The Algebra-Geometry Dictionary

  • David Cox
  • John Little
  • Donal O’Shea
Part of the Undergraduate Texts in Mathematics book series (UTM)


In this chapter, we will explore the correspondence between ideals and varieties. In §§1 and 2, we will prove the Nullstellensatz, a celebrated theorem which identifies exactly which ideals correspond to varieties. This will allow us to construct a “dictionary” between geometry and algebra, whereby any statement about varieties can be translated into a statement about ideals (and conversely). We will pursue this theme in §§3 and 4, where we will define a number of natural algebraic operations on ideals and study their geometric analogues. In keeping with the computational emphasis of this course, we will develop algorithms to carry out the algebraic operations. In §§5 and 6, we will study the more important algebraic and geometric concepts arising out of the Hilbert Basis Theorem: notably the possibility of decomposing a variety into a union of simpler varieties and the corresponding algebraic notion of writing an ideal as an intersection of simpler ideals.


Prime Ideal Radical Ideal Principal Ideal Primary Decomposition Proper Ideal 
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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 1997

Authors and Affiliations

  • David Cox
    • 1
  • John Little
    • 2
  • Donal O’Shea
    • 3
  1. 1.Department of Mathematics and Computer ScienceAmherst CollegeAmherstUSA
  2. 2.Department of MathematicsCollege of the Holy CrossWorcesterUSA
  3. 3.Department of Mathematics, Statistics, and Computer ScienceMount Holyoke CollegeSouth HadleyUSA

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