# Cohomological dimension

In abstract algebra, cohomological dimension is an invariant of a group which measures the homological complexity of its representations. It has important applications in geometric group theory, topology, and algebraic number theory.

## Cohomological dimension of a group

As most (co)homological invariants, the cohomological dimension involves a choice of a "ring of coefficients" R, with a prominent special case given by R = Z, the ring of integers. Let G be a discrete group, R a non-zero ring with a unit, and RG the group ring. The group G has cohomological dimension less than or equal to n, denoted cdR(G) ≤ n, if the trivial RG-module R has a projective resolution of length n, i.e. there are projective RG-modules P0, …, Pn and RG-module homomorphisms dk: Pk${\displaystyle \to }$Pk − 1 (k = 1, …, n) and d0: P0${\displaystyle \to }$R, such that the image of dk coincides with the kernel of dk − 1 for k = 1, …, n and the kernel of dn is trivial.

Equivalently, the cohomological dimension is less than or equal to n if for an arbitrary RG-module M, the cohomology of G with coeffients in M vanishes in degrees k > n, that is, Hk(G,M) = 0 whenever k > n. The p-cohomological dimension for prime p is similarly defined in terms of the p-torsion groups Hk(G,M){p}.[1]

The smallest n such that the cohomological dimension of G is less than or equal to n is the cohomological dimension of G (with coefficients R), which is denoted n = cdR(G).

A free resolution of Z can be obtained from a free action of the group G on a contractible topological space X. In particular, if X is a contractible CW complex of dimension n with a free action of a discrete group G that permutes the cells, then cdZ(G) ≤ n.

## Examples

In the first group of examples, let the ring R of coefficients be Z.

Now let us consider the case of a general ring R.

• A group G has cohomological dimension 0 if and only if its group ring RG is semisimple. Thus a finite group has cohomological dimension 0 if and only if its order (or, equivalently, the orders of its elements) is invertible in R.
• Generalizing the Stallings–Swan theorem for R = Z, Dunwoody proved that a group has cohomological dimension at most one over an arbitrary ring R if and only if it is the fundamental group of a connected graph of finite groups whose orders are invertible in R.

## Cohomological dimension of a field

The p-cohomological dimension of a field K is the p-cohomological dimension of the Galois group of a separable closure of K.[2] The cohomological dimension of K is the supremum of the p-cohomological dimension over all primes p.[3]

## Examples

• Every field of non-zero characteristic p has p-cohomological dimension at most 1.[4]
• Every finite field has absolute Galois group isomorphic to ${\displaystyle \mathbf {\hat {Z}} }$ and so has cohomological dimension 1.[5]
• The field of formal Laurent series k((t)) over an algebraically closed field k of non-zero characteristic also has absolute Galois group isomorphic to ${\displaystyle \mathbf {\hat {Z}} }$ and so cohomological dimension 1.[5]