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Reinterpretation with Adeles and Ideles

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Part of the Cornerstones book series (COR)


This chapter develops tools for a more penetrating study of algebraic number theory than was possible in Chapter V and concludes by formulating two of the main three theorems of Chapter V in the modern setting of “adeles” and “ideles” commonly used in the subject.

Sections 1–5 introduce discrete valuations, absolute values, and completions for fields, always paying attention to implications for number fields and for certain kinds of function fields. Section 1 contains a prototype for all these notions in the construction of the fieldQp of p-adic numbers formed out of the rationals. Discrete valuations in Section 2 are a generalization of the order-of-vanishing function about a point in the theory of one complex variable. Absolute values in Section 3 are real-valued multiplicative functions that give a metric on a field, and the pair consisting of a field and an absolute value is called a valued field. Inequivalent absolute values have a certain independence property that is captured by the Weak Approximation Theorem. Completions in Section 4 are functions mapping valued fields into their metric-space completions. Section 5 concerns Hensel’s Lemma, which in its simplest form allows one to lift roots of polynomials over finite prime fields Fp to roots of corresponding polynomials over p-adic fields Qp.

Section 6 contains the main theorem for investigating the fundamental question of how prime ideals split in extensions. Let K be a finite separable extension of a field F, let R be a Dedekind domain with field of fractions F, and let T be the integral closure of R in K. The question concerns the factorization of an ideal pT in T when p is a nonzero prime ideal in R. If Fp denotes the completion of F with respect to p, the theorem explains how the tensor product K ⊗F Fp splits uniquely as a direct sum of completions of valued fields. The theorem in effect reduces the question of the splitting of pT in T to the splitting of Fp in a complete field in which only one of the prime factors of pT plays a role.

Section 7 is a brief aside mentioning additional conclusions one can draw when the extension K/F is a Galois extension.

Section 8 applies the main theorem of Section 6 to an analysis of the different of K/F and ultimately to the absolute discriminant of a number field. With the new sharp tools developed in the present chapter, including a Strong Approximation Theorem that is proved in Section 8, a complete proof is given for the Dedekind Discriminant Theorem; only a partial proof had been accessible in Chapter V.

Sections 9–10 specialize to the case of number fields and to function fields that are finite separable extensions of Fq (X), where Fq is a finite field. The adele ring and the idele group are introduced for each of these kinds of fields, and it is shown how the original field embeds discretely in the adeles and how the multiplicative group embeds discretely in the ideles. The main theorems are compactness theorems about the quotient of the adeles by the embedded field and about the quotient of the normalized ideles by the embedded multiplicative group. Proofs are given only for number fields. In the first case the compactness encodes the Strong Approximation Theorem of Section 8 and the Artin product formula of Section 9. In the second case the compactness encodes both the finiteness of the class number and the Dirichlet Unit Theorem.


  • Prime Ideal
  • Valuation Ring
  • Basic Algebra
  • Dedekind Domain
  • Fractional Ideal

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  • DOI: 10.1007/978-0-8176-4613-4_6
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Correspondence to Anthony W. Knapp .

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© 2008 Anthony W. Knapp

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Knapp, A.W. (2008). Reinterpretation with Adeles and Ideles. In: Advanced Algebra. Cornerstones. Birkhäuser, Boston, MA.

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