Fractional ideal

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In mathematics, in particular commutative algebra, the concept of fractional ideal is introduced in the context of integral domains and is particularly fruitful in the study of Dedekind domains. In some sense, fractional ideals of an integral domain are like ideals where denominators are allowed. In contexts where fractional ideals and ordinary ring ideals are both under discussion, the latter are sometimes termed integral ideals for clarity.

Definition and basic results[edit]

Let R be an integral domain, and let K be its field of fractions. A fractional ideal of R is an R-submodule I of K such that there exists a non-zero rR such that rIR. The element r can be thought of as clearing out the denominators in I. The principal fractional ideals are those R-submodules of K generated by a single nonzero element of K. A fractional ideal I is contained in R if, and only if, it is an ('integral') ideal of R.

A fractional ideal I is called invertible if there is another fractional ideal J such that IJ = R (where IJ = { a1b1 + a2b2 + ... + anbn : aiI, biJ, nZ>0 } is called the product of the two fractional ideals). In this case, the fractional ideal J is uniquely determined and equal to the generalized ideal quotient

(R : I) = \{ x \in K : xI \subseteq R \}.

The set of invertible fractional ideals form an abelian group with respect to above product, where the identity is the unit ideal R itself. This group is called the group of fractional ideals of R. The principal fractional ideals form a subgroup. A (nonzero) fractional ideal is invertible if, and only if, it is projective as an R-module.

Every finitely generated R-submodule of K is a fractional ideal and if R is noetherian these are all the fractional ideals of R.

Dedekind domains[edit]

In Dedekind domains, the situation is much simpler. In particular, every non-zero fractional ideal is invertible. In fact, this property characterizes Dedekind domains: an integral domain is a Dedekind domain if, and only if, every non-zero fractional ideal is invertible.

The quotient group of fractional ideals by the subgroup of principal fractional ideals is an important invariant of a Dedekind domain called the ideal class group.

Divisorial ideal[edit]

Let \tilde I denote the intersection of all principal fractional ideals containing a nonzero fractional ideal I. Equivalently,

\tilde I = (R : (R : I)),

where as above

(R : I) = \{ x \in K : xI \subseteq R \}.

If \tilde I = I then I is called divisorial.[1] In other words, a divisorial ideal is a nonzero intersection of some nonempty set of fractional principal ideals. If I is divisorial and J is a nonzero fractional ideal, then (I : J) is divisorial.

Let R be a local Krull domain (e.g., a Noetherian integrally closed local domain). Then R is a discrete valuation ring if and only if the maximal ideal of R is divisorial.[2]

An integral domain that satisfies the ascending chain conditions on divisorial ideals is called a Mori domain.[3]