanishes along the complement of f 1 (U), but does not vanish at any of the primes g P algebraically, this corresponds to the fact that if I B is an ideal which is not contained in any of the prime ideals Q 1,..., Q n, and none of these ideals contain each other, then there is an element i I which is not in any of the Q i. Now set b = g G g b 0. Then Spec B b is an open subset containing P which maps to Spec C under f. Thus f Spec B b corresponds to a map f # : C B b which is G-invariant, and thus lands in (B b ) G = (B G ) b by the next lemma. Thus, the map f Spec B b factors uniquely through Spec B G. Gluing, we see that f factors uniquely through Spec B G and the claim follows. Lemma 2.7. For any ring B acted on by a finite group G, and element b B G, we have that φ : (B G ) b = (Bb ) G. Proof. Since localization is flat, (B G ) b injects into B b, which means that φ is injective. To show surjectivity, suppose s/b m (B b ) G. That means that as an element of (B b ), s/b m is invariant by G, which means that for all g G, g s = s g where s g b n = 0 inside B for some n. Taking n large enough for all g G, we see that b n s B G, and thus b n s imφ, and thus so is s/b m. We now focus on quotients of finite etale morphisms. Theorem 2.8. Let f : X be Galois, and H be a subgroup of the automorphism group G = Aut X. Then H\ X is finite etale, and G\π 1 (x) = π 1 G\ (x). Proof. Since finite maps are affine, we know from the lemma 2.6 that the quotient exists. Moreover, the statement is local on X, so we may set X = 7

8 Spec A, = Spec B, G\ = Spec B G. Now, pick any point P Spec A. Then B A k(p ) is an etale extension of k(p ), hence is a direct sum of fields i L i separable over k(p ). Moreover, the group G acts simply transitively on the geometric points above k(p ) k(p ), and thus all the L i must be isomorphic, so that B A k(p ) = L r for some field Galois field L, the group G acts simply transitively on the direct summands and, the stabilizer of each summand L is isomorphic to its Galois group over k(p ). Now, let t be an element in the first component of L such that its conjugates over k(p ) form a basis for L over k(p ) that such an element exists is the normal basis theorem. Then it follows that g t, g G form a basis for B A k(p ) over k(p ). Now let t be any lift of t to B P. Since we know B P is finite flat over A P it must be free, and so it follows that g t, g G, being the lift of a basis over k(p ) is a basis over A P. Moreover, by spreading out as usual we can find a A\P such that t lifts to A a an g t, g G is a basis for B a over A a. Since we are trying to prove a local statement, we may replace A by A a and thus reduce to the case where B is isomorphic as an A[G] module to A[G]. It thus follows that B H = A[H\G] and thus its finite flat over A. To check that B H is etale over A as well as the last assertion, it suffices to notice that for any A-algebra C, (B A C) H = B H A C. Thus, as we may check unramifiedness over geometric points, we may base change to Spec k via x and reduce to the case A = k. But in this case, B = k G, so that B H = k H\G. The last assertion and the fact that B H is etale over A are immediate consequences. Corollary 2.9. For any connected finite etale Z over X, and Galois over X with a surjection φ : Z, there is a subgroup H = Aut Z < Aut X such that φ induces an isomorphism from H\ to Z. Z is Galois over X iff H is normal in Aut X, in which case Aut X Z = Aut X /Aut Z. Proof. Consider a geometric point y of above x in X, and set z = φ(y). [ :X] Then as φ is of degree [ : Z] = [Z:X], there must be [ : Z] geometric points in above z. Let us write these points as (h i y) i=1...,n where h i Aut X. Now, since maps from to Z are determined by the image of y, it follows that h i are precisely the elements g of G such that φ = φ g. Thus, H = {h 1,..., h n } is the subgroup Aut Z of Aut X, and so we get an induced map H\ Z. By the previous theorem, H\ is etale over X, 8

9 and thus it must also be etale over Z. But now [H\ : Z] = [ : H\ ] [ : Z] = H H = 1. Since a finite flat map of degree 1 must be an isomorphism, the first part of the claim follows. Now, since maps from to Z are determined by where y goes, and Aut X acts transitively on π 1 (y), it follows that Aut X hom X (, Z) is surjective. Thus, Aut X Z = hom X (, Z) H = (H\Aut X ) H = hom AutX (H\Aut X, H\Aut X ). Now, in general for finite groups H < G, hom G (H\G, H\G) is of size at most H with equality iff H is normal in G, in which case hom G (H\G, H\G) = G/H. The claim follows. 3 The Etale Fundamental Group Suppose Z is a morphism of Galois schemes over X. By corollary 2.9 there is a natural surjection Aut X Aut X Z. Now given a universal cover ( X, x) we make the following definition: Definition. We define π 1 (X, x) to be the profinite group lim Aut X (X i ), where the inverse limit is over all i I. One may consider π 1 (X, x) to be the automorphism group of X, in that it records all the compatible automorphisms of the X i. In other wordsl, π 1 (X, x) is that closed subgroup of i I Aut ix i compatible with the transition maps. As it stands, the group π 1 (X, x) depends on our choice of universal cover, but as we will see thats not the case. However, before we give a more conceptual proof, the reader might want to try and prove it directly via the following exercise: Given two based universal covers lim(x i, x i ) i I, lim(x j, x j ) j J of X, prove that there is a natural isomorphism between lim Aut X X i and lim Aut XX j as topological groups. Hint: Construct a map by picking morphisms from the X i to the X j, and use the base points to make the choice of morphism canonical 9

10 3.1 Main Theorem: From covering spaces to π ( X, x)-sets Given a F ET/X we would like to construct a π 1 (X, x)-set. By lemma 2.5 we have an isomorphism between π 1 (x) and hom X( X, ). Moreover, we have a left action of π 1 ( X, x) on hom X ( X, ) as follows: given g Aut X X i and φ hom X (X i, ) we define g φ := φ g 1. It is easy to check that this defines a continuous action of π 1 (X, x) on hom X ( X, ), and thus on π 1 (x) via the above identification. We write F for the finite-discrete π 1 (X, x) - module produced in this way Theorem 3.1. The functor F defines an equivalence of categories: F : F ET/X = { finite discrete π 1 (X, x) sets}. Proof. We first prove that F is essentially surjective. Let M be a finite discrete π 1 (X, x)-set. Since M is finite and discrete, the action on M factors through G := Aut X X i for some i I. Now write M = n i=1 G i/h i. Define to be n i=1 H i\x i. We claim that F is isomorphic to M. Note that there are maps from X i to H i \X i sending x i to any geometric point over x, and thus it follows that hom X ( X, H i \X i ) = hom X (X i, H i \X i ). Moreover, Aut X X i /H i hom X (X i, H i \X i ) is an injective map of sets with equal cardinality by lemma 2.8, and thus is a bijection. It follows that hom X ( X, H i \X i ) = Aut X X i /H i = Gi /H i, and one easily checks that the action of G i is via left multiplication, as desired. It remains to prove that F is fully faithful. So suppose that, Z are finite etale over X. Pick i I so that X i dominates both and Z. By corollary 2.9 there are subgroups H, H Z so that = H \X i and Z = H Z \X i. We thus compute hom X (, Z) = hom X (H \X i, H Z \X i ) = hom X (X i, H Z \X i ) H = (H Z \Aut X X i ) H = hom Gi (H \G i, H Z \G i ) = hom π1 (X,x)(F, F Z ) As desired. 10

11 We leave it to the reader to prove the analogue of theorem 1.2 for profinite groups. This gives a definition of π 1 (X, x) independent of the choice of a universal cover. 11

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