for Galois Theory Beginners

JohnStillwell

algebra, and the is regarded the peak of undergraduate as Galois theory rightly usually takento be the is to modern algebra syllabus designed lead to itssummit, agreewiththisgoal,but I equation.I fully unsolvability the generalquintic of normal supplied-inparticular wouldliketo point that out most theequipment of and a lot of grouptheory-is fields irreducible polynomials, splitting extensions, of "fundamental theorem is The encumbrance theso-called unnecessary. biggest This theorem, interesting thoughit is, has littleto do with Galois theory." to It the structure a normal of extension the polynomial equations. relates subfield and can be proved use without of polynomials structure its group, of subgroup to one (see, e.g.,theappendix Tignol[6]). Conversely, can provetheunsolvability extensions the or aboutnormality field of ofpolynomial without knowing equations and between Galoiscorrespondence subfields subgroups. (in of the by The aimofthispaperis to prove unsolvability radicals thequintic of thegeneral degreeequation n ? 5) using thefundamentals for just nth factof The mainfactit and fields a first coursein algebra. from standard groups, rings of willbe necessary know thatif 4 is a homomorphismgroupG ontogroup to is of G' thenG' G/ker4, and conversely, G/H G' thenH is thekernel a if whichguidesthe of homomorphism G onto G'. The conceptof Galois group, a of will whenit comesup. Withthisbackground,proof wholeproof, be defined will basicideas,which from can unsolvability radicals be constructed justthree by be explained morefully below: 1. Fieldscontaining indeterminates be "symmetrized". n can 2. The Galoisgroup a radical of extension solvable. is group is notsolvable. 3. The symmetric Sn on who Whenone considers number mathematicians haveworked Galois the of all seem it this is new.In fact, proofs to theory, is notpossible believe proof really most to contain to Nevertheless, ofthestandard just stepssimilar thethree listed. I the becamevisible. read had proof awaybefore present approach to be stripped the books of Edwards[2], Tignol[6], Artin[1], Kaplansky MacLane and [3], and a Birkhoff and Lang [4],taught coursein Galois theory, thendiscarded [5] 90% ofwhatI had learned. and Mark for I wish thank students, suggestions to my particularly Kisin, helpful to led of which to thewriting this paper.I am also grateful thereferee discussions forseveral improvements.
THE GENERAL EQUATION OF DEGREE n. The goal of classical algebrawas to

nth the of express roots thegeneral degreeequation
(*)
xn + an-lX

+ * * * +alx

+ ao =O

22

GALOIS

THEORY

FOR BEGINNERS

[January

an-1) containingx1..... . the is larger thanG(xl... . .. Xnl -* an-1 (X1 + X2 + Xn) The goal of solution by radicals is then to extend0(a0.e...**..... ? Val . and radicals . xv).. example.. . solution thecubicequation of gives as a radical extension Q(ao. of .. in the sense thatanypermutation Of x1. in cases a radical of extension 0(a0.. an1 E Q(x1.. an 1) by adjoining the radicals until field a the For containing rootsx1.. Formulas the rootsof general for cubicand quarticequations also known. x2 of the quadraticequation lie in the extension Q(ao. in whichcase a maybe represented theradical by expression F. xn is also a radical extensionof 0(x1.. -X .Xn) = Xn + an- xn-1 + * +alx + ao symmetric functions: ao = (-1) then a0. since of radicalextensions aO. The adjunction called radicalif some positive F is integer power am of a equals an elementf E F. . general quadratic equation are expressed theformula by -1..... bijection obviously ar f 1994] GALOIS THEORY FOR BEGINNERS 23 . are cuberootsas wellas squareroots......in terms the coefficients a. sX s b o o this foreach rational function of xI..... ak) and ifeach adjunction radical is by E It is clearfrom that thesedefinitions a radicalextension of Q(ao...... takingthe intersection all fieldscontaining U {a}. Thus we also have to study it of important property G(x1.... Ifwe denotetheroots (*) byxl. a2) which cube of of includes imaginary roots unity wellas X11 X2... (by a non-zeroelement). usinga finite number operations of For example. Xn. xn).X) .. The result F(a1)(a2) ... . +-. The set of elementsobtainable fromao.f o ..T. xn is obtained. 3x. a the of In general. + is the field of G(ao. xn) is that is symmetric Q(x1... saythattheseequations solvable using We are (X . an-d) containing .. . of a0.. . xn).. Xn) = fM(rX ve o.X2) In thiscase we getQ(x1... roots xl..... .a........ . xn) definedby f aXoa a say F(a1..X2) = ?(X1 .. so that (X ... xn.. In particular. . xn though other x1. an adjoining element to a fieldF meansforming closure of F u {a} under +... xn. xn extendsto a bijectionoa of Gl(xl. an_ by +. ak) is a radical extension F. X3. an1 are polynomial functions xl.. .. xn).4ao 2 byradicals.) = of Q(x1x2.the roots X1lX2 of the X2 + a x + aO =O -a. ...x2) itself theradicalextension as Q(ao. . and). ... Val .. (ak) Ofsucceswe is siveadjunctions denoted F(a1. a.4ao0). The most a withrespectto x1.. -.i.. Moreover... a... xn called the elementary of X1X2 .. x1 + x2) bytheradical 4a0 = (x +x 2)2 - 4x1X2 = V(Xl . . x.

ana containingxl. .. Q(ao. xn) is not necessarily symmetric this in E sense. xn) E E (a rational function x1..g... adjointheelement ff e(x1.. extending permutation U is of The reasonforwanting automorphism extending an oa each permutation of x1. So farwe know a of of byradicals thegeneralnthdegreeequation entails radicalextension (*) . of This givesa bijection (also called a) of E sending each f(x1.. I.. . xl. . Q(x1. automorphisms of E fixing elements F form oa all of whatis calledthe Galoisgroup E of over Gal(E/F). I Xn. This opens a routeto provenonsymmetry aboutGal(E/Q(a0.. the in To described thecorollary. Thisconcept 1: F. ... simplify derivawith incompatible thesymmetry abouttheadjunction certain tionofthisstructure.. . Proof:Foreach adjoined and each permutation of x1. .. a1 24 GALOIS THEORY FOR BEGINNERS F(al.. can restore x1 we symmetry adjoining by generalization this of /X...jx7) contains squarerootof xl.... represented radical by expression e(x1.. E..... an-1) containing . .. xn and theadjoined of radicals) f(fx1.... V/x as well. . xn. radical extension ((x1..... xn). . oxn).. xn then of thereis a further radical extension D E such that Gal(E/Q(a0. xn. xn... is . xn) there is a radical E S Xn.. a hencethere no automorphism is exchanging and x2. .. o(fg) = of -fg.. .... .. butnotof x2.. ..The obvious idea gives wayto "symmetrize" radical a any extension of ((xl.3. extension D E with E automorphisms all of Theorem 1.then . . element.. xn): E o.. xn). Second. . ... can assume if va Va of p. ak). If E is a radicalextension Q(ao..extending permutationsx11 ... leastforn ? 5. ak)/F) of anyradicalextension of inherited has a special structure.. . . .... . xn is thatao.. Since fieldE D E is also a thereare onlyfinitely many permutations the resulting o.... thata solution THE STRUCTUREOF RADICALEXTENSIONS. oxn).. . and hence a radical extensionE withthe (a -) in described the corollary above. . henceso is and by the every element thefield of Q(ao.satisfies o(f +g)= of +o-g.. all of 1 extension of from Theorem and thefactthata radical Proof:Thisis immediate of ..instead adjoining we can adjoinfirst = .. .. For each radical extension of Q(x1. ... of A radicalextension of G(x1. Then in the nextsectionwe shall show thatthisstructure indeed [January ... an -)) inE ocludesautomorphisms extending permutations X11 .. shallshowthat we assumptions ofradicals can be madewithout ofgenerality. In thepresent is at shallshowthatthe Galois groupGal(F(a1. . an -1) containing . .. xn).. an_d4 If E D F are anyfields. fromthe structure called solvability..Forexample.. . xn is also a radical extension Q(x1...xn).... . .. loss ai is that we each radicalai adjoined a pthrootforsomeprime First.. an-)) to existence sucha solution learning of by enough we section showthatsuchsymmetrylacking. bijection obviously automorphismE. and henceis an automorphism Q(xl. and to this an the a. However. alerts to thefollowing us corollary Theorem of x Corollary.. an-1 are fixed suchpermutations..

with which courseis also abelian). ak.anditremains sameifthenewly tower fields of F(a1. B(a) is is automatic provided oIB(a)(b) E B(a) foreach b E B(a). D automorGal(Fk/Fi-1(ai)) and 1 denotes the identity of from definition Gal(E/B). B = FiJ1. as thegroup automorphismsE fixing element B.. tower groups of we to of Corresponding thistower fields havea descending Gal(Fk/FO)= G where Gi = Gal(FkFi)= ** Gk = Gal(Fk/Fk) = {1} G... .. 2... determined thevalue o(a). in terms: is a normal to F. to with kernel Gal(E/B(a)) is restrictionB(a)..The obvious of of map subgroup an abeliangroup. aIUIB(a) = ffUIB(a)OB(a) all for o'.list a1. The homomorphism property. .If this is not the case . ai is thepi-throotof an element Fi1. . . ai-1) before initially simply we adjoiningai (in whichcase F(a1.. as we shall now show.. If E D B(a) D B are fieldswithagPE B forsomeprime and ifB(a) then is not in B unless a itself a pth root of unity. . . since each pth rootof unity some Vi. we so thetheorem wantis: p. a k) is theunionof an ascending Any radical extension not is a pth rootwe can assume that F(a1.. pi. adjoin a pth root of unity # 1 to F(a1. . forany the The containments immediate are phism. . sincebydefinition oaE Gal(E/B(a)) |IB(a) is theidentity map. intoan abeliangroup phism Gal(E/B). Theorem2...ak) each Fi = Fi-1(ai). ai1) unless ai itselfis a pth root of unity. . to a it theorem groups. hence o(a) = = a' E B(a). ) containsall the pth roots of unity: the Withboththesemodifications finalfieldF(al. each of E of fields D B.e. containsno pth rootsof unity is of Gal(E/B(a)) is a normalsubgroup Gal(E/B) and Gal(E/B)/Gal(E/B(a)) abelian.ontoa Gal(E/B(a)). i.. ai) containsno pth rootsof unity in F(a1.and in where a not Fi containsno pi-throotsof unity in Fi.1 unlessai is itself pi-throotof unity. Hence we have: in the roots. . provided closedunder each oaE Gal(E/B).P) = o(1) = 1. oaE Gal(E/B). As B of to pointis thatthe increases E. Gal(E/B) mustdecreaseto {1} The important rootq to the of stepfrom -1 to itssubgroup reflecting adjunction thepi-th Gi Gi.is prime.If a is not a is GALOIS THEORY FOR BEGINNERS 1994] 25 ...e... . IB(a). of we notation further set To simplify E = Fk. . P =pi. If a is a Since oa fixesB. F = Fo c F. and Gi 1/Gi is abelian. oTIB(a) is completely by pth rootofunity then (f(a))P = a(aP) = a(.. ak) is 1. ai-1.. is "small"enough be describable group-theoretic Gi subgroup Gi-1. suffices find homomorfor Proof:By thehomomorphism kernel of (i... P-l)..a = ai... c Fk = F(al. c . . areincluded the adjoined thesame... .

so it now then.. . We have now reducedthis E that of extension containing problem proving thesymmetrythehypothetical to with to 1.. Hencein either case Gal(B(a)/B) is abelian. .i(a) .. an-j) includes tions of xl. Thus B(a) is closedas required... of subgroups Gal(F(a1... x1. since.. . Xb... This is true for Go by automorphisms extending 3-cycles 26 GALOIS THEORY FOR BEGINNERS [January . xn or. looksonly theeffect ofGal(E/ Q(a0.) does not of to . . This also impliesthat IB(a) maps Gal(E/B) into Gal(B(a)/B). that extension Q(a0.) does not containQ(x1. andhenceitis really a we thesymmetric Sn ofall permutations x.rootofunity then (f(a))' = o(aP) = aP since aP e B. hence oiuj(a) if then each oIB(a) E Gal(B(a)/B) is oftheform Likewise.. xn) of that Proof:Supposeon the contrary E is a radicalextension 0(a0.given thecorollary Theorem is incompatible thesolvability by at 2. . . . is called solvability Gal(F(al.. hence uiuj(a) = oi(ai) = a'j -jfi(a).. a is nota rootofunity = fi((ia) = "ia = oj. .. .. DGk={l} xn.... whenn > 5. Q((x1. D . an-. xn). are adapting of group in to standard thatSn is nota solvable given Milgram hisappendix by group. an 1)). each Gi contains oa all (xa. ..1 is a normal subgroup Gi and Gi1/Gi is abelian. ... ak)/F) = Go G. . therefore and E=-E Gi_ . ByTheorem Go has a decomposition 2. In fact.. . ak)/F)... E B byhypothesis... xn. E B andthereforeis fixed...thisamounts proving a radical containx. equivalently. ak)/F) implied thistheorem. xd).. is thekernel a homomorphismGi-1 ontoan Gi abeliangroup.if n > 5. havejust seen. . Go2G.. again henceo(a) = Via for o(a) E B(a). somepthrootofunity and .. thatit has by The property Gal(F(a1. of whereeach Gi. said. . . so .. of Theorem3. As we have ...Gi. xn)... . xn..D .Then E is also a radicalextension (x1... = ai where oi(a) = Via. on We use thisfactto proveby induction i that.. .. of showthatthisis contrary theexistence theautomorphisms to of of SinceGil1/Gi is abelian. A radicalextension Q(a0. given Theorem Ourproof by about ofthehypothetical of automorphismsE on x1. xn) E radicalextension D E suchthat 1 and bythe corollary Theorem thereis a to all oa automorphismsextending permutaGo = Gal(E/Q(a0..If a is a rootof unity to o-i. ar-1 E. proof Artin [1].* Gk = {1} witheach Gi norof mal in Gi1 and Gi l/Gi abelian.each oIB(a) E Gal(B(a)/B) is of the form whereoi(a) = ai.. NON-EXISTENCE OF SOLUTIONS BY RADICALS VHEN n ? 5. an . ... xn. we as remains checkthatGal(B(a)/B) is abelian... ....We now a... an-1) of which contains Q(x1.

Macmillan. 2nd New S. an-1) whenn 2 5. MacLane& G. Xa. xj. Notre Dame. 6. xn) is not that Gk -(1). Tignol. This contradiction in particular 2 in of extension 0(a0. Xb. Edwards. 5. .-P. Collier New of Equations.. . extend arbitrary 3-cycles Xb.Xc) (Xc. York. Xa. I. York. of 1969. and New S. Longman.c. York.. Galois'Theory Algebraic of Department Mathematics MonashUniversity 3168 Clayton Australia of the (from collection Paul Halmos) PICTURE PUZZLE This famous topologistwas usually considered morescary thanscared.and this means (Xa. d. b. 3. University Chicago Press. e are distinct. Springer-Verlag.Undergraduate Algebra. Xb) (Xd. Xc) = (Xd. GaloisTheory. whenn 2 5 theproperty Gi-1 to Gi because (Xa.1988. xc). contained anyradical REFERENCES 1. (see page 86. XJ)(Xc.1965. E. Algebra. Fields Rings. 2. J. Springer-Verlag. Kaplansky.1984. Birkhoff. GaloisTheory.1987.Xe. New H. 4.) 1994] GALOIS THEORY FOR BEGINNERS 27 .1979... Xe. York. M. there orin each Gi which are showsthatQ(x1. Xb) Thus if thereare at leastfiveindeterminates wherea. ed. Artin..from persists and hypothesis. . Lang.