# 4.5 Hilbert s Nullstellensatz (Zeros Theorem)

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1 4.5 Hilbert s Nullstellensatz (Zeros Theorem) We develop a deep result of Hilbert s, relating solutions of polynomial equations to ideals of polynomial rings in many variables. Notation: Put A = F[x 1,...,x n ] where F is a field. Write x = (x 1,...,x n ) and λ = (λ 1,...,λ n ) 851

2 if λ 1,...,λ n F. Suppose p(x) A. Then p(λ) is the result of evaluating p(x) in F after substituting λ i for x i for each i, and if p(λ) = 0 then call λ a zero of p = p(x). Put Z ( p(x) ) = { λ F n p(λ) = 0 }, called the zero set of p(x). 852

3 e.g. If n = 1 and p(x) is nonzero then Z ( p(x) ) degree of p(x). If n = 2 and F = R, then Z ( x 1 x 2 ) = union of x1 and x 2 -axes : x 2 x 1 853

4 Z ( x 1 x 2 1 ) = hyperbola 1st and 3rd quadrants : Z ( x 1 x 2 +1 ) = hyperbola 2nd and 4th quadrants : x 2 x 2 x 1 x 1 854

5 Z ( (x x2 2 1)(x 1 + x 2 1) ) is the union of a circle and a line: x 2 x 1 The circle and line separately correspond to irreducible factors of the polynomial. 855

6 If T A put Z(T) = { λ p(λ) = 0 p(x) T }, called the zero set of T. Clearly, if T A and I = T ideal then Z(T) = Z(I). 856

7 A subset Y of F n is called algebraic if ( T A) Y = Z(T), that is, if Y is the solution set of some system of polynomial equations. But all ideals of A are finitely generated (Hilbert s Basis Theorem), so Y is algebraic iff Y is the solution set of some finite system of polynomial equations. 857

8 Given Y F n, define the ideal of Y to be I(Y ) = { p(x) A p(λ) = 0 λ Y }, the set of polynomials which vanish at all points of Y. Clearly I(Y ) A. It is easy to see that Y 1 Y 2 F n = I(Y 1 ) I(Y 2 ) and also that 858

9 T 1 T 2 A = Z(T 1 ) Z(T 2 ). Further, it is clear that Y F n = Y Z ( I(Y ) ) and T A = T I ( Z(T) ). 859

10 Corollary: If Y is algebraic then Z ( I(Y ) ) = Y. Proof: If Y = Z(T) for some T A, then Y Z ( I(Y ) ) ( = Z I ( Z(T) )) Z(T) = Y, at the second last step because T I ( Z(T) ), whence equality holds. 860

11 Question: Under what conditions is it the case, for I A, that I = I ( Z(I) )? Answer:... when I = r(i), and F is algebraically closed (see below). 861

12 Hilbert s Nullstellensatz (Zeros Theorem): If I A = F[x 1,...,x n ] where F is an algebraically closed field, and p(x) A where p(λ) = 0 ( λ Z(I)), then p(x) r(i). 862

13 This will be proved shortly after some preparation. Corollary: If I A and F is algebraically closed then I ( Z(I) ) = r(i). Proof: If I A then it is easy to see that r(i) I ( Z(I) ), so if, further, F is algebraically closed then, by the 863

14 Nullstellensatz, I ( Z(I) ) r(i), whence equality. Corollary: Let F be algebraically closed. Then there is a one-one inclusion-reversing correspondence between algebraic sets in F n and ideals of A which coincide with their radicals: Y I(Y ), Y algebraic; I Z(I), I = r(i) A. 864

15 Proof: If Y is algebraic then by an earlier Corollary, Z ( I(Y ) ) = Y. If I = r(i) A then, by the previous Corollary, I ( Z(I) ) = I. Injectivity and surjectivity follow quickly. The inclusion-reversing property has already been noted. 865

16 Before proving the Nullstellensatz, we review and develop some theory of field extensions: recall that if F is a subfield of a field K then we call in which case K an extension of F, K may be regarded as a vector space over F. If this vector space is finite dimensional then we call the extension finite. 866

17 Theorem: If K is a finite extension of F of dimension m, and L is a finite extension of K of dimension n, then L is a finite extension of F of dimension mn. Proof: left as an exercise. Suppose K is an extension of F. Say that α K is algebraic over F if p(α) = 0 for some nonzero p(x) F[x]. 867

18 Call K algebraic over F if all elements of K are algebraic over F. If α 1,..., α n K then write F[α 1,..., α n ] = subring of K generated by F and α 1,..., α n = F-subalgebra of K generated by α 1,..., α n. 868

19 note: square brackets denote subring, and write F(α 1,..., α n ) = subfield of K generated by F and α 1,..., α n note: round brackets denote subfield. 869

20 Call α 1,..., α n K algebraically independent over F if p(α 1,...,α n ) 0, for all nonzero p(x 1,...,x n ) F[x 1,...,x n ], in which case the evaluation map p(x 1,...,x n ) p(α 1,...,α n ) 870

21 defines a ring isomorphism: F[x 1,...,x n ] F[α 1,...,α n ] (where the latter is a subring of K ), whence F(α 1,...,α n ) is the ring of fractions of F[α 1,...,α n ] isomorphic to the ring F(x 1,...,x n ) of rational functions in indeterminates x 1,...,x n. 871

22 Theorem: Let K be an extension of a field F and suppose α K is algebraic over F. Then F[α] = F(α) is a finite (and hence algebraic) extension of F. Proof: Certainly F[α] F(α). 872

23 To prove the reverse set containment, suppose p(x) F[x] such that p(α) 0 (evaluated in K ). It is sufficient to show p(α) 1 F[α]. Since α is algebraic, let m(x) F[x] be the minimum polynomial of α, that is, the nonzero polynomial of least degree such that m(α) = 0. Then p(x) = m(x)q(x) + r(x) 873

24 for some polynomials q(x), r(x) such that r(x) has degree < degree of m(x). Hence p(α) = r(α). ( ) But m(x) is irreducible (because it is minimal), so ( a(x), b(x) ) r(x)a(x) + m(x)b(x) = 1. Evaluating in K yields 1 = r(α)a(α) + m(α) b(α) = p(α)a(α), 874

25 so that p(α) 1 = a(α) F[α]. It follows that F(α) = F[α]. Also ( ) shows that F[α] is spanned by 1, α,..., α d 1 over F where d = degree of m(x). Thus 875

26 F(α) is finite dimensional over F. Finally, if β F[α] then { 1, β,..., β d } is linearly dependent (being of size > d ), so g(β) = 0 for some nonzero polynomial g(x). This proves F(α) is algebraic over F. 876

27 Theorem: Suppose α 1,..., α n K are algebraic over F. Then F[α 1,...,α n ] = F(α 1,...,α n ) is a finite (and hence algebraic) extension of F. Proof: If n = 1 this is the result of the previous Theorem, which starts an induction. 877

28 Suppose n > 1. By an inductive hypothesis, F[α 1,...,α n 1 ] = F(α 1,...,α n 1 ) is a finite extension of F. Then F[α 1,...,α n ] = F[α 1,...,α n 1 ][α n ] = F(α 1,...,α n 1 )[α n ], and certainly α n is algebraic over F(α 1,...,α n 1 ), being algebraic over F. 878

29 By the previous Theorem, F(α 1,...,α n ) = F(α 1,...,α n 1 )(α n ) = F(α 1,...,α n 1 )[α n ] = F[α 1,...,α n ] is a finite extension of F[α 1,...,α n 1 ]. By the Theorem on extensions of extensions, 879

30 F(α 1,...,α n ) is a finite extension of F, and we are done. Theorem: Let F be a field and E a finitely generated F-algebra. If E is a field then E is a finite (and hence algebraic) extension of F. 880

31 Proof: Suppose E is a field and E = F [ α 1,..., α n ] for some n 1 and α 1,..., α n E. By the previous Theorem, it suffices to prove that α 1,..., α n are algebraic over F. ( ) Suppose ( ) is false, so WLOG we may suppose α 1 is not algebraic over F. Hence 881

32 {α 1 } is an algebraically independent set over F. Suppose we have 1 m < n such that { α 1,..., α m } is algebraically independent over F, yet not all of α m+1,..., α n are algebraic over F(α 1,..., α m ). ( ) 882

33 WLOG we may suppose α m+1 is not algebraic over F(α 1,..., α m ). We will verify that { α 1,..., α m+1 } is algebraically independent over F. Let p(x 1,...,x m,x m+1 ) be a nonzero polynomial in F[x 1,...,x m+1 ]. 883

34 Then p(x 1,...,x m+1 ) = p 0 (x 1,...,x m ) + p 1 (x 1,...,x m )x m p N (x 1,...,x m ) x N m+1 for some N 0 and coefficient polynomials in F[x 1,...,x m ] with p N (x 1,...,x m ) nonzero. 884

35 Certainly p 0 (α 1,...,α m ),..., p N (α 1,...,α m ) F(α 1,...,α m ) and p N (α 1,...,α m ) 0, since α 1,..., α m over F. are algebraically independent 885

36 Hence p(α 1,...,α m,x m+1 ) is a nonzero polynomial with coefficients in F(α 1,...,α m ), so, since α m+1 is not algebraic over F(α 1,...,α m ), p(α 1,...,α m+1 ) 0. This proves {α 1,...,α m+1 } is algebraically independent over F. 886

37 Thus, continuing this way from ( ), we get to a stage where for some r such that 1 r n { α 1,..., α r } is algebraically independent over F and each of α r+1,..., α n is algebraic over F(α 1,...,α r ). 887

38 Put K = F(α 1,...,α r ), so, by earlier remarks (page 871), K = F(x 1,...,x r ), the field of rational functions. Certainly E = F[α 1,...,α n ] F(α 1,...,α r )[α r+1,...,α n ] = K[α r+1,...,α n ] E, 888

39 so E = K[α r+1,...,α n ]. By the previous Theorem, E is a finite (algebraic) extension of K. But F K E, E is finitely generated as an F-algebra, and E is finitely generated as a K-module 889

40 (being a finite dimensional vector space over K ). Hence, by the last theorem we proved on Noetherian rings (page 845), K is finitely generated as an F-algebra, say K = F[β 1,...,β s ] for some β 1,...,β s K. 890

41 For each i = 1,...,s, we may write for some polynomials β i = f i(α 1,...,α r ) g i (α 1,...,α r ) f i = f i (x 1,...,x r ), g i = g i (x 1,...,x r ) where we may suppose f i, g i have no irreducible factors in common. 891

42 The proof now splits: Case (i): Suppose g i is constant for each i. WLOG we may suppose g i = 1 for each i. Now 0 α 1 K, so α 1 1 K, yielding α 1 1 = p(β 1,...,β s ) for some nonzero polynomial p(x 1,...,x s ). 892

43 But then α 1 1 = p ( f 1 (α 1,...,α r ),..., f s (α 1,...,α r ) ) where = q(α 1,...,α r ) q(x 1,...,x r ) = p ( f 1 (x 1,...,x r ),..., f s (x 1,...,x r ) ) is a nonzero polynomial. 893

44 Hence But α 1 q(α 1,...,α r ) 1 = 0. x 1 q(x 1,...,x r ) 1 is a nonzero polynomial. This yields a contradiction, since { α 1,..., α r } is algebraically independent. 894

45 Case (ii): Suppose g 1...g s is not constant. Put so h = h(x 1,...,x r ) = ( g 1...g s ) + 1 h is a nonconstant polynomial which is not divisible by any irreducible factor of g 1...g s. 895

46 Put γ = h(α 1,...,α r ) 0 since { α 1,..., α r } is algebraically independent over F. But γ and hence γ 1 lie in K = F[β 1,...,β s ], so γ 1 = p(β 1,...,β s ) for some nonzero p(x 1,...,x s ) F[x 1,...,x s ]. 896

47 Hence γ 1 = p ( f1 (α 1,...,α r ) g 1 (α 1,...,α r ),..., f s(α 1,...,α r ) g s (α 1,...,α r ) ) = q 1(α 1,...,α r ) q 2 (α 1,...,α r ) for some polynomials q 1 = q 1 (x 1,...,x r ), q 2 = q 2 (x 1,...,x r ) F[x 1,...,x r ] 897

48 such that (a) q 1, q 2 have no common irreducible factors; (b) either q 2 is constant, or q 2 is a product of (powers of) irreducible divisors of g 1...g s. Then 1 = γγ 1 = h(α 1,...,α r ) q 1(α 1,...,α r ) q 2 (α 1,...,α r ), 898

49 so q 2 (α 1,...,α r ) h(α 1,...,α r ) q 1 (α 1,...,α r ) = 0. But { α 1,..., α r } is algebraically independent, so, in F[x 1,...,x r ] yielding q 2 hq 1 = 0, 899

50 hq 1 = q 2. ( ) If q 2 is constant then h is constant, contradicting that h is nonconstant. Hence q 2 is nonconstant so, by (b) above, q 3 divides q 2 for some irreducible factor q 3 of g 1...g s. But q 3 does not divide h = (g 1...g s ) + 1 so, 900

51 by ( ) and the fact that F[x 1,...,x n ] is a UFD (Gauss Theorem, see below), q 3 must divide q 1 which contradicts (a) above. This proves ( ) and completes the proof of the Theorem. 901

52 Corollary: Let F be a field, A a finitely generated F-algebra, and M a maximal ideal of A. Then A/M is a finite algebraic extension of (an embedding) of F. In particular, if F is algebraically closed then A/M = F. 902

53 Proof: Let φ : F A/M where φ(λ) = λ + M (λ F). Clearly φ is a homomorphism and kerφ = { λ F λ M } = {0}, since M A. Hence φ is an embedding. But A is finitely generated as an F-algebra, so A/M is finitely generated as a φ(f)-algebra. 903

54 Also A/M is a field, so, by the previous Theorem, A/M is a finite algebraic extension of φ(f) = F. If F is algebraically closed, then so is φ(f), so φ(f) contains all roots of all polynomial equations over itself, so A/M = φ(f) = F. 904

55 Finally we come to the Proof of Hilbert s Nullstellensatz: Here F is an algebraically closed field, A = F[x 1,...,x n ] (n 1) and I A. We are given p(x) A such that p(λ) = 0 ( λ Z(I) ) ( ) 905

56 where Z(I) = {λ F n q(λ) = 0 ( q(x) I ) }. We need to prove p(x) r(i), that is, some power of p(x) lies in I. 906

57 We argue by contradiction. Suppose p(x) r(i). But r(i) is the intersection of all prime ideals of A containing I (see page 220). Hence p(x) P for some prime ideal P A where I P. 907

58 Consider the ring of fractions where B = S 1 (A/P) S = { p(x) m + P m 0 } (which is clearly multiplicatively closed). 908

59 If B is the zero ring then 1 + P / 1 + P = 0 + P / 1 + P so (1 + P)(p(x) m + P) = P ( m 0) so p(x) m + P = P so p(x) m P, whence p(x) P, contradicting that p(x) P. 909

60 Hence B is not a zero ring, so there is some maximal ideal M of B, and B/M is a field. Define mappings φ : A B by f(x) ( f(x) + P ) / ( 1 + P ) 910

61 and ψ : A B/M by f(x) φ ( f(x) ) + M. Clearly φ and ψ are ring homomorphisms. 911

62 We check that ψ F and φ F are injective. Let λ kerψ F. Then M = ψ(λ) = φ(λ) + M, so (λ + P)/(1 + P) = φ(λ) M. 912

63 If λ 0 then 1 + P 1 + P = ( λ + P 1 + P )( λ 1 + P 1 + P ) M so M = B, contradicting that M B. Hence λ = 0, so ker ψ F = kerφ F = {0}, so both ψ F and φ F are injective. 913

64 Hence φ(f) and ψ(f) are copies of F in B and B/M respectively. Notation: If f = f(x) A then denote by f = f(x) and f = f(x) the polynomials obtained from f by replacing any coefficient γ F by φ(γ) and ψ(γ) respectively. 914

65 Clearly, then, since φ and ψ are ring homomorphisms, if f = f(x) A and then α = (α 1,...,α n ) A n and φ ( f(α) ) = f ( φ(α 1 ),..., φ(α n ) ) ψ ( f(α) ) = f ( ψ(α 1 ),..., ψ(α n ) ) 915

66 We now verify that B is a finitely generated φ(f)-algebra. If b B then, for some f(x) A and m 0 b = f(x) + P ( )( ) f(x) + P 1 + P p(x) m + P = 1 + P p(x) m + P = f ( x1 + P 1 + P,..., x n + P 1 + P )( 1 + P p(x) + P ) m. 916

67 This verifies that B is generated, as a φ(f)- algebra, by so x 1 + P 1 + P,..., x n + P 1 + P, 1 + P p(x) + P, B is finitely generated as a φ(f)-algebra, whence also B/M is finitely generated as a ψ(f)-algebra. 917

68 But F, and hence ψ(f), are algebraically closed, so, by our last Corollary (page 902), since B/M is a field, B/M = ψ(f). Hence, for each i = 1,...,n, ( λ i F) ψ(x i ) = ψ(λ i ). 918

69 Put λ = (λ 1,..., λ n ). We now prove that λ Z(I) but p(λ) 0. For all f(x) I we have f(x) P, so 919

70 ψ ( f(λ) ) = f ( ψ(λ 1 ),..., ψ(λ n ) ) = f ( ψ(x 1 ),..., ψ(x n ) ) = ψ ( f(x) ) = ( f(x) + P 1 + P ) + M = ( P 1 + P ) + M = M 920

71 so f(λ) = 0, since ψ F is injective. This proves λ Z(I). But ψ ( p(λ) ) = p ( ψ(λ 1 ),..., ψ(λ n ) ) = p ( ψ(x 1 ),..., ψ(x n ) ) = ψ ( p(x) ) 921

72 so ψ ( p(λ) ) = ( p(x) + P 1 + P ) + M. If ψ ( p(λ) ) = M then so 1 + P 1 + P = p(x) + P 1 + P ( p(x) + P 1 + P M )( 1 + P p(x) + P ) M, so M = B, contradicting that M B. 922

73 Hence so ψ ( p(λ) ) M. p(λ) 0 since ψ is a homomorphism. This contradicts that p(λ) = 0 by ( ), and the proof of Hilbert s Nullstellensatz is complete. 923

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