# Division algebra

(diff) ← Older revision | Latest revision (diff) | Newer revision → (diff)

An algebra $A$ over a field $F$ such that for any elements $a \neq 0$ and $b$ the equations $ax = b$, $ya = b$ are solvable in $A$. An associative division algebra, considered as a ring, is a skew-field, its centre $C$ is a field, and $C \supseteq F$. If $C = F$, the division algebra $A$ is called a central division algebra. Finite-dimensional central associative division algebras over $F$ may be identified, up to an isomorphism, with the elements of the Brauer group $B( F )$ of the field $F$. Let $[ A: F ]$ denote the dimension of $A$ over $F$. If $A \in B( F )$ and if $L$ is the maximal subfield in $A$ ($L \supseteq F$), then $[ A: F ] = {[ L: F ] } ^ {2}$. According to the Frobenius theorem, all associative finite-dimensional division algebras over the field of real numbers $\mathbf R$ are exhausted by $\mathbf R$ itself, the field of complex numbers, and the quaternion algebra. For this reason the group $B( \mathbf R )$ is cyclic of order two. If the associativity requirement is dropped, there is yet another example of a division algebra over the field of real numbers: the Cayley–Dickson algebra. This algebra is alternative, and its dimension over $\mathbf R$ is 8. If $A$ is a finite-dimensional (not necessarily associative) division algebra over $\mathbf R$, then $[ A: \mathbf R ]$ has one of the values 1, 2, 4, or 8.

#### References

 [1] A.G. Kurosh, "Lectures on general algebra" , Chelsea (1963) (Translated from Russian) MR0158000 Zbl 0121.25901 [2] A.A. Albert, "Structure of algebras" , Amer. Math. Soc. (1939) MR0000595 Zbl 0023.19901 Zbl 65.0094.02 [3] I.N. Herstein, "Noncommutative rings" , Math. Assoc. Amer. (1968) MR1535024 MR0227205 Zbl 0177.05801 [4] J.F. Adams, "On the non-existence of elements of Hopf invariant one" Ann. of Math. , 72 : 1 (1960) pp. 20–104 MR0141119 Zbl 0096.17404

Over a finite field every finite-dimensional central division algebra is automatically commutative. For infinite-dimensional division algebras the situation is quite different, because a result of Mokar–Limonov states that such an algebra contains a free algebra in two variables.

If a finite-dimensional central division algebra $D$ contains a maximal commutative subfield $L$ which is a Galois extension of $F$, then $D$ is a cross product of $L$ and $G = \mathop{\rm Gal} ( L/ F )$ in the sense that $D$ is the free $L$-module generated by $\{ {u _ \sigma } : {\sigma \in G } \}$ with product determined by:

$$\tag{a1 } \left . \begin{array}{ll} u _ \sigma u _ \tau = c ( \sigma , \tau ) u _ {\sigma \tau } &\textrm{ for some } c ( \sigma , \tau ) \in L ^ {*} , \\ u _ \sigma \lambda = \lambda ^ \sigma u _ \sigma &\textrm{ for } \lambda \in L ,\ \tau \in G . \\ \end{array} \right \}$$

Associativity of $D$ entails that $c : G \times G \rightarrow L ^ {*}$ represents an element of $H ^ {2} ( G , L ^ {*} )$ (the second Galois cohomology group). One of the basic problems in algebra was formulated by A. Albert (1931): Is every finite-dimensional central division algebra necessarily a cross product? In 1972, S. Amitsur provided a counter-example using properties of generic division algebras resulting from the theory of PI-algebras (see PI-algebra, [a2]). Other examples of division algebras were obtain by F. van Ostaeyen (1972 Thesis, cf. [a3]), i.e. generic cross products, a notion generalized by Amitsur and D. Saltman (1978), describing all cross product division algebras for a given group $G$ over the field $F$ as reductions of a generic division algebra.

#### References

 [a1] A.H. Schofield, "Representations of rings over skew fields" , London Math. Soc. (1986) MR0800853 [a2] N. Jacobson, "PI algebras. An introduction" , Springer (1975) MR0369421 Zbl 0326.16013 [a3] F. van Oystaeyen, "Prime spectra in non-commutative algebra" , Springer (1975) Zbl 0302.16001
How to Cite This Entry:
Division algebra. Encyclopedia of Mathematics. URL: http://encyclopediaofmath.org/index.php?title=Division_algebra&oldid=52476
This article was adapted from an original article by E.N. Kuz'min (originator), which appeared in Encyclopedia of Mathematics - ISBN 1402006098. See original article