# Section VI.33. Finite Fields

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1 VI.33 Finite Fields 1 Section VI.33. Finite Fields Note. In this section, finite fields are completely classified. For every prime p and n N, there is exactly one (up to isomorphism) field of order p n, called the Galois field of order p n, denoted GF(p n ). These are the only finite fields. Theorem Let E be a finite extension of degree n over a finite field F. If F has q elements, then E has q n elements. Note. Recall Definition 19.13: If for a ring R a positive integer n exists such that n a = a + a + + a = 0 for all a R, then the least such positive integer n is the characteristic of the ring R. If no such n exists then ring R is of characteristic 0. Also, every field is an integral domain (Theorem 19.9) and the characteristic of an integral domain is either 0 or some prime p (Exercise 19.29). Lemma 1. If F is a field of characteristic p then F has a subfield isomorphic to Z p. Proof. since 1 F, then 1 is of characteristic p and p 1 = = 0. So 1 is a subgroup of F under addition isomorphic to Z p,+. By Corollary 19.12, Z p is a field. So F has a subfield isomorphic to Z p.

2 VI.33 Finite Fields 2 Corollary If E is a finite field of characteristic p, then E contains exactly p n elements for some positive integer n. Proof. By Lemma 1, E has a subfield isomorphic to Z p. So E is a finite extension field of Z p and by Theorem 33.1 E is of order p n for some n N. Theorem Let E be a field of p n elements contained in an algebraic closure Z p of Z p. The elements of E are precisely the zeros in Z p of the polynomial x pn x in Z p [x]. Note. With n = 1 in Theorem 33.3, we see that every element of Z p is a zero of x p x. This is because every nonzero element of Z p,+ generates Z p,. Definition An element α of a field F is an n th root of unity if α n = 1. it is a primitive n th root of unity if α n = 1 and α m 1 for 0 < m < n. Note. The primitive nth roots of unity in field C are each generators of U n,. The nonzero elements of a finite field of p n elements are the (p n 1) th roots of unity in the field. Theorem Let F be a finite field and let F be the nonzero elements of F. The group F, is cyclic. Proof. This is Corollary 23.6 from page 213.

3 VI.33 Finite Fields 3 Corollary If finite field E is an extension of a finite field F, then E is a simple extension of F. Proof. By Theorem 33.5 the nonzero elements of E form a cyclic multiplicative group. Let α be a generator of this group. Then E = F(α). Note. The following humble-looking result is key to the classification of finite fields. Lemma If F is a field of prime characteristic p with algebraic closure F, then x pn x has p n distinct zeros in F. Lemma If F is a field of prime characteristic p, then (α + β) pn = α pn + β pn for all α,β F and for all n N. Note. Now for the classification of finite fields. Theorem A finite field GF(p n ) of p n elements exists for every prime power p n. Note. We now take a result from Joseph Gallian s Contemporary Abstract Algebra 8th Edition, Brooks/Cole, 2013 (see Chapter 22). Uniqueness of GF(p n ) follows from this result. Though the result is from Gallian, Fraleigh has given us the background to prove it.

4 VI.33 Finite Fields 4 Theorem. Structure of Finite Fields. As a group under addition, the Galois field GF(p n ) is isomorphic to Z p Z p Z p (n times). That is, elements add as n-tuples of elements of Z p. As a group under multiplication, the set of nonzero elements of GF(p n ) is isomorphic to Z pn 1. Proof. Every field is an integral domain (Theorem 19.9) and the characteristic of an integral domain is either 0 or some prime p (Exercise 19.29). So GF(p n ) has characteristic p. (Consider the element 1 and the subgroup it generates under addition. This subgroup has order the same as the characteristic of 1 and this subgroup has an order that divides the order of the additive group determined by GF(p n ) (by Lagrange s Theorem, Theorem 10.10). So the characteristic of 1 is a prime divisor of p n and so must be p. By Theorem 19.15, this is the characteristic of the field GF(p n ) [and so p is the characteristic of any subfield of GF(p n )]). Since GF(p n ) forms a finite group under addition, then we can apply the Fundamental Theorem of Finitely Generated Abelian Groups (Theorem 11.12) to it to conclude that GF(p n ) = Z p n 1 1 Z p n 2 2 Z p nr r for some primes p 1,p 2,...,p r and some n 1,n 1,...,n r N. This means that GF(p n ) then contains elements of orders p n 1 i,p n 2 2,...,pn r r, but since every element of GF(p n ) is of characteristic p, then it must be that p 1 = p 2 = = p r = p and n 1 = n 2 = = n r = 1 (alternatively, we have that the order of GF(p n ) would be p n = p n 1 1 pn 2 2 pn r r which implies the same conditions on the p i and n i ). So as an additive group, GF(p n ) = Z p Z p Ϝ p (n times). By Theorem 33.5, the p n 1 nonzero elements of GF(p n ) form a cyclic group under multiplication and so is isomorphic to Z pn 1 by Theorem 6.10.

5 VI.33 Finite Fields 5 Corollary 1. GF(p n ) forms a vector space of dimension n over GF(p). That is, [GF(p n ) : GF(p)] = n. Proof. Since we know that GF(p n ) as an additive group is isomorphic to Z p Z p Z p (n times), then we just need to find a basis for this over GF(P) = Z p. A basis of n elements is {(1,0,0,...,0),(0,1,0,...,0),...,(0,0,...,0,1)}, and the result follows. Corollary 2. Let α be a generator of the group of nonzero elements of GF(p n ) under multiplication. Then α is algebraic over GF(p) of degree n. That is, deg(α,gf(p)) = n. Proof. Since α generates all nonzero elements of GF(p n ) (under multiplication) and 0 GF(p), then GF(p)(α) = GF(p n ). So by Corollary 1, [GF(p)(α) : GF(p)] = [GF(p n ) : GF(p)] = n. Also, since α generates all nonzero elements of GF(p n ), then α generates 1 and so α m = 1 for some m N. Therefore α is algebraic over GF(p) since α is a zero of p(x) = x m 1 GF(p)[x]. If deg(α,gf(p)) = l, then GF(p)(α) = GF(p n ) is an l-dimensional vector space over GF(p) with basis {1,α,α 2,...,α l 1 } by Theorem But all bases of GF(p n ) have the same size by Corollary 30.20, so deg(α,gf(p)) = l = n. Corollary If F is any finite field, then for every positive integer n, there is an irreducible polynomial in F[x] of degree n.

6 VI.33 Finite Fields 6 Note. Corollary implies that no finite field is algebraically closed! Note. Fraleigh states in Theorem that for any prime p and n N, if E and E are fields of order p n, then E = E. We have covered this in the Structure of Finite Fields theorem. Note. To clarify, by combining Exercise 19.29, Corollary 33.2, Theorem 33.10, and the Structure of Finite Feilds theorem, we see that: Fundamental Theorem of Finite Fields. A finite field of order m exists if and only if m = p n for some prime p and some n N. In addition, all fields of order p n are isomorphic. Note. We have a clear idea of the structure of finite fields GF(p) since GF(p) = Z p. However the structure of GF(p n ) for n 1 is unclear. We now give an example of a finite field of order 16. Example. (Example 1, page 390 of Gallian.) We construct GF(16). Of course, GF(16) is of characteristic 2 (by Exercise for details see the proof of the Structure of Finite Fields theorem). So by Lemma 1, GF(16) has Z 2 as a subfield. So we will construct GF(16) as an algebraic extension field of Z 2. By Note 29.1 (or Case I an page 270 of Fraleigh), F[x]/ irr(α,f) is an extension field of field F where α / F is algebraic over F. So we want to find an

7 VI.33 Finite Fields 7 irreducible polynomial p(x) Z 2 [x] of degree 4. Then the elements of Z 2 [x]/ p(x) will be polynomials of degree 3 or less (details to follow) and there will be 2 4 = 16 such polynomials. Let p(x) = x 4 + x + 1 Z 2 [x]. Since neither 0 nor 1 is a zero of p(x) then it has no linear factors. The only possible quadratic factors are x 2 + x + 1 and x 2 + 1, and neither of these is a factor. So p(x) is irreducible. We take the elements of Z 2 [x]/ p(x) to be cosets of p(x) in which addition is done as usual in Z 2 [x] but multiplication is done modulo p(x) (since the nonzero elements form a cyclic group under multiplication by the Structure of Finite Fields theorem and every multiple of p(x) is in p(x) ). Since products of polynomials will be reduced modulo p(x) (that is, computed in the usual way but then replaced by the remainder when the usual product is divided by p(x)), then all elements of Z 2 [x]/ p(x) will be represented by polynomials of degree 3 or less (and hence there will be 2 4 = 16 of them). So, in terms of representatives, the elements of GF(16) are {ax 3 + bx 2 + cx + d a,b,c,d Z 2 }. We denote these as: g 0 = 0x 3 + 0x 2 + 0x + 0 g 8 = 1x 3 + 0x 2 + 0x + 0 g 1 = 0x 3 + 0x 2 + 0x + 1 g 9 = 1x 3 + 0x 2 + 0x + 1 g 2 = 0x 3 + 0x 2 + 1x + 0 g 10 = 1x 3 + 0x 2 + 1x + 0 g 3 = 0x 3 + 0x 2 + 1x + 1 g 11 = 1x 3 + 0x 2 + 0x + 1 g 4 = 0x 3 + 1x 2 + 0x + 0 g 12 = 1x 3 + 1x 2 + 0x + 0 g 5 = 0x 3 + 1x 2 + 0x + 1 g 13 = 1x 3 + 1x 2 + 0x + 1 g 6 = 0x 3 + 1x 2 + 1x + 0 g 14 = 1x 3 + 1x 2 + 1x + 0 g 7 = 0x 3 + 1x 2 + 1x + 1 g 15 = 1x 3 + 1x 2 + 1x + 1

8 VI.33 Finite Fields 8 The addition table is then: + g 0 g 1 g 2 g 3 g 4 g 5 g 6 g 7 g 8 g 9 g 10 g 11 g 12 g 13 g 14 g 15 g 0 g 0 g 1 g 2 g 3 g 4 g 5 g 6 g 7 g 8 g 9 g 10 g 11 g 12 g 13 g 14 g 15 g 1 g 1 g 0 g 3 g 2 g 5 g 4 g 7 g 6 g 9 g 8 g 11 g 10 g 13 g 12 g 15 g 14 g 2 g 2 g 3 g 0 g 1 g 6 g 7 g 4 g 5 g 10 g 11 g 8 g 9 g 14 g 15 g 12 g 13 g 3 g 3 g 2 g 1 g 0 g 7 g 6 g 5 g 4 g 11 g 10 g 9 g 8 g 15 g 14 g 13 g 12 g 4 g 4 g 5 g 6 g 7 g 0 g 1 g 2 g 3 g 12 g 13 g 14 g 15 g 8 g 9 g 10 g 11 g 5 g 5 g 4 g 7 g 6 g 1 g 0 g 3 g 2 g 13 g 12 g 15 g 14 g 9 g 8 g 11 g 10 g 6 g 6 g 7 g 4 g 5 g 2 g 3 g 0 g 1 g 14 g 15 g 12 g 13 g 10 g 11 g 8 g 9 g 7 g 7 g 6 g 5 g 4 g 3 g 2 g 1 g 0 g 15 g 14 g 13 g 12 g 11 g 10 g 9 g 8 g 8 g 8 g 9 g 10 g 11 g 12 g 13 g 14 g 15 g 0 g 1 g 2 g 3 g 4 g 5 g 6 g 7 g 9 g 9 g 8 g 11 g 10 g 13 g 12 g 15 g 14 g 1 g 0 g 3 g 2 g 5 g 4 g 7 g 6 g 10 g 10 g 11 g 8 g 9 g 14 g 15 g 12 g 13 g 2 g 3 g 0 g 1 g 6 g 7 g 4 g 5 g 11 g 11 g 10 g 9 g 8 g 15 g 14 g 13 g 12 g 3 g 2 g 1 g 0 g 7 g 6 g 5 g 4 g 12 g 12 g 13 g 14 g 15 g 8 g 9 g 10 g 11 g 4 g 5 g 6 g 7 g 0 g 1 g 2 g 3 g 13 g 13 g 12 g 15 g 14 g 9 g 8 g 11 g 10 g 5 g 4 g 7 g 6 g 1 g 0 g 3 g 2 g 14 g 14 g 15 g 12 g 13 g 10 g 11 g 8 g 9 g 6 g 7 g 4 g 5 g 2 g 3 g 0 g 1 g 15 g 15 g 14 g 13 g 12 g 11 g 10 g 9 g 8 g 7 g 6 g 5 g 4 g 3 g 2 g 1 g 0 Multiplication can be trickier. Consider since in Z 2 : g 15 g 11 = (x 3 + x 2 + x + 1)(x 3 + x) = x 6 + x 5 + x 2 + x x 3 + x 2 = g 12 x 6 + x 5 + x 2 + x x 4 + x + 1 = x 2 + x + x3 + x 2 x 4 + x + 1. Now we know the nonzero elements of GF(16) form a cyclic group of order 15

9 VI.33 Finite Fields 9 under multiplication. So if we can find a generator of this group, then creation of a multiplication table is simplified. In this example, g 2 = x is a generator since g 2 = x = g 2 g 2 2 = x 2 = g 4 g 3 2 = x 3 = g 8 g 4 2 = x 4 x + 1 = g 3 g 5 2 = x(x + 1) = x 2 + x = g 6 g 6 2 = x(x 2 + x) = x 3 + x 2 = g 12 g 7 2 = x(x 3 + x 2 ) = x 4 + x 3 x 3 + x + 1 = g 11 g 8 2 = x(x 3 + x + 1) = x 4 + x 2 + x x = g 5 g 9 2 = x(x 2 + 1) = x 3 + x = g 10 g 10 2 = x(x 3 + x) = x 4 + x 2 x 2 + x + 1 = g 7 g 11 2 = x(x 2 + x + 1) = x 3 + x 2 + x = 14 g 12 2 = x(x 3 + x 2 + x + 1) = x 4 + x 3 + x 2 + x x 3 + x = g 15 g 13 2 = x(x 3 + x 2 + x + 1) = x 4 + x 3 + x 2 + x x 3 + x = g 13 g 14 2 = x(x 3 + x 2 + 1) = x 4 + x 3 + x = x = g 9 g 15 2 = x(x 3 + 1) = x = g 1

10 VI.33 Finite Fields 10 Therefore, we get the following multiplication table for GF(16): g 0 g 1 g 2 g 3 g 4 g 5 g 6 g 7 g 8 g 9 g 10 g 11 g 12 g 13 g 14 g 15 g 0 g 0 g 0 g 0 g 0 g 0 g 0 g 0 g 0 g 0 g 0 g 0 g 0 g 0 g 0 g 0 g 0 g 1 g 0 g 1 g 2 g 3 g 4 g 5 g 6 g 7 g 8 g 9 g 10 g 11 g 12 g 13 g 14 g 15 g 2 g 0 g 2 g 4 g 6 g 8 g 10 g 12 g 14 g 3 g 1 g 7 g 5 g 11 g 9 g 15 g 13 g 3 g 0 g 3 g 6 g 5 g 12 g 15 g 10 g 9 g 11 g 8 g 13 g 14 g 7 g 4 g 1 g 2 g 4 g 0 g 4 g 8 g 12 g 3 g 7 g 11 g 15 g 6 g 2 g 14 g 10 g 5 g 1 g 13 g 9 g 5 g 0 g 5 g 10 g 15 g 7 g 2 g 13 g 8 g 14 g 11 g 4 g 1 g 9 g 12 g 3 g 6 g 6 g 0 g 6 g 12 g 10 g 11 g 13 g 7 g 1 g 5 g 3 g 9 g 15 g 14 g 8 g 2 g 4 g 7 g 0 g 7 g 14 g 9 g 15 g 8 g 1 g 6 g 13 g 10 g 3 g 4 g 2 g 5 g 12 g 11 g 8 g 0 g 8 g 3 g 11 g 6 g 14 g 5 g 13 g 12 g 4 g 15 g 7 g 10 g 2 g 9 g 1 g 9 g 0 g 9 g 1 g 8 g 2 g 11 g 3 g 10 g 4 g 13 g 5 g 12 g 6 g 15 g 7 g 14 g 10 g 0 g 10 g 7 g 13 g 14 g 4 g 9 g 3 g 15 g 5 g 8 g 2 g 1 g 11 g 6 g 12 g 11 g 0 g 11 g 5 g 14 g 10 g 1 g 15 g 4 g 7 g 12 g 1 g 9 g 13 g 6 g 8 g 3 g 12 g 0 g 12 g 11 g 7 g 5 g 9 g 14 g 2 g 10 g 6 g 1 g 13 g 15 g 3 g 4 g 8 g 13 g 0 g 13 g 9 g 4 g 1 g 12 g 8 g 5 g 2 g 15 g 11 g 6 g 3 g 14 g 10 g 7 g 14 g 0 g 14 g 15 g 1 g 13 g 3 g 2 g 12 g 9 g 7 g 6 g 8 g 4 g 10 g 11 g 5 g 15 g 0 g 15 g 13 g 2 g 9 g 6 g 4 g 11 g 1 g 14 g 12 g 3 g 8 g 7 g 5 g 10 We comment that any two irreducible polynomials of the same degree over Z p [z] yield isomorphic fields through this technique (Gallian, page 392). In this example, it is a bit of a coincidence that g 2 = x is a generator for the nonzero elements of GF(16) in fact, the element which generates the nonzero elements is dependent on the choice of the irreducible polynomial. Revised: 3/2/2014

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