Hi! My name is Matt DeLand, I’m a graduate student at Columbia and I’m responding to Charles’ call for cobloggers. I also study Algebraic Geometry, and have been enjoying Charles’ posts; hopefully I can help out and make some positive contributions. I apologize in advance for the quality of my first post….

Introductions aside, it’s time for some math! In previous posts, the importance of moduli spaces in algebraic geometry has already been underlined (Representable Functors, Grassmannians, Hilbert Schemes, Hom Schemes, Families of Cartier Divisors, etc.). There’s even already a post-series outlining how to take quotients of varieties by finite (in fact reductive) algebraic groups. I’ll start out slowly here toward the goal of explaining what this means.

First, a group variety has already been defined in this series. Since the first applications we have in mind are geometric, we’ll work over a fixed algebraically closed field . All schemes, varieties, and morphisms should be assumed to be over . At some point we reserve the right to assume that the characteristic is 0. Recall that a group scheme is a scheme with morphisms , , and which satisfy the usual relationships for groups. By an Affine Group Scheme, we will mean that is isomorphic to an affine scheme . This will imply that has a Hopf Algebra structure, but we won’t focus on that for now. For the purposes of this post, all group schemes will be affine. The theory of complete group varieties (also known as Abelian Varieties) is a topic for another day(s).

**Examples: **The following are the classic examples of Group Schemes that we should all be familiar with.

1. where and the defining morphism are given by: corresponds to , corresponds to , and corresponds to . This group scheme (in fact variety) is denoted but we’ll leave out the field notation from here on out. Notice that the functor of points of defined by (note: for any group scheme , the functor actually takes values in the category of Groups rather than Sets because of the axioms) defined by sends to the ring as an additive group.

2. where and the morphism are given by: corresponds to , corresponds to and corresponds to . This group variety is denoted . With the notation as above, , the group of invertible elements of , as a group under multiplication.

3. where . The morphisms are the same as in Example 2 above, except the map corresponds to . For obvious reasons, this scheme is called the group of n-th roots of unity, and is denoted . Notice that if n is a multiple of the characteristic of the field, then we have encountered our first group scheme which is not a group variety.

4. We leave it as an exercise to work out other standard group schemes and any others that motivate you.

**Definition** A morphism of group schemes is a morphism of schemes which is also a homomorphism of groups.

As an example, there is an exact sequence of groups schemes , where the second arrow is given by .

Suppose that is a finite type scheme, then we define what it means for a group scheme to act on .

**Definition** Suppose is a group scheme and is a scheme. An action of on is given by a map such that is the identiy and such that the two maps are equal. This definition simply encodes the usual definition for a group acting on a set.

At the level of rings, there is a dual notion:

**Definition**: A representation of a group scheme is a k-vector space (not necessarily finite dimensional) along with a linear map which satisfy the dual relations for those of an action. A vector is called invariant if and a subspace is called a subrepresentation if .

Here are some **Examples **of group actions on : (In each case we leave it to the reader to check that we actually have a group action). If I could draw pictures here I would…

1. acts on by the map .

2. acts on in another way by the map .

3. acts on by the map .

4. acts on by the map .

5. acts on in another way by the map .

6. Suppose for simplicity that is algebraically closed and that the characteristic is prime to n. Fix a primitive n-th root of unity, . Then acts on by sending .

Now we can ask what it should mean to take the quotient of by a group action . The original scheme should certainly map to the quotient, which we will call . In the best case scenario, the points of will correspond to orbits of the action. However, if is a quotient, then fibers over closed points are closed in . If there are non-closed orbits then, it can’t be the case that points of correspond to orbits uniquely.

Let’s analyze the oribts in the above examples. In Example 1, the origin is an orbit, and all lines through the origin (not including the origin) are also orbits. In Example 2, the origin is an oribt, as are all hyperbolas , as are the x-axis and the y-axis if we leave out the origin. In Example 3, the orbits are all closed, they are “horizontal lines” andall (isolated) points on the x-axis. In Example 4, there is an open orbit which is the complement of the x-axis, and then isolated points on the x-axis. In Example 5, there is the origin, the x-axis minus the origin, and the plane minus the x-axis. Finally in Example 6, the orbits are collections of n points except for the origin which is its own orbit. Even with relatively simple group actions we’ve run into non-closed orbits.

The ideas involved in taking a quotient are made clear by looking at the affine case. Suppose then that and . Let is the set (actually subalgebra) of invariants for the action. Consider the map given by some invariant functions . We have an induced (surjective) map corresponding to the inclusion. Since each is an invariant, this map is constant on orbits of the action, that is, it sends each orbit to a point. We can ask then when do distinct orbits map to distinct points? When the algebra is finitely generated, we can take a set of generators to define the map, and hope that the image is a variety and is the quotient we want. We’ll see in the future that this is always the case when the action is nice (see below).

For the technical definition , we’ll follow Mumford:

**Definition** Suppose a group scheme acts on a k-scheme . We say that is a geometric quotient if:

i) ( is the second projection on ).

ii) The map is surjective and the map has image .

iii) The map is submersive.

iv) The sheaf is the subsheaf of consisting of invariant funtions. Said another way, if then if and only if the two maps are equal. Here is the map determined by .

It’s a mouthful, and vaguely translated, condition i) is the property the morphism contracts orbits, condition ii) is the property that fibers over closed points correspond to orbits (see the discussion below), and all the conditions togetherÂ assure that it is the “smallest” variety (that is, satisfying a universal property) that has properties i) and iv).

Now of course, the question becomes, when do geometric quotients exist? The answer will be when the group is reductive (a notion that we won’t define until next time). In fact, when is an affine variety and the action is nice, the coordinate ring of the quotient will be exactly . Let’s analyze the above examples.

In Example 1, the affine quotient is a single point (the only invariant functions are constant)! This will be fixed in the future when we remove the origin and we’ll see that the quotient is as expected. In Example 2, the quotient is ). Notice that the non-closed orbits fail to be separated by the quotient map. In Example 3, the quotient is ). Here, even closed orbits (the points) are not separated, indeed the group is not reductive. We’ll leave the rest as exercises, it should be similar.

Since we haven’t covered any theory at all, and since actions of and are ubiquitous (though mostly the former), we’ll discuss such actions slightly more here.

In the special case when , the representations are particularly simple. Given and an integer , consider the map which sends . This is called a representation of weight a.

**Proposition**: For each representation of , there is a direct sum decomposition where each is a subrepresentation of weight m.

**Proof**: Define . This is a subrepresentation of weight m. To verify the direct sum decomposition, for an arbitrary vectory write (this sum will be finite). By property i) of an action, we’ll have so we just must verify that each . By property ii) of an action though, we have that . By linear independence of the , we must have then that each .

From this we see that to give a action on is equivalent to specifying a grading decomposition . The invariants of the action correspond to elements of weight 0.

In characteristic 0, something similar for an action of is true:

**Proposition**: Every representation of is given by (sum taken over non-negative integers) for some which is locally nilpotent (that is, every vector is eventually killed).

We’ll leave this proof as an exercise, it’s not much harder than the previous one and isn’t used as often. Hint : Consider the linear maps defined by .

Concerning the definition of geometric quotient, I thought that it was necessary to strengthen iii) and require the map to the quotient to be submersive (at least following Mumford’s definition). Also it is condition ii) that ensures that the geometric fibres agree with the geometric orbits.

Regarding the existence of geometric quotients, I don’t want to second guess you since you haven’t really posted about it, but I just thought I’d point out that being linearly reductive isn’t necessary. It is enough to be just reductive (linear reductivity is very restrictive in characteristic p). And then, even when the scheme being acted upon is affine and your group is reductive the action needs to be closed for the categorical quotient you produce to be geometric.

A good post though and I’m looking forward to the follow-ups.

Hi Greg,

Thanks for keeping me honest on my first post! You’re right on both points, I glossed too quickly over Mumford’s definition. I should have said the map is submersive, and I should have said that a “nice” action will correspond to a reductive group, though I didn’t define what that means. I wanted to stay a little vague about exactly what sorts of quotients existed in what sense until I could make the definitions at least. Thanks for the comments.

I think it is more precise to use the notation instead of . The first is a group scheme over k, while the second is a set with a group structure that is naturally identified with the underlying additive group of k.

Hi Matt!

Hi!