# Profinite Groups. Hendrik Lenstra. 1. Introduction

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1 Profinite Groups Hendrik Lenstra 1. Introduction We begin informally with a motivation, relating profinite groups to the p-adic numbers. Let p be a prime number, and let Z p denote the ring of p-adic integers, namely, the completion of Z under the p-adic metric. Any element γ Z p has a unique p-adic expansion γ = c 0 + c 1 p + c 2 p 2 + = (... c 3 c 2 c 1 c 0 ) p, with c i Z, 0 c i p 1, called the digits of γ. This ring has a topology given by a restriction of the product topology we will see this below. The ring Z p can be viewed as Z/p n Z for an infinitely high power n. This is a useful idea, for example, in the study of Diophantine equations: if such an equation has a solution in the integers, then it must have a solution modulo p n for all n: to prove it does not have a solution, therefore, it suffices to show that it does not have a solution in Z p for some prime p. We can express the expansion of elements in Z p as Z p = lim Z/p n Z n { = (γ n ) n=0 } n 0 Z/pn Z : for all n, γ n+1 γ n (mod p n ), which we will see is an example of a projective limit. That is, for each n we have a compatible system of maps Z p Z/p n Z γ c c n 1 p n 1 = γ n. In this way, Z p is given the structure of a profinite ring. We can also take the unit group Z p Z p, an example of a profinite group; as groups we have Z Z/(p 1)Z Z p, p > 2; p = Z/2Z Z 2, p = 2. Note that in fact these isomorphisms are not just algebraic but also respect the topology which underlies these objects.

2 2 Hendrik Lenstra 2. Definitions and Examples We now begin with the formal definitions. A topological group is a group G which is also a topological space with the property that the multiplication map and the inversion map m : G G G (a, b) ab i : G G a a 1 are continuous. Whenever we are given two topological groups, we insist that a homomorphism between them be continuous. In particular, an isomorphism between two topological groups must be an isomorphism of groups which is simultaneously an isomorphism of their topological spaces, i.e. a homeomorphism. A directed partially ordered set is a set I together with a partial order such that for any two elements i, j I, there exists a k I such that k i and k j. For example, we may take I to be the set of integers Z under the relation n m if m n: for any m 1, m 2 Z, we see that lcm(m 1, m 2 ) m 1, m 2. A projective system is a collection of groups G i (for i I) together with group homomorphisms f j i : G j G i for i, j I with j i, such that fi i = id G i for every i I and f j i f j k = f i k for k j i. Given any such projective system, one has a projective limit lim G i = i {(γ i ) i I i I G i : for all i, j I such that j i, f j i (γ j) = γ i }. This is not only a group, but a topological group as well: we give each G i the discrete topology, the product the product topology, and the projective limit the restriction topology. We define a profinite group to be a topological group which is isomorphic (as a topological group) to a projective limit of finite groups. One defines a topological ring and profinite ring similarly. Example 2.1. We define for any g Z, g 1, the projective limit Z g = lim n Z/g n Z. As an exercise, one can see that as topological rings, Z g = Z p ; p g for example, the ring of 8-adic integers is isomorphic to the ring of 2-adic integers.

3 Profinite Groups 3 Example 2.2. We also define the ring Ẑ, read Z-hat. Here, we take the projective limit not over all powers of a given number, but over all numbers: Ẑ = lim Z/nZ n = {(a n ) n=1 n=1 (Z/nZ) : for all n m, a m a n (mod n)}. We give each Z/nZ the discrete topology, and n (Z/nZ) the product topology. This product is compact, as a result of the theorem of Tychonoff (the product of compact topological spaces is itself compact); the restriction Ẑ is therefore itself compact, as Ẑ is closed in n (Z/nZ). The ring homomorphism Z n (Z/nZ) which takes every element to its reduction modulo n realizes Ẑ as the closure of Z in the product n (Z/nZ). The relation of divisibility is a partial order: to replace this with a linear order, we may also represent this ring as Ẑ = {(b n ) n=1 Z/n!Z : for all n, b n+1 b n (mod n!)}. n=1 Here we write every element as where we have digits 0 c i i. It is also true that γ = c 1 + c 2 2! + c 3 3! + Ẑ Ẑ = p prime After a bit of topological algebra, we see that one can also characterize profinite groups as follows: if G is a topological group, then G is profinite if and only if G is: (a) Hausdorff, (b) compact, and (c) totally disconnected, i.e. that the largest connected subsets consist of single points, or what is the same, for any two points x, y G, there exists a set U which is both open and closed in G and which contains x but not y. It is easy to see that each of our examples above is Hausdorff, compact because it is a closed subgroup of the compact product, and totally disconnected. Given any G i profinite, for i in a index set I, the product i G i is itself profinite; the product Z/2Z i I is an example of such a profinite group. Moreover, if G is a profinite group and H G is a closed subgroup, then H is profinite. Similarly, if N G is a closed normal subgroup, then G/N is profinite with the quotient topology. It is a theorem that given a homomorphism of profinite groups f : G 1 G 2 (in particular, continuous), then ker f is a closed normal subgroup of G 1, so one Z p.

4 4 Hendrik Lenstra may form the quotient G 1 / ker f; the image f(g 1 ) is a closed subgroup of G 2, and in fact G 1 / ker f = f(g 1 ) as topological groups. 3. Galois Groups In number theory, we have another source of profinite groups coming from Galois groups. Given an extension of fields K L, the following are equivalent: (a) L = M; K M L M/Kfinite, Galois (b) L K is algebraic, normal, and separable; (c) There is an algebraic closure K of K, and a subset S K[X] of monic polynomials such that for all f S, gcd(f, f ) = 1 (the polynomials are separable), and L = K(α K : f(α) = 0 for some f S). If one of these three equivalent properties holds, we say that L is Galois over K. If L K is Galois, we have the Galois group Gal(L/K) = {σ Aut L : σ K = id K }. If E K is a finite extension such that L E, and σ Gal(L/K), then the E-th neighborhood of σ, denoted U E (σ) = {τ : τ E = σ E }, is by definition open; by ranging over E, we obtain an open system of neighborhoods of σ, which gives a topology on Gal(L/K). In this topology, two automorphisms are close to one another if they agree on a large subfield. To see that Gal(L/K) is a profinite group, we note that Gal(L/K) = lim Gal(M/K) M/K finite, Galois where now each Gal(M/K) is a finite group. The set of such M is a partially ordered set by inclusion. We may take the composed field of two subfields, which is again finite, so this set is directed. For M M we have restriction maps Gal(M/K) Gal(M /K), so we have a projective system. Many theorems of Galois theory readily generalize to this setting. For instance, we have an inclusion-reversing bijective correspondence {E : K E L} {H Gal(L/K) : H a closed subgroup} E Gal(L/E) = Aut E L L H H. Note that now we must insist in this correspondence that the subgroups be closed. Furthermore, if H H are two closed subgroups such that [H : H] <, then as in the case of finite Galois theory we have [L H : L H ] = [H : H].

5 Profinite Groups 5 Now let K be an algebraic closure of K. Consider the separable closure of K, K K sep K, namely, K sep = {α K : α separable over K}. The absolute Galois group G K of K is the defined to be Gal(K sep /K). We treat G K as a fundamental object of study because it allows us to control all separable extensions L of K in one stroke. Indeed, some might say that number theory is the study of G Q. One also has the maximal abelian extension K ab K, the composite of all field extensions of K with an abelian Galois group. This is a Galois extension with Gal(K ab /K) an abelian profinite group: i.e. Gal(K ab /K) = G K /[G K, G K ]. Here, the quotient is by the closure of the (usual algebraic) commutator subgroup of G K, the smallest subgroup which gives an abelian quotient. This is sometimes called the abelianized Galois group G ab K. Example 3.1. For the rational numbers Q, we have that G ab Q = Ẑ = Z p. p prime It is a theorem of Kronecker-Weber that the maximal abelian extension of Q is Q ab = n=1 Q(ζ n), where ζ n is a primitive nth root of unity. The isomorphism above arises from the isomorphism (Z/nZ) = Gal(Q(ζn )/Q) a mod n (ζ n ζ a n) Example 3.2. If K is a finite field, then G K = Ẑ. Exercises Exercise 1.1. Let p be a prime number. Prove that there is a map Z p lim Z/p n Z that is simultaneously an isomorphism of rings and a homeomorphism of topological spaces. Exercise 1.2. Prove that any continuous bijection from one profinite group to another is a homeomorphism. Exercise 1.3. (a) Let g be an integer, g > 1, and define Z g = lim Z/g n Z. Prove that Z g is, as a profinite group, isomorphic to p g Z p, the product ranging over the primes p dividing g. (b) Define Ẑ = lim Z/nZ, the limit ranging over the set of positive integers n, ordered by divisibility. Prove: Ẑ = p Z p, the product ranging over all primes p.

6 6 Hendrik Lenstra Exercise 1.4. (a) Prove that each a Ẑ has a unique representation as a = n=1 c nn!, with c n Z, 0 c n n. (b) Let b be a non-negative integer, and define the sequence (a n ) n=0 of nonnegative integers by a 0 = b and a n+1 = 2 an. Prove that (a n ) n=0 converges in Ẑ, and that the limit is independent of the choice of b. (c) Let a = lim n a n Ẑ be as in (b), and write a = n=1 c nn! as in (a). Determine c n for 1 n 10. Exercise 1.5. Let G and H be profinite groups, and let f : G H be a continuous group homomorphism. Prove that ker f is a closed normal subgroup of G, that f(g) is a closed subgroup of H, and that f induces an isomorphism G/ ker f f(g) of profinite groups; here G/ ker f has the quotient topology induced by the topology on G, and f(g) has the relative topology induced by the topology on H. Exercise 1.6. The profinite completion of a group G is the profinite group Ĝ defined by Ĝ = lim G/N, with N ranging over the set of normal subgroups of G of finite index, ordered by containment, the transition maps being the natural ones. (a) Prove that there is a natural group homomorphism G Ĝ, and that its image is dense in Ĝ. Find a group G for which f is not injective. (b) What is the profinite completion of the additive group of Z? Exercise 1.7. Let p be a prime number. (a) Show that there is a group G whose profinite completion is isomorphic to the additive group Z p. Can you find such a G that is countable? (b) Let A be the product of a countably infinite collection of copies of Z/pZ. Is there a group G such that A is isomorphic to the profinite completion of G? Prove the correctness of your answer. Exercise 1.8. Prove: Ẑ = Ẑ n=1 Z/nZ as profinite groups. Exercise 1.9. (a) Prove: for every positive integer n the natural map Z/nZ Ẑ/nẐ is an isomorphism. (b) Prove that there is a bijection from the set of positive integers to the set of open subgroups of Ẑ mapping n to nẑ. (c) Can you classify all closed subgroups of Ẑ? Exercise Let p be a prime number, and view Z p = lim Z/p n Z as a closed subgroup of the profinite group A = n=1 Z/pn Z. Prove that A and Z p (A/Z p ) are isomorphic as groups but not as profinite groups. Exercise Let L be the field obtained from Q by adjoining all a C with a 2 Q to Q. Prove: L is Galois over Q, and Gal(L/Q) is isomorphic to the product of a countably infinite number of copies of Z/2Z.

7 Profinite Groups 7 Exercise Let K be a field, with separable closure K sep, and let K ab be the maximal abelian extension of K inside K sep. Write G K = Gal(K sep /K). Prove that K ab is a Galois extension of K, and that Gal(K ab /K) is isomorphic to G K /[G K, G K ], where [G K, G K ] denotes the closure of the commutator subgroup of G K. Exercise Let L be a field, and view Aut L as a subset of the set L L = x L L of all functions L L. Give L the discrete topology, L L the product topology, and Aut L the relative topology. (a) Prove: Aut L is a topological group; i. e., the composition map Aut L Aut L Aut L and the map Aut L Aut L sending each automorphism of L to its inverse are continuous. (b) Let K be a subfield of L. Prove: L is Galois over K if and only if there is a compact subgroup G of Aut L such that K is the field of invariants of G. Prove also that such a subgroup G, if it exists, is necessarily equal to Gal(L/K), and that its topology coincides with the Krull topology on Gal(L/K). (The Krull topology is the topology of Gal(L/K) when viewed as a profinite group.) Mathematisch Instituut, Universiteit Leiden, Postbus 9512, 2300 RA Leiden, The Netherlands address:

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