# discriminant

## 1 Definitions

Let $R$ be any Dedekind domain  with field of fractions  $K$. Fix a finite dimensional field extension $L/K$ and let $S$ denote the integral closure  of $R$ in $L$. For any basis $x_{1},\ldots,x_{n}$ of $L$ over $K$, the determinant

 $\Delta(x_{1},\ldots,x_{n}):=\det[\operatorname{Tr}(x_{i}x_{j})],$

whose entries are the trace of $x_{i}x_{j}$ over all pairs $i,j$, is called the of the basis $x_{1},\ldots,x_{n}$. The ideal in $R$ generated by all discriminants of the form

 $\Delta(x_{1},\ldots,x_{n}),\ \ x_{i}\in S$

is called the discriminant ideal of $S$ over $R$, and denoted $\Delta(S/R)$.

In the special case where $S$ is a free $R$–module, the discriminant ideal $\Delta(S/R)$ is always a principal ideal  , generated by any discriminant of the form $\Delta(x_{1},\ldots,x_{n})$ where $x_{1},\ldots,x_{n}$ is a basis for $S$ as an $R$–module. In particular, this situation holds whenever $K$ and $L$ are number fields  .

## 2 Alternative notations

The discriminant is sometimes denoted with $\operatorname{disc}$ instead of $\Delta$. In the context of number fields, one often writes $\operatorname{disc}(L/K)$ for $\operatorname{disc}(\mathcal{O}_{L}/\mathcal{O}_{K})$ where $\mathcal{O}_{L}$ and $\mathcal{O}_{K}$ are the rings of algebraic integers of $L$ and $K$. If $K$ or $\mathcal{O}_{K}$ is omitted, it is typically assumed to be $\mathbb{Q}$ or $\mathbb{Z}$.

## 3 Properties

The discriminant is so named because it allows one to determine which ideals of $R$ are ramified in $S$. Specifically, the prime ideals   of $R$ that ramify in $S$ are precisely the ones that contain the discriminant ideal $\Delta(S/R)$. In the case $R=\mathbb{Z}$, a theorem of Minkowski (http://planetmath.org/MinkowskisConstant) that any ring of integers $S$ of a number field larger than $\mathbb{Q}$ has discriminant strictly smaller than $\mathbb{Z}$ itself, and this fact combined with the previous result shows that any number field $K\neq\mathbb{Q}$ admits at least one ramified prime over $\mathbb{Q}$.

## 4 Other types of discriminants

In the special case where $L=K[x]$ is a primitive separable field extension of degree $n$, the discriminant $\Delta(1,x,\ldots,x^{n-1})$ is equal to the polynomial discriminant (http://planetmath.org/PolynomialDiscriminant) of the minimal polynomial $f(X)$ of $x$ over $K[X]$.

The discriminant of an elliptic curve  can be obtained by taking the polynomial  discrimiant of its Weierstrass polynomial, and the modular discriminant  of a complex lattice equals the discriminant of the elliptic curve represented by the corresponding lattice quotient.

Title discriminant Discriminant1 2013-03-22 12:37:57 2013-03-22 12:37:57 djao (24) djao (24) 12 djao (24) Definition msc 11R29 IntegralBasis PolynomialDiscriminant ModularDiscriminant discriminant ideal