GALOIS AS PERMUTATION GROUPS

KEITH CONRAD

1. Introduction
A Galois group is a group of field automorphisms under composition. By looking at the
effect of a Galois group on field generators we can interpret the Galois group as permutations, which makes it a subgroup of a symmetric group. This makes Galois groups into
relatively concrete objects and is particularly effective when the Galois group turns out to
be a symmetric or alternating group.
2. Automorphisms of fields as permutations of roots
The Galois group of a polynomial f (X) ∈ K[X] over K is defined to be the Galois group
of a splitting field for f (X) over K. We do not require f (X) to be irreducible in K[X].

Example 2.1. The polynomial X 4 − 2 has splitting field Q( 4 2, i) over Q, so the Galois of
X 4 − 2 over Q is isomorphic to D4 . The splitting field of X 4 − 2 over R is C, so the Galois
group of X 4 − 2 over R is Gal(C/R) = {z 7→ z, z 7→ z}, which is cyclic of order 2.
Example 2.2. The Galois group of (X 2 − 2)(X 2 − 3) over Q is isomorphic to Z/2Z × Z/2Z.
Its Galois group over R is trivial since the polynomial splits completely over R.
Writing f (X) = (X − r1 ) · · · (X − rn ), the splitting field of f (X) over K is K(r1 , . . . , rn ).
Each σ in the Galois group of f (X) over K permutes the ri ’s since σ fixes K and therefore
f (r) = 0 ⇒ f (σ(r)) = 0. The automorphism σ is completely determined by its permutation
of the ri ’s since the ri ’s generate the splitting field over K. A permutation of the ri ’s can
be viewed as a permutation of the subscripts 1, 2, . . . , n.
Example
2.3.
Consider
the Galois group of X 4 √
− 2 over Q. The polynomial has 4 roots:




4
4
4
4
4
2, i 2,√
− 2, −i√ 2. Two generators of√Gal(Q(√ 2, i)/Q) are the automorphisms r and s
where r( 4√2) = i 4 2 and r(i) = i, and s( 4 2) = 4 2 and s(i) = −i. The effect of the Galois
group on 4 2 and i is in Table 1.
Automorphism

Value on 4 2
Value on i

1
r
r2
r3
s
rs
r2 s
r3 s








4
2 i 4 2 − 4 2 −i 4 2 4 2 i 4 2 − 4 2 −i 4 2
i
i
i
i
−i −i
−i
−i
Table 1

The effect of r on the roots of X 4 − 2 is








4
4
4
4
4
4
4
4
r( 2) = i 2, r(i 2) = − 2, r(− 2) = −i 2, r(−i 2) = 2,
which is a 4-cycle, while the effect of s on the roots of X 4 − 2 is








4
4
4
4
4
4
4
4
s( 2) = 2, s(i 2) = −i 2, s(−i 2) = i 2, s(− 2) = − 2,
1

then the Galois group of (X 2 − 2)(X 2 − 3) over Q becomes the following subgroup of S4 : (2. r2 = i 2. (24). with more abstraction. If we label 2. Thinking about the Galois group of a polynomial with degree n as a subgroup of Sn is the original viewpoint of Galois. the subgroups in Tables 2 and 3 are conjugate by the permutation 1234 2431 = (124). which is the permutation turning one indexing of the roots into the other.  For instance. Indexing the roots of X 4 − 2 as √ √ √ √ 4 4 4 4 (2. but they will be conjugate subgroups. In general. Automorphism Permutation 1 r r2 r3 s rs r2 s r3 s (1) (1234) (13)(24) (1432) (24) (12)(34) (13) (14)(23) Table 2 Example 2. r3 = − 2. (12). the Galois group of X 4 − 2 over Q becomes the group of permutations in S4 in Table 2. 3. r3 .3) are conjugate by . (13)(24). and the subgroups (2. Automorphism Permutation 1 r r2 r3 s rs r2 s r3 s (1) (1243) (14)(23) (1342) (14) (13)(24) (23) (12)(34) Table 3 √ √ √ √ Example 2.3) (1). associating to each σ in the Galois group of f (X) over K its permutation on the roots of f (X).2). This homomorphism is injective since its kernel is trivial: an element of the Galois group that fixes each ri is the identity on the splitting field. i 4 2. rn . So s is a 2-cycle on the roots. √ √ √ √ Example 2. r4 . − 3 in this order as r2 .2) and (2.5.2 KEITH CONRAD √ √ √ √ which swaps i 4 2 and −i 4 2 while fixing 4 2 and − 4 2. r2 = − 2.6. is a homomorphism from the Galois group to Sn . (34). Artin. − 2. the automorphism r acts on the roots like (1234) and the automorphism s acts on the roots like (24). r1 identifies the Galois group of X 4 − 2 over Q with the subgroup of S4 in Table 3. which is not the same subgroup of S4 in Table 2. . r3 then the Galois group of (X 2 − 2)(X 2 − 3) over Q turns into the following subgroup of S4 : (2.4. (13). With this indexing of the roots. r4 = − 3. r4 . − 4 2.) Two different choices for indexing the roots of f (X) can lead to different subgroups of Sn . r3 = 3.2) (1).1) r1 = 2. . (The description of Galois theory in terms of field automorphisms is due to Dedekind and. −i 4 2 in this order as r2 . r4 = −i 2. This is not the same subgroup as (2. viewed as a permutation of the subscripts of the roots when we list them as r1 . If we label the roots of (X 2 − 2)(X 2 − 3) as √ √ √ √ r1 = 2. r1 . Renaming 4 2. . . Numbering the roots of f (X) in different ways can identify the Galois group with different subgroups of Sn . (12)(34).

The subgroup of S4 in (2. when we turn the Galois group into a subgroup of Sn . [K(r) : K] = n is a factor of the degree of the splitting field over K. namely Sp . Now suppose f (X) is reducible (so n ≥ 2). . n}. 1More generally. Lemma 3.  3. Let f (X) ∈ K[X] be a separable polynomial of degree n. Example 2. there is a permutation in G sending i to j. Therefore. 2. as a subgroup of Sn . It is a property of subgroups of Sn . . for any i 6= j in {1. The subgroups of S4 in Tables 2 and 3 are transitive. without fixing an indexing of the roots.2) is not transitive since no element √ √ of the subgroup takes 1√to 3. as a subgroup of Sn . The group Sp as a Galois group We will give a criterion that implies a Galois group of prime degree p is as large as possible. σ(ri ) has the same minimal polynomial over K as ri . so we can’t have σ(ri ) = rj .7. n}. but it does make sense to ask if the Galois group contains a permutation with a particular cycle type (like a 3-cycle). . called transitivity. These irreducible factors are the minimal polynomials of ri and rj over K. 2. so it is not a transitive subgroup of Sn . . (b) First suppose f (X) is irreducible.1 A conjugate subgroup of a transitive subgroup of Sn is also transitive since conjugation on Sn amounts to listing the numbers from 1 to n in a different order. Theorem 2.GALOIS AS PERMUTATION GROUPS 3 1234 2413  = (1243). A subgroup G ⊂ Sn is called transitive when. it doesn’t make sense to ask if a particular permutation like (132) is in the Galois group as a subgroup of Sn .9. a permutation of order p is a p-cycle. . (a) If f (X) is irreducible in K[X] then its Galois group over K has order divisible by n. . 3)/Q) can’t send √ 2 to 3. It is a product of distinct irreducibles since it is separable. . (a) For a root r of f (X) in K.8. In Sp . We can speak about Galois groups of irreducible or reducible polynomials. Proof. which is the size of the Galois group over K. Therefore the Galois group. For any σ in the Galois group of f (X) over K. This corresponds to the fact that for any two roots of X 4 − 2 there is an element of its Galois group over Q taking the first root to the second. Being transitive is not a property of an abstract group. we can write rj = σ(ri ) for some σ in the Galois group of f (X) over K. For example. . (b) The polynomial f (X) is irreducible in K[X] if and only if its Galois group over K is a transitive subgroup of Sn . the Galois group of f (X) does not send i to j. sends i to j. Although the Galois group of f (X) over K does not have a canonical embedding into Sn in general. its image in Sn is well-defined up to an overall conjugation. For two roots ri and rj of f (X). Subgroups of S have n a natural action on the set {1. .1. This corresponds to the fact that an element of Gal(Q( 2. Let ri and rj be roots of different irreducible factors of f (X). so it is a transitive subgroup. Only for an irreducible polynomial does the Galois group have a special property. it is a property of groups equipped with a specific action on a set. Example 2. like X 4 − 2 or (X 2 − 2)(X 3 − 2) over Q.

. However. we may suppose our subgroup of Sp contains the particular transposition (12) and the particular p-cycle (12 .→ Sp and # Gal(L/Q) is divisible by p by Theorem 2. Proof. it is a theorem in group theory that the particular transposition (12) and n-cycle (12 . so writing σ i as σ and suitably reordering the numbers 2.) We now show the only subgroup of Sp containing a p-cycle and a transposition is Sp . and one root of a cubic is all but two roots.  Theorem 3. since C is algebraically closed. p). .1). Since the order of a product of disjoint cycles is the least common multiple of the orders of the cycles. the only permutations of order p are p-cycles (Lemma 3. so each ni is less than p (in fact the length of the cycle πi is ni ). . so we can’t use Theorem 3. Each polynomial has three real roots (check!). rp ) be the splitting field of f (X) over Q. Method 1: Suppose π is not a p-cycle.6. (13) and (1234) generate a proper subgroup of S4 (one of the subgroups of order 8). nr ).2 to determine their Galois groups over Q. . In Sp . . complex conjugation transposes two of the roots of f (X) and fixes the others. so π is a single p-cycle. . Since f (X) has only two non-real roots by hypothesis.  Remark 3. . Let σ be a p-cycle in the subgroup. Since p is a prime number and ni > 1. Therefore p = lcm(n1 . Therefore Gal(L/Q) contains a transposition of the roots of f (X). . Let f (X) ∈ Q[X] be an irreducible polynomial of prime degree p with all but two roots in R.5. nr ). there can’t be even two disjoint p-cycles. . .2.4. . . While Sp is generated by any transposition and p-cycle for p prime. so Gal(L/Q) ∼ = Sp . σ acts on {1. As a p-cycle. . . p = lcm(n1 . 2. We may take L to be a subfield of C. Let L = Q(r1 . we may let 1 be a number moved by the transposition. Example 3. This is also a p-cycle. It has one real root (approximately 1. Example 3. . . It has one real root.3. we have ni = p for all i. For n ≥ 2. . so our subgroup contains a transposition τ = (1a). . Thus π is a product of disjoint p-cycles. so our subgroup is Sp . (This is the reason for the hypothesis about all but two roots being real. . For example. The polynomial X 3 − X − 1 is irreducible in Q[X] since it is irreducible mod 2 or since it is a cubic without any rational roots. . The Galois group of f (X) over Q is isomorphic to Sp . so its Galois group over Q is isomorphic to S3 . it is not true that Sn is generated by any transposition and n-cycle for general n.3247). Since π is in Sp . This is a contradiction. . . Example 3. Complex conjugation restricted to L is a member of Gal(L/Q). . n) generate Sn . . ). .2 does not tell us the Galois group. with ni being the order of πi . and therefore lcm(n1 . . . each πi is therefore a cycle of length less than p. So the image of Gal(L/Q) in Sp contains a p-cycle. Since we’re in Sp . so Theorem 3. nr ). because σ i has order p in Sp and all elements of order p in Sp are p-cycles. so Gal(L/Q) contains an element of order p by Cauchy’s theorem. Method 2: the order of π1 π2 · · · πr is lcm(n1 . . . . The permutations of the ri ’s by Gal(L/Q) provide an embedding Gal(L/Q) . By suitable labeling of the numbers from 1 to p. The quintic polynomial X 5 −X−1 is irreducible in Q[X] since it is irreducible mod 3. .4 KEITH CONRAD Proof. p (which replaces our subgroup by a conjugate subgroup). p} by a single orbit. The polynomials X 3 − 3X − 1 and X 3 − 4X − 1 are both irreducible in Q[X] since they are cubics without any rational roots. . . nr ) is not divisible by p. so not divisible by p. so some σ i with 1 ≤ i ≤ p − 1 sends 1 to a: σ i = (1a . each ni is less than p. Let π ∈ Sp have order p and decompose into disjoint nontrivial cycles as π = π1 π2 · · · πr . . .9.

and even more generally. . when f (X) is monic its discriminant is a polynomial in the coefficients of f (X) (which are. disc(X 4 + aX + b) = −27a4 + 256b3 . so it is fixed by Gal(K(r1 . More generally [3. . When f (X) is separable. If (m. explicit formulas for discriminants of some trinomials are disc(X 2 + aX + b) = a2 − 4b. p. . its Galois group is determined as a subgroup of Sn only up to conjugation.1. It has three real roots. Example 4. .4. The quintic polynomial X 5 − 4X − 1 is irreducible in Q[X] since it is irreducible mod 3. Alternating groups and the discriminant The next thing we will do with Galois groups as subgroups of Sn is determine when they lie in An . disc(X 3 + aX + b) = −4a3 − 27b2 . rn )/K) and therefore disc f ∈ K by Galois theory. Example 4. the elementary symmetric functions of the roots). The discriminant of X 3 − X − 1 is −23. and the discriminant of X 3 − 4X − 1 is 229. For a nonconstant f (X) ∈ K[X] of degree n that factors over a splitting field as f (X) = c(X − r1 ) · · · (X − rn ). n) is not necessarily 1 then [4. Definition 4. since in that case disc f is 0. The number disc f is nonzero if f (X) is separable and is 0 if f (X) is not separable. which is the usual discriminant of a monic quadratic polynomial. 4. In low-degree cases. disc(X 5 + aX + b) = 256a5 + 3125b4 . i<j Example 4. We have disc f ∈ K if f (X) is not separable too. called the discriminant. The polynomial (X − 1)(X − 3)(X − 7) has discriminant 22 · 62 · 42 = 2304. Without fixing a labeling of the roots of f (X). n) = 1. to determine when the Galois group is in An . for 0 < m < n and (m. so its Galois group over Q is isomorphic to S5 . Because disc f is a symmetric polynomial in the roots of f (X). disc f is a symmetric polynomial in the ri ’s. the discriminant of X 3 − 3X − 1 is 81. The discriminant of X 2 + aX + b = (X − r)(X − r0 ) is (r − r0 )2 = r2 − 2rr0 + r02 = (r + r0 )2 − 4rr0 = a2 − 4b. the discriminant of f (X) is defined to be Y disc f = (rj − ri )2 .3. but it is still meaningful to ask if the Galois group is a subgroup of An since An  Sn . Theorem 2] disc(X n +aX m +b) = (−1)n(n−1)/2 bm−1 ((−1)n/d−1 mm/d (n−m)(n−m)/d an/d +nn/d b(n−m)/d )d . .7.2. We will introduce a numerical invariant of polynomials. which is all but two roots.GALOIS AS PERMUTATION GROUPS 5 Example 3. disc(X n + aX + b) = (−1)n(n−1)/2 ((−1)n−1 (n − 1)n−1 an + nn bn−1 ). up to sign. disc(X n + aX m + b) = (−1)n(n−1)/2 bm−1 ((−1)n−1 mm (n − m)n−m an + nn bn−m ). 41].

Since δ 6= 0 and K doesn’t have characteristic 2. the embedding of the Galois group of f (X) over K into Sn as permutations of the roots of f (X) has image in An if and only if disc f is a square in K. Q Proof. r ) = K(r. disc f ) = K(r.7. that disc f = on g(X). Let f (X) have roots r.5. where g(r) 6= 0. For example. disc(X 4 + aX 2 + b) = 16b(a2 − 4b)2 .) By the quadratic formula 0 00 check. so we may assume f (X) is monic.6 KEITH CONRAD where d = (m. For any σ ∈ Gal(K(r1 . . Therefore the Galois group of f (X) over K is in An if and only if δ is fixed by the Galois group. which is the same as δ ∈ K. Let K not have characteristic 2 and let f (X) be a separable cubic √ in K[X] with a root r and discriminant D. . The roots and the discriminant of f don’t change if we multiply f by a nonzero constant. Theorem 4. . so σ ∈ An if and only if σ(δ) = δ. r0 . r00 ). The splitting field of f (X) over K is K(r. Theorem 4. We will not derive these formulas here. D). n). then over F (T ) the polynomial X 3 + T X + T is separable and irreducible with discriminant T 2 (a square) and Galois group S3 . since f is monic. If K does not have characteristic 2. r0 . .8. r0 . Theorem 4. rn ) and δ 2 = disc f ∈ K. . . so K(r. D). It is simple to √ √ √ 2 g(r) disc g. so the splitting field of f (X) over K is K(r. disc g). K(r. K(r.6. Example 4. rn )/K). so δ ∈ K(r1 . disc g) = K(r. r . δ 6= −δ. Let f (X) ∈ K[X] be a separable polynomial of degree n. g(X) = (X − r0 )(X √ − r ).  Remark 4. so is g. .7 is completely false in characteristic 2: discriminants of polynomials are always squares in characteristic 2 but Sn can occur as a Galois group. Note we are not assuming f (X) is irreducible here. and r00 . 00 Explicitly. Taking m = 2 and n = 4.7 lets us determine the Galois groups of irreducible cubic polynomials outside of characteristic 2. We have σ ∈ An if and only if εσ = 1. i<j i<j so σ(δ) = ±δ. . we can remove a linear factor and write f (X) = (X −r)g(X). . let εσ = ±1 be its sign as a permutation of the ri ’s. By one of the definitions of the sign of a permutation. Proof. Therefore disc f is a square in K if and only if δ ∈ K. Set δ = i<j (rj − ri ) 6= 0. (Since f is monic. if F is any field of characteristic 2. Y Y σ(δ) = (σ(rj ) − σ(ri )) = εσ (rj − ri ) = εσ δ. r00 ) K(r) √ K( D) ≤3 ≤2 K Over K(r).  Theorem 4.

For any prime p not dividing disc f . which we won’t meet here. For instance.6. dk ). so d1 + · · · + dk = n. From Example 4. the Galois group is divisible by [K(r) : K] = 3. so the image is either A3 or S3 since these are the only subgroups of S3 with size divisible by 3. Let f (X) ∈ Z[X] be monic irreducible over Q of degree n. Any root of X 3 − 3X − 1 generates the splitting field over Q. (b) If disc f is not a square in K then the Galois group of f (X) over K is isomorphic to S3 . This can also be proved using the formula for the splitting field of a cubic in Theorem 4. 4. and thus either choice can be used in Theorems 4.  Example 4.10. their Galois groups are not isomorphic.7 says the image is in A3 (and thus equal to A3 ) if and only if disc f is a square in K. .5 since all of their roots are real.4.13. but this is not true for any root of X 3 − 4X − 1. Theorem 4.GALOIS AS PERMUTATION GROUPS 7 Theorem 4.7. Example 4. In Example 3. and 4. Remark 4. Our definition of disc(f (X)) ignores the leading coefficient of f (X) and depends only on its roots. but this does not mean their Galois groups over Q are S3 and A3 .14 (Dedekind). The permutations of the roots of f (X) by its Galois group over K gives an embedding of the Galois group into S3 . Let K not have characteristic 2 and let f (X) be a separable irreducible cubic in K[X]. . The cubics X 3 − 2X + 1 and X 3 − 7X − 6 have respective discriminants 5 and 400 = 202 . Do not forget to check that a cubic is irreducible before you use Theorem 4. X 2 −3 and 2X 2 −6 = 2(X 2 −3) would have the same discriminant (namely 12). contains a permutation of type (d1 .9! Remark 4. We can see again that X 3 − X − 1 has Galois group S3 over Q since its discriminant is −23 (Example 4. So although X 3 − 3X − 1 and X 3 − 4X − 1 both have all real roots.6. It differs from our definition by an even power of the leading coefficient. so it differs by a nonzero square factor from our definition. . (a) If disc f is a square in K then the Galois group of f (X) over K is isomorphic to A3 . X 3 − 3X − 1 has discriminant 81 (a square) and X 3 − 4X − 1 has discriminant 229 (a prime). Proof.12. where it is useful to have the discriminant depend on the choice of leading coefficient. The following fantastic theorem of Dedekind uses factorization of a polynomial mod p to tell us when a Galois group over Q contains permutations with particular cycle structure. Theorem 4. . There are situations. The Galois groups of X 3 − 3X − 1 and X 3 − 4X − 1 over Q were left undetermined in Example 3. . viewed as a subgroup of Sn .4) and this is not a rational square.11. Since K(r) is inside the splitting field. The Galois group of f (X) over Q. do you want the discriminant of a quadratic polynomial aX 2 +bX +c to be (b/a)2 −4(c/a) = (b2 −4ac)/a2 (our definition) or b2 − 4ac? You can find the alternate definition of discriminant on the Wikipedia page for polynomial discriminants. Therefore X 3 − 3X − 1 has Galois group A3 over Q and X 3 − 4X − 1 has Galois group S3 over Q.4 we saw X 3 −X −1 has Galois group S3 over Q.9. let the monic irreducible factorization of f (X) mod p be f (X) ≡ π1 (X) · · · πk (X) mod p and set di = deg πi (X). Both polynomials are reducible (factoring as (X − 1)(X 2 + X − 1) and (X + 1)(X + 2)(X − 3)).9. Now we can compute the Galois groups. After all.

This polynomial is irreducible mod 2. so the Galois group of X 4 − X − 1 over Q has order divisible by 4. r2 . X 4 − X − 1 ≡ (X + 4)(X 3 + 3X 2 + 2X + 5) mod 7. its size is either 4.8 KEITH CONRAD The nicest proof of Theorem 4. because the only subgroup of S4 with order 12 is A4 . Let its roots be r1 . the Galois group of X 4 + 8X + 12 over Q has size divisible by 4. and (of course) 24 outside of A4 . The discriminant of X 4 − X − 1 is −283. 3). Example 4. This is an irreducible factorization. This is reducible mod p for all small p. Example 4. so the Galois group has order divisible by 3. Since the Galois group embeds into S4 . {(1)} 2 h(12)(34)i h(13)(24)i 2 2 h(14)(23)i A4 3 3 2 h(123)i V 3 3 3 h(124)i 4 4 h(134)i h(234)i . Let’s list all the subfields of the splitting field of X 4 + 8X + 12 over Q. By the irreducibility of the polynomial. These are only consistent with X 4 + 8X + 12 being irreducible over Q (why?). (Quite generally.15. so the reduction mod p test doesn’t help us prove the polynomial is irreducible over Q.) There are subgroups of S4 with orders 4. Here is the lattice (upside down) of subgroups of A4 . pp. 398–400] and [2. (In fact. so Theorem 4. and that proves the Galois group is S4 . the Galois group contains a permutation of the roots whose cycle type is (1. so the Galois group is not a subgroup of A4 . So the Galois group of X 4 + 8X + 12 over Q is isomorphic to A4 : the even permutations of the roots extend to automorphisms of the splitting field over Q. The extension Q(r1 )/Q has degree 4. the polynomial factors mod p for all p. so no other size but 12 is eliminated yet. which is not a rational square. More elementary proofs are in [1. so it is irreducible over Q. Using Theorem 4. r3 . 3). which means the Galois group has order divisible by 3. This eliminates the possibility of the Galois group having order 12.16. while the odd permutations do not. The discriminant of X 4 + 8X + 12 is 331776 = 5762 .14 says that the Galois group of X 4 −X −1 over Q contains a permutation of the roots with cycle type (1.14. or 24.14 uses algebraic number theory and is beyond the scope of these notes.) Let’s look at how the polynomial factors into irreducibles modulo different primes: X 4 + 8X + 12 ≡ (X + 1)(X 3 + 4X 2 + X + 2) mod 5. From the factorization of the polynomial mod 5 above. 8. which is a 3-cycle. 8. r4 . 12. the only subgroup of index 2 in Sn is An for n ≥ 2. X 4 + 8X + 12 ≡ (X 2 + 4X + 7)(X 2 + 13X + 9) mod 17. so the Galois group is a subgroup of A4 and therefore has size 4 or 12. pp. and thus its size is 12. It’s not an artifact of only looking at small primes. so the reduction mod p test really doesn’t apply. We determine the Galois group of X 4 + 8X + 12 over Q. a rational square.14 with p = 7. We compute the Galois group of X 4 − X − 1 over Q using Theorem 4. 302–304].

60.6. The sums r1 + r2 . 3). From the mod 2 factorization. we have L = Q(r1 . Since [L : Q(r1 )] = 3 is prime and r2 6∈ Q(r1 ). r2 ). for any k ≥ 2 there are complex numbers that have degree 2k over Q but are not constructible.14. Let f (X) = X 4 − 2. . This condition does not apply to X 3 − 4X − 1 or X 5 − X − 1. 5 divides the size of the Galois group. and r1 + r4 are roots of X 6 − 48X 2 − 64 (check!) and r1 r2 + r3 r4 is a root of X 3 − 48X − 64. so the Galois group is not in A5 by Theorem 4. r4 ) is as follows. Its irreducible factorization mod 2 is X 5 − X − 1 = (X 2 + X + 1)(X 3 + X 2 + 1) mod 2. its size is either 30. Since the Galois group is a subgroup of S5 . Its splitting field over Q is Q( 4 2. which is not a rational square. Using Theorem 4. Since Remark 4. so the only subfield of L that is Galois over Q other than L and Q is Q(r1 r2 + r3 r4 ).18.19 their Galois groups over Q are S3 and S5 . Example 4. the Galois group contains a permutation of the roots with cycle type (2. so the Galois group has size divisible by 5 · 6 = 30. which has order 6. More generally. √ Example 4. so [Q(r1 . Because the polynomial is irreducible over Q. r3 . and A4 . r1 + r3 . V .17. Roots of X 3 − 48X − 64 are squares of roots of X 6 − 48X 2 − 64. It turns out that there is no subgroup of S5 with order 30 and the only subgroup of order 60 is A5 . lead to a subgroup of index 2 in A4 and there is no such subgroup. This necessary condition is not sufficient: if r is a root of X 4 + 8X + 12 then [Q(r) : Q] = 4 and there is no quadratic field in Q(r): any such field would. Let’s redo this calculation using factorizations of f (X) mod p. and the Galois group of this field over Q is D4 . Theorem 3. i). there is a different “all but 2 roots” hypothesis that implies a Galois group is Sp . The discriminant of f (x) is 2869 = 19 · 151. although by Examples 4.2 gave us a sufficient condition for an irreducible in Q[X] of prime degree p to have Galois group Sp : all but 2 roots are real. This Galois group computation has an application to constructible numbers.7. or 120. It is left to the reader to check that r1 r2 + r3 r4 = (r1 + r2 )2 = (r3 + r4 )2 .GALOIS AS PERMUTATION GROUPS 9 The corresponding subfield lattice of L = Q(r1 . Let’s determine the Galois group of X 5 − X − 1 over Q. by the Galois correspondence. Therefore the Galois group is S5 . which was left unresolved in Example 3.19. r2 ) : Q] = 12. L 2 Q(r1 + r2 ) Q(r1 + r3 ) 2 2 Q(r1 + r4 ) 3 3 2 Q(r1 r2 + r3 r4 ) 3 3 3 Q(r4 ) Q(r3 ) Q(r2 ) Q(r1 ) 4 4 Q The normal subgroups of A4 are {1}. r2 .11 and 4. A necessary condition for a complex number to be constructible (using only an unmarked straightedge and compass) is that the number has 2-power degree over Q.

20. Let f (X) ∈ Z[X] be monic irreducible over Q of prime degree p.14. which is a transposition in Sp . . .21. This suggests the next result. If we seek an analogue of Theorem 3.4 and 4. By hypothesis the factorization of f (X) mod ` has all linear factors except for one quadratic irreducible factor.26. Returning to Example 4.25. We can’t use Corollary 4. But f (X) mod ` could have all but three roots in F` for some `. 1. . In Table 4 are the trinomial polynomials whose Galois group over Q has been computed by the methods of this section.2 this came from the use of complex conjugation to transpose two non-real roots. Proof. assuming there are only two non-real roots.23. so G ∼  = Ap . any p-cycle and any 3-cycle in Sp generate Ap .22. The Galois group has order divisible by p. From Examples 3. We aren’t assuming that anymore. It is irreducible mod 3.  Example 4.7 we saw X 5 − 4X − 1 has Galois group S5 over Q because it has all but two real roots. If there is a prime number ` not dividing disc f such that f (X) mod ` has all but three roots in F` . 1.10 KEITH CONRAD Corollary 4. This has all but three roots in F7 . so it’s irreducible over Q. then the Galois group of f (X) over Q is isomorphic to Ap . The proof of Theorem 3.20 to show X 4 − X − 1 has Galois group S4 over Q (Example 4. We can check this again with Corollary 4. there is no analogue since an irreducible polynomial over Q can’t have all but three roots in R (the number of non-real roots is always even). From the factorization of f (X) mod ` and Theorem 4. so G is a subgroup of Ap since disc f is a square. Let f (X) ∈ Z[X] be monic irreducible over Q of prime degree p ≥ 3 with disc f a perfect square. Modulo 7. Example 4.14 says the Galois group contains a permutation of the roots with cycle type (1. so it contains a p-cycle. using 3-cycles in place of transpositions. G contains a 3-cycle. 2). Therefore Theorem 4. its irreducible factorization is X 5 + 20X + 16 ≡ (X − 4)(X − 5)(X 3 + 2X 2 + 5X + 5) mod 7. In Theorem 3. . The polynomial X 5 + 20X + 16 has discriminant 216 56 . . then the Galois group of f (X) over Q is isomorphic to Sp .24.19. Corollary 4. Example 4.15) since 4 is not prime. Proof. Let G be the Galois group.11.2 for a Galois group to be isomorphic to Ap . Example 4.2 can be used again except for the step explaining why the Galois group of f (X) over Q contains a transposition. Jordan that for any prime p ≥ 3. so the Galois group of X 5 +20X +16 over Q is isomorphic to A5 . We can also compute the Galois group with Corollary 4.20: X 3 −X −1 mod 5 has one root in F5 and X 3 −4X −1 mod 2 has one root in F2 . the polynomials X 3 −X −1 with discriminant −23 and X 3 −4X −1 with discriminant 229 each have Galois group S3 over Q. Remark 4. It is a theorem of C. If there is a prime number ` not dividing disc f such that f (X) mod ` has all but two roots in F` . In Example 3.20: the discriminant is −259019 (a negative prime number) and X 5 − 4X − 1 mod 19 has all but two roots in F19 . we can show the Galois group over Q of X 5 − X − 1 is S5 in another way: X 5 − X − 1 has discriminant 2869 = 19 · 151 and by a computer search X 5 − X − 1 mod 163 has all but two roots in F163 .

GALOIS AS PERMUTATION GROUPS 11 Galois group over Q f (X) X3 − X − 1 S3 3 X − 3X − 1 A3 X 3 − 4X − 1 S3 S4 X4 − X − 1 X 4 + 8X + 12 A4 X5 − X − 1 S5 5 X − 4X − 1 S5 X 5 + 20X + 16 A5 Table 4 It is a hard theorem of Chebotarev that the sufficient conditions for f (X) to have Galois group Sp in Corollary 4. 149. all but three roots) in F` . .” 2nd ed. Freeman. 11. 227. 23. Samuel.. . ..” Wiley. 23. “Galois Theory. 2008.20 and Ap in Corollary 4.. Hoboken. NJ. 97. Proving a Galois group is small (not Sn or An ) is a completely separate matter. Ap ) then there are infinitely many primes ` not dividing disc f such that f (X) mod ` has all but two roots (resp. but it continues indefinitely). . Pacific J. 29. References [1] [2] [3] [4] D. . 2004. which we will not discuss here. . 467. Cox. . 307. There are extensions of these ideas to polynomials of nonprime degree. so verifying an irreducible polynomial of degree n has Galois group over Q that is isomorphic to Sn or An in practice is easy.25 are also necessary in a strong sense: if f (X) ∈ Z[X] is monic irreducible of prime degree p with Galois group over Q isomorphic to Sp (resp. In practice. Factorization of Polynomials over Finite Fields. 1099–1106. Math. Swan. X 5 − X − 1 mod ` has all but two roots in F` when ` = 163. 12 (1962). R. 83. . Jacobson. Algebraic Theory of Numbers. 1985. . P. For example. . . 17. (there is no simple pattern to this list.25 applies. and X 5 + 20X + 16 has all but three roots in F` when ` = 7. . N. X 5 − 4X − 1 mod ` has all but two roots in F` when ` = 19. it is easy to prove when a monic irreducible in Z[X] with prime degree p has Galois group Ap or Sp over Q by searching for a prime ` such that Corollary 4. Dover. “Basic Algebra I.20 or 4. 193.