A Sheaf of Modules is a Geometric Generalization of a Module over a Ring – A Case Derivative of Abelian Closure


A coherent sheaf is a generalization of, on the one hand, a module over a ring, and on the other hand, a vector bundle over a manifold. Indeed, the category of coherent sheaves is the “abelian closure” of the category of vector bundles on a variety.

Given a field which we always take to be the field of complex numbers C, an affine algebraic variety X is the vanishing locus

X = 􏰐(x1,…, xn) : fi(x1,…, xn) = 0􏰑 ⊂ An

of a set of polynomials fi(x1,…, xn) in affine space An with coordinates x1,…, xn. Associated to an affine variety is the ring A = C[X] of its regular functions, which is simply the ring C[x1,…, xn] modulo the ideal ⟨fi⟩ of the defining polynomials. Closed subvarieties Z of X are defined by the vanishing of further polynomials and open subvarieties U = X \ Z are the complements of closed ones; this defines the Zariski topology on X. The Zariski topology is not to be confused with the complex topology, which comes from the classical (Euclidean) topology of Cn defined using complex balls; every Zariski open set is also open in the complex topology, but the converse is very far from being true. For example, the complex topology of A1 is simply that of C, whereas in the Zariski topology, the only closed sets are A1 itself and finite point sets.

Projective varieties X ⊂ Pn are defined similarly. Projective space Pn is the set of lines in An+1 through the origin; an explicit coordinatization is by (n + 1)-tuples

(x0,…, xn) ∈ Cn+1 \ {0,…,0}

identified under the equivalence relation

(x0,…, xn) ∼ (λx0,…, λxn) for λ ∈ C

Projective space can be decomposed into a union of (n + 1) affine pieces (An)i = 􏰐[x0,…, xn] : xi ≠ 0􏰑 with n affine coordinates yj = xj/xi. A projective variety X is the locus of common zeros of a set {fi(x1,…, xn)} of homogeneous polynomials. The Zariski topology is again defined by choosing for closed sets the loci of vanishing of further homogeneous polynomials in the coordinates {xi}. The variety X is covered by the standard open sets Xi = X ∩ (An)i ⊂ X, which are themselves affine varieties. A variety􏰭 X is understood as a topological space with a finite open covering X = ∪i Ui, where every open piece Ui ⊂ An is an affine variety with ring of global functions Ai = C[Ui]; further, the pieces Ui are glued together by regular functions defined on open subsets. The topology on X is still referred to as the Zariski topology. X also carries the complex topology, which again has many more open sets.

Given affine varieties X ⊂ An, Y ⊂ Am, a morphism f : X → Y is given by an m-tuple of polynomials {f1(x1, . . . , xn), . . . , fm(x1, . . . , xn)} satisfying the defining relations of Y. Morphisms on projective varieties are defined similarly, using homogeneous polynomials of the same degree. Morphisms on general varieties are defined as morphisms on their affine pieces, which glue together in a compatible way.

If X is a variety, points P ∈ X are either singular or nonsingular. This is a local notion, and hence, it suffices to define a nonsingular point on an affine piece Ui ⊂ An. A point P ∈ Ui is nonsingular if, locally in the complex topology, a neighbourhood of P ∈ Ui is a complex submanifold of Cn.

The motivating example of a coherent sheaf of modules on an algebraic variety X is the structure sheaf or sheaf of regular functions OX. This is a gadget with the following properties:

  1. On every open set U ⊂ X, we are given an abelian group (or even a commutative ring) denoted OX(U), also written Γ(U, OX), the ring of regular functions on U.
  2. Restriction: if V ⊂ U is an open subset, a restriction map resUV : OX(U) → OX(V) is defined, which simply associates to every regular function f defined over U, the restriction of this function to V. If W ⊂ V ⊂ U are open sets, then the restriction maps clearly satisfy resUW = resVW ◦ resUV.
  3. Sheaf Property: suppose that an open subset U ⊂ X is covered by a collection of open subsets {Ui}, and suppose that a set of regular functions fi ∈ OX(Ui) is given such that whenever Ui and Uj intersect, then the restrictions of fi and fj to Ui ∩ Uj agree. Then there is a unique function f ∈ OX(U) whose restriction to Ui is fi.

In other words, the sheaf of regular functions consists of the collection of regular functions on open sets, together with the obvious restriction maps for open subsets; moreover, this data satisfies the Sheaf Property, which says that local functions, agreeing on overlaps, glue in a unique way to a global function on U.

A sheaf F on the algebraic variety X is a gadget satisfying the same formal properties; namely, it is defined by a collection {F(U)} of abelian groups on open sets, called sections of F over U, together with a compatible system of restriction maps on sections resUV : F(U) → F(V) for V ⊂ U, so that the Sheaf Property is satisfied: sections are locally defined just as regular functions are. But, what of sheaves of OX-modules? The extra requirement is that the sections F(U) over an open set U form a module over the ring of regular functions OX(U), and all restriction maps are compatible with the module structures. In other words, we multiply local sections by local functions, so that multiplication respects restriction. A sheaf of OX-modules is defined by the data of an A-module for every open subset U ⊂ X with ring of functions A = OX(U), so that these modules are glued together compatibly with the way the open sets glue. Hence, a sheaf of modules is indeed a geometric generalization of a module over a ring.

Ringed Spaces (1)


A ringed space is a broad concept in which we can fit most of the interesting geometrical objects. It consists of a topological space together with a sheaf of functions on it.

Let M be a differentiable manifold, whose topological space is Hausdorff and second countable. For each open set U ⊂ M , let C(U) be the R-algebra of smooth functions on U .

The assignment

U ↦ C(U)

satisfies the following two properties:

(1) If U ⊂ V are two open sets in M, we can define the restriction map, which is an algebra morphism:

rV, U : C(V) → C(U), ƒ ↦ ƒ|U

which is such that

i) rU, U = id

ii) rW, U = rV, U ○ rW, V

(2) Let {Ui}i∈I be an open covering of U and let {ƒi}i∈I, ƒi ∈ C(Ui) be a family such that ƒi|Ui ∩ Uj = ƒj| Ui ∩ Uj ∀ i, j ∈ I. In other words the elements of the family {ƒi}i∈I agree on the intersection of any two open sets Ui ∩ Uj. Then there exists a unique ƒ ∈ C(U) such that ƒ|Ui = ƒi.

Such an assignment is called a sheaf. The pair (M, C), consisting of the topological space M, underlying the differentiable manifold, and the sheaf of the C functions on M is an example of locally ringed space (the word “locally” refers to a local property of the sheaf of C functions.

Given two manifolds M and N, and the respective sheaves of smooth functions CM and CN, a morphism ƒ from M to N, viewed as ringed spaces, is a morphism |ƒ|: M → N of the underlying topological spaces together with a morphism of algebras,

ƒ*: CN(V) →  CM-1(V)), ƒ*(φ)(x) = φ(|ƒ|(x))

compatible with the restriction morphisms.

Notice that, as soon as we give the continuous map |ƒ| between the topological spaces, the morphism ƒ* is automatically assigned. This is a peculiarity of the sheaf of smooth functions on a manifold. Such a property is no longer true for a generic ringed space and, in particular, it is not true for supermanifolds.

A morphism of differentiable manifolds gives rise to a unique (locally) ringed space morphism and vice versa.

Moreover, given two manifolds, they are isomorphic as manifolds iff they are isomorphic as (locally) ringed spaces. In the language of categories, we say we have a fully faithful functor from the category of manifolds to the category of locally ringed spaces.

The generalization of algebraic geometry to the super-setting comes somehow more naturally than the similar generalization of differentiable geometry. This is because the machinery of algebraic geometry was developed to take already into account the presence of (even) nilpotents and consequently, the language is more suitable to supergeometry.

Let X be an affine algebraic variety in the affine space An over an algebraically closed field k and let O(X) = k[x1,…., xn]/I be its coordinate ring, where the ideal I is prime. This corresponds topologically to the irreducibility of the variety X. We can think of the points of X as the zeros of the polynomials in the ideal I in An. X is a topological space with respect to the Zariski topology, whose closed sets are the zeros of the polynomials in the ideals of O(X). For each open U in X, consider the assignment

U ↦ OX(U)

where OX(U) is the k-algebra of regular functions on U. By definition, these are the functions ƒ X → k that can be expressed as a quotient of two polynomials at each point of U ⊂ X. The assignment U ↦ OX(U) is another example of a sheaf is called the structure sheaf of the variety X or the sheaf of regular functions. (X, OX) is another example of a (locally) ringed space.

Algorithmic Subfield Representation of the Depth of Descent Tree


A finite field K admits a sparse medium subfield representation if

– it has a subfield of q2 elements for a prime power q, i.e. K is isomorphic to Fq2k with k ≥ 1;

– there exist two polynomials h0 and h1 over Fq2 of small degree, such that h1Xq − h0 has a degree k irreducible factor.

We shall assume that all the fields under consideration admit a sparse medium subfield representation. Furthermore, we also assume that the degrees of the polynomials h0 and h1 are uniformly bounded by a constant δ. Any finite field of the form Fq2k with k ≤ q + 2 admits a sparse medium subfield representation with polynomials h0 and h1 of degree at most 2.

In a field in sparse medium subfield representation, elements will always be represented as polynomials of degree less than k with coefficients in Fq2. When we talk about the discrete logarithm of such an element, we implicitly assume that a basis for this discrete logarithm has been chosen, and that we work in a subgroup whose order has no small irreducible factor to limit ourselves to this case.

Proposition: Let K = Fq2k be a finite field that admits a sparse medium subfield representation. Under the heuristics, there exists an algorithm whose complexity is polynomial in q and k and which can be used for the following two tasks.

1. Given an element of K represented by a polynomial P ∈ Fq2[X] with 2 ≤ deg P ≤ k − 1, the algorithm returns an expression of log P (X ) as a linear combination of at most O(kq2) logarithms logPi(X) with degPi ≤ ⌈1/2 degP⌉ and of log h1(X).

2. The algorithm returns the logarithm of h1(X) and the logarithms of all the elements of K of the form X + a, for a in Fq2.

Let P(X) be an element of K for which we want to compute the discrete logarithm. Here P is a polynomial of degree at most k − 1 and with coefficients in Fq2. We start by applying the algorithm of the above Proposition to P. We obtain a relation of the form

log P = e0 log h1 + ei log Pi,

where the sum has at most κq2k terms for a constant κ and the Pi’s have degree at most ⌈1/2 degP⌉. Then, we apply recursively the algorithm to the Pi’s, thus creating a descent procedure where at each step, a given element P is expressed as a product of elements, whose degree is at most half the degree of P (rounded up) and the arity of the descent tree is in O(q2k). At the end of the process, the logarithm of P is expressed as a linear combination of the logarithms of h1 and of the linear polynomials, for which the logarithms are computed with the algorithm in the above Proposition in its second form.

We are left with the complexity analysis of the descent process. Each internal node of the descent tree corresponds to one application of the algorithm of the above Proposition, therefore each internal node has a cost which is bounded by a polynomial in q and k. The total cost of the descent is therefore bounded by the number of nodes in the descent tree times a polynomial in q and k. The depth of the descent tree is in O(log k). The number of nodes of the tree is then less than or equal to its arity raised to the power of its depth, which is (q2k)O(log k). Since any polynomial in q and k is absorbed in the O() notation in the exponent, we obtain the following result.

Let K = Fq2k be a finite field that admits a sparse medium subfield representation. Assuming the same heuristics as in the above Proposition, any discrete logarithm in K can be computed in a time bounded by

max(q, k)O(log k)

Weil Conjectures. Note Quote.


Solving Diophantine equations, that is giving integer solutions to polynomials, is often unapproachably difficult. Weil describes one strategy in a letter to his sister, the philosopher Simone Weil: Look for solutions in richer fields than the rationals, perhaps fields of rational functions over the complex numbers. But these are quite different from the integers:

We would be badly blocked if there were no bridge between the two. And voilà god carries the day against the devil: this bridge exists; it is the theory of algebraic function fields over a finite field of constants.

A solution modulo 5 to a polynomial P(X,Y,..Z) is a list of integers X,Y,..Z making the value P(X,Y,..Z) divisible by 5, or in other words equal to 0 modulo 5. For example, X2 + Y2 − 3 has no integer solutions. That is clear since X and Y would both have to be 0 or ±1, to keep their squares below 3, and no combination of those works. But it has solutions modulo 5 since, among others, 32 + 32 − 3 = 15 is divisible by 5. Solutions modulo a given prime p are easier to find than integer solutions and they amount to the same thing as solutions in the finite field of integers modulo p.

To see if a list of polynomial equations Pi(X, Y, ..Z) = 0 have a solution modulo p we need only check p different values for each variable. Even if p is impractically large, equations are more manageable modulo p. Going farther, we might look at equations modulo p, but allow some irrationals, and ask how the number of solutions grows as we allow irrationals of higher and higher degree—roots of quadratic polynomials, roots of cubic polynomials, and so on. This is looking for solutions in all finite fields, as in Weil’s letter.

The key technical points about finite fields are: For each prime number p, the field of integers modulo p form a field, written Fp. For each natural number r > 0 there is (up to isomorphism) just one field with pr elements, written as Fpr or as Fq with q = pr. This comes from Fp by adjoining the roots of a degree r polynomial. These are all the finite fields. Trivially, then, for any natural number s > 0 there is just one field with qs elements, namely Fp(r+s) which we may write Fqs. The union for all r of the Fpr is the algebraic closure Fp. By Galois theory, roots for polynomials in Fpr, are fixed points for the r-th iterate of the Frobenius morphism, that is for the map taking each x ∈ Fp to xpr.

Take any good n-dimensional algebraic space (any smooth projective variety of dimension n) defined by integer polynomials on a finite field Fq. For each s ∈ N, let Ns be the number of points defined on the extension field F(qs). Define the zeta function Z(t) as an exponential using a formal variable t:

Z(t) = exp(∑s=1Nsts/s)

The first Weil conjecture says Z(t) is a rational function:

Z(t) = P(t)/Q(t)

for integer polynomials P(t) and Q(t). This is a strong constraint on the numbers of solutions Ns. It means there are complex algebraic numbers a1 . . . ai and b1 . . . bj such that

Ns =(as1 +…+ asi) − (bs1 +…+ bsj)

And each algebraic conjugate of an a (resp. b) also an a (resp. b).

The second conjecture is a functional equation:

Z(1/qnt) = ± qnE/2tEZ(t)

This says the operation x → qn/x permutes the a’s (resp. the b’s).The third is a Riemann Hypothesis

Z(t) = (P1(t)P3(t) · · · P2n−1(t))/(P0(t)P2(t) · · · P2n(t))

where each Pk is an integer polynomial with all roots of absolute value q−k/2. That means each a has absolute value qk for some 0 ≤ k ≤ n. Each b has absolute value q(2k−1)/2 for some 0 ≤ k ≤ n.

Over it all is the conjectured link to topology. Let B0, B1, . . . B2n be the Betti numbers of the complex manifold defined by the same polynomials. That is, each Bk gives the number of k-dimensional holes or handles on the continuous space of complex number solutions to the equations. And recall an algebraically n-dimensional complex manifold is topologically 2n-dimensional. Then each Pk has degree Bk. And E is the Euler number of the manifold, the alternating sum

k=02n (−1)kBk

On its face the topology of a continuous manifold is worlds apart from arithmetic over finite fields. But the topology of this manifold tells how many a’s and b’s there are with each absolute value. This implies useful numerical approximations to the numbers of roots Ns. Special cases of these conjectures, with aspects of the topology, were proved before Weil, and he proved more. All dealt with curves (1-dimensional) or hypersurfaces (defined by a single polynomial).

Weil presented the topology as motivating the conjectures for higher dimensional varieties. He especially pointed out how the whole series of conjectures would follow quickly if we could treat the spaces of finite field solutions as topological manifolds. The topological strategy was powerfully seductive but seriously remote from existing tools. Weil’s arithmetic spaces were not even precisely defined. To all appearances they would be finite or (over the algebraic closures of the finite fields) countable and so everywhere discontinuous. Topological manifold methods could hardly apply.