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1 Chapter 5 p-adic numbers The p-adic numbers were first introduced by the German mathematician K. Hensel (though they are foreshadowed in the work of his predecessor E. Kummer). It seems that Hensel s main motivation was the analogy between the ring of integers Z, together with its field of fractions Q, and the ring C[X] of polynomials with complex coefficients, together with its field of fractions C(X). Both Z and C[X] are rings where there is unique factorization: any integer can be expressed as a product of primes, and any polynomial can be expressed uniquely as P(X) = a(x α 1 )(X α 2 )...(X α n ), where a and α 1,...,α n are complex numbers. This is the main analogy Hensel explored: the primes p Z are analogous to the linear polynomials X α C[X]. Suppose we are given a polynomial P(X) and α C, then it is possible (for example using a Taylor expansion) to write the polynomial in the form P(X) = n a i (X α) i, a i C. i=0 This also works naturally for the integers: given a positive integer m and a prime p, we can write it in base p, that is m = n a i p i, a i Z i=0 and 0 a i p 1. The reason such expansions are interesting is that they give local information: the expansion in powers of (X α) shows if P(X) vanishes at α, and to what order. Similarly, the expansion in base p will show if m is divisible by p, and to what order. 53

2 54 CHAPTER 5. P-ADIC NUMBERS Figure 5.1: Kurt Hensel ( ) Now for polynomials, one can go a little further, and consider their Laurent expansion f(x) = i n 0 a i (X α) i, that is any rational function can be expanded into a series of this kind in terms of each of the primes (X α). From an algebraic point of view, we have two fields: C(X) of all rational functions, and another field C((X α)) which consists of all Laurent series in (X α). Then the function defines an inclusion of fields f(x) expansion around (X α) C(X) C((X α)). Hensel s idea was to extend the analogy between Z and C[X] to include the construction of such expansions. Recall that the analogous of choosing α is choosing a prime number p. We already know the expansion for a positive integer m, it is just the base p representation. This can be extended for rational numbers x = a b = n n 0 a n p n yielding for every rational number x a finite-tailed Laurent series in powers of p, which is called a p-adic expansion of x.

4 56 CHAPTER 5. P-ADIC NUMBERS limit involves more formalism than we need for our purpose. To define an inverse limit of rings, we need a sequence of rings, which is suitably indexed (here the sequence Z/p k Z is indexed by the integer k). We further need a sequence of ring homomorphisms π ij with the same index (here π ij with i and j integers, i j) satisfying that 1. π ii is the identity on the ring indexed by i for all i, 2. for all i,j,k, i j k, we have π ij π jk = π ik. In our case, π ij : Z/p j Z Z/p i Z is the natural projection for i j, and the inverse limit of rings we consider is defined by lim Z/p i Z = {(x i ) i i Z/p i Z π ij (x j ) = x i, i j}. Example 5.1. We can write 1 as a p-adic integer: 1 = (p 1) + (p 1)p + (p 1)p 2 + (p 1)p The description of Z p as limit of Z/p k Z allows to endow Z p with a commutative ring structure: given α,β Z p, we consider their sequences α k,β k Z/p k Z. We then form the sequence α k +β k Z/p k Z which yields a well defined element α + β Z p. We do the same for multiplication. Example 5.2. Let us compute the sum of α = and β = in Z 3. We have α 1 2 mod 3 and β 1 1 mod 3, thus (α + β) 1 = α 1 + β 1 0 mod 3. Then α 2 5 mod 3 2 and β 2 7 mod 3 2, so that This yields (α + β) 2 = α 2 + β 2 = 12 3 mod 3 2. α + β = Z 3. We are just computing the addition in base 3! Note that Z is included in Z p. Let us now look at fractions instead of integers. The fraction 3/2 is the solution of the equation 2x + 3 = 0. Does this equation have a solution in Z 3? We have that 3 2 = = 3( ) since Thus 1 1 x = 1 + x + x =

5 5.1. P-ADIC INTEGERS AND P-ADIC NUMBERS 57 Actually, if x = a/b and p does not divide b, then x = a/b Z p. Indeed, there is an inverse b 1 Z/p k Z and the sequence ab 1 converges towards an x Z p such that bx = a. On the contrary, 1/p Z p, since for all x Z p, we have that (px) 1 = 0 1. Definition 5.2. The p-adic numbers are series of the form 1 a n p n + a 1 n+1 p n a 1 1 p + a 0 + a 1 p +... The set of p-adic numbers is denoted by Q p. It is a field. We have an inclusion of Q into Q p. Indeed, if x Q, then there exists N 0 such that p N x Z p. In other words, Q can be seen as a subfield of Q p. Example 5.3. Let p = 7. Consider the equation X 2 2 = 0 in Z 7. Let α = a 0 + a a be the solution of the equation. Then we have that a mod 7. We thus two possible values for a 0 : α 1 = a 0 = 3, α 1 = a 0 = 4. We will see that those two values will give two solutions to the equation. Let us choose a 0 = 3, and set We have that α 2 = a 0 + a 1 7 Z/49Z. α mod 7 2 a a a 0 a mod a mod a 1 0 mod a 1 0 mod 7 a 1 1 mod 7. By iterating the above computations, we get that α = The other solution is given by α = Note that X 2 2 does not have solutions in Q 2 or in Q 3. In the above example, we solve an equation in the p-adic integers by solving each coefficient one at a time modulo p, p 2,... If there is no solution for one coefficient with a given modulo, then there is no solution for the equation, as this is the case for Q 2 or Q 3.

6 58 CHAPTER 5. P-ADIC NUMBERS In the similar spirit, we can consider looking for roots of a given equation in Q. If there are roots in Q, then there are also roots in Q p for every p (that is, in all the Q p and in R). Hence we can conclude that there are no rational roots if there is some p for which there are no p-adic roots. The fact that roots in Q automatically are roots in Q p for every p means that a global root is also a local root everywhere (that is at each p). Much more interesting would be a converse: that local roots could be patched together to give a global root. That putting together local information at all p should give global information is the idea behind the so-called local-global principle, first clearly stated by Hasse. A good example where this principle is successful is the Hasse-Minkowski theorem: Theorem 5.1. (Hasse-Minkowski) Let F(X 1,...,X n ) Q[X 1,...,X n ] be a quadratic form (that is a homogeneous polynomial of degree 2 in n variables). The equation F(X 1,...,X n ) = 0 has non-trivial solutions in Q if and only if it has non-trivial solutions in Q p for each p. 5.2 The p-adic valuation We now introduce the notion of p-adic valuation and p-adic absolute value. We first define them for elements in Q, and extend them to elements in Q p after proving the so-called product formula. The notion of absolute value on Q p enables to define Cauchy sequences, and we will see that Q p is actually the completion of Q with respect to the metric induced by this absolute value. Let α be a non-zero element of Q. We can write it as α = p k g h, k Z, and g,h,p coprime to each other, with p prime. We set ord p (α) = k α p = p k ord p (0) = 0 p = 0. We call ord p (α) the p-adic valuation of α and α p the p-adic absolute value of α. We have the following properties for the p-adic valuation: ord p : Q Z { } ord p (ab) = ord p (a) + ord p (b) ord p (a + b) min(ord p (a),ord p (b)) ord p (a) = a = 0.

7 5.2. THE P-ADIC VALUATION 59 Let us now look at some properties of the p-adic absolute value: p : Q R 0 ab p = a p b p a + b p max( a p, b p ) a p + b p a p = 0 a = 0. Note that in a sense, we are just trying to capture for this new absolute value the important properties of the usual absolute value. Now the p-adic absolute value induces a metric on Q, by setting d p (a,b) = a b p, which is indeed a distance (it is positive: d p (a,b) 0 and is 0 if and only if a = b, it is symmetric: d p (a,b) = d p (b,a), and it satisfies the triangle inequality: d p (a,c) d p (a,b) + d p (b,c)). With that metric, two elements a and b are close if a b p is small, which means that ord p (a b) is big, or in other words, a big power of p divides a b. The following result connects the usual absolute value of Q with the p-adic absolute values. Lemma 5.2. (Product Formula) Let 0 α Q. Then α ν = 1 where ν {,2,3,5,7,...} and α is the real absolute value of α. ν Proof. We prove it for α a positive integer, the general case will follow. Let α be a positive integer, which we can factor as α = p a1 1 pa2 2 pa k k. Then we have The result follows. α q = 1 α pi = p ai i α = p a1 1 pa k k if q p i for i = 1,...,k In particular, if we know all but one absolute value, the product formula allows us to determine the missing one. This turns out to be surprisingly important in many applications. Note that a similar result is true for finite extensions of Q, except that in that case, we must use several infinite primes (actually one for each different inclusion into R and C). We will come back to this result in the next chapter. The set of primes together with the infinite prime, over which the product is taken in the product formula, is usually called the set of places of Q.

8 60 CHAPTER 5. P-ADIC NUMBERS Definition 5.3. The set is the set of places of Q. M Q = {,2,3,...} Let us now get back to the p-adic numbers. Let α = a k p k + a k+1 p k+1 + a k+2 p k Q p, with a k 0, and k possibly negative. We then set ord p (α) = k α p = p k. This is an extension of the definition of absolute value defined for elements of Q. Before going on further, let us recall two definitions: Recall that a sequence of elements x n in a given field is called a Cauchy sequence if for every ǫ > 0 one can find a bound M such that we have x n x m < ǫ whenever m,n M. A field K is called complete with respect to an absolute value if every Cauchy sequence of elements of K has a limit in K. Let α Q p. Recall that α l is the integer 0 α l < p l obtained by cutting α after a l 1 p l 1. If n > m, we have α n α m p = a k p k a m p m a n 1 p n 1 a k p k... a m 1 p m 1 = a m p m + a m+1 p m a n 1 p n 1 p p m. This expression tends to 0 when m tends to infinity. In other words, the sequence (α n ) n 0 is a Cauchy sequence with respect to the metric induced by p. Now let (α n ) n 1 be a Cauchy sequence, that is α n α m p 0 when m with n > m, that is, α n α m is more and more divisible by p, this is just the interpretation of what it means to be close with respect to the p-adic absolute value. The writing of α n and α m in base p will thus be the same for more and more terms starting from the beginning, so that (α n ) defines a p-adic number. This may get clearer if one tries to write down two p-adic numbers. If a,b are p-adic integers, a = a 0 +a 1 p+a 2 p , b = b 0 +b 1 p+b 2 p , if a 0 b 0, then a b p = p 0 = 1 if p does not divide a 0 b 0, and a b p = p 1 if p a 0 b 0, but a b p cannot be smaller than 1/p, for which we need a 0 = b 0. This works similarly for a,b p-adic numbers. Then we can write a = a k 1/p k +..., b = b l 1/p l +... If k l, say k > l, then a b p = b l 1/p l a k /p k +... p = p l, which is positive. The two p-adic numbers a and b are thus very far apart. We see that for the distance between a and b to be smaller than 1, we first need all the coefficients a i, b i, to be the same, for i = k,...,1. We are then back to the computations we did for a and b p-adic integers. We have just shown that

9 5.2. THE P-ADIC VALUATION 61 Theorem 5.3. The field of p-adic numbers Q p is a completion of Q with respect to the p-adic metric induced by p. Now that we have a formal definition of the field of the p-adic numbers, let us look at some of its properties. Proposition 5.4. Let Q p be the field of the p-adic numbers. 1. The unit ball {α Q p α p 1} is equal to Z p. 2. The p-adic units are Z p = {α Z p 0 a 0 (Z/pZ) } = {α Z p α p = 1}. 3. The only non-zero ideals of Z p are the principal ideals p k Z p = {α Q p ord p (α) k}. 4. Z is dense in Z p. Proof. 1. We look at the unit ball, that is α Q p such that α p 1. By definition, we have α p 1 p ordp(α) 1 ord p (α) 0. This is exactly saying that α belongs to Z p. 2. Let us now look at the units of Z p. Let α be a unit. Then α Z p α Z p and 1 α Z p α p 1 and 1/α p 1 α p = We are now interested in the ideals of Z p. Let I be a non-zero ideal of Z p, and let α be the element of I with minimal valuation ord p (α) = k 0. We thus have that α = p k (a k + a k+1 p +...) where the second factor is a unit, implying that αz p = p k Z p I. We now prove that I p k Z p, which concludes the proof by showing that I = p k Z p. If I is not included in p k Z p, then there is an element in I out of p k Z p, but then this element must have a valuation smaller than k, which cannot be by minimality of k.

10 62 CHAPTER 5. P-ADIC NUMBERS 4. We now want to prove that Z is dense in Z p. Formally, that means that for every element α Z p, and every ǫ > 0, we have B(α,ǫ) Z is non-empty (where B(α,ǫ) denotes an open ball around α of radius ǫ). Let us thus take α Z p and ǫ > 0. There exists a k big enough so that p k < ǫ. We set ᾱ Z the integer obtained by cutting the serie of α after a k 1 p k 1. Then α ᾱ = a k p k + a k+1 p k implies that α ᾱ p p k < ǫ. Thus Z is dense in Z p. Similarly, Q is dense in Q p. The main definitions and results of this chapter are Definition of p-adic integers using p-adic expansions, inverse limit, and that they form a ring Z p Definition of p-adic numbers using p-adic expansions, and that they form a field Q p Definition of p-adic valuation and absolute value The product formula The formal definition of Q p as completion of Q, and that Z p can then be defined as elements of Q p with positive p-adic valuation. Ideals and units of Z p.

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