Hurwitz problem

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In mathematics, the Hurwitz problem, named after Adolf Hurwitz, is the problem of finding multiplicative relations between quadratic forms which generalise those known to exist between sums of squares in certain numbers of variables.

There are well-known multiplicative relationships between sums of squares in two variables

(known as the Brahmagupta–Fibonacci identity), and also Euler's four-square identity and Degen's eight-square identity. These may be interpreted as multiplicativity for the norms on the complex numbers, quaternions and octonions respectively.[1]:1–3[2]

The Hurwitz problem for the field K is to find general relations of the form

with the z being bilinear forms in the x and y: that is, each z is a K-linear combination of terms of the form xiyj.[3]:127 We call a triple (rsn) admissible for K if such an identity exists.[1]:125 Trivial cases of admissible triples include (rsrs). The problem is uninteresting for K of characteristic 2, since over such fields every sum of squares is a square, and we exclude this case. It is believed that otherwise admissibility is independent of the field of definition.[1]:137

Hurwitz posed the problem in 1898 in the special case r = s = n and showed that, when coefficients are taken in C, the only admissible values (nnn) were n = 1, 2, 4, 8:[3]:130 his proof extends to any field of characteristic not 2.[1]:3

The "Hurwitz–Radon" problem is that of finding admissible triples of the form (rnn). Obviously (1, nn) is admissible. The Hurwitz–Radon theorem states that (ρ(n), nn) is admissible over any field where ρ(n) is the function defined for n = 2uv, v odd, u = 4a + b, 0 ≤ b ≤ 3, as ρ(n) = 8a + 2b.[1]:137[3]:130

Other admissible triples include (3,5,7)[1]:138 and (10, 10, 16).[1]:137

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c d e f g Rajwade, A. R. (1993). Squares. London Mathematical Society Lecture Note Series. 171. Cambridge University Press. ISBN 0-521-42668-5. Zbl 0785.11022. 
  2. ^ Charles W. Curtis (1963) "The Four and Eight Square Problem and Division Algebras" in Studies in Modern Algebra edited by A.A. Albert, pages 100–125, Mathematical Association of America, Solution of Hurwitz’s Problem on page 115
  3. ^ a b c Lam, Tsit-Yuen (2005). Introduction to Quadratic Forms over Fields. Graduate Studies in Mathematics. 67. American Mathematical Society. ISBN 0-8218-1095-2. MR 2104929. Zbl 1068.11023.