Posts Tagged ‘irreducible modulo a prime’

See part (1) here! Again, we will assume that R is a PID and x is a varibale over x. In this post, we will take a look at the maximal ideals of R[x]. Let I be a maximal ideal of R[x]. By Problem 2, if I \cap R \neq (0), then I=\langle p, f(x) \rangle for some prime p \in R and some f(x) \in R[x] which is irreducible modulo p. If I \cap R =(0), then I=\langle f(x) \rangle for some irreducible element f(x) \in R[x]. Before investigating maximal ideals of R[x] in more details, let’s give an example of a PID R which is not a field but R[x] has a maximal ideal I which is principal. We will see in Problem 3 that this situation may happen only when the number of prime elements of R is finite.

Example 1. Let F be a filed and put R=F[[t]], the formal power series in the variable t over F. Let x be a variable over R. Then I:=\langle xt - 1 \rangle is a maximal ideal of R[x].

Proof. See that R[x]/I \cong F[[t,t^{-1}]] and that F[[t,t^{-1}]] is the field of fractions of R. Thus R[x]/I is a field and so I is a maximal ideal of R[x]. \ \Box

Problem 3. Prove that if R has infinitely many prime elements, then an ideal I of R[x] is maximal if and only if I=\langle p, f(x) \rangle for some prime p \in R and some f(x) \in R[x] which is irreducible modulo p.

Solution. We have already proved one direction of the problem in Problem 1. For the other direction, let I be a maximal ideal of R[x]. By the first case in the solution of Problem 2 and the second part of Problem 1, we  only need to show that I \cap R \neq (0). So suppose to the contrary that I \cap R=(0). Then, by the second case in the solution of Problem 2, I=\langle f(x) \rangle for some f(x) \in R[x]. We also know that R[x]/I is a field because I is a maximal ideal of R[x]. Since R has infinitely many prime elements, we can choose a prime p \in R such that p does not divide the leading coefficient of f(x). Now, consider the natural ring homomorphism \psi : R[x] \to R[x]/I. Since I \cap R=(0), \psi(p) \neq 0 and so \psi(p) is invertible in R[x]/I. Therefore pg(x)-1 \in \ker \psi = I for some g(x) \in R[x]. Hence pg(x)-1=h(x)f(x) for some h(x) \in R[x]. If p \mid h(x), then we will have p \mid 1 which is non-sense. So h(x)=pu(x) + v(x) for some u(x),v(x) \in R[x] where p does not divide the leading coefficient of v(x). Now pg(x) - 1 =h(x)f(x) gives us p(g(x)-u(x)f(x)) - 1 =v(x)f(x) and so the leading coefficient of v(x)f(x) is divisible by p. Hence the leading coefficient of f(x) must be divisible by p, contradiction! \Box

Example 2. The ring of integers \mathbb{Z} is a PID and it has infinitely many prime elements. So, by Problem 3, an ideal I of \mathbb{Z}[x] is maximal if and only if I=\langle p, f(x) \rangle for some prime p \in \mathbb{Z} and some f(x) which is irreducible modulo p. By Problem 2, the prime ideals of \mathbb{Z}[x] are the union of the following sets:
1) all maximal ideals
2) all ideals of the form \langle p \rangle, where p \in \mathbb{Z} is a prime
3) all ideals of the form \langle f(x) \rangle, where f(x) is irreducible in \mathbb{Z}[x].

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